Orange and Other Citrus Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter O post in the #AtoZChallenge. I have been looking forward to sharing this post ever since I found out that the letter O in the #AtoZChallenge alphabet scavenger hunt is for orange. Yes, I’m writing about orange essential oil. Oh, and all the other great citrus essential oils too.

When referring to orange oil, many people mean sweet orange essential oil. Wild orange essential oil is also often used in aromatherapy. I for one don’t own that oil, so I always substitute it with sweet orange.

Unlike most other essential oils, sweet orange and most other citrus oils are not extracted using steam distillation. Rather, they are extracted by cold pressing the rinds (peel) of the fruit. There are distilled varieties of citrus essential oils, but they are much harder to come by. I, for one, have searched a lot of places to find steam distilled lime and lemon essential oils, but haven’t been able to find them here in the Netherlands.

Sweet orange oil is one of the more skin-safe oils out of the citrus group. It is most likely not phototoxic. However, most other citrus essential oils, such as lime, lemon and also bitter orange, are phototoxic.

Another citrus essential oil I love is bergamot. This aroma and flavor may be well-known to those who drink Earl Grey tea, as bergamot oil is used to flavor this type of tea. Bergamot’s scent is citrusy like orange, but somewhat more floral with bitter undertones too. Be very careful when using bergamot essential oil on the skin, as it is highly phototoxic due to it containing bergaptene. When using bergamot essential oil on the skin, be sure to choose the furocoumarin-free (FCF) variant, which has the bergaptene removed. Still, even FCF bergamot essential oil can be irritating to the skin as well as photosensitizing.

Citrus essential oils blend well with many different essential oils, including lavender, eucalyptus, etc. I also love the combination of several different citrus essential oils in a diffuser blend. For example, here’s a recipe for my keylime pie diffuser blend:


  • 2 drops sweet orange

  • 7 drops lime

  • 1 drop lemon

I also like to blend citrus essential oils with spicy essential oils such as cinnamon and clove bud. However, just about anything goes!

Diffusing Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter D post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for this challenge is aromatherapy and today, I’ll talk about one of the most common ways of using essential oils: diffusing.

When I first started using essential oils, oil lamps were still popular. These use a tealight under the essential oil bowl. Other options were aroma stones, which you were supposed to lay on the heating. However, heat can alter the effects of the essential oil and is, for this reason, not recommended.

When I first got my own essential oil diffuser, it was a nebulizer that works with a fan. Then, about a year and a half ago, I got an ultrasonic diffuser. This is a diffuser in which you add water and essential oils. Ultrasonic waves then convert the water and oil into a fine mist. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of diffusers:


  • Fan-based nebulizers are more expensive than ultrasonic diffusers.
  • They also are usually louder. My nebulizer’s fan made a horrible noise, while the only sound my ultrasonic diffuser makes, is a slight bubbling of the water.

  • You don’t need to clean fan-based nebulizers. Rather, you remove the oil filter or switch off the bottle of oil. My nebulizer had oil filters, but I’ve heard there are also diffusers to which you attach a bottle of essential oil directly. Ultrasonic diffusers need to be cleaned occasionally. I heard various things about how to clean a diffuser. I personally fill about half the diffuser’s container with water and then add a bit of white vinegar. Then I turn on the diffuser for five to ten minutes. I finally have it on with just water to clear out the vinegar smell.


I, to be honest, prefer my ultrasonic diffuser because it’s quieter than the fan.

There are many brands of diffusers. Some ultrasonic diffusers are as cheap as €15. Mine cost about €40. My AromaStream® fan-based nebulizer cost about €60.

Ultrasonic diffusers also come in various sizes. Mine has a container of at most 300ml water, which is enough to diffuse essential oils into a large bedroom or normal living room. The diffuser size determines how many drops of essential oil you can use in it. With a 300ml diffuser like mine, 10-12 drops is recommended.

Many essential oil diffusers have other uses besides diffusing essential oil. For example, mine has LED lights in it too, so it doubles as a night light. I’ve also heard of an essential oil diffuser with a Bluetooth speaker in it. I think that’s awesome!

Creating a Sensory Room Experience in My Own Bedroom

It’s been a year since the day center closed. For the most part, it was a good thing for me. I, after all, was often overwhelmed in my day activities group. One thing I miss about the day center though, is the sensory or snoezelen® room. Today, I am sharing how I recreated a sensory room experience in my own bedroom. Since I am blind, I skipped the visual aspect mostly, but I’ll add some ideas for it regardless. That way, you can create a sensory environment for yourself.

