Essential Oil Guide: 21 Drops Review

I am always on the hunt for new essential oil products and brands. Essential oils are a fantastic way to naturally improve our well-being on a mental, emotional, and physical level. 

I most recently discovered 21 Drops, and was immediately intrigued. When asked what set them apart from other essential oil companies, their response was what sealed the deal! 
  1. All of the essential oils used in our blends are therapeutic-grade, 100% natural, sourced from artisan distillers, organic or wild-crafted, and GC-MS tested to ensure their upmost purity and effectiveness.
  2. We focused on the molecular chemistry, so you can focus on the physical. Our remedies are pre-blended to treat some of the most common conditions, allowing you more time to spend time with your partner or try that new yoga class.
  3. All of our essential oils are safely diluted in 100% jojoba carrier oil.
  4. Our bright, colorful rollerball packaging makes our blends easy to toss into a purse, place aside your bed or at your desk at work. Basically, they're way more fun and simple to use.  
What's not to love? Unable to narrow it down to just one oil (how can you choose between 21 amazing blends?), the wonderful folks over at 21 Drops were kind enough to send me over the Let's Celebrate Trio to review, and I am in love!

The Let's Celebrate kit includes three 3ml oil blends: Invigorate, Passion, and De-Stress. Each blend is formulated specifically for inhalation and topical application, and every one comes with a fantastic affirmation!

Invigorate (#01) is a combination of black pepper (enlivens & motivates), cedarwood (maximizes endurance), juniper (energizes & invigorates), and rosemary (stimulates the mind). The affirmation that comes with this oil is "I initiate. I act. I deliver." This has been my go-to oil for early mornings and mid-afternoon for when I need a pick-me-up! Caffeine never seems to agree with me (if you ever see me with super shaky hands and looking a little grey, its likely the barista accidentally switched my decaf for something higher octane), so coffee is usually too strong for the usual slow-moving moments. However, one whiff of this blend is enough to get me moving, and once I put a little on my wrists, I am getting things done! I've started keeping this one on my desk so that whenever I feel myself loosing steam, I can have it within reach so I can get back in action! 

Passion (#06) is a combination of cardamom (enlivens & refreshes), jasmine (diminishes fears & inhibitions, rose (invites feelings of love), and sandalwood encourages self-acceptance. The affirmation that comes with the blend is "I am open. I am playful. I am inspired." If sunshine came in the form of an essential oil, this would be it. When wearing Passion, I feel radiant and goddess-like. The floral aspects make it a great date night scent, but I love wearing it anytime I want to feel sunshine-y and special!

De-stress (#11) is a combination of frankincense (quiets the mind), German chamomile (reduces tension), lavender (reduces anxiety), and ylang ylang (helps ease panic attacks). The affirmation is "I accept. I bend. I release." This oil is my new signature scent, hands down. I usually have an affinity for similar blends (as an old flame once proclaimed: "You always smell like tea... It is a good thing, I swear!"), but 21 Drops De-Stress takes the cake. Every time I put on this essential oil, I can feel all of the tension in my body melt away, and I am left relaxed and smiling. 

After the success of these three blends, I cannot wait to try their others! The next ones I have my eye on are #03 Strength, #07 Equalize, #12 Uplift, and #17 Digest, not to mention getting bigger sizes of what I already have!

Have you tried 21 Drops yet? Check them out on their website, and enjoy!

Super Duper Easy Paleo Pancakes

Since switching to a (mostly) paleo diet last year, I have been two variation of a paleo pancake recipe for breakfast that I absolutely love. Unlike most recipes that you can find online, this recipe has minimal ingredients and takes just a few minutes to whip up. Plus, these pancakes are little energy pucks fill me up and get me ready to take on the day. Either variation is delicious, and I usually decide between the two based on what ingredients are more readily available!

