Natural Cleaning Made Easy

Affectionately named Crangle Hall, our house sits in the middle of thousands of acres of farms and forests.

37869158_1095463067279218_8272732685751812096_oWe moved in a year ago this month, and in the process, we tossed all of our old cleaning supplies. The cabinet under the kitchen sink in our former home was chock-full of about 15 different bottles or containers of cleaning solution. And yours probably is, too.

I initially planned to replace all of these products with newer bottles of the same old stuff… a bottle of all-purpose spray, toilet bowl cleaner, soft scrub for tougher stains and grout, dusting spray, Clorox wipes… the list goes on and on. But my friend, Lauren, had recently shared about how she just used ONE bottle to clean everything in her home.

I was intrigued but admittedly hesitant to believe that she actually could clean every.single.thing with one cleaner that had no toxic ingredients or poison warnings.

I mean, they all do, right?

Turns out, I was wrong.

Thieves Cleaner Sample

That week, I ordered a bottle of Thieves Household Cleaner to see what all the hype was about. At just over $20, it was way cheaper than replacing all of my old household cleaners and what if it DID actually work? That would simplify cleaning and go a long way in protecting Charlie’s weakened immune system from toxic mess.

What my friend Lauren said turned out to be true in every sense of the word. And for the past year, Thieves cleaner has been the only product we use to keep our home clean and smelling amazing. Its cleaning power is tough, y’all. And it’s entirely plant based with all natural ingredients and contains no harsh or dangerous chemicals found in so many traditional cleaning products.

In fact, we now use the whole line of Thieves products from Young Living. From toothpaste and dental floss to wipes and fruit and veggie wash, I know that we are not only protecting our bodies from harsh ingredients but we’re also boosting our immune systems because of the antioxidant properties found in the Thieves blend.

And we’re saving lots of money, too, because one bottle of all-purpose spray using Thieves Household Cleaner costs around $.70. I know, right?! Just an incredible savings that allows us to give that much more to the causes and people we care most about.

If you’re already a member of Young Living and haven’t jumped into the Thieves goodness, add a bottle of the household cleaner to your next wellness box and get ready to fall. in. love. Want information on getting your own retail or wholesale account? It’s SUPER easy and takes less than five minutes from start to finish. Connect with me and I’ll show you how!


In My Kitchen: Blackened Seasoning

My daddy grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was raised on crawfish étouffée and red beans and rice. I’ve tried and tried, and I still can’t get my Mamaw’s recipes down. All through my childhood, we enjoyed Cajun and Creole food like you would not believe.

As I’m now raising a family of my own, I am teaching my sons to appreciate the kind of good cooking one would find in every part of Louisiana. This blackened seasoning rub is one that’s become a staple in our home these days. My advice to you would be to make a double-batch of this and keep it stored in an airtight container. It’s great on fish, chicken, and beef alike. I even go so far as to give root vegetables a light dusting before roasting in the oven. You do you, boo!

Blackened Seasoning


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Mix all ingredients together to combine. Sprinkle an even amount on both sides of fish, chicken, or beef before searing to preferred doneness. Store remaining seasoning in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for up to two months. Enjoy!


Thoughts On Family and Leaning In

I have spent lots of sweet time with family and loved ones this weekend, and it has all been so special. But there are still times when I feel like I don’t quite belong.

Maybe it’s because I see the world differently than some of the people around me, or because of the life experiences I’ve had that many will never share.

There could be (and probably are) a million reasons why I feel out of place sometimes in family gatherings. That being said, this weekend has been good for me because I am learning to practice what I preach when it comes to embracing myself and embracing others.

Several years ago, I ran across this quote and it really resonated with me:

“Do not chase people. Be you and do your own thing and work hard. The right people who belong in your life will come to you, and stay.”

And honestly? I believe it with my whole heart.

Just today, I remarked to Charlie that the girl singing at the Nashville Farmer’s Market sounded a lot like a long lost friend of mine. And I winced when I said it because the ache of loss still hits me when I think about that thirteen-year relationship that is never coming back. I am learning that my heart can simultaneously ache in grief and exhale in relief at the same time. Isn’t that something?

