New Dawn, New Day

Guess what time it is, guys!? YEAH, MONARCH TIME!

Kinda funny that I'd jusssst complained about my milkweed not doing so well over the winter, and that I hadn't seen any new cats in soooo long - like literally THAT DAY I glanced out the window to see a monarch fly by <3 Checking the garden I found a couple teensy cats on the scraggly ass milkweed, and so I set off to the nursery intending to replenish my plants with big new healthy ones. WELL. The nursery was OUT! they seriously had ONE MILKWEED PLANT left and I grabbed that pot up like it was a container fulla gold! The weekend (being of the sunny lovely springtime type in Florida) had cleared them right out, so in fact I was really lucky to score that one. And it must have been for a reason, because ...


newly laid monarch egg on underside of milkweed leaf

newly laid monarch egg on underside of milkweed leaf

munch munch munch - 3rd instar&nbsp;eating all that milkweed

munch munch munch - 3rd instar eating all that milkweed

making a "J" - getting settled in to pupate

making a "J" - getting settled in to pupate

pupa case complete! check back in 7-10 days to see who comes out

pupa case complete! check back in 7-10 days to see who comes out

Pretty and pretty gosh-darn awesome, right? All the pics are of the same monarch caterpillar EXCEPT the first one of the egg - that was either one that came attached to the new plant I bought, or was quickly laid there by a mama monarch that came by the afternoon I put the plant in the yard :) But the other three images are of the first cat I'd seen in the garden - and if we've read the "signs" correctly - we've determined it's gonna be a girl! >> Sexing a Monarch Pupa

So, I will be keeping tabs and will be back in about a week to letcha know what we get!

A Month of Oils - Part 2

So, where'd I leave off with? - oh yes, the ordering of a starter kit of everyday essential oils from Young Living - After reading up on the company, and their Seed to Seal process, and knowing a couple people who were already using (and loving) them, this is the brand of oils I chose to go with.  I know there are other brands and companies out there, but this is the one I chose for myself and my family, and the one all my forthcoming experiences are based on.

When they arrived (hooray!) the first thing I did was line'em up for a pretty, pre-seal breaking, modified rainbow order photo shoot - 

Young Living Everyday Essentials - 10 Oil Set from Premium Starter Kit

Young Living Everyday Essentials - 10 Oil Set from Premium Starter Kit

and I know, I know - I've shown this picture before, but - C'MON! IT'S SO PRETTY!
Anyway, right after that, I cracked open all those lil tops and gave each one a sniff - a bit surprised as none of them were particularly "whoa!" strong smelling, as I'd experienced with the store-bought ones. Just, kinda fresh and soft, and - natural, if that makes sense. My order was missing the diffuser as it was backordered, but since I already had one of my own, I went ahead and diffused some Purification (a Young Living blend that contains Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Mel A, Lavandin, Myrtle) in the front hallway area - it's a big open space connecting my art studio room, the living room, my library/office and the boys' bedroom hall including their bathroom (which houses the Cat Toilet). So yeah it always has a "smell"! and I noticed a real difference within minutes of running the diffuser. So - I kept a little journal over the first days to keep track of which oils I used, for what, and how they did or didn't work or affect us. I'm gonna break it down by week instead of daily, and just give a few ways I used the oils, to (try to) keep this short(er)

WEEK 1 - JAN 19-25
Diffused Purification in main living area - smells great!
Used PanAway on arthritic dog - he didn't seem to notice or care
Diffused StressAway in bedroom at night, "swiped" on husband's feet - liked it
Applied Frankincense & Lavender (w/sweet almond carrier oil) on face after washing - enjoyed the scent, felt relaxing
Used drop of Thieves on toothbrush - YEOW! that kinda burned actually (I do have a sensitivity to cinnamon)
Added few drops Purification to spray bottle of distilled water - used as room & fabric freshener
Gave boys (20 & 17) a cotton round with few drops of Lavender to keep by their beds at night
Used Purification spray-bottle mix spritzed on pad while I steam mopped - smells great!

Definitely notice difference in way house smells - fresh, clean - not perfume-y or like fake smelling chemicals. No headaches or sneezing issues with any scents / blends tried. Need to BE MINDFUL of the cinnamon/clove mixtures for my sensitivity to it! Noticing a difference in my facial skin feeling much softer. Husband says he is sleeping better - really likes the aroma of the oils at night. Boys don't seem to notice other than house smells better.