Sound

In the day center sensory room, we have a really cool speaker system that’s attached to the bed. It isn’t likely that advanced, so with some speakers at the right position, you may be able to recreate it. I don’t own wireless speakers. However, I found that I can recreate similar effects with earbuds or headphones. I would recommend earbuds for better positioning, but since I don’t have wireless ones, I use my wireless headphones anyway.

I mentioned before that I use an app called MyNoise. This app has over 120 soundscapes and you can customize each individual sound to your own hearing. There are nature soundscapes, but also white noise, Buddhist-like and SciFi soundscapes. I prefer the nature ones.

Like I said, I don’t own wireless speakers, though I might want to invest in some at some point. My phone or computer speakers work okay when listening to music though. There are many calming playlists on Spotify and undoubtedly other music apps too. The ones I love most are Harp Music for Sleeping, Peaceful Guitar and Peaceful Piano. There are also a number of nature sound playlists.

I at one point wanted a music pillow. I may still buy one at some point, but I haven’t yet found one that’s big enough to be used as a sleeping pillow and also works with Bluetooth.

Smell

One thing that my bedroom has and the snoezelen® room didn’t, is an aromatherapy diffuser. I have posted many times about my love for it. Mine cost €40, but they start at as cheap as €15. Essential oils can be a bit expensive depending on the quality you choose. I am obsessed with creating my own blends, so I really like to have a large collection of essential oils. However, if all you want is a nice smell, fragrance oils are also great.

Touch

In the day center sensory room, we had a specially designed waterbed. That felt good, but my own bed is also a pretty good substitute. I usually turn up the head side of the bed slightly.

A thing that’s a true blessing for my senses though, is my weighted blanket. These come in different forms. Some are filled with plastic balls. Mine is filled with sachets filled with granules. It’s a rather expensive blanket at over €500. Thankfully though, my care facility paid for it. With the company we used, you can borrow the blanket on a try-out basis for two weeks for just postage. That helped me make sure it was the right one for me. Mine weighs 12kg, which is relatively heavy considering my body weight of 70kg, but I actually love it this way.

I put a flannel duvet cover over my weighted blanket in winter. When it’s really cold or I need some extra softness for sensory reasons, I use a fleece blanket too.

In addition, I have various soft toys. My favorite is an ordinary stuffed bear. However, I also have a 1.60m large stuffed bear that I got from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. This one was probably quite expensive. Another of my favorite soft toys, is my sensory cat. This stuffed cat can be microwaved and then gives off heat and a lavender scent.

Sight

Like I said, I am blind with the exception of a tiny bit of light perception. I for this reason don’t benefit from visual stimuli. That being said, I do know a bit about making your room visually appealing to the senses.

My essential oil diffuser works as a night light too. It can be set to seven different colors and I believe also two intensity levels.

Of course, you may want to use your sensory room experience for more than just sleeping. I’m pretty sure in my care home’s makeshift sensory room, the staff put up some form of Christmas lights for the visual effect.

In addition, there are many different visual projection systems. My care facility owns the Qwiek.

Conclusion

I really love my makeshift sensory room in my own bedroom. Generally speaking, creating a true sensory room requires a lot of money. I am so glad though that I could buy some equipment myself or ask for it as a gift. That way, I was able to skip the unnecessary for me expensive things and find things I truly would use. I am very glad that my facility paid for the weighted blanket.

loopyloulaura

Gratitude List (January 2, 2021) #TToT

Yay, it’s Saturday and that means I’m going to write another gratitude list. I didn’t specifically resolve to be more grateful this year, but I already set a goal to do a weekly gratitude list in November. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful my extra one-on-one care got approved. The staff and manager will meet next week to discuss how to fill in the hours and whether extra staff will need to be hired for it. So far though, nothing will change for me, as I already had some one-on-one as of mid-November. I’m so glad it doesn’t stop though!

2. I am grateful for financial security. My long-term care copay is likely to increase by at least €70 a month this year, but it’s because my husband’s and my household income has increased. I’m pretty sure I can afford this increase without having to live extremely frugally.

3. Speaking of which, I am so grateful my husband bought a new-to-us car. We used to have a Suzuki Wagon R+, but that one wasn’t too comfortable on long drives. It also needed repairing anyway. Of course, buying another car rather than repairing your current one is rarely the economical choice (my husband calculated that it would be if we bought a very small car). He wanted some luxury though and so do I. We now have a Volkswagen Golf.

4. I am grateful for oliebollen and other new year’s snacks. I didn’t eat too many, but I did have some treats.

5. I am grateful for a relatively peaceful new year’s. My sister-in-law came by. My husband had made it clear beforehand that I could always retreat into the bedroom to go on my phone, so I did that a few times.