So I want to encourage you to keep showing up. In the ways that matter most to you and to the people who matter most to you. And in the end, those who matter will still be there. And the ones who fall away? Well, they were meant to reside in your life for but a season. Their time in your life for however-long was a gift in and of itself. Receive it and release it and keep making those right steps forward.

And know that I’m right there with you, walking the same path.

At the end of the day, no matter how much of a black sheep I feel in my family at times, I am falling into bed tonight knowing that I am fully loved and fully accepted by these people who share the same blood line and same family lineage. We don’t have to see eye to eye in order to love each other. And I can’t think of a more beautiful gift than that.



Four Must-Haves for Teachers

Teaching is one of my superpowers. But even superheroes need oils.

Even though I’m home with my sick buddy today, my heart is still at the school house. Between caring for Luke and getting some chores done around here, I’ve been thinking about how much I use oils in my daily life during the week nowadays. The winter season is usually one of intense emotional struggle for me, but not this year. Here are some ways I’ve been using Young Living oils and plant-derived products to support me during the week as I’m hustling in and outside of the classroom.

NingXia Red

www.simplifiedoiler.comThis fruity drink is packed with antioxidants like you wouldn’t believe. Both Charlie and I start our day off with a 2 oz. pouch of Ningxia Red to support our immune systems and give us a pep in our step. It’s formulated to support your holistic wellness and has the antioxidant power of 4 lbs. of carrots, y’all.

You and I both know that our classrooms and school common areas can become petri dishes for who-knows-what. Drinking NingXia Red every morning is a great way to give your immune system a boost. We keep the convenient pouches in our freezer, so by the time homeroom’s over, I have a mini slushee waiting on me.

Lavender Oil

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 1.59.34 PMA 5ml version of this pretty bottle comes in the Premium Starter Kit (PSK), and we have one in nearly every room of our home. Lavender is known for promoting calm and settling anxious thoughts. We also use it for sleep support and to nourish our skin.

During my planning period, I often diffuse Lavender + Peace and Calming (another PSK oil) if my stress levels are high. For those teachers out there who can’t diffuse in your classroom, simply rub a drop of Lavender between your wrists and breathe in the aroma. This practice quiets my anxious feelings and centers me. And it literally takes less than a minute.

Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 2.12.16 PMI’m pretty sure that on every single supply list is a bottle of hand sanitizer. We go through it in my classroom like crazy. Young Living’s safer and more natural alternative, Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier, is infused with peppermint oil, softer on skin and doesn’t contain any of the mess you’ll find in other brands.

A small bottle is included in your Premium Starter Kit, so pop that baby in your purse or laptop tote so you’ll have it on hand as needed. I keep a bottle of this hand purifier in my desk drawer and in each of my kids’ backpacks, too. This product has been a game-changer for me and helps me feel better about all the germs I’m exposed to every day.

Clarity Essential Oil Blend

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 2.16.11 PMEvery teacher knows that our work is never done. From grading papers to communicating with parents and planning lessons, a significant amount of our work takes places outside of school hours. It’s not easy to grade essays for two hours after being on my feet teaching over 100 kids and fielding all of their thoughts and questions. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

An oil blend that I’ve used all year to support my own energy and focus and attentiveness while completing after-hours tasks is Clarity. Given to me by my sweet friend, Lauren, I cannot get enough of this oil. I diffuse it in my classroom after school or at home while I’m preparing lesson plans and it has made all the difference for me. A blend of Basil, Rosemary, Peppermint and nine other essential oils, Clarity brings on a sense of alertness and focus that be difficult to muster up after a long day’s work. It can even be applied topically by rubbing one drop of Clarity oil and one drop of a carrier oil (we use fractionated coconut) between wrists and behind ears.

Interested in learning more about getting your own starter kit and joining me on our wellness journey? Learn more about the Premium Starter Kit or the Thieves Kit for everyday cleaning. And as always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have!


Epsom Salt Baths: Four Takes

Treating yourself to a spa experience doesn’t have to break the bank. Take a cue from us and practice self-care in the comfort of your own home.

