What I’m Into: July 2017

splash pad 1

July was a no-sleep month.

After a month of sleeping through the night pretty consistently, Felix decided, “You know what would be cool? Trying that night/day switcheroo thing again.” So he’d just wake up at 3am and hang out for 3-4 hours every night.

Good times.

We didn’t really do anything or go anywhere special this month, either, except appointments for Felix. We were mostly too exhausted and zoned-out, and our usual babysitters were often on vacation.

We tried seeing a movie at the drive-in theater as a family, but the mosquitoes descended in clouds and we fled after ten minutes, scratching and swatting all the way home.

But hey! Look how much Felix enjoys being in water!

splash pad 2

splash pad 3

lake

He friggin’ LOVES it!

So July wasn’t all bad.

Anyway, here are a few things I enjoyed.

Books

Eye of the World

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (audiobook). This is the first book in the The Wheel of Time series. If you love The Lord of the Rings but wish it wasn’t such a sausage party, you might love The Wheel of Time. Eight characters (men and women) must set out on a quest to save the world from an evil force that wants to destroy it. It’s got everything for lover of epic fantasy: there are ageless evil lords who want your soul; long journeys through wilderness on horseback, with terrifying creatures on your heels; beautiful magical ladies; and an honest, humble shepherd with a secret destiny and as the protagonist. It’s over 700 pages long (which translates to more than 30 hours on audiobook), and the first of 14 (even longer) novels, if you want to go all in on a massive, immersive series that will take you years to finish. But the first book concludes nicely enough if you want to just give it a whirl.

born a crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (audiobook). A fantastic read. Those of you who have watched Trevor Noah on The Daily Show already know he’s smart, funny, eloquent, and charming, but it turns out, he’s got a hella fascinating life story, too. He grew up in South African during and immediately after Apartheid. To make things especially interesting, he was born to mixed parents at a time when it was illegal for races to mix (hence the title). He’s a terrific story-teller, and his childhood is filled with wild moments, from his mom throwing him out of a moving car to him accidentally burning down a White family’s house. His reflections of race and racism are illuminating and nuanced. I admire and respect him more than ever. He does a terrific job narrating his book, too — his voices and accents are on point. I dare you not to love him by the end of it.

Kids’ Books

Toys Go Out series

Toys Go Out, Toy Dance Party, and Toys Come Home – Emily Jenkins and Paul O Zelinsky. We’ve read these before, but they were so good they merited a re-read. These three books tell the stories of StingRay, Lumphy, and Plastic, three toys who live in the Little Girl’s room. It has some similarities with Toy Story, but manages to feel completely fresh and unique. It’s hilarious, clever, and imaginative. The toys all have distinct, lovable personalities — you feel like you know them personally within the first few pages. The characters deepen and grow over the course of the books. Five stars. These are the best books I’ve read to Lydia so far, and my number one recommendation for parents looking for read-alouds for their 4-6-year-olds.

No TV or Movies on account of the No-Sleep-or-Babysitters thing.

And that’s what I’ve been into. How about you?

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(Super Quick and Easy) Thai-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai chicken noodle soup. Have dinner on the table in less than half an hour!

I spend way too much time in the kitchen.

For reasons I don’t fully understand myself, I’m addicted to recipes that have way too many fancy ingredients and way too many steps. I can’t help myself. It’s a problem. I hate how much time I spend in my kitchen, but I just can’t stop.

What many people might consider comfort food, I tend to find boring. No casseroles or pasta for me. I’m always hankering for something exotic, with lots of different textures and aromas and spices.

This is one of those unique recipes that feels really fancy and exotic but only takes a few minutes to whip up. It only has a few ingredients, and most of them can be found in your pantry/fridge/freezer at any given time. (Or at least, they are in mine. I always have homemade chicken broth, coconut milk, and fish sauce on hand.)

It’s also very nourishing, made with simple, wholesome ingredients. It’s loaded with good fats, vitamins and minerals. It’s filling, too.

I adore the balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavours of Thai cuisine. This recipe takes the basic template of boring chicken noodle soup and bumps it up to *spectacular.*

It features a rich, savoury broth turned magical with dreamy, creamy coconut milk. The fish sauce creates depth by adding sumptuous umami flavour. You can adjust the heat to your liking with red pepper flakes.

thai fish sauceMmmm… umami.

