Simple spray for the heatwave.

This recipe came across my social media radar this week and it’s so simple and effective I had to share it in a blog.

Heatwave Peppermint Spray

Heat Wave Peppermint Spray (AC in a Bottle)

10g peppermint essential oil

10g menthol essential oil

Equal volume of solubilizer (Polysorbate 20) (I used a natural safe substitute instead of Polysorbate 20.)

200mL aloe vera juice

Weigh the essential oils out into an empty spray bottle, and top off with an equal amount of solubilizer.  Swirl to combine. Add a small amount of aloe vera juice and shake gently to combine. Add the rest of the aloe vera, shake gently to combine.

To use, spritz on bare skin.

If you don’t want to use the solubilizer you can leave it out and just shake thoroughly before each use. That means the mixture will not emulsify at all and you’ll likely have troubles getting it to spritz evenly.


My Cooling Mist with some tweaked ingredients

5 drops Eucalyptus essential oil

5 drops Spearmint essential oil

200ml distilled aloe vera water

10 drops vegetable glycerin (which is all natural and also very moisturizing for your skin.)

Shake well and spray!

You get a refreshing spritz that cools you down for a moment. The essential oils also leave a lasting tingle on your skin and you smell minty fresh.

My coworkers enjoyed this spray in our hot workplace yesterday and some of the clients enjoyed it as well.

Just a simple tip to beat the heat!

Photo: Distilled aloe Vera water and a few drops of vegetable glycerine to emulsify spearmint and eucalyptus essential oils = refreshing body mist! Works great and energizing, too :)

Pollution and sustainability practice.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

When the word sustainability is used it’s probably common to think of the environment and ecology. With my husband working in wildlife conservation this word comes up a lot in our daily lives. The growing knowledge of the availability of sustainable resources and potential action people, organizations and corporations could take makes it all the more painful when we witness instances of great greed or waste that if continuously repeated, could lead to resource depletion, thus being an unsustainable and foolish practice.

That being said, for as passionate as we are about these things in speech and conversation, there are so many ways we could be practicing better resource sustainability in our personal lives.

Our recent move has made this easier, as we can walk downtown to go out or stroll to the local stores for errands. We recently asked each other, “What could you do to live more sustainably?”

We thought of these:

1. Take shorter showers.
2. Use an entire container of something before starting a new one.
3. Recycle even when it’s not convenient. (It simply boggles my mind that in 2013 some people are still throwing cans, glass and plastic into the garbage.)
4. Start an herb garden for the kitchen fixings.
5. Plan meals and shop accordingly to cut down on food waste. Freeze leftovers.
6. Submit thoughtful letters and suggestions to local community organizations, clubs and businesses that are not practicing sustainable resource management. (Example: We were at an awesome choral and band concert last weekend, but they used an abundance of helium balloon decor, which means many of them went floating off into the atmosphere. Ballons are one of the most frequently found trash items washed up on beaches. Is trashing our ocean worth our gluttonous eye candy?)

Besides ecological sustainability, the term sustainability means something deeper to me. It means I’m conducting my life in a way that I can manage for years to come. It means that today I am making the daily decisions and using small actions that will create a brighter, healthier future for me and my family.

For me this means:

1. Daily prayer and Bible study.
2. Healthy, clean eating and cooking from whole foods.
3. Not using drugs.
4. Drinking alcohol sparingly.
5. Not smoking cigarettes (I used to smoke and am occasionally tempted in this area. Ooops! 😦 )
6. Daily physical activity.
7. Daily and weekly checking in with family and friends (through phone and snail mail, preferably.)
8. Sustaining my emotional health and relationship health by daily speaking words of encouragement and edification to myself (positive self talk) and others.

Practicing these things daily leads to a more sustainable lifestyle. Ignoring what we ought to be tending to only creates deficit and deterioration.

When you look at this all at once and try to practice it perfectly it could be overwhelming. Remember our practice is not perfect. Practice makes perfect.