Both Charlie and I love a good soak in a hot bath every now and then. Since we’ve ditched harmful, toxic person care products, it’s been fun to experiment with different essential oil blends to make salt baths that meet our everyday needs.

Before we get to the blends, here’s how I make the epsom salt baths happen without a lot of fuss. The first thing you need to do is ensure that you’ve got unscented epsom salt. I purchase mine from Amazon, but you can find them in most grocery or health stores. Epsom salt blends with added scents like lavender and peppermint are not something we recommend because you don’t know where those fragrances are coming from.

Once I get the bathwater running, I pour 1/4 cup of epsom salt into a small glass bowl and add 5-10 drops of my favorite oils, depending on the blends.

Then, I simply add the bowl of salt + essential oils under the running bath water. This helps disperse the oils throughout the bath instead of them just sitting on top of the water. Finally, climb on in and enjoy a moisturizing spa-like bath for up to 20 minutes (or, if you’re like me, until the water gets cool).

Depending on your needs, the Young Living Premium Starter Kit has got you covered. Every oil included in the blends below comes with your starter kit, so get ready for some serious self-care! Try one of these blends and let us know what you think!


1/4 cup epsom salt | 4 drops Peace and Calming | 4 drops lavender



1/4 cup epsom salt | 4 drops peppermint | 4 drops lavender



1/4 cup epsom salt | 4 drops Valor | 4 drops lemon


Tension Relief

1/4 cup epsom salt | 5 drops Panaway | 3 drops peppermint

Ready to jump into this essential oils thing? Follow these steps to grab your kit and receive everything you need to get started!



The Power of Transfer Purchasing

Living a wellness-focused life does not have to bust your budget.

Over the past several months, Charlie and I have been slowly ditching unhealthy cleaning and personal care products and switching to safer, natural alternatives. Over the past four months, we have done away with store-bought dish soap, hand soap, bar soap, bubble bath, toothpaste, mouthwash, acne cream, face cleanser, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, all-purpose spray, glass cleaner, grout and tile cleaner and a few other items I’m sure I’m forgetting.

And we’ve done all of this without altering our monthly grocery budget at all. Yep, you read that right.

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 2.35.09 pmWhen I first started using my Premium Starter Kit last summer, I was simply looking for an alternative to all of the candles that I’d been burning for years and years and years. I played with diffuser blends for a few weeks and started using lavender on my wrists and the bottoms of my feet to support healthier sleep habits.

I honestly had no idea that Young Living offered so many products in addition to their 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils until I joined the Oil Press community. Once I saw that I could buy completely natural cleaning products that were safe for everyone in my home – including kids and pets – I knew that Charlie and I needed to make a change.

But hesitancy and doubt immediately set in. We have a pretty strict budget that we stick to every month. I didn’t have any wiggle room to purchase a ton of products at once or completely overhaul our lives. I thought that being more wellness-focused was something that our family just couldn’t do at that point in time.

But I couldn’t be more wrong.

Through Young Living’s generous loyalty program, Essential Rewards (ER), we have been able to completely change our purchasing habits by simply buying goods from Young Living that we’d be grabbing at Target or our local grocery store. This is known as transfer purchasing because I’m not buying anything new – I’m simply transferring money I would spend on these items anyway to a different company.

screen shot 2019-01-20 at 2.37.03 pmNot only are we now using cleaners and personal care items that I completely trust, but we’re also earning 20% back from our purchase every month in points that we can use to buy YL products in the future. AND we receive gifts in the mail just for participating in this program.

Your monthly ER box is completely customizable and can be processed on whatever day of the month you choose. And if you purchase your kit from me, you’ll also have the option of getting a three-month custom wellness plan to help you make the most out of your monthly subscription and meet your wellness goals.

There’s no fee to join, and you can cancel (without penalty) at any time. Y’all, such a great deal and has been a life-changer for our family.

Want more info? Check out this page that will walk you through the entire process and show you everything you’ll get in your Premium Starter Kit at a 63% off discount. To get started on your own wellness journey, grab your kit here and let’s do this thing together!