Super Duper Easy Paleo Pancakes

Using an electric mixer, stir together:

Variation A: 
one egg
one banana (the fresher the banana, the better it will hold together... if you use a ripe banana, add a spoonful of coconut flour to help hold it together)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup almond flour (different brands will absorb differently)
a dash of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a itty-bitty pinch of clove

Variation B:
three eggs
2 bananas
1/4 cup - 1/2 cup coconut flour (add 1/4 cup, mix, then see if more is needed to thicken)
a dash of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a itty-bitty pinch of clove 

Heat a nonstick pan to medium high heat. Add a spoonful of coconut oil, and once melted, scoop batter into pan into small pancakes. I have found it easier to flip the pancakes if they aren't much bigger than my spatula. Cook until you can easily slide a spatula underneath and see a nice golden brown, then flip!

To be honest, I typically cook this while multitasking, and don't measure exactly or keep a watchful eye while it cooks. The result is darker, less "cute" pancakes (alright, slightly burnt), but they still taste delicious! (However, if "pretty pancakes" is what your after, try Variation B.)

Once you get the hang of either variation, try mixing it up with added fruit! I love to add blueberries into the pancakes, and next I am going to try a few small cut up pieces of apple.

Try at first not to add additional sugar to this; it has plenty of yummy flavor all on its own! If you want a little extra, try frying a few banana slices in the left over coconut oil and putting those on top. Or keep a tiny dish of pure maple syrup on the side. Also, I like to fry up some turkey bacon as well for a real breakfast feast!

Happy cooking!

Bathtub Meditation: Scrub Off Negativity

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
Sylvia Plath

Over the past year, I have experienced a lot of "life" (career changes, moving, medical emergencies, family death, etc.), and it was easy to find myself occasionally overwhelmed with stress.

Have you ever noticed how when you have a lot weighing on you emotionally, your body feels physically weighed down as well? It almost feels as if you are wearing a heavy coat of negativity. Not so fun...

When you are stressed, it can be hard to carve out time to just sit down and meditate. Therefore, I have found a quick solution that lets you (literally) scrub off some of those heavy thoughts: shower-time or bath-time meditation!

Since it is something that everyone does everyday (give or take), it can be a great way to squeeze in a little mental tuneup. Many times, people rush through washing up on autopilot: shampoo, soap, scrub, shave, done. This basic meditation allows you to bring a little mindfulness to your day, and do a little good for your emotional self as well. Depending on whether you prefer showers or baths, you can chose between the two meditations.

If you are showering: As you stand under the stream of water, envision it washing away all of your negative thoughts, as if they were mud stuck to your skin. Some emotions might take a little extra scrubbing, but as you lather up, release all of your fear, anger, and regret so that it may go swirling down the drain.

If you are soaking in the tub: Allow all of your muscles to sink into the hot water. Using a loofa or wash cloth, massage your skin from head to toe, visualizing any negativity within being released into the water. Once you feel truely relaxed and surrendered, unplug the drain and send the water that now carries all that detrimental energy away.

By the time I dry off after a shower or tub meditation, I always feel a lot better, both inside and out!

I always like bringing a cup of yummy tea in the tub with me as well!
I love to use natural bath and shower products, such as Epsom salts, essential oils, Jason shower gel, and my favorite homemade sugar scrub. What are your favorite natural products? Have you ever meditated in the tub before?

Simple Trick for Tight Hamstrings and Sore Feet

"Body is not stiff, mind is stiff." 
Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

I have ridiculously tight hamstrings. Like, "can barely touch my toes on a good day" tight. I dream of one day having my heels touch the mat during downward dog. However, until that day, I am doing what I can to increase my flexibility and softly stretch my tight muscles.

Thankfully, one of my favorite tricks can be easily done at home for a few minutes everyday with some amazing results! All you need? A tennis ball!

Before beginning, I like to stretch down to see how far I can reach so I can compare afterwards and to measure my progress over time. I've found that even after only one session, I can gain a few inches of reach.