It will taste like you simmered it on the stove for hours. You can serve it to your guests and they will all be impressed. Or just toss it t0gether for your family on a random weeknight.

Go make this delicious soup! It will be ready in less than 30 minutes.

Disclaimer: I am not even close to being Thai. I have not even been to Thailand. So I apologize to actual Thai cooks who are probably rolling their eyes at my attempt to imitate their rich cuisine. Thank you for your wonderful gift of fish sauce to the world.

Recipe: Thai-Inspired Chicken Noodle Soup

thai chicken noodle soup

Ingredients

  • 8 oz rice stick noodles (about 225g, or half a package)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (fresh or bottled)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts, rinsed (optional)

Method

First, soften the noodles. You don’t want to actually cook them, because they will quickly turn to mush in the hot soup. Just place them in a heat-safe bowl with hot water from the tap, to soak while you make the rest of the soup. Set aside.

rice stick noodles soaking

Meanwhile, melt coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.

Add chicken and let it gently poach in the simmering broth, about 5 minutes. (Poaching gives you much more tender chicken than sauteeing, and is ideal for soups. #protip)

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and/or more red pepper.

At this point, your noodles should be flexible and soft, but not cooked. A little firmer than al dente. Drain the water. The noodles will finish cooking in the hot broth in your individual bowls, kind of like how the beef in Vietnamese pho cooks in your bowl.

To serve: Place a serving of noodles in each bowl, add desired amount of bean sprouts (if using), then ladle hot soup over it. Give the noodles a minute to finish cooking. Sprinkle generously with cilantro. Add another dash of red pepper flakes if you’re that kind of person.

Listen to your kid complain, “I hate it! It’s horrible! I thought you were making pad Thai!” and then eat it anyway.

Tada! Dinner on the table in less than half an hour.

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Review: Eden’s Garden Essential Oils – Delicious New Synergy Blends

Eden's Garden essential oils - synergy blends

One of my most commented-upon blog posts of all time is one I wrote almost two years ago, entitled Why I Quit DoTerra (And What I’m Doing Instead). I still get comments at least weekly on that post. People have got opinions on essential oils!

(And why wouldn’t they? There is a lot of money to be made in essential oils these days! And absolutely anyone can sell them. So there are regular women all over the continent who have stakes in what I think about DoTerra or other MLM essential oil companies.*)

Anyway, in that post I explained why I was using Eden’s Garden essential oils instead of any big-name MLM brand. Eden’s Garden had no idea I was writing the post. I just wanted to share my experiences with them so far.

But I guess they took notice a few months ago, because Eden’s Garden emailed me and asked me if I’d like to review their newest line of Synergy blends.

I said, Heck yes I would! Free essential oils, and all I have to do in return is tell you folks about them? I was all in.

So now I’ve had them for a couple of months, and it’s time I told you what I think of them!

(Again, I’m not getting paid to talk about them. I just got some free products in exchange for an honest review. This is not the case for most people telling you about essential oils.)

A Note on How I Use Essential Oils

diffuser fearless

I use essential oils primarily in a diffuser as aromatherapy. However, I have no training whatsoever in aromatherapy, so I am not an expert. I use oils primarily to promote feelings like calm and peace, or to uplift and energize. I have not been diagnosed with any mental illnesses, but I feel sad and worried almost all the time, and have been using essential oils as one of the tools to manage these feelings. (I tried therapy but that is e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e.)

I also use essential oils in things like deodorant and as insect repellent, and for making household products smell nice (since we buy absolutely everything unscented). I like them. They make me happy.

I do not claim that essential oils can cure any diseases or illnesses. I have not tried them in that capacity. As of now, I have no idea whether they are capable of doing such things.

For that reason, I don’t have any super-duper strong feelings about which essential oil company has the *absolute most therapeutic* properties. There has been much debate about this matter in the comments of my previous post. In my experience, and from my understanding, Eden’s Garden sells excellent-quality, 100% pure essential oils that meet the highest measurable standards (…along with plenty of other companies). It helps that they are not paying me or anyone else to tell you that they are. That really boosts their credibility, in my opinion.