Image credits: @caseyleighessentials [Instagram]


Four Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

All the rage in minimalist, white home decor, eucalyptus leaves, it turns out, actually carry some pretty awesome health benefits, too.

eucalyptus globulusEucalyptus globulus is one of the first oils that I purchased outside of my Premium Starter Kit, and we use it in our home regularly to support our respiratory systems, nourish our skin and soothe our emotions.

Here are four easy ways to use Eucalyptus globulus to empower your family, too.

Note: If you have children in your home, it is recommended that this oil should not be used on or around the face of those younger than 10 years. As always, do your research and use as directed.

Respiratory Support

Diffuse several drops of eucalyptus to promote easier breathing. Pair with peppermint or lemongrass for an uplifting aroma.

Combine 1 drop of eucalyptus oil with a couple drops of carrier oil and massage onto chest and neck for a soothing chest rub.

Skin Nourishing

Add 5 drops of eucalyptus oil to 1/4 cup of epsom salts. Draw a warm bath and pour the salt mixture into the running water stream. Soak for up to 20 minutes to moisturize and cleanse the skin.

Mix 3-5 drops of eucalyptus oil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or jojoba oil and massage into the skin for a chemical-free moisturizer.

Insect Repellant

Soak a cotton ball with 3-5 drops of eucalyptus oil and place in a pet-infested area to keep ants, cockroaches and other pests away.

In an 8-oz. spray bottle, add 20 drops of eucalyptus oil and 10 drops of lavender oil. Fill halfway with witch hazel and fill the remainder of the bottle with filtered water. Shake and spray!

Tension Relief

Create a massage oil by adding about 7 drops of eucalyptus oil to 2 teaspoons of a carrier oil (we use olive oil or fractionated coconut oil) and massage into areas with tense muscles.

Add 15 drops of eucalyptus oil directly to a hot bath. The hot water will relax your muscles while the oil gives a tingling effect to loosen them up as well.


While there are myriad other ways to use eucalyptus oil in your daily routines, these are a few that continue to support our family’s physical and mental wellness. We hope they are helpful for you, too!

Grab your own starter kit + a bottle of Eucalyptus globulus for just $155 total (including my $25 cash-back offer good on every Premium Starter Kit purchase through January 31, 2019). That’s over $455 in product, y’all. Reach out with any questions, or click this link to learn more about what’s in the Premium Starter Kit and how you can get yours!


Why Diffusing Is Better

Nourishing yourself is not selfish; it’s essential to your survival and well-being. – Renee Peterson Trudeau

I have burned multiple candles in my home every night throughout the year since college. Something about the glow and the shadows cast on the wall and the yummy scents drew me in and held me tight for a long time.

But over the past year or so, I’ve been researching the damage that many candles do to our homes and, more importantly, to our bodies.

Now, hear me say this first. I’m not telling you to ditch all your candles. But I do want to take a moment tonight before starting supper preparations to let you know what I’ve learned and encourage you to consider another alternative.

Anne Steinemann is an expert when it comes to environmental pollutants. In a report released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, she found that certain candles (particularly scented) may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals including lead, formaldehyde, acrolein (an herbicide) and acetaldehyde, a Group 1 carcinogen.


A couple of years ago, the main reason I purchased my Premium Starter Kit from Young Living is because I was looking for a healthier, natural alternative to candles. And man have I found one.

Not only are we able to replicate our favorite candle scents from times past, we also have confidence knowing that the plant molecules being dispersed into the air in our home through our diffuser are improving our physical and mental wellness, too.

Young Living’s pure, therapeutic grade lavender smells amazing but it also promotes calm, increases the quality of our sleep, supports tension relief and alleviates symptoms like irritability, bloating and pain that I have with my monthly cycle. I guarantee you a lavender scented candle can’t do all that for you.

If you’re a candle burning fiend like me, getting on a better path is so easy. Invest in your health by purchasing a Premium Starter Kit. For the amount you’d spend on just six candles at the Candle Store That Must Not Be Named, you can have 11 oils, a beautiful diffuser and oodles of information and samples to support your wellness. Plus, you’ll be invited into a supportive community of like-minded people who can help you navigate your kit and encourage you!