Standing up tall, start by rolling the tennis ball under your feet with moderate pressure. If you have trouble keeping your balance, stand close to a wall so you can use it as a prop. Make sure to massage from the front to the back of your foot, including under your toes. After you have done one foot for a minimum of 2 minutes, switch to the other foot. It is as easy as that!

This technique is wonderful for people who are on their feet all day. Do this when you get home after a long day and feel all that tension melt away! (It seems to work faster than attempting to subtly imply to your significant other that you would appreciate a foot massage. I may be known to attempt this technique with varying success: *cough... cough... foot sneaks onto lap... "Whoops... well since it is there, do you mind getting me a foot rub, please?"*)

Try using this technique once a day. I usually do it every morning along with my usual yoga routine. See where it fits best into your schedule. You could even keep a tennis ball under your desk to do this at work!

Make sure to listen to your body. It is possible to hurt yourself by overdoing it, so pay attention to pressure and time.

A little tip from personal experience: keep your tennis ball in a drawer so it doesn't get covered in dog slobber! Yuck!

Do you have tight hamstrings too? Have you used this trick before? Happy stretching!

Center Yourself with Alternate Nostril Breathing

For thousands of years, yogis have believed in the power of breath. To this day, yoga instructors even go as far as to say that if you lose track of your breathing during your yoga practice, you basically void the benefits of your asanas. Long story short: breathing is a crucial part of yoga!

Pranayama, or yoga breathing, makes you more connected to your breath. Although it is important to practice during your yoga practice, it can be beneficial to practice before meditation, right before you go to bed, right before you wake up, or when you just need to recharge. I have found that returning to my yoga breath can really help when I am stressed and need to reset my brain, like when I am hanging off of a mountain on a hard rock climbing route.

A technique that I love and have been using everyday is alternate nostril breathing (also known as Anulom Vilom). It is a great beginning pranayama practice, and can be done by everybody!

Alternate nostril breathing can be an extremely therapeutic and calming ritual. It cleanses your lungs and your mind, calms your emotions and your nervous system, encourages the flow of prana (energy), and can relax a restless brain and body. Doesn't that sound wonderful? Lets get to it!

Begin by getting into a comfortable seated position on your yoga mat. Sit up straight, with your neck, back, and tailbone stacked. Using your right hand, place your pointer and middle finger on your third eye (in the middle of your forehead just above your eyebrows). Take a few relaxed breaths until you feel centered and ready to begin.

Using your thumb, close off your right nostril. Slowly breathe in through your left nostril for a count of four. Hold breathe for a count of four.

Close off left nostril with your ring finger, and release your right nostril. Slowly breathe out for a count of four. Inhale though the right nostril for a count of four. Hold for four, then release through your left side as before. Repeat a few rounds of this alternate breathing and feel how your body responds to this gentle and nourishing practice.

Never be forceful with your pranayama practice. If holding four counts is too much, try shorter increments until you can work your way up to it.
Health conditions, such as high blood pressure, might mean that you shouldn't participate or hold your breath. (Translation: Talk to your doctor.)
If possible, try to practice on an empty stomach or if has been a few hours since eating.

Do you practice pranayama? How do you use yoga breathing techniques in your everyday life?

Delicious Lemon & Mint Detox Drink

This summer, I decided to take on a new challenge: a container herb and vegetable garden. Among my large, random variety of plants (I went a little overboard at the plant nursery), my mint plant is the first to produce enough to harvest!

With my abundance of mint begging to be used, I decided to make a refreshing drink to combat these toasty summer days that would have detox benefits as well.

With three ingredients, it is so easy that I can barely call it a recipe. All you need is half a lemon, 4-6 mint leaves, and water.

Slice up your lemon into wedges or slivers and add to your jar. Rinse your mint, crush it slightly to release the flavor, and add to your jar. Top off with tap, filtered, or Vitajuwel water, and you are good to go!