Little steps and small behavioral changes are the key to sustainable living and a sustainable life.

Do you think about the practice of sustainability in your life;ecologically, physically, spiritually or otherwise?

One. Day. At. A. Time.


                  James 1: 22~27

Spontaneous chaos and snowflakes.

Bumpy tires have prevented an extra shift at work for me this morning. Can’t get anywhere around here without a car.

I dream about a bicycle with a basket, holding only necessities (you know, a journal, books, snacks, a purple chrysanthemum,) on my way to work. Pedaling close by or down the road for coffee. But drive this car I must. Now with a shorter work commute I’m logging perhaps 30 miles a day… Short compared to last years standard 80. How do you shave mileage from your life? Car pool? Multiple errands in one trip? Or don’t you think about it?

So this morning of losing work because of vehicle maintenance reminds me to spend more time in organization, prevention of life maintenance mishaps and simplifying the clutter that accrues all too easily in the car, in the kitchen, on the bedroom floor (difficult with a husband, thinking of rigging the laundry hamper together with a basketball hoop ~ look, cleaning up can be a game!) “Spontaneous chaos,” is how my college chemistry professor used to put it. One moment your sock drawer is organized and the next, it’s in total upheaval. Of course the mess happened during incremental seconds of neglect, but it surely doesn’t seem that way. We think messes just happen, don’t we? “An individual snowflake never feels responsible for an avalanche.”

So this little snowflake has some cleaning to do today.


2012 in review
December 31, 2012, 4:06 am
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Minimalism, Uncategorized, Writing

I survived 2012… in fact, the entire planet still spins on its axis. Score! What were those Mayans talking about anyway? As the New Year creeps up I’m left looking back at all the events, news and happenings of the year and am in awe of the many blessings my family and friends have enjoyed and shared together, thank God.

1. My October wedding to my best friend and fellow simple life soul mate, Nick.

2. News of two more nieces or nephews in the family.

3. Healthy people in my life and new employment.

4. A fresh move to the Cape of New England.

5. New intentions of maintaining a simple life of love and writing all about it. Let’s go!

Got to love the WordPress year in review. A neat little tool to look back, refresh and refocus the intent of your blog. Here’s a little peak at mine. Pretty simple stuff!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 900 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

‘Tis the season to savor… and simplify.
November 26, 2012, 11:37 am
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Economy, Minimalism

If you ventured out into the crowds and the chaos to your local Black Friday vendors perhaps you’ve already scooped up your gifts and will pass on today’s Cyber Monday deals and benefits of free shipping.

But if you haven’t, here are some  U.S – promoting Web sites and companies that can help you give with style, ease and conscious if you want the holiday cheers without so many holiday tears and fears.

Today’s Cyber Monday and unlike Black Friday it doesn’t require you to leave your home and stand in long lines or possibly risk being trampled by crazed consumers with credit cards and shopping lists. Ahhh it’s like a minimalist’s shopping dream…. scrolling through online menus and typing in specific requests in search engines, rather than perusing through racks of clothing or dozens of shelves full of products.

Another minimalist dream? Secret Santa gift-giving. One gift to my side of the family. One gift to the husband’s side of the family. Talk about easy shopping! A tradition I highly recommend if you like to keep it simple and save the cash and the stress of holiday shopping.

My favorites for shopping:

For the funky, fun-loving girlfriend, vintage-lover or quirky artist:

For outerwear, shoes, accessories, clothing for him, her or the wee ones

Have got to mention for handmade and vintage gifts you can buy from U.S. artisans and crafters.

For the athlete, out-doorsy type or adventurer try (“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” –Patagonia’s Mission Statement)

Pictures are worth a thousand words and make fantastic gifts… create your own personalized gifts at (OUR VISION – Make the world a better place by helping people share life’s joy. OUR MISSION – Build an unrivaled service that enables deeper, more personal relationships between our customers and those who matter most in their lives) or is a great place to add a personal message, quote or pictures to almost any item to make it unique. It’s an Illinois-based company, although I’m not certain all their products are made in the U.S.