My "spaceship" diffuser that lives in the main living area, and runs daily with whatever mix I "need" or am in the mood for&nbsp;

My "spaceship" diffuser that lives in the main living area, and runs daily with whatever mix I "need" or am in the mood for 

WEEK 2 - JAN 26-31
Daily diffusing different mixes - Home Diffuser arrived last week, using that in bedroom at night, moving it to diff rooms in day - my big "spaceship" diffuser stays in the hallway area
Trying "Allergy Trio" (Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint) - taken internally: 2 drops each in spoonful of raw, local honey - Lavender is not real tasty! 
Adding Lavender to StressAway mix in bedroom diffuser at night - nice! using same mix on bottoms of feet (I call it foot swipes)
Using MelA (Melaleuca Alternifolia or Tea Tree) with either Frank (Frankincense) in the AM or Lavender in the PM on face after washing - diluted with almond oil - treating breakouts directly with extra dab of MelA neat (undiluted)
Bedtime routine = whatever oil residue left on my hands after face treatment or applying foot swipes - rub rest into my hairline/scalp
Swabbing stripe of PanAway down dog's back - I don't think he likes it and I don't think it's helping him - big dog, allergy issues, arthritic hips - so I'm going to stop

House smells fresher and clean, even when you come in after being out all day - handles the catbox odor well! The "allergy trio" REALLY seems to be helping me with the sniffy, sneezy itchies - and they are BAD this season! But I noticed I started getting a burning feeling in the upper part of my esophagus so I stopped. Pretty sure that was user-error (too many drops, too often) so I am off that while I let my throat get back to normal. My daily face cleaning routine is yielding some nice results; softer, smoother texture, clearing up the breakouts. That I *still* have.  At forty-something. {eyeroll} And the mister & I are definitely sleeping better with the bedtime diffuser oils. 

The Young Living "Allergy Trio" of Lavender, Lemon &amp; Peppermint!

The Young Living "Allergy Trio" of Lavender, Lemon & Peppermint!

WEEK 3 - FEB 1-7
Continuing my daily diffuser mixes (now a hashtag! #dailydiffusing on IG @gemgirlartist) and trying out different blends
Cat pee'd on my bed (uhhh, thanks?) - used couple drops Purification in laundry and spritzed my spray mix on the mattress (it didn't even soak thru the mattress pad, just being extra diligent!)
Swapped out Stress Away for Peace & Calming in the bedtime diffuser (still w/Lavender) and LOVE it
Using Thieves before toothbrushing - SMALL, teeny, tiny, miniscule! amount on QTip, swab along gumline then brush as normal
Couple of us had headaches this week - drop of Peppermint, rubbed into temples - they disappeared within 20 minutes

Daily battle of a fave oil for scent between Thieves and Purification - they are both so GOOD! Loving our nighttime ritual of getting the diffuser ready, doing my face cleansing routine, "swipe"ing our feet. Kids are coming around - youngest son keeps asking for his own diffuser! They still don't want to try the oils on their faces. Thrilled with quick results from air freshening, pain alleviation protocols. 

The nightly "filling of the diffusers" pre-bedtime -- this was after I'd gotten the boys their own for their rooms

The nightly "filling of the diffusers" pre-bedtime -- this was after I'd gotten the boys their own for their rooms

WEEK 4 - FEB 8-17 (yes, I know that's more than 7 days)
Using my Purification + water spray on everything - even a quick armpit spritz one day when I realized I forgot to put on deodorant!
Made Lavender "sleep spray" to replace a commercial made spray I'd been using
Made husband a Stress Away & Lavender roll-on to take to work - and I used it when we did a day @ Disney, for the "scary" rides, haha!
Sent sample packet of Ningxia (it's Ning-Zsha, but I call it Ninja!) Red in hub's work lunch (we didn't read packet directions/servings - he drank whole thing at once and said he felt "weird" afterwards)
Tried Pan-Away for some knee & wrist pain - wow, I kinda love that stuff!
Added Purification to night face routine - OUT! of Lavender (I think I am overusing it - adding too many drops) - not sure it's doing any more than other mix
Back to allergy trio since my throat is fine - but using it on a QTip & swabbing inside mouth, and diffusing, rather than ingesting drops in honey - I have some gelatin capsules but haven't tried filling those yet!
Tried Thieves concentrated cleaner (my first Essential Rewards order!) in the dishwasher - not super impressed, but could be a good "booster" - however, I have been using it diluted in a spray bottle as an all-purpose cleaner and HOLY. COW. I will not ever be without it, now. NEVER.

