I know lots of people are fans of the Elf on the Shelf. When I was little, my mom always put up these red and green elves up. We didn't have a fireplace, but they would sit on shelves, hug candles, climb up the tree, you name it. She got them sometime in the 60's or 70's before elves on the shelf as we now know them were popular. For all I know, they may have been handed down from my grandma. They look so innocent, don't they?
They always freaked me out.
I'm not sure anymore if it was their pointy noses, overly chubby cheeks, weird little grins, or just my over-active imagination. Probably the later. I'd always think they were following me with their eyes, sneaking around the house at night, that sort of thing. Hence why we don't own an Elf on the Shelf. That and I don't like the idea that someone is watching my girls and reporting on their behavior...for one month...feels a little Big Brother-ish...and a little false. We want them to be well-behaved and nice to each other for more than a month, right? It's possible I'm overthinking it, but whatever. To each their own, right? I will admit, I do LOVE the pictures people post of the crazy antics their elves get into.
But I digress.
This post is not about the Elf on the Shelf.
It is about shelves. And pallets.
I picked up this beauty, and a second, from Silver Sage Garden Centers. We went looking for the perfect Christmas tree and found not only the perfect place to purchase one, since they had so many great options for kids to do and play with, but also the perfect inspiration for new shelves for our dining room. Seriously, if you live in the Littleton area, this is a fantastic place to bring your kids to find a Christmas tree. They had tricycles to ride, toys to play with, hot chocolate and cider, and fab trees imported from the Midwest! They had me at hello.
They also had some great, DIY, rustic shelves that my husband first noticed. I took a look and thought, PALLET PROJECT. Sure enough, the woman who had made them was there and confirmed all my DIY suspicions. She also offered me pallets for $5 a pop. Sometimes pallets can be expensive, depending on where you find them. Sometimes they can be free. $5 each seemed like a great deal to me so we managed to squeeze two in the back of Pammy the camry and, with tree on top, off we went.
Now, pallets are pretty rough, pretty dirty, and need some love before you can actually put them in your home. I pulled out my rusty, trusty electric sander to give them a good rub down, remove lots of dirt and dust, and get rid of any sharp edges or potential slivers.
A couple of passes and light pressure left me with a nice, smooth wood and still a good rustic look. Now to figure out how to cut these down. At first I started with the big guns thinking this would be the easiest way. A Skilsaw is an incredibly versatile tool that allows you to control depth and angle fairly easily. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite deep enough for me to get through the cuts I needed. Or maybe it was just user error, cuz that's been known to happen ;)
So I old-schooled it instead.
This little lovely we bought a few years back to help with cutting and prepping the Christmas tree. It definitely took some muscle, and patience, but in the end, it worked really well and got me exactly what I wanted, which was this.
I liked the curve in the pallet and so I cut it to keep the curve and have a backing with taller ends and middle. One pallet left me with four shelves; two had taller backs and sides, and two shorter. None had bottoms at the moment, which for shelves is, of course, a problem. Don't want our books or wine bottles falling out the bottom!
But that was soon to be remedied. For some reason, I had some extra pallet pieces which fit perfectly for the bottom. I also had some old, rusted nails on hand, which fit this project perfectly! Just nailed it on to the bottom and created my shelf!
Now all we need to is decide how to paint them, stain them, or a bit of both...and finish the other three! Here are three ideas via Pintrest. Vote for your favorite and help us make a decision! Just comment below with your vote, 1 - stained, 2 - painted, 3 - a bit o' both.
So I recently started experimenting with cardamom.
If you haven't tried it, or think you haven't, then you probably didn't know you were eating some in that Indian take out you ordered. Or maybe you had a hint of it in the Middle Eastern dishes you tried. It's often used to flavor meat and vegetable dishes, coffee, teas, and baked goods. It is a main ingredient in garam masala and masala chai. It gives Arabic and Turkish coffee their unique flavor.
Cardamom is a member of the ginger family and we use its seed pods for flavoring. It's native to Southeast Asia, but due to cultivation, currently the largest producer of cardamom in the world at the moment is Guatemala. It takes about three years of growth to produce the capsules containing the seeds. These are harvested, dried in the sun, and sorted according to color: green, black or white.