I’m sure there are many more great companies to choose from, but there’s my list.

Know any great U.S. companies or businesses that benefit more than their bottom line? Post it in the comments.

Happy holidays!

Less to stress
July 26, 2012, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Mind, Minimalism, Motivation, Writing

When I think of paychecks, bank accounts or income the one thought bubbling up time and time again is “It’s not what you make, it’s what you spend.” This was a tidbit of advice my grandfather repeated. It reminded me to stay focused on my actions and not the circumstantial facts of life that may or may not change (like my income or lack of any potential raise.)

How difficult though to really embrace this wisdom because it involves a self-control in a society that is swarming with “must-haves” and a tendency toward enjoyment, excitement and pleasure, which typically leads to a lot of socializing (and draining your wallet on drinks and yummy restaurant food.)

This is one of the reasons why I am embracing the road of minimalism. It makes it easier to say “no” in a culture that is all about “yes, yes, yes.”

I can say that I feel happier with alternating two pairs of shoes, because I don’t have the pressure of wanting more. My two pairs of summer shoes are pretty darn cute and versatile and they get the job done.

I feel more peaceful with having one drink with friends while out, because I have more money to save and pay bills.

I am ok with a calm evening at home with a close friend or family member, because it means my energy that would have been expended dancing, drinking and chatting up strangers is used toward learning, exploring life and planning for the future.

For me, minimalism is all about quality over quantity. And life with less bills, less things and less complication leads to reduced stress. Less stress means more authentic enjoyment of life.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” – Psalm 23

Below is a complete article by The Living On A Dime newsletter, published by:
Kellam Media and Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 193, Mead, CO 80542

Read on for more tips on how to stress less.

How to Relieve and Reduce Stress

Here is a list people say are the main causes of stress in their lives and
they are listed in order of importance to them.

Main Causes of Stress

*       Money
*       Economy
*       Work
*       Family Responsibilities

To find the source for your stress you may have to look deep.


*       You have a good paying job, so is lack of money really a problem or
is it because you don’t bother to pay your bills, you are over spending, or
the spouse who isn’t paying the bills is spending too much and really
causing you problems?

*       Maybe the problem is not a lack of money but a lack of contentment.
You are frustrated because you aren’t getting enough money for all your
wants and for fun things. You are trying to satisfy emotional needs with
material things and are stressed because you can’t get satisfied.

These are just a few examples to illustrate how you need to really look down
deep to find the real source of your stress in the area of finances.

Family Responsibilities

Make your home stress free:

*       Have comfortable (not necessarily expensive) things like couches,
chairs, beds, lighting.

*       Keep things in order. Have a place for everything and keep it there.
More stress is caused by having to look for lost things.

*       Have as much of a routine as possible, like dinner at 5 most days,
church on Sunday, children in bed by 8 and meatloaf for dinner on Fridays.

*       Relax. Even though I just said have a routine some people have their
lives too controlled and organized and though that may make them feel good
it can stress out their friends and family. There is a happy medium.

*       Wear comfortable clothes. It is so frustrating to wear a pair of
shoes or jeans that rub or are too tight all the time. That is all you can
feel and think about.

*       Less is best. If you find yourself spending ages trying to figure
out which of your 25 outfits to wear, cut your wardrobe back to 10 outfits.
If you are stressed about what shampoo to buy, pick one you like and stick
with it.

*       Forget about returning the e mails and social engagements. Now I
don’t mean you have to give them up all together, but control them. You
don’t need to return that e-mail right now. You don’t have to go to every
function you or your kids are asked to go to. You are in control of your
schedule. If you are feeling out of control then you probably are so take
the control back. Say no and stop doing some things. If you don’t then stop
complaining about how overwhelmed you are about your life because it is your

Stressing about things never fixes them.

