Things That Made Me Smile (July 26, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all on this summerly Monday. We had a thunderstorm yesterday early evening and are expected to get more later this evening. However, right now it’s still pretty sunny and warm outside.

Today, I am joining in with The Weekly Smile. I am also joining in with Cee’s Flower of the Day, since my smiles involve flowers.

First, over the past week or two, whenever I returned from a walk with my day activities staff, I always smelled lavender close by my care home. I don’t care for the smell of lavender in perfumery, although in essential oil blends it’s great. The actual flower smells awesome too! Today, I finally took my phone with me on my walk so that we could take a picture of the plant.

Lavender

Then, a few days ago, a staff pointed out a huge bush of geraniums near the day center. I still remember the characteristic red color from when I still had some vision and I love it. Its smell though is one of my least favorites, including in essential oils. This morning, I went out and actually touched the bush and indeed, it’s huge!

Geraniums

Generally, the presence of nature really makes me smile. It’s no wonder that, when asked what I miss most about being unable to see, I generally reply the ability to appreciate the beautiful sights of nature. However, I am still able to hear and feel and smell the beauty of nature!

What made you smile this past week?

Four Essential Oil Diffuser Blends for Relaxation

Like I’ve mentioned a couple of times over the past week, I’ve been loving my new essential oils. I got three new-to-me oils, even though I already had a stash of about thirty different oils. One of the reasons for this is the fact that, when I started out experimenting with essential oils several years ago, I just bought oils at random without paying attention to which blended well together. In case you didn’t know, blending essential oils is better than using single oils. For this reason, you almost by default need more than one oil. But I was completely clueless and just threw oils together that I had no idea about whether their smells or effects would complement each other or would lead to something that flat out stank. And since I had no idea what to expect, my nose wasn’t telling me either.

All this to say, you don’t need thirty or more essential oils to enjoy aromatherapy. I for one love creating a new blend everyday and, since I buy my oils online, I haven’t been able to smell them before purchasing them. If you are in a position to smell different oils before purchasing them, by all means do. After all, even though blends are better than single oils, if an oil has a horrible smell on its own, you may not like it in synergy either. Thankfully, all my new-to-me oils smell pretty good.

Like I said above, I like to try a new essential oil blend everyday. Like I said when doing my #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy, essential oils can do different things. For example, some can be uplifting and some can be relaxing. Today, I’m sharing four different essential oil blends for relaxation.

For each blend, I will assume you have a medium-size (about 300ml) ultrasonic diffuser. For this reason, the total number of drops of essential oil you’ll want to use, is about 10 on average. You can adjust the number to your liking or your diffuser size.

Blend 1

First up is a blend of lavender or lavandin, cedarwood, sweet orange and ylang ylang. Like I said when discussing lavender and lavandin last April, lavandin is milder and cheaper than lavender. In this recipe, I used lavandin. You can substitute the sweet orange for wild orange if you have this, but I’ve never tried that. I really like this combination of oils and have it in my diffuser as I write this post.


  • 4 drops lavandin

  • 2 drops sweet orange

  • 2 drops cedarwood

  • 1 drop ylang ylang

Blend 2

This blend combines equal amounts of bergamot, patchouli and ylang ylang. I got a little bored of this blend after using it a little too often. However, it is simple to memorize, which may be one reason I used it so regularly.


  • 3 drops bergamot

  • 3 drops ylang ylang

  • 3 drops patchouli

Blend 3

This blend contains lavender (or lavandin, I’ve tried both), patchouli and geranium. Geranium is one of those oils whose smell I don’t personally appreciate that much, so I like to use only one drop of it in my blends.


  • 4 drops lavender

  • 4 drops patchouli

  • 1 drop geranium

Blend 4

Finally, I want to mention a blend that contains one of my absolute favorite essential oils: clary sage. I was really saddened that I didn’t find a reason to discuss this oil in my #AtoZChallenge last April, although I think I mentioned it when discussing uplifting essential oils. This blend has both mood-boosting and relaxing properties.


  • 1 drop lemongrass

  • 5 drops lavender

  • 4 drops clary sage

I hope some of these essential oil blends will inspire you.

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with the Hearth and Soul Link Party

Gratitude List (July 10, 2021) #TToT

It’s been a while since I last did a gratitude post. Today I feel pretty good. Not that I need to feel good in order to do a gratitude post – I’ve written them to cheer myself up on many occasions. However, feeling good is also a good time to express gratitude. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT.

1. I am so grateful for no side effects from my topiramate. I am not yet sure whether this medication will be working, although my staff say I seem calmer than I was before. It’s only been a week though, so we’ll see. I am however so happy I at least tolerate the medication, since many people don’t.