Ready to jump in with us or want more information? Simply click here and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Winter Diffuser Blends

If you know me at all, you know that lighting candles around our home has long been one of my trademark habits. Since I started using essential oils this past summer, I have completely kicked my candle habit because the diffusers in our home bring so many amazing aromas into our home while also bringing health benefits, too.

The past few days, it has certainly not felt like winter around here. But things are gonna be getting a little more chilly this weekend, so I wanted to share with you some of our favorite winter diffuser blends here at Crangle Hall. Each of these contains at least one oil from the Premium Starter Kit, too!

Not on the oily train with me yet? Get started here!

cozy sweater diffuser blend

This delicious blend will bring warmth and calm into your home. It’s our favorite for colder winter nights.


winter wreath

We live smack dab in the middle of hundreds of acres of woods, so naturally I am drawn to all the woodsy, natural diffuser blends. Winter Wreath is a great diffuser blend for a refreshing calm.


winter blues diffuser blend

This uplifting winter blend is my go-to when my seasonal depression hits a real low. All three of these essential oils liven up the room and help put a spring in my step.

Feel free to share your favorite winter diffuser blends in the comments!


Making Friends With Charlie.

IMG_2827Last night, Charlie and I did a brave thing: we went on our first double date as a married couple. Finding time to make friends as an adult is difficult. Add on a layer of nervousness and fear of rejection that comes with any new friendship possibility, and it’s easy to come up with a hundred reasons why now is just not a good time.

We know that community is important. We believe in knowing and caring for people. We value authentic relationships and being connected to others. And yet we’ve been married for over two years and haven’t really lived these beliefs out apart from church activities (which is a whole ‘nother bag in and of itself).

And so last night was a really big deal for us. We were a little nervous and apprehensive – not because of the sweet people we would be spending time with but because of our own fears and feelings of inadequacy. But just five minutes in to dinner, I felt like we were sitting across the table from kindred spirited people who, like us, had been softened and shaped by suffering and loss in ways that one only understands if they’ve had a similar experience.

We enjoyed several hours with our new friends – first at dinner and then to see Drew and Ellie Holcomb’s incredible holiday show, A Neighborly Christmas. On our way home, Charlie and I talked about how valuable it is for us to have friendships as a couple and we are already truly looking forward to dinner plans with our newfound friends.

I believe life is fullest when we are sharing it with others, and I’m thankful for a chance to open our hearts to new people.


Christmas Punch

It’s no secret that I am pretty much obsessed with cranberries. From the color of the berries themselves to all of the delicious things we make in our kitchen with them, cranberries are all the things to me.

Today, I want to share with you our family’s favorite punch recipe, and the star of the show – surprise! – is cranberry cocktail juice! We make a big ole mason jar of this at the start of winter break and sip on it as we ease into the new year. And you can easily make this nice punch naughty by adding vodka, whiskey, rum or tequila.

Christmas Punch


  • 3 cups cranberry cocktail juice, chilled
  • 3 cups pineapple juice, chilled
  • 3 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • sliced limes and fresh cranberries for garnish


Pour first three ingredients in a pitcher or other beverage dispenser. Stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime slices and fresh cranberries. Enjoy!


Sharing is hard.

Over the past few days, I’ve been dreading the winter break from school because it means that I’ll be without my boys for about a week straight. Co-parenting is tough enough as it is, but having to share parenting time for special moments during the year makes my heart feel like it’s trying to push right through my skin, to borrow a phrase from Patty Griffin.

In times like this, I think about all of the other mamas and daddies who feel like me, who navigate sharing parenting time and kiss their kids’ cheeks on their way out the door or at the bus stop knowing that they won’t see their babies again until Christmas day. And my heart grows even more big and sore.

I must admit when I’m faced with this ache, I oftentimes try to self-medicate without feeling it and moving through it in a more healthy way. When I was going through a divorce several years ago, my friend Liz would remind me often, “Feel the hurt but don’t quit dreaming.”

I think that’s such a beautiful way to look at hard times in life.. to hold both the pain and the dream in one open hand.