I always say that if we spent as much time dealing with the things that are
causing our stress as we do stressing over things, we would solve a good
many of our problems and, if nothing else, we would have a much better
attitude. I mention this all the time but I think it’s worth repeating. Most
of the things we worry about in our lives never happen. If you don’t know if
you believe that, try keeping a worry diary. Every time any little worry
though comes into your head write it down. At the end of a week or month,
look back over it and see how many times the things you stressed over
actually happened.

Arrive 15 minutes early

I once heard a psychiatrist say that the one thing that could relieve 50% or
more of stress in the average person’s life it to start arriving 10-15
minutes early everywhere they went. Think about what a typical day is like
and what a difference it would make if you made sure you arrived 15 minutes
early. If you get stopped by a train or traffic jam or the kids can’t find
their shoes it is not as tragic because you have a few minutes’ wiggle room
for unexpected things. Not to mention how much better the tone of your day
is if you aren’t sliding into work 15 minutes late compared to getting there
15 minutes early and having time to prepare for the day.

Besides, I personally believe always arriving late is very rude and
inconsiderate of others. It is like saying. “My time and the things I am
doing or have to do is more important than meeting you – you can just wait
for me. It is ok for you to give up your time waiting for me because your
time is not as valuable as mine.” You would never dream of saying that to
someone but that is really what you are communicating.

Back off

When you have one of those days where everything goes wrong then stop, back
off and change course. Call a friend who makes you laugh, spend 30 minutes
(even if you don’t think you have 30 minutes) to watch a funny show, take 30
minutes out and work on your favorite hobby or, in the case of a pressing
work deadline, stop for 15 minutes and clear your mind. Do anything that
completely changes your course from what you were doing. I curl up with a
cup of tea and read a relaxing fun book, not one on self improvement, how to
earn more money or how to raise better kids. Those are not relaxing.

I know sometimes when you’re at work or with a baby and other times like
this, it may be a little hard to do but do it when you can. If nothing else,
take a deep breathe and count to ten.

The Economy

There isn’t much we can do for the economy as a whole but you can learn to
take control of your own finances and learn to be wise concerning them. We
often look at the bad state of our finances and then we look at the
economies of our country and the world, which are also bad, and become so
overwhelmed that we just give up. It’s important to take one day at a time.
If I looked at what I had to do next month and also focused on what my kids
and my extended family all had to get done, I would collapse but by focusing
on my own personal day I can handle it.

We need to do that with finances. Stop listening to the news and worrying
about what is happening in the world. I’m not saying to bury your head in
the sand or that those things don’t affect us. I’m saying that so often we
get intently focused on the wrong things and that focus causes us to become
paralyzed with fear. Then we can’t function in our own worlds, causing our
finances to falter so we say “See, things really are as bad as they say.”
Sometimes our reality is that we just aren’t dealing with things in our own

Don’t stress over the economy. Stop watching the news and listening to the
radio or whining friends. Even when the economy is bad, there’s not much you
personally can do to change it so don’t waste precious energy worrying. Take
the time you would usually spend worrying and work out a plan to get your
own finances under control.


Often there is a lot of stress at work. You can have a high stress job or
you might just not like the job you are doing. Either can cause you a lot of
stress. You have a few choices. First, you can change jobs. I know everyone
says that in this economy there are no jobs but there really are many jobs
still out there. You may have to take a pay cut, change hours, change the
distance you drive, get out of your comfort zone or something else which you
alone have to weigh against the existing stress for your own personal life.

Look for options and don’t be afraid to step out and try them. Of course I’m
not saying to march in and tell your boss to take his job and stuff it until
you have weighed all the pros and cons and have checked into and actually
gotten another job. You do need to use common sense. On the other hand, I
know that some people can get so stuck in a rut or controlled by fear that
they don’t look for something different or explore their other options.

If for whatever reason you can’t leave a stressful job, then you need to at
least learn to leave your work at the office and don’t bring it home. I am
talking about the problems and stresses of work and not the physical work
itself ,which you need to leave there too.