6. I am grateful for toast with sausages on it for lunch today. I’d never had this before, but it was good.

7. I am grateful for really good essential oil combinations in my diffuser. I even managed to make one that’s good even though there’s geranium in it. I normally hate that scent (don’t ask me why I bought it then), but combined with lavender, orange and cedarwood, it’s good.

8. I am grateful for a really nice nap this afternoon. I had the aforementioned combination of essential oils in my diffuser and slept like a log.

9. I am grateful the festivities are over with for now for a while. They were good, but I’d like to have some normal weeks now.

10. I am so grateful for still no COVID at my care home! I could post that one every week, because of course each week without COVID is a blessing, but well.

What are you grateful for?

Lovin’ Lately (September 25, 2020)

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for the Friday Favorites linky. I don’t join in every week, but today, I have a lot of amazing things I’ve loved lately.

1. My new essential oil diffuser. I had promised myself a new one when my benefits came in on Wednesday. After all, the old one was a bit leaky at times and its buttons had been stuck for a while. Wednesday in the middle of the night, I decided to order it despite my benefits not having shown up in my bank account yet. I got it from Bol.com, a large Dutch online store similar to Amazon. When checking out, Bol.com offered me free same evening delivery because I have a type of subscription (only €9,99/year) with them that allows free delivery. It seems rather decadent to want same day delivery on non-essentials, but so what? It arrived the following evening at around 8:30 and I love it!

2. Lots of essential oils. I ordered those at the end of last week at an online soaping supplies store. However, they take 3-6 working days to process and ship your order, so my oils didn’t arrive till Tuesday. I went through my old essential oils on Wednesday, seeing which had expired. I still have quite a lovely selection though. Currently, a blend of patchouli, bergamot and lavender is diffusing in my diffuser.

I also ordered some other soaping supplies, but haven’t used those yet.

3. Chocolate. On Wednesday, I had been in the care facility for one year. To celebrate, I asked my staff to get some mini candy bars for me and the other clients to enjoy. I particularly loved the crispy one.

4. Books. I haven’t been reading that much lately, but I did download a few new books off Bookshare. Among these are, not surprisingly, several books on essential oils. However, I also saw that the latest Katherine Center novel, What You Wish For was added to Bookshare. I haven’t gotten down to reading any of her books, but I think I’d enjoy them.

5. A weighted blanket. I discussed sensory integration with the physical therapist a while ago and suggested I try a weighted blanket for relaxation. The company that my care facility works with, sends them on a try-out basis for two weeks for just shipping costs. If it helps, the physical therapist is even going to ask my facility to purchase it for me. So far, it’s pretty great.

6. A small table. When we had the COVID scare and were in room-based isolation early in the week, I needed a table to eat on other than my desk. The staff got a small table from an empty room. We’re no longer in isolation, but I’m allowed to use it for as long as no-one else needs it. I love it! I have my diffuser on it. Used to have it on my countertop, but that didn’t work. I may ask my husband to help me look for a similar table at Ikea.

What are some things you’ve been lovin’ lately?

Essential Oil Diffuser!

Today we had a Christmas lunch at day activities. It was good. We got a hamburger, salad and ice cream. At the end of the day, we also got our Christmas presents from day activities. It’s a tradition here in the Netherlands that employers give their employees a Christmas package (usually a box with foods and a small gift). Though we aren’t really employees, our day activities gives us a present too. I had been more or less pestering my staff for an essential oil diffuser. A fellow resident at the care facility got one as a St. Nicholas present on December 5. I have at least one and probably two at home already, but they work with a fan and hardly give off any scent. The one my fellow resident got, works with water. You add a cup of water and a few drops of essential oil to it and then it somehow heats the water or otherwise diffuses the oil. I had had such a diffuser a few years back but that one had a lot of safety warnings on it and my husband was pretty sure I’d harm myself using it, so I returned that one to the shop.

Anyway, we did get the essential oil diffuser! It’s a cheap one from something similar to the Dollar Store, but I love it. Right now, it’s diffusing a bit of vanilla fragrance oil that I borrowed from the fellow resident, as I don’t have my EOs with me here yet. Its scent is a lot stronger than what came off the fan-based diffusers. I checked and it doesn’t seem like this diffuser is actually heating the water. Don’t know how else it produces the smell, but oh well. This particular diffuser also has lights in it that change color and it actually releases a bit of mist. I can’t see the colors, of course. I’m curious to know what this diffuser will do when I diffuse eucalyptus essential oil. I tried this in the fan-based one and hardly smelled it, even though eucalyptus is supposed to be a really strong scent. This diffuser has only a small water reservoir, so you can only add five or so drops of EO. This means I can hardly make any blends, but who cares? Maybe I’ll figure out blending tiny amounts anyway.