The taste of it is strong, unique, with an intensely aromatic scent. The scent, and the flavor, tends to be warm and smokey, yet citrus-y or lemony, with an odd sweetness to it. It's usually sold in pods as the seeds then keep their scent and flavor longer than ground cardamom.
It's also really good for your health.
According to mercola.com, due to its composition, cardamom contains a high dose of manganese, has been used as an antidepressant, can improve circulation, can support gastrointestinal disorders, and can support your respiratory system. Not too shabby for a little seed pod.
It also tastes really good in chocolate.
I was going to a friends place the other night and wanted to bring something made with cardamom. I had recently purchased cardamom essential oil and wanted to try it out in something yummy that felt holiday-ish, wasn't too heavy, and was easy to munch without much mess.
Hello popcorn. Meet dark chocolate.
1. Pop your corn. Don't buy pre-popped corn. It's just not as good. Use medium heat to ensure no burning and give your pot a shake now and then so it heats and pops evenly.
2. Melt your dark choc chips over a double boiler or in the microwave in short 20-30 second bursts. Stir to ensure it's melted and mixed in. Add in your drops of cardamom and tangerine and mix.
3. Lay down some wax paper on a cookie sheet or counter top. I had a little helper, so the cookie sheet came in handy to keep things contained.
4. Spread the popcorn over the was paper and, using your spoon, drizzle the chocolatey goodness over the top. My little bird got pretty good at the drizzle and didn't lick the spoon once!
5. You can pop the pan in the fridge for a few minutes to let the chocolate set or, seeing it's December, just put it outside for a few minutes instead!
Break up any big clumps as needed and then store it in an airtight container, or just eat it all right away cuz it's just that dang yummy. Keep reminding yourself of all the good health benefits of cardamom while you're at it.
I also made another batch of a blend of peppermint and clove essential oils. That was just as delicious. You could add in nuts, flaked coconut or myriad other options, but the popcorn, dark chocolate, cardamom and tangerine mixture was just right for us today.
Tried it? Liked it? Tweaked it? Let us know!
I know this song came out in 2013, and that there was a bunch of controversy around it, but it was such a good summer driving song, and it relates so well to our painting project...in a round about way...that I couldn't help but include it here. Close your eyes, pretend it's sunny and 80 degrees, and you're feeling pretty dang good.
But back to the Greek yogurt painting project.
When we left off we had finished painting two-thirds of the walls Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball. And, we had tried to ensure a nice, crisp, not blurred, line between Down Pipe and the new color, Black Blue. This is an incredibly rich, intense, deep color. I wasn't so sure about when my husband first showed me his selections. I wasn't so sure about either of them individually, let alone both of them together, to be honest. The office is not large by any means and aren't dark colors always supposed to make rooms feel smaller? Luckily, it's got lots of light...
...and I loved the colors once they were up on the wall!
After taping off the level line where we wanted to divide the wall, we painted a strip of Down Pipe just along the bottom edge of the tape to create a seal between the tape and the wall. With textured walls, this is super important because there are so many variances in the wall that bleeding is almost a given. Here again is what it looked like before we added the Black Blue. Above the tape is the wall we wanted to remain Down Pipe. Below is the area we were going to bathe in darkness.
The first coat again left more what felt like a color wash, but that's to be expected with dark colors. It almost looked like it had a green undertone to it when we first put it up, and more so when it dried. I'm getting a bit of deep teal here! Definitely needed two coats.
I got the job of taking off all the tape around the trim and doors. My husband wanted to do the big reveal of the crisp line.
I have to say, I'm really impressed with how well this turned out. There were only two tiny spots where there was a little bit of bleed through, but all in all, not a blurred line in the bunch!
Here's a close up, which always makes the colors look a bit off. But check out that line! If you've got textured walls and are going for a bi-color room, or adding accent lines, shapes or stripes, this will definitely save your sanity, and leave you feeling pretty darn proud of yourself at the same time. Can't beat that!
We liked the Black Blue so much, we're thinking of putting in other places in the house. In the office it's time to put some art and such on the walls. Any suggestions?