If you are navigating something tough right now, something that makes your heart feel like it’s going to push through your skin, I want you to know that you’re not alone. And I truly believe if we keep feeling the pain and dreaming the dreams we have for our lives, we’ll find ourselves there one day.

I’m sending love from my broken heart to yours.

ellie signature


Tummy Support in a Bottle

I am all about some stretchy pants on holiday feasting days. What I am not about is the rumbly-tumbly tummy afterwards. This year, our family used several different oils and oil blends to support digestion and stomach discomfort. Whether you’re dealing with ongoing digestion problems or more of the I-made-some-poor-eating-choices variety, these are some good tools to have in your wellness toolbox for fighting the tummy troubles in a toxin-free, plant-based way.


This anti-inflammatory, cooling oil has many different uses. From energizing your mood to easing tension, peppermint oil is a staple in our home. This oil is also used for promoting healthy digestion. Simply massage 1-2 drops of the oil + 1 drop of carrier oil onto the abdomen.


Young Living also has a line of vitality oils that can be taken internally. Peppermint Vitality is used in our home on a daily basis. One drop on the tongue does the trick!


Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 9.26.31 AMThis blend of peppermint, spearmint, cardamom and fennel produces a fresh, minty aroma. The antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties of cardamom and fennel ease cramping and ensure healthy functioning of the gastric juices in the stomach. AromaEase is our go-to when fighting nausea or a sour stomach feeling.

Like peppermint, massage 1-2 drops of the oil + 1 drop of carrier oil onto the abdomen. Or diffuse it into the air for inhalation.


Stress can be the cause of many digestive problems. For this reason, I wanted to mention the Swiss army knife of oils, lavender. Known for its myriad uses, lavender promotes peace and calm and is an important oil to have on hand around the clock. Apply 1 drop directly to wrists during times of stress or before bedtime to promote deep sleep. lavender-blossom-1595581_1920

Learn more about our family’s wellness story or get started on your own journey with essential oils.

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.

Zig Zigler


Happy Thanksgiving!

This evening, we are hosting our first Thanksgiving here at Crangle Hall, and my heart is full thinking about all the love that is shared in our family.

No matter where you find yourself today, I hope that you are surrounded by people who make you feel loved and cherished. Having had my share of lonely holidays, if you find yourself feeling alone and forgotten, know that I am holding space for you today. (And we have a place for you at our table should you want it!)

I’m sharing with you one of my favorite verses today that has carried me through so many ups and downs and in betweens in my life. My prayer is that it resonates with you and will be a comforting reminder to you of not only the love that we have for our Father, but for the love He pours out on us as well.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. (1)

Much love to you!



Modeling Failure for Our Kids


Your kids know you’re not perfect. Use this as a tool in your parenting toolbox to your advantage.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Brené Brown

As a parent, I often find myself trying to present the best version of myself to my children. I want them to see me as a strong, confident, empowered woman. I want them to learn from me how to do the right things and how to avoid the wrong things.

But as life unfolds, it doesn’t really work out that way, does it? While I might want to model the right things for my children, there are going to be lots of times that I make mistakes and show them in my words and actions things I hope they will never replicate.

We are all flawed, broken human beings. The idea that I am not going to sin against my children, that I am not going to wound or disappoint them is a lie.

I’m going to have failures in life. So how can I use those mistakes to help my children grow?


Admit Mistakes

Verbally acknowledging our mistakes helps our kids see that we are human just like them.

One of the ways that we can use our own failure to teach our children is by simply owning it. Verbally acknowledging our mistakes helps our kids see that we are human just like them. It also empowers us to have healthy, open lines of communication with our children.

By talking through a mistake I made with my children, I’m helping them see that admitting wrong is not weakness but is instead a very healthy way to live. Admitting mistakes also equips our children with the tools they need to admit their mistakes to us and others as they go about their lives.


Discuss Solutions

Many times in my life as a child, I knew that I had failed at something and I honestly didn’t know what to do with that. It hurts to not get something right, especially if you’re at all prone to perfectionism like me. Instead of developing a healthy language for talking about failure and mistakes, I simply tried to medicate those negative, messy feelings. Ultimately, this devolved into serious self-loathing and unhealthy coping skills.