SO LOVE-ing! the way the house smells - and it isn't "scented" - it just smells fresh, clean, and with a hint of natural fragrance - nothing we've used so far has overpowered, or caused headaches or sneezing or any other issues. (other than the day I mixed too much Joy with CitrusFresh and GAG it was super flowery gross, like your "Nana from Teh Old Country" 's house would probably smell) Adjusting to using the allergy trio in smaller doses, as well as the Thieves for oral care - and again, I think that's just me & my moderate cinnamon sensitivity.  And yes, we ALL have our own room diffusers now! The kids are on board and like when I run a mix for them, and youngest is all about doing his own, I think it's pretty cool how he's into it - right now he likes just Lemon. (and he works pizza delivery, so his room used to always reek of Italian Ristorante! hah! but not anymore ...)

Overall thoughts for my first full month on Young Living Essential Oils

I am really really pleased that I took the plunge to start using essential oils in my home and for my family, and even more so once I found a high quality, superior grade oil and company that I trust. If I never used them for anything other than naturally freshening and cleaning my home without chemicals and synthetics and harsh materials, I'd be happy & satisfied and feel I was getting my money's worth. The fact that I feel we as a whole family are all benefitting from the oils in many different ways - both physically and mentally, large and small - I'd say is a bonus! and I look forward to continuing to learn about the safe, effective use of these oils and the gradual working of them further into our daily lives as part of our goal to live a more natural and healthful life. 

Since I started using the essential oils in mid-January, I've gotten rid of ALL synthetic and chemical scent sprays, room deodorizers, air fresheners - including all my candles, wax melts, burners and electric outlet pluggable warmer units. I've stopped using a number of different spray cleaners and have added the essential oil infused cleaner to my laundry, household and floor cleaning routines, and not only do I think they smell better, but I feel they do a better job at ACTUALLY cleaning surfaces, and keeping them cleaner (and fresher smelling) much longer. I even just washed my OUTDOOR windows with my Thieves cleaner spray!

All in all, I'd give them a big thumbs up - the only real issues I've had in fact, were caused by my own error in either overusing product or not reading the instructions /dosing / labels correctly (or, at all) - I'm now about 2 months in, and am getting more knowledgable and more adept at using these essential oils every day. I love this new way of living and I wouldn't go back! And would be happy to share what I've learned with you - so let me know if you have any questions on essential oils - what they are, what they do, getting started using them, etc., 
and I will hook you up with some info and links and all that jazz :) Just email me -> lemondropgem @

Next up? I'll be sharing the assorted things I've MADE with my Young Living essential oils
- (like the snazzy bottled sleep spray ^ up there ^) So until then, have a super day!

OH! and if you DIDN'T see Part 1 - here it is

Throwback Thursday

Hey hey - I know, I'm still working on that Part 2 to my essential oils post from a few days ago - the thing no one ever tells you when you start blogging - HEY MAN, NOW YOU"RE A WRITER. So, like - you gotta do a draft and edit then re-read proofread, re-edit OH thaaat sounds dumb, so let's take that part out, { pencilscribble ahshitt this is a computerscreen notpaper } - nono, let's add that back in but move it to >here< oops I didn't take any pics for this! *Oh? you didn't know blogging means you're now a writer AND professional photographer? {points that way <---like an Angry Mom} You march RIGHT IN THAT ROOM and do your photo prop styling LIKE I TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES! ...

Pictures - taken - edited - uploaded>
Topic, researched! Bibliography - check! (yeah no, I don't do that either)
Links, checked & working! fonts - activated (what? I dunno.)
Edit proofread edit proofread, give up figuring "eh, no one reads my blog anyway"
Do it, did it, done! PUBLISH!

Ahhhhhhmaaannnn. I just thought of ten BETTER things I could've talked about. Shoot.


(seriously. NOW I know why ppl pre-write & schedule posts! duhhh!)

oh, right! Throwback Thursday! How about?
Happy, happy Smoky Mountains vacation cabin days <3 Summer 2008

2008 and the end of our weeklong stay in Dancing Bear cabin - one of our top 2 cabin rentals in the Smokies!

2008 and the end of our weeklong stay in Dancing Bear cabin - one of our top 2 cabin rentals in the Smokies!