Speak Up: Truth

Speak Up

Since it’s the first Friday of the month, March’s installment of the Speak Up linkup hosted by Amber and Annie is live! This month’s theme is “Truth.”

I’ve created a Speak Up playlist on my YouTube channel, which I will add to each month. For those who aren’t yet subscribed to my YouTube channel but want to, click here.

3 Common Uses for Essential Oils

3 Ways to Use Essential Oils

My mom has always been a big proponent of a holistic approach to medicine. Throughout my childhood, there were trips to homeopathic doctors and acupuncturists. She always had tiny little bottles of essential oils near her beside table that she’d use for whatever ailment that plagued me. Trouble with concentrating? Let’s see the homeopathic doctor. Poor circulation? Maybe the acupuncturist can help. Stressed? An essential oil can help with that.

(Don’t get me wrong, my mom was a best of both worlds type as I also got all my vaccinations, physical checkups, etc as prescribed by Western medicine!)

I sort of fell away from most of that when I moved out, save for the year I spent in Beijing and got really sick and was prescribed both Western and Chinese medicine. But lately I’ve been working my way back into the holistic approach to medicine, a lot of which I still remember from my childhood. I’ve found a community care setting for acupuncture and swear by a regular yoga practice.

I’m also re-familiarizing myself with essential oils. Peace & Calming and Joy were two essential oil blends I remember my mom using over and over in various ways. I can’t remember what were used in those blends, but I do know that peppermint, lavender and lemon are three very commonly used essential oils. InstaNatural sent peppermint* and lemon* essential oils for me to use, and I couldn’t be happier to begin incorporating them into my life.

While essential oils smell great, they’ve got many more uses than just aromatherapy. Here are three common ways to use essential oils.

Essential Oils


I know that I just said essential oils can be used for more than just aromatherapy, but I had to include this in the list! The aromatic properties of essential oils can positively affect one’s mood and mind by stimulating our sense of smell. There are different ways oils can be breathed in (directly, diffused, etc). I like to use an essential oil diffuser or rub a drop or two between my palms, then bring my palms to my nose and inhale deeply. Personally, peppermint perks me right up and lavender calms me.

Topical Application

Many, if not all, essential oils can be applied directly to the skin. Different essential oils have different instructions for topical use, so be careful. Essential oils that can be applied undiluted can be placed directly onto the body, while oils that need dilution can be mixed with the appropriate “carrier oil” before applied to the skin. (The latter is usually how essential oils are incorporated into body massages.) Water can also be used to intensify the oil’s topical application by putting a hot compress over where the oil was applied. A drop or two of peppermint oil applied topically to the chest does wonders for clearing sinus congestion, and lavender is great for healing minor cuts, scrapes and burns.


First off, let me be clear: not all essential oils should be digested! I AM NOT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL! Therapeutic grade for ingestion only! All that being said, many can be safely used for ingestion to relieve various discomforts. A drop can be placed on the tongue, or added to a glass of water, or even rubbed onto the gums. I’ve tried adding a drop of lemon essential oil to some roasted asparagus and it tasted great. Next time I make cookies, I want to try adding a drop of lavender and lemon essential oils for some lemon lavender cookies. Yum.

Have you tried using essential oils? What are some of your favorite uses for them?

These products were sent to me for editorial purposes without monetary compensation. All words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

Year of Saving: February

Currency around the world

Year of Saving: A Recap

On January 1, I announced that 2015 would be my Year of Saving. A lot of things came to a head and I decided that it was time to cut down on unnecessary spending, amp up my savings power and get a better handle overall on my finances. Sounds like a high bar to aim for, right?

Well, I created three rules to help me help myself. More information about them can be found in my Year of Saving announcement, but they can be summed up as follows:

  • No buying anything unless it’s taking the place of something else (“one in, one out”).
  • Buying lunch at work a maximum of once per week.
  • Purchasing alcohol a maximum of once per week.

February at a Glance

As I predicted at the end of January, February was expensive.

There was my brother’s visit, and then other family visits. My trip to Iceland. A traveling mishap with a canceled flight that resulted in me getting my luggage on the fourth day of my six day Iceland adventure. (More on that later, but let’s just say I’m really glad I purchased travel insurance and that I wore my layers and hiking boots on the plane.)

Not all of these were expensive in and of themselves, but things here and there add up quickly. Throw in some uncertainty with steady income and February had a lot of potential to spiral out of control. Luckily, I knew all of these things would happen (well, besides my luggage getting lost) so it wasn’t like I had tried to budget accordingly in earlier months. I stuck with my three Year of Savings goals, though, minus the days I spent in Iceland where they didn’t apply.

A Budgeting Confession

I budgeted the heck out of January. I tracked my spending and my budget and it paid off well. But for February? Well… I did neither.

Part of it was that I knew once the second half of the month came, my spending would be unlike my normal patterns. Plus, I got a raise that I was expecting, but later than I was expecting so I didn’t quite know just how to budget. I know conventional wisdom says budget for whatever you make and to save the raise rather than spend it, but that’s something to try for March ;)

Where My Money Went

Unlike January, where I had a tangible list of things I did and didn’t buy, I didn’t keep track of that in February. (Pretty sure I didn’t buy a single makeup item, save for a mini bottle of dry shampoo on Day 3 of not having my suitcase in Iceland.) But what I did buy were experiences. A car rental to go on a road trip with my brother to visit family. Paying for a lunch with my visiting aunt and uncle and splitting the cost with my brother. A Chinese New Year dinner, split with some of my close friends. A beer at the Blue Lagoon. A six (or was it seven?) course tapas-style meal to try out Icelandic delicacies. And countless souvenirs from Iceland, for myself and friends: Icelandic wool garments, knickknacks, and postcards.

I regret none of it.

(Also, for those interested in my Icelandic adventures, I’ll be blogging (and vlogging!) about them soon, once I edit my photos and film footage.)

March Forecasting

March will be a relatively “calm” month, financially speaking. At least, I hope so! The only thing out of the ordinary on my calendar as of now is Asian Pear’s visit at the end of the month, which I am ridiculously excited for. She’s got a lot of sightseeing on her very detailed itinerary (she’s such a green Kermit ;) ) but luckily, a lot of the sights are free like the monuments and museums. We have a lot of good eats planned that weekend, so I need to keep an eye on what money goes towards eating out before she gets here so that I’ve got money left for her visit

I also want to look into joining a yoga studio again and some stuff like acupuncture, facials, massages, etc. I have no idea what options are available to me, or how much they will cost, but I do know I want to start incorporating that into my life at some point.

A Day in the Life: February 2015

February 2015 Vlog

January’s a day in the life vlog went over so well that I decided to do another one for February. In all likelihood, I’ll be doing one a month. There’s just something fun about the “a day in the life” format that translates well to a short little video! I also really like filming and editing all of the clips from my day, which helps a lot, too.

Anyway, here’s my vlog for February. A typical week day with the exciting event of going to the airport to pick up my brother and eating pho. Mmm. Pho.