Navigating failure with our kids shows them that living a life of grit and determination is worth it.

When we discuss our failures with our kids and let them in on the conversation, we’re modeling for them what it looks like to figure something out and try again. We’re showing them that grit and determination is worth it. We’re using our frustration and struggle to help our children see that making mistakes is simply a part of life. And we’re giving them tools for how to self-reflect and grow from their failures.

Doing this equips our children with the confidence they will need to embrace failures in their life and allow those experiences to mold and shape them into stronger, more self-sufficient people. It helps them see that there is a way out of the situation and that it’s okay – healthy, even – for one to admit that they don’t always have the answers.


We as parents need to make ourselves vulnerable to our children and open our hearts up to let them see what goes on inside a person when they work through failure in an appropriate way. As we continually do this, we will build bonds with our children and help them develop important skills they will take with them into adulthood so that they in turn can also live a life characterized by openness and care for the people around them.

It’s not easy, I know. But like most good things, I’ve found it to be worth the work.


Cranberry Sauce

Growing up, I couldn’t stand cranberry sauce… something about it being too tart and bitter, I think. But I remember thinking how pretty it looked in my Momma’s crystal dishes on the table at Thanksgiving dinner.

berries-1851161_1920Years ago, I decided to try my hand at making this Thanksgiving staple from scratch so that I could have a bit more control over the sweetness and possibly convince my kids to give it a shot. I scoured the Internet for recipes and tried several of them, never quite landing on one that hit the mark. Until November of 2016.

This recipe checks all the boxes for our family: tart, sweet, not runny but not too jello-ey, either. (Clearly, the Talley fam has high expectations.) It can be made several days ahead of time, making Thanksgiving day a bit less stressful.

Cranberry Sauce Recipe adapted from Alton Brown (site)


  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice (not cocktail)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 12-oz. package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg


  1. Wash the cranberries and discard any soft or wrinkled ones.
  2. Combine the juices and honey in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the berries burst and the mixture thickens, remove from the heat. (Do not cook for longer than 15 minutes or your end result will be too runny.)
  4. Add orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Allow to cool for five minutes.
  5. Spoon the sauce into a mold or container that seals. (I use a mason jar.) Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for at least six hours before serving.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 20 minutes | Yield: 6-8 servings


Finding a Balance: Natural Hormone Support

If we want to make sure our bodies are functioning properly, keeping our hormones in check is one of the most important priorities.

Hormones regulate our body’s natural processes. From growth and metabolism to mood, hormones act as little messengers telling our body what to do. If just one small hormonal imbalance occurs, side effects like depression, weight gain, severe mood swings and fatigue can show up and wreak havoc in our lives.

There are many ways we can naturally support a healthy hormonal balance. Eating fresh, healthy foods every day and staying hydrated ensures that your body has the nutrients it needs to function properly. But sometimes, that’s not enough.

When you’re needing additional hormone support, essential oils are a great tool to have in your wellness toolbox.

Why essential oils?

It might be surprising to learn that your skin is actually the largest organ in your body, and its ability to absorb substances makes it even more unique. When essential oils are used topically (applied directly to the skin and rubbed in), they can pass into the bloodstream and be directed to the parts of your body that need them most. website banner 1 (2)

Remember: Some oils need to be diluted before being applied to the skin, so make sure to pay attention to labels and follow usage instructions carefully. Because Young Living essential oils are 100% pure, therapeutic grade, it doesn’t take much to do the job. In fact, it takes 27 square feet of lavender plants to produce the oil in one 15ml bottle of lavender essential oil. Yep, you read that right. 27 square feet.  YL oils are potent in the best way, so a little goes a long way!

3 hormone-balancing EOs and blends

01 | Progessence Plus Serum

Bursting with six essential oils and USP-grade progesterone, this serum is specially formulated for women and designed to support hormone balance and promote feelings of relaxation and harmony. It’s 100% plant-based and vegan friendly.progessence plusTo use, simply place one drop of oil on your forearm and rub your forearms together. This can be done both in the morning and evening. Since adding this to my routine over a month ago, I have experienced profound changes to my mood and all the ups and downs that tend to happen over the course of my monthly cycle. I highly recommend for any woman, particularly those who are 30 or older.