This is why I think it is sometimes easier for men to be in the work force
than women. Men are somewhat better at compartmentalizing than women. I know
there are exceptions, but in most cases, this is true.

One last thing you can do to relieve stress at work is to avoid taking it
all personally. Do your very best job and a little extra at work. Then when
you boss rants and raves or is unfair, at least you know that between you
and God you have done your best and you can let God deal with the injustice.

Bottom Line

For me, personally, I know that God is in control of every minute of my day.
All of it. And I know He loves me even more than I love myself and my family
so when something knocks me between the eyes I just stop and pray, “Take
this over and do what is best or show me the wisdom on what you want me to

Stress can kill you. That is why the Bible tells us over and over, “Fear
not”, “do not be afraid” or leave things in God’s hands– because God knows
it can kill us. We spend hours stewing over every bite of food we put in our
mouths and stressing over whether it is healthy, organic or the right thing
to eat because if we don’t eat right we will get sick and/or die… yet the
stress of worrying can kill us just as easily if not more so and we hardly
give it a second thought.

Stress is a silent killer because our eyes are so blinded to it. It is so
much easier to obsess about our physical bodies and needs without realizing
it could be the emotional and spiritual needs that are being overlooked and
that are truly killing us.

Less stuff = more love?
June 29, 2012, 2:17 am
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Minimalism

Some more great news about why having less and pinching pennies can be beneficial in the long term. Less stuff may lead to more money in the bank and increase romantic and happy feelings with your partner.

Makes cents. (Could not resist insertion of corny pun!)

Says May’s issue of Women’s Health magazine:

Couples who don’t think money and possessions are important have stronger, more satisfying marriages and fight less than their materialistic counterparts, according to a new study of 1,734 couples in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy. 

“Materialism may cause spouses to spend money unwisely, which creates financial stress in the marriage,” says study author Jason S. Carroll, Ph.D., an associate professor of family life at Brigham Young University.

Pinching pennies + love of love + less clutter + less debt = A richer union

The sum of small things. (extra pickle, please.)
June 21, 2012, 2:27 pm
Filed under: Behavior, Body, Budget, Mind

“It’s just this one time.”

“Only for today.”

“I’ll do better next time…”

The thing that defines habit is its repetitive nature.

We repeat what we’re used to doing. We often get so automatic about our actions that we lose our (mind)fulness in the process.

I’ve recently been inspecting my $5 here and $5 there habit of stopping for lunch or a snack while on the road.

What are the causes of this habit?

1. I am unprepared for the day when I don’t pack a lunch or wake up eary enough to cook breakfast.

2. I travel constantly for my job and restaurants are all over the place en route.

3. Desire. Craving. There are so many choices out there that perhaps I am too lazy or tired to recreate myself at the end of the day. I want what I want when I want it.

I did the math.

In the past six weeks I have spent over $100 on eating out (this includes a quick bite just for myself and sit-down meals with family or friends.)

So not cool!

Fixes for the issue:

1. Be prepared. Keep nonperishable snacks in car.

2. Pack lunch at night. Keep quick breakfast ingredients on hand for the morning.

3. Set an alarm on my phone to remind me to get into the kitchen and plan at the end of the day.

4. Create a weekly meal/lunch idea list to work from.

5. Budget weekly eating out money.

I know I’m not the only one with this eating-out issue as I see countless co-workers, family and friends sliding the plastic on a weekly basis. Eating out is just an example of small actions leading up to bigger issues.

But is it really necessary?

We are all, to a degree, the sum of our small steps. Those small choices seem negligible, but over time begin to shape your character and your habits.

“Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” – Mark Twain


Lunch all week for $30 (And breakfast, too.)
November 29, 2011, 3:09 am
Filed under: Behavior, Budget, Food, Organization

Success! It’s before 10 p.m. and I just made lunch for the entire week in thirty minutes for about thirty dollars. (That was my grocery bill amount at Giant tonight, which includes accompanying snacks and a seperate breakfast every day.)