Mint provides delicious flavor, but it also has some wonderful health benefits as well. It soothes the stomach and digestive tract, is believed to relieve hiccups, sinus congestion, and is an incredible antioxidant.

Adding lemon to your water gives you a vitamin boost, aids your digestion, cleanses toxins, and balances the pH in your body.

I create a large jar of this in the morning to enjoy when I first wake up, because it jump-starts your metabolism and helps you wake up after a night of sleep. Once my initial glass gets low, I continue to top of my jar all day, until the lemon and mint completely lose their flavor. It has become my go to beverage for the summer, and although right now I keep it cool to beat the heat, I imagine it will be really tasty with warm water in the winter!

Enjoy your new tasty beverage!

Keeping Healthy Habits, Plus A Free Printable

It's no surprise that when you eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep, you tend to be in a better mood.

Still, even knowing this information, it is easy to slip up. Maybe you decide to press snooze and skip yoga. Maybe instead of making a salad, you indulge in a junk food feast. Maybe you go out and have too many drinks, resulting in a nasty hangover the next day. You're only human, after all! Once the healthy pattern is broken, though, it sometimes can be hard to return to.

Over a year ago, I made the switch to a paleo diet (at the recommendation of my doctor). Cutting out processes sugar and grains made a noticeable improvement in my overall health, leaving me energized, strong, and less susceptible to getting sick. Despite the encouraging benefits, however, a strict diet can be challenging. I found that I would do well and feel fantastic once I got in the groove, but if I went off track and ate something not within the paleo restrictions, it can take a heck of a lot to get me back to where I was.

Lately, I've realized I've been in a bit of a slump, mentally and physically. Not coincidentally, I have only been eating a "paleo-ish" diet, and have slowly been consuming more and more sugar and grains. Although it may seem obvious, it can be much easier to spiral into unhealthy habits than healthy ones, and I found myself the other day going out in the pouring rain and hail to pick up yet another loaf of cinnamon sugar challah bread because my craving was too strong to ignore, despite just finishing off a huge loaf that morning. Not a proud moment for me, and I felt even worse later with the resulting stomachache and headache.

With spring's arrival, the reminder of new beginnings are popping up at every corner. The green grass grows taller, and flowers blossom on every block. Even after a hard time, whether it be cold temperatures or the spiral of an unhealthy habit, you can always start anew. Empowered by my desire for a fresh start, I am prioritizing my health once again. By no longer indulging my less than healthy cravings and by stocking my fridge with delicious paleo-friendly options, I find myself back on my path.

My yoga instructor offered this beautiful piece of wisdom that I thought was too inspiration not to share: Imagine that you are assigned a car at your birth, and that is the only car you are allowed to have until your death. In order to not only keep that car running, but running smoothly, you will likely make that car a top priority for your whole life. Your parents may help you when you are younger, but as you grow, as does your responsibility. You'd have to make sure it gets the necessary tune-ups, is constantly scrubbed and polished, fed premium fuel, isn't over-worked but also isn't left in the yard to rust, and is given a cozy garage to rest in in-between journeys. Now, realize that your body is your vehicle for your lifetime, and understand why you need to prioritize your health.

Without a hovering parent reminding you to eat your vegetables like they did when you were a child, you have to realize your well-being is your own responsibility. Tired of being sick and tired? Then do something about it! Go that extra mile and make yourself the priority! Switch that soda for a coconut water. Bike to work instead of driving. Set aside even just ten minutes in the morning to sit down and meditate. Find something that you can do for yourself that will set you on the path towards being healthier, mentally and physically. What is the reward of all your hard work? Happiness.

Keeping in mind that healthy living can be challenging at times, I created a little visual reminder to encourage me when I become frustrated. As a thank you to my readers for all their support, I've made my poster available to download!

(It might not show up when you open in your browser, but it should work once downloaded.)

Do you have any healthy habits that have significantly improved your life? What unhealthy habit do you find hardest to break?