And, if you have done a project like this, or used some deep colors on your walls, tell us how it turned out!
I love me some Greek yogurt.
The first time I ever had it was back in the early 2000's when I was in undergrad at UW-Madison. I worked on State Street at The Soap Opera, which if you've ever been there or you're going, is a delicious place to spend an hour or so just smelling all the lovely soaps, lotions and oils. If you go, say hi to Chuck and Chuck for me!
Anyway, across the street was a Greek restaurant and every so often I'd pop in to get something to keep me going while working my shift. They had the most amazing yogurt I'd ever tasted; thick, creamy, vanilla-ish and, best of all, topped with honey they collected from the baklava. I mean really, the baklava! I was in heaven.
Our most recent house project involves painting my hubbies office. After much debate about what he wanted to do with it; exploring paint colors, referencing Feng Shui guides, choosing then nixing wainscoting, and more, he finally made a decision.
Enter Farrow and Ball.
Farrow and Ball is an English company that specializes in paint and wallpaper. The company was started in 1946 and since then has used natural minerals and high levels of rich pigment to create some amazing colors...and some amazingly thick paint. Seriously, this stuff is the Greek yogurt of paint. It's the thickest of the Greek yogurts possible. You kinda almost want to try it, but then remember it's paint. Weird, huh?
Depending on where you live, and when your house was built, you might have textured walls. It seems that in some places they are more common for hiding tape joints. Texture can also hide dirt and other imperfections better. In some places it's considered an upgrade. In others, not so much and definitely not typical. Our current home has texture...everywhere. The walls and the ceilings throughout the ENTIRE house are textured. The paint color is also the same, everywhere except the basement. From wall to ceiling we have a lovely, inoffensive, very light cafe au lait color. Oddly, the basement also has the same floor to ceiling color, but it's more of a tan with pink undertones. Not my fave, but that's too big of an undertaking at the moment.
Have you ever painted textured walls? It's not the same as a nice, flat wall. Until now, I've only ever painted flat walls. They are fairly straightforward. Don't have to think too much about the roller and such. Textured walls are different. There are all these nooks and crannies you have to get paint into and a regular roller just won't do. Want to see the difference?
Here is the first wall we did with Farrow and Ball Down Pipe. This is a gorgeous deep gray. We initially used a regular roller, 12 inches and probably a 1/4-1/2 inch nap. Nap refers to the length of the fiber on the roller. This did not cover well at all. Please excuse the night time shot, but we tend to paint during nap times and after bed time. If you've got young kids, you feel me here! See how thin it is? It almost felt like a color wash, and this was with super thick paint.
Now check out what happened when we changed to an 18 inch, 3/4 nap roller. By the way, an 18 inch roller is mammoth, as is the paint tray that comes with it! But the difference was obvious really quickly. (That's my hubs. He's great with a roller) The extra length in nap made a huge difference getting into the nooks and crannies of the textured wall, and the coverage was so much better. Lesson learned. Textured walls means longer nap...or many extra coats!
Our second coat really made all the difference. It amazes me the way color changes from night to day, or even wall to wall in the same room! The second picture shows a more true color given I took it during the day.
Now, you may be wondering why we only painted the top two-thirds. Originally the idea was to install wainscoting like this, or this. However, as we looked into the process of installing it on textured walls, it seemed a bit daunting to us. So instead, my husband opted for a change in color with a sharp,distinct line. We read a couple tutorials about how to get that crisp line and here is where we are so far...
Figuring out the laser level to ensure a good line.
Taping off a bit above where we ended the Down Pipe.
Painting over the bottom edge of the tape with Down Pipe to seal the tape before adding our new color. Sealing the tape with the old color is suppose to prevent any bleeding when you add the new color. We finished the first coat of Black Blue tonight and tomorrow will do coat number two, then, with fingers crossed, slowly take off the painter's tape and hopefully reveal a lovely, crisp line. Stay tuned! And eat some Greek yogurt...and baklava while you're at it!
Do you brush your teeth? And floss? Every day, twice a day? That's what we've been told and trained to do, isn't it? I can remember back to elementary school the giant tooth that we all marveled at as we learned the importance of oral care, promptly thinking we are going to lose another tooth, and promptly forgetting to floss that evening.