This may sound like an easy task for a single girl. In fact, maybe it is. If you’re planning for a family this Web site will generate your local store sales and your family’s tastes into a shopping list and recipe ideas. If you’re not a culinary type the key is to educate yourself. A little research and planning can save you money and promote your health.


Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with cucumbers, red onions, olive oil and the most amazing garlic vinegar in the world. It’s made at Rolling Hills Farm, an organic farm in Saylorsburg, PA. This dish took seven minutes to toss together. It’s fresh, healthy and contains organic and locally made ingredients. Hello, garlic vinegar! I’ll need my gum tomorrow. Sorry kids and co-workers. It’s just too amazing. You can contact the Rolling Hills Farm at You can also order some here. It’s great for meats, veggies, stir-fries, salads, basically everything. When I love something, I really love it! Garlic vinegar, I’m dedicated.

Tortilla Española: You peel and slice several small golden yukon potatoes and cook them with sliced sweet onions. Stir the cooked potatoes and onions into a bowlful of whisked eggs and then pour the mixture into an oiled pan on medium temperature. Cover. When the sides are looking done, slide a plate over the pan and flip the tortilla onto the plate. Slide the tortilla raw side down back into the pan to cook its underside. I make this all the time (I know eggs have a bad reputation) but it’s cheap and fast. I can eat it cold or hot. I can eat it any time of the day!

Tonight’s cooking spree, you are cheap, easy and so delicious. Yes, I’ll be eating these things every day this week, which may seem boring or repetitive to many, but it’s a small sacrifice for saving time and money. You can always switch things up by adding a different snack or drink to the meal. I will not have to make lunch or breakfast at all this week! Oh, it’s the little things in life.

Any versatile, cheap and healthy menu offerings out there?

“An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth.” – Bonnie Friedman

Keep some $ at home Black Friday
November 25, 2011, 2:41 am
Filed under: Behavior, Budget

Ho-ho-holy crap it’s Christmas season and tomorrow’s Black Friday! Being a conscious consumer is more important than ever in our slagging economy and spending your hard-earned money can be done with the intention to support local businesses and your community. If you’re brave enough to venture out in the crowds; be safe and shop well. Ask yourself some questions: Who benefits when I buy this item? Where was this item made?

Oh, I know we are all such busy, stress-packed people and really, who has time to think about all those questions? Excuses abound. It is so much EASIER to do your one stop shopping at Target or Walmart. It can be challenging to shop 100% U.S.A. and local. So why not make it a goal of starting with one gift? Shrug the all or nothing mentality and integrate just a little bit of local loving into your shopping spree glee. Small steps count, too.

What we buy reflects our values and how we connect to the world around us. Shopping locally supports community business owners (also known as your neighbors) and strengthens connections to your home. You may not be able to do all your holiday shopping at independent locales, but you could sprinkle the corporate shopping spree with at least a trip or two to Mom and Pop joints.

Visiting your city or county’s chamber of commerce Web site and searching their membership directory is a great starting place to generate shopping ideas. You can check out what your area offers based off of your shopping list. “Here’s a plastic thing-a-ma-jig I bought at Stuff-O-Mart that was made in China” could become “I bought that hand-made necklace from a store down the street. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the humane society.”

Besides local gift grabs, spending your cash online to support great causes is a way to give with more meaning.

Some great Web sites that support independent artists and entrepreneurs: I’m in love with this site ever since buying a hand-made beaded lanyard for my work ID badge. ( ) It’s a community of artists selling hand-made wonders and vintage items. This site promotes hand-made items from artisans in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. This site compiles a list of products made in the U.S. with the intention of growing prosperity at home in a time when our reality is outsourced.

Google. Google. Google. There are so many creative ways to get what you want this holiday while being realistic about the weaknesses that must be strengthened in this economy.



Valerie Rumfelt

An on mission writer with winning ways to follow Jesus

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