Why I Love Eden’s Garden

In addition to offering pure, high-quality oils, Eden’s Garden happens to have lots of other great things going for them, including:

  • affordable prices (generally 40-60% less than DoTerra)
  • a super-simple retail model: just buy what you want directly from the website
  • tons of selection: currently, they sell 135 single oils and 58 synergy blends
  • a variety of sizes to choose from, making them more affordable
  • excellent customer service

All of these qualities have made me a happy customer in the past. (I explore these qualities more deeply in my other post.)

Review of Eden’s Garden’s 18 New Synergy Blends

Eden's Garden essential oils synergy blends

I want to start by saying that I have been loooooooving these new synergy blends. I’ve been using them almost every day — mostly in my diffuser — and they delight my heart.

When I first opened up each bottle and took my first sniff, I was struck by how absolutely gorgeous each one smelled. Well, except maybe Repel, their insect repellent, but you can only make that smell so good.

I didn’t realize this at first, but all of EG’s 18 new synergy blends correspond with DoTerra blends. Eden’s Garden actually has a handy comparison chart to help you out if you’re looking for something specific. Super handy if you already know you want a particular DoTerra blend, but would like to try EG’s version!

(I have personally bought and loved a few DoTerra blends — namely, Serenity and Elevation — and the corresponding EG oils — Tranquility and Shine — smell identical to me. Completely indistinguishable. So I know where I will be getting my replacements from in the future!)

Another thing I want to note is that with all of these blends, it only takes 1-3 drops in my diffuser to fill my whole first floor with their scent. They are as potent as they are lovely.

Anyway.

Since I think it would be tedious to describe every single oil, I will just focus on my absolute favourites.

For Cleansing:

aroma fresh from Eden's Garden

Aroma Fresh. This is possibly my very favourite blend. It gets used the most often. Delightfully fresh and clean, this one is a great deodorizer and purifier. It’s basically all the clean smells you love in one, including citrus and pine. After one particularly bad diaper catastrophe with the toddler, I diffused this blend, and the stink was gone in minutes. The scent that replaced it was so fresh, sweet, and invigorating, I have been in love ever since.

For Calm and Relaxation:

soothing essential oils

These three blends are the ones I reach for when I am seeking peace and calm. They are all great for meditation and yoga. I diffuse them when I’m feeling anxious or jittery.

Fearless. Calming and woodsy, this one is particularly soothing.

Worry Less. I especially like this one before bed, to help calm anxious thoughts.

Be Still. The most gorgeous, ethereal smell. This is what I imagine heaven smells like.

Awake and Aware. I think this one is inaccurately named. It’s more soothing than energizing. It’s floral, earthy, and wonderful. I consider this my “chill out” blend. Great for promoting focus and concentration.

For Energy and Vitality:

Eden's Garden synergy blends

These are two of my favourites when I need to re-energize. I tend to reach for them during the afternoon slump, when I need to get my butt out of the chair and get moving. They are usually accompanied by a homemade iced coffee.

Shine. DoTerra’s Elevation has always been a favourite, and this blend is pretty much its twin. Floral, citrusy, and sweet, it always makes me happy.

Good Morning. Minty, sweet, invigorating, and fresh. A great way to start the day when you’re feeling sluggish.

A Few Others:

Gal Pal is a dumb name for an lovely blend that offers hormonal support. It contains several oils known to help balance hormones, like clary sage and vitex. Plus it smells amazing. I diffuse this one when I’m PMS-ing, and I think it helps. It at least helps me feel less murderous.

Allure is wonderfully feminine and delightful-smelling. Makes a great perfume.

Deep Breath really helped us all sleep at night when we all caught a weird summer cold and got all congested.

Repel – I added a few drops to my homemade insect repellant, along with citronella, peppermint, and eucalyptus, and it worked amazingly well while we were hiking in mosquito-infested forests.

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So these were my favourites, but honestly, I love them all. As my life changes, I’m sure my needs will change, and I might find myself reaching for some of the others more often. For example, I haven’t had much use for Guardian, the germ-fighting blend, at this time of year. And I’ve never been much into massages, but maybe I’ll make more use of Circu-Touch in the future. (<–another dumb name, by the way. They should have run the names by me before selling them.)

*Again, I want to reiterate that I have no problem with DoTerra or MLM companies. I just tend to be suspicious of some of the salespeople’s claims, since they have a financial interest. And I’d rather shop in the more straightforward fashion that Eden’s Garden offers.

How about you? Are you already a die-hard fan of a certain essential oil supplier?

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