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 1.36.59 PM02 | Dragon Time™ Essential Oil

This proprietary blend of six essential oils features clary sage oil which helps balance estrogen levels in the body. Many health issues are due to excess levels of estrogen in our bodies, including infertility and estrogen-based cancers. The Dragon Time™ essential oil blend was designed to level out estrogen production and support the body’s natural hormone system.

Dragon Time™ naturally promotes feelings of stability and calm, which can really come in handy when hormone changes occur. Simply dilute one drop of Dragon Time with 1 drop of a carrier oil (our family uses fractionated coconut oil or olive oil) and apply to your abdomen or lower back for relief from menstrual cramps. Add 2-4 drops to a hot bath. Diffuse along with peppermint for a calming, uplifting diffuser blend.

03 | Frankincense Essential Oil

Getting-to-Know-Your-Essential-Oils-Frankincense-Essential-oilOne of my favorite oils in the premium starter kit, frankincense essential oil, is known for its ability to boost thyroid function and your body’s natural immune response. Its earthy, uplifting aroma can be diffused into the air to promote a grounding and comforting environment.

Beyond its hormone-balancing benefits, frankincense is also my go-to oil for healthy skin. It naturally smoothes the appearance of dark spots and acne and helps you maintain a radiant, natural glow. Frankincense is also a natural anti-inflammatory, which carries with it myriad other health benefits.

Here are some of the ways I use frankincense to help you make the most out of this jewel in the PSK…

+ add to a neutral moisturizer to promote healthy and even-toned skin
+ diffuse along with peppermint and lavender for an uplifting, grounding diffuser blend
+ apply directly to acne or aging spots

No matter how old you are, your hormone levels matter. For years, I felt imprisoned by my mood swings and really struggled with navigating my emotions in a healthy way through the ups and downs every month. Using essential oils to bring hormonal balance to my life has made a profound difference in my mental health and relationships, and it could make the same difference in your life, too.

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Don’t just follow your heart. Your heart will betray you.

Andrew Peterson


Mama’s Spaghetti & Meatballs

We’ve gotten a lot of rain this week. Couple that dreariness with the shorter daylight hours this time of year and you get the want for some warm, comfort food, right? The boys’ answer to that in the Talley house is almost always “mama’s spaghetti and meatballs.”

Because the scratch-made meatballs cook in the sauce, they develop a delicious flavor and tenderness that can’t be beat. You don’t have to sauté or brown them in a skillet beforehand, which cuts out a lot of time and effort.

PROTIP: Freeze the extra sauce and use next week as a stand-in marinara for other Italian recipes or use it as a dipping sauce for crusty bread.

Even though this meal is ready in less than and hour, it checks off all the boxes for us. Don’t let the whole idea of making meatballs from scratch scare you away. This recipe is easy-peasy, and you’ll probably have lots of leftover sauce to freeze for your next spaghetti supper!

Mama’s Spaghetti & Meatballs | Yields 6-8 entree portions


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 8-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 drop Vitality Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I use 85/15 ground sirloin)
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for four to five minutes until translucent.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, two cloves of minced garlic, Vitality Oregano, basil, and bay leaves. Stir gently to combine and cover. Lower to medium heat and allow to simmer while you make the meatballs, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large bowl, break ground beef up into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon or your fingers. add breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, the remaining two cloves of minced garlic, grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine all ingredients together, making sure not to over mix since that can make the meat too tough.
  4. Roll out meatballs that are about one inch in diameter and drop them one by one into the sauce. Simmer on medium-low for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of meatballs reaches 160 degrees or higher.
  5. Serve over fresh pasta of your choice (our family prefers linguine or spaghetti) and garnish with extra parmesan.

Note: If you aren’t yet cooking with Young Living Vitality oils, you should be! In the meantime, you can sub the Oregano Vitality with 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. :)