2. I am so grateful for increased motivation and creativity. Although this has been going on for a few weeks already, I’m really hopeful it’ll not just be an episode and, if it is, will last longer than usual.

3. I am grateful for pretty good sleep particularly early in the week. During the first few days of the week, my sleep quality was truly amazing. Last night it was a lot poorer, but I’m still happy to report I don’t experience major effects today. And it may or may not be the topiramate already working, but I haven’t had nightmares at all.

4. I am grateful for a hair clip my sister gave me for my birthday. I wear it in my new profile pic and, although I still prefer my hair mostly loose with just one small clip at the front, I do like this new look.

5. I am grateful for warm and relatively rain-free days. We’ve had more rain than is usual for the summer here so far, but it’s still okay.

6. I’m grateful my mobility seems to be returning to some reasonably acceptable level. Up till a week or two ago, I could hardly walk a kilometer at a time or I’d feel my legs get tired. Now I can walk somewhat longer distances again. I managed to reach 10K steps several days this past week and almost got it on a few other days.

7. I am grateful for delicious treats for lunch several times this week. Like, today we got mini pizzas.

8. I am grateful for quick package delivery. I ordered several things online Thursday evening and yesterday and they all arrived today.

9. I am grateful I decided to finally order some relatively expensive essential oils. I ordered Roman chamomile, sandalwood and vetiver. I also ordered sweet orange, because I’d used up all of my oil already a month or so ago. I’m so excited about all the delicious essential oil blends I can now make.

10. I am so grateful my staff killed the fly that had been annoying me buzzing around my room all morning before her shift ended. I’m probably not supposed to take delight in animal death, but I’m glad to make an exception for a fly.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this partly sunny and warm Friday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m afraid it isn’t time for our evening coffee for another hour yet, but I can offer you a glass of water or of course make you a Senseo coffee in my own coffee maker. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share about the topiramate. Yay, I finally started it and yay for no side effects! That being said, I’m not noticing any positive effects either as of yet and my nurse practitioner said it’ll be four to six weeks before we’ll increase my dosage. That disappointed me a bit, given that the max dosage for PTSD symptoms is six times what I take now, so it’ll take at least six months to get to that level and then if we decide this medication isn’t for me after all, six more months to get back off. Maybe I’m wrong here, since I’ve never had a medication not work on me at all before. I’ll discuss all this with my nurse practitioner when I next see him. Of course, here’s hoping the medication will start working in a few weeks.

Next, if we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve experienced an increase in motivation lately. This has been going on for a few weeks already, but I’m noticing it might stick around longer now. Usually, it only lasts for a week or so and then diminishes again.

I have not been as crafty this past week as I was last week, but still I’ve not been disappointed with my level of activity.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I talked with the care facility’s behavior specialist yesterday. We decided to let the moving care homes issue rest for a bit, but get back to it in about two months’ time. I really do hope we can work on making my life in my current care facility better, as she’s right that every place has its positive and negative sides.

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about the rapid increase in COVID cases here in the Netherlands. We’re due to get another press conference from the prime minister at 7PM. I’m not expecting any measures that will affect me directly, but still, it sucks.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been spending quite a bit of money on my hobbies lately. I ordered several new essential oils, including the Roman chamomile I mentioned on Wednesday, as well as a full liter bottle of sweet almond oil. I also ordered a kitchen scale. Not a talking one, as they’re too expensive for my liking. I’m hoping all my supplies will arrive either tomorrow or next Monday.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you I’m loving looking at sites for bath and body recipes. I already created a pink grapefruit and lemon massage oil. Since both essential oils are phototoxic, I took extra care to dilute them properly and so far, so good. I used the oil on my hands yesterday and am absolutely fine despite the sunshine now.

How have you been?

Currently (July 2021)

I usually don’t participate in the Currently linkup, in part because the prompts don’t always inspire me and in part because the posting day coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I still follow Anne’s blog in my feed reader though and today, I decided to check out her post. It’s quite an easy one this month, so here goes.

Eating

Way too much. When I would initially be prescribed my currently latest medication, topiramate, the psychiatrist told me that it may cause me a decreased appetite. So far, not so. It’s not a problem though, since, even though I’m overweight, my weight is stable.

Today, my day activities staff took me to the local marketplace and we bought fish and chicken wings for lunch and I bought a giant waffle called “stroopwafel”.

Now in case you’re thinking I’m chronically overeating, I normally eat a pretty balanced diet.

Feeling

Okay’ish. I’ve had a few rough weeks, as regular readers of my blog will know. However, I still find moments of joy, particularly when I’m crafting.

Going

To Lobith. For those visiting from the linkup, I live in a care facility in Raalte, Netherlands. My husband lives in Lobith, about a ninety-minute drive away. I normally go to Lobith about twice a month, but I went there both last weekend and the weekend before for my birthday celebrations.