We also learned about fluoride.
Then, and up until recently, I, like most people, thought that flouride was a good thing. I mean, it's in our toothpaste, you are offered flouride treatments at the dentist office, and most of our water is flouridated. Why? Because flouride can help prevent tooth decay and therefore cavities. Curiously, flouridation of the water supply started back in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. By 2008, more than 72% of the US population has flouridated water. You can check if your water source is fluoridated here.
Oddly, according to FluorideAlert.org, the US stands alone in this. "In Europe, only Ireland (73%), Poland (1%), Serbia (3%), Spain (11%), and the U.K. (11%) fluoridate any of their water. Most developed countries, including Japan and 97% of the western European population, do not consume fluoridated water." Some countries, like China, India and parts of Africa where high levels of flouride naturally occur in the water supply, make an effort to remove flouride because of the health issues it can cause. And, in 2010, Time magazine listed fluoride as on the top ten hazadous household chemicals. Time people! So even if you are not into holistic medicine, Time is a pretty agreed upon reputably source. And this was back in 2010!
Why is fluoride problematic? Here are just a few startling facts from fluoridealert.org:
If that wasn't enough to get you thinking, check out this short film by Jeremy Seifert.
Oh man, right?!?! Definitely got me thinking...hard.
Now, are you ready for some amazing toothy tidbits?
Did you know that each of your teeth has a direct correlation to an organ, joint, system and more in your body? There has long been research and discussion about the role of the gut in our physical and emotion health, but our oral health has something to do with it, too.
So here is where good oral health, and good dental practices, really start to make an impact on our whole body health. Things like fillings and root canals can really wreak havoc with your oral health, and your whole body health, depending on the materials used, and how well the tissue in your tooth socket is taken care of and cleaned after root canals.
The good news?
There are many good natural options out there to avoid fluoride and take great care of your teeth
and your whole body while you're at it!
1. Coconut oil pulling - coconut oil is naturally antibacterial. It's a great way to remove bacteria and promote healthy teeth and gums. Swish for 5-10 minutes every 2-3 days. It literally pulls toxins out and creates a clean, antiseptic environment. Adding essential oils to your oil pulling makes it an even better option! Essential oils contain some of the most potent antibacterial and anti-fungal properties on the planet. Additionally, essential oils will absorb into your tissue as you pull, so your body gets the antioxidant and medicinal powers inherent in these potent compounds. Do not swallow your pulled oil. You want to get any bacteria out of your mouth, not into your body ;)
** for every day pulling try adding 1-3 drops of any citrus oil such as lemon, graprefruit or wild orange.
** for extra fresh breath, try peppermint
** for tooth discomfort or possible infection try adding a drop of immunity blend essential oil or clove
2. Non-fluoridated toothpaste - You still need to brush and floss your teeth. However, you can do that with toothpaste that is not upping your fluoride intake. Here are a two great options:
On Guard toothpaste - this fluoride-free Natural Whitening Toothpaste combines the protective benefits of the proprietary immunity blend of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils with other natural ingredients that help clean teeth, reduce plaque, and whiten teeth with gentle polishing agents. Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils provides an extra cleaning boost, and are also antibacterial oils!
Make your own toothpaste - Make your own blend of coconut oil, baking soda and any essential oils you prefer. Mix oil and baking soda to make a light paste, stir in a drop or your oil of choice, and brush away. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive to help with cleaning and can also help whiten your teeth.
3. DIY mouthwash - This one is super easy to make. You can even do it on a daily basis! All you need is water and your favorite essential oils. Make it as needed by filling a small cup with water and adding a few drops of your oil of choice. Alternatively, make up a (glass) bottle of 2 cups of water to 5-10 drops essential oils. Shake before you your pour it out. Some great oils for mouth wash are melaleuca (tea tree) and peppermint, immunity blend, spearmint, or blend spearmint and tangerine, peppermint and lemon. Get creative and see what feels good and tastes good to you!
Have you tried oil pulling? Tell us about it and your favorite oils to use!
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!