Ordering

Most recently, some jewelry-making supplies. However, I already have my eyes on a number of relatively affordable essential oils too. I mean, oils that would cost over €50 for a 10ml bottle normally but I can get for €20 at some stores apparently. Think Roman chamomile. I know, it’s probably not the best quality, but my wallet has a will of its own. I need to restock my sweet almond oil too, as I just used most of what I had left for a massage oil yesterday.

Realizing

That I may need to stop evaluating my life and start living. This is sort of the take-home message I got from my psychiatric nurse practitioner at my last appointment on Monday. I was talking about possibly wanting to find myself another care home and compulsively looking for it. I mean, checking out care agencies’ websites on a daily basis for suitable homes. This really isn’t helping, since even if I need or want to leave my current placement, I’ll need guidance on finding myself another place to live. As my nurse practitioner said, I’m evaluating my life each day again rather than seeing each day as just the day it is.

Unfortunately, part of me is feeling as though his message means I need to accept a rather difficult living situation just because it isn’t time to evaluate yet. I can see his point about not checking out care agency websites daily, but the compulsion is also hard to break, as this is what I’ve been doing pretty much my entire adult life. For those not aware: I lived in one temporary placement or another from age nineteen until I moved to the current care facility in 2019. It’s only natural that I cannot believe that this is where I can stay.

What’s up with you?

Zoloft From Nature: Uplifting Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to the final day in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for another weird title. I usually go with Z for “ZZZ” and then write about sleep, but I already covered calming essential oils in my letter X post. Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant, so I thought I’d steal that name for a post on uplifting essential oils. Unlike calming essential oils, I am not under the impression that uplifting oils can replace a legitimate antidepressant prescription. After all, generally speaking, antidepressants should only be prescribed in moderate to severe cases of anxiety or depression. It may therefore be needless to say, but don’t stop your antidepressants without a doctor’s supervision. These oils may help you feel better and are generally safe to use when you’re on medication.

First up is clary sage essential oil. I love love love this oil. It is not generally energizing, but is very uplifting to the mood. Clary sage essential oil is derived from the flowers/buds and leaves of the salvia sclarea plant. It contains 60 to 70 percent linalyl acetate, which gives it its mood-boosting properties.

citrus essential oils like grapefruit, bergamot and lemon are also great for stimulating the mind and improving mood. Like I said when writing about those oils, they can be combined together to create fresh, fruity blends. I mentioned my keylime pie diffuser recipe already, but the possibilities are really endless.

Another oil I came across when doing research for this post, is white fir. This is an oil I haven’t used often yet, but it combines great with citrus oils to add a little woodsy scent to your blends. I also saw spicy essential oils like cinnamon listed.

Lastly, mint essential oils, especially spearmint, are particularly helpful to get you out of a funk. They are energizing and, in combination with citrus oils, are great for boosting your mood.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter Y post in the #AtoZChallenge. Yay, we’re almost done with the challenge. Today, I will share about one of my favorite essential oils with you: ylang ylang. I never quite understand how to pronounce it, but who cares if it smells good?

Ylang ylang essential oil is derived through steam distillation of the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree. Its common name comes from the repetition of the Tagalog word for “wilderness”, “ilang”. The tree occurs in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines, Indonesia, Comoro and Polynesia.

Ylang ylang is an interesting oil, in that it is distilled somewhat differently from other oils. You may have seen ylang ylang essential oil be referred to as “Extra”, “Complete” or a Roman number I, II or III. The difference lies in the distillation time. Ylang ylang extra is only distilled for a short time. Then the remaining oil is further distilled to create ylang ylang I, II and III. Finally, a completed distillation results in ylang ylang complete. For aromatherapy purposes, ylang ylang extra or complete are preferred. I honestly have no i dea what variety of ylang ylang oil I own.

The aroma of ylang ylang essential oil is exotic, sweet, floral and a bit fruity. The essential oil is thought to help lessen anxiety and depression. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac. Ylang ylang essential oil is thought to help reduce negative emotions such as nervousness, tension and sadness. It also supposedly promotes positive feelings of cheerfulness and optimism. For this reason, it is very useful in promoting sensuality for couples.

When used topically on the skin, ylang ylang essential oil is believed to help regulate the skin’s oil production, thereby reducing excessive dryness or oiliness.

The maximum usage rate in skincare products is 0.8%, because there is a risk of skin sensitization. Also be careful when using ylang ylang essential oil in a diffuser for the first time, as it can cause a headache.

Xanax From Nature: Calming Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter X post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for the weird title, but I had to come up with something starting with X. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety and sleep medication. Here in the Netherlands, benzodiazepine medications aren’t covered by insurance, at least not when used for sleep or relaxation. In the spirit of finding alternatives to benzos, today I’m sharing what essential oils can do to promote relaxation. Now I don’t say that essential oils are as effective, but in some cases, they might just be, especially since benzos are highly addictive.

The most well-known oil for tranquility is, of course, lavender. Lavender is thought to help relieve anxiety by affecting the limbic region of the brain, the area that involves emotion. You can either use some lavender essential oil in a diffuser blend or enjoy a lavender bath. To do this, combine a few drops of lavender essential oil with a teaspoon or so of the carrier oil of your choice or an unscented bath gel.

Valerian is up next. I don’t own this oil and haven’t talked about it. Valerian is an herb that has been used since ancient times to promote sleep and relaxation. The herb can be used in herbal teas, but there’s also an essential oil derived from it that can be used in a diffuser blend.

Jasmine is also sometimes used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. It has a beautifully floral scent and, in helping with anxiety, has the advantage that it doesn’t cause sleepiness. Jasmine is usually sold as an absolute and even then can be quite expensive.

Chamomile essential oil, particularly Roman chamomile, is also commonly used for helping reduce anxiety. I do not own this oil, as it is pretty expensive, but would love to in the future. I did at one point use chamomile in herbal tea.

Lastly, frankincense and vetiver essential oil both have calming properties.

There are also oils that have both calming and uplifting properties. For example, I personally didn’t expect patchouli essential oil to help with anxiety, as it is mostly thought of as an uplifting oil. However, of course, oils can do both. I will discuss more uplifting oils later.

Wintergreen Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter W post in the #AtoZChallenge with my theme of aromatherapy. Today, I will be writing on an oil I don’t own, but which has fascinated me for a while: wintergreen.

When I first looked into essential oils, I saw that wintergreen essential oil is commonly sold. However, at the time, I thought it was a hazardous oil because, back then, AromaWeb had it on its list of oils you should avoid. I wondered why then it was being sold.

Indeed, wintergreen’s main component, Methyl Salicylate (which makes up at least 98% of the essential oil), is toxic with as little as four milliliters being potentially deadly. AromaWeb still advises caution when using this oil. The author also advises buying from a reputable supplier, as some vendors market synthetic Methyl salicylate as wintergreen essential oil.

Wintergreen essential oil is derived from the leaves of the Gaultheria procumbens, an evergreen shrub. The leaves are first soaked in warm water and then the oil is extracted through steam distillation. Fresh wintergreen leaves do not contain Methyl salicylate. Rather, the chemical is formed during the process of soaking the leaves.

Wintergreen’s aroma is crisp, fresh, woody and sweet. Wintergreen’s smell is similar to that of mint essential oils. For this reason, many people think that wintergreen belongs to the mint family. It doesn’t.

Like birch oil, wintergreen essential oil is used as a potent pain reliever and anti-inflammatory oil. However, it also has blood thinning properties, so should not be used if you already take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder. The oil also stimulates the liver, resulting in possible drug interactions. I would advise against using wintergreen essential oil at all if you take any medication. Wintergreen is not safe when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also should not be used on children or around pets.

Vetiver Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for this year is aromatherapy and today, I want to discuss the oil I most recently purchased: vetiver essential oil.

Vetiver essential oil is derived through steam distillation of the aromatic roots of the Vetiveria zizanoides plant. The aroma is strong on its own and can be described as woody, earthy, herbaceous, smoky and spicy. Vetiver essential oil has potent emotional balancing properties and is, for this reason, also referred to as the oil of tranquility. It is also sometimes called the fragrance of the soil.

Almost the entire vetiver plant has been used since ancient times. For example, in tropical countries, people used to make coolers from vetiver plants. They were woven together with coir ropes to make grass mats, which were soaked in water and then hung in doorways. That way, the warm air from outdoors would be cooled.

Since the Middle Ages, vetiver essential oil has been used for its scent. Its deep and woody aroma, its low evaporation rate and its sollubility in alcohol make it great for use in perfumes. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, Miss Dior by Dior and Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel are some well-known perfumes that incorporate vetiver. Vetiver is also used in many if not most men’s fragrances.

Vetiver essential oil can be used on the skin to treat acne, reduce the appearance of scars, help with wound healing and lessen the effects of aging on the skin. Its maximum usage rate in a carrier oil is 15%.

However, it is even more useful in a diffuser blend. It has warming, grounding, balancing and sedative properties. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac scent.

Vetiver essential oil blends well with many other oils, including sandalwood, patchouli, lavender and clary sage. If you happen to have rose absolute, this is also a great aphrodisiac to be used with vetiver essential oil. Some sources recommend using as many as five drops of vetiver essential oil in your blends of ten drops. However, AromaWeb’s author recommends using the oil sparingly in blends to prevent it overpowering other scents. I agree with that.