Natural Tattoo Care

I have always loved tattoos, and I love hearing the stories behind them.

I got my first tattoo 5 1/2 years ago, at the age of 17. My mom and I both got our black belts and we went in to get our first tattoos together that same day. I want every tattoo I get to mean that much. In the first 6 months of 2014 I have experienced 6 major life events so I figured it was about time to get my second tattoo.

Although tattooing is an ancient art, and getting a tattoo can be a beautiful, spiritual, and healing process, it’s not exactly natural. It is so important, therefore, that you help your new tattoo heal as naturally and completely as possible.

Natural Tattoo Care | How We Flourish

A tattoo requires not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual strength to heal easily without taking a large toll on your body.

Learn more about natural tattoo care from my guest post over at Scratch Mommy!

P.S. I mention lavender oil as being amazingly helpful for tattoo care. Learn more about where I buy high quality, pure lavender essential oils – the only kind you want for a tattoo!


Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate | Guest Post by Ravenous Venus

I have beautifully written guest post for you today! This Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate looks de-licious! I love using the spices included in this recipe in a variety of dishes. This is going to be in my belly as soon as I reintroduce chocolate. I might even test it with this….Anyway, thanks so much to Venus of Ravenous Venus for guest posting today!

Hi Everyone! For those who don’t know me, I’m Venus from the food blog Ravenous Venus and I’m super stoked to have this opportunity to be doing a guest post for Chloe today!

I think I’m finally coming to terms with my culinary identity, and that identity is putting a Persian twist on many classic foods, i.e. hot chocolate. It occurred to me that there’s Mexican drinking chocolate, but no Persian equivalent. At the moment of this realization, I knew that I just had to explore the unexplored: hot chocolate made with classic Persian spices. For those who haven’t ventured into the land of sweet Middle Eastern spices, then you – my darling friends – are really, really missing out and I encourage you to take this recipe as a sign from beyond to start!

You’ll often see saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon as the most common spices used in sweet dishes; I like to call them the Holy Trinity of Persian sweets. Cardamom provides this lingering, breath-freshening perfume, while saffron lends a very delicate and coquettish fragrance and flavor. The cinnamon, in my opinion, acts like the backbone of this trinity. You can detect its presence, but often times, you can’t quite put your finger on it. Without it however, the difference of the final flavor is akin to the difference between a hailstorm and a summer day on the beach in Hawaii.

When combining this flavorfully demanding trinity with the ever-flexible, earthy-richness of the chocolate, you get quite the party on your palate. Softened by a hint of creamy coconut milk, you can literally see the flavors – the spices, the chocolate, the coconut – melding into a harmonious symphony which you can feel dancing down from your mouth to your very toes. This delectable drink is fantastic hot, but also superb when served cold. The choice, of course, is yours!

Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate | Guest Post from Ravenous Venus

Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate/Iced Cocoa

Ingredients:
• 1.5 TBSP cacao powder
• 1 tsp of Ceylon cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp ground saffron
• 3 cardamom pods, crushed or powdered
• 1 TBSP of coconut sugar or brown sugar
• 4-5 TBSP of coconut milk or full fat cream
• 8-10 oz of hot water

Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate | Guest Post from Ravenous VenusInstructions:

1. Boil the water.
2. While the water boils, grind the saffron and cardamom to a powder (it’s okay if the cardamom is gritty as it sinks to the bottom of the mug and acts as a breath freshener).

Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate | Guest Post from Ravenous Venus

3. Place all of the dry ingredients into your favorite mug and once the water has come to a boil, pour a small amount (approximately 3-4 tbsp) into the mug and stir the dry mixture with the water until a thick paste is formed.
4. Add the rest of the water while stirring constantly, to ensure a lump-free consistency.
5. Let the drink cool down to a temperature of your liking and enjoy! This drink is also excellent cold!

 

Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate | Guest Post from Ravenous VenusShort Bio:
Venus Kalami is a food and nutrition blogger at Ravenous Venus, where she blogs about her adventures in allergen-free gastronomy. She is also a student of Nutrition Dietetics, Pre-Med, and Dance. After receiving her bachelors, Venus plans on ultimately becoming a Doctor of Natural Medicine. When it comes to nutrition, Venus takes a real food approach and a self-accepting and forgiving mentality to everyday life. In her spare time, Venus loves to utilize essential oil therapy, dance, practice yoga, read, and concoct questionable food combinations.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ravenousv3nus
Instagram: http://instagram.com/ravenousvenus
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ravenousvenus/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ravenousvenus


Life, love, and other such things

I have been out of the blogging world for a long time. I have popped back in a handful of times in the past two months for a quick post, and I occasionally say “hi” on Facebook. But this is a far cry from the 3 blog posts per week and my 5-6 social media posts per day that I carried on for so long.

As I was doing that, I lost my way a bit. Blogging became about the bottom line, rather than what it started as: enjoying myself and sharing my life as I learn how to care for myself, and now my family. So when life got stressful, I dropped it. I didn’t enjoy it as much, and I had a lot going on in my life at the time.

On May 25, I graduated from college with a BA in biology and Latin. I had long since made the decision that I was not continuing on to more schooling in the fall, a decision that was confirmed when I learned that I ranked about 20 seats lower on the pharmacy school wait list than how many normally get in. But like I said, I had already made the decision to no longer pursue that avenue of my interest.

Outside of my dorm of two years

Then on June 28, I got married. You can see why the blog slipped away from me for that month. As I type this, I am sitting in a tiny apartment, still a mess from wedding presents and stuff that I moved in and have not yet put away. I have a place that is truly my own. But not really, because I now have a husband, and this place belongs to this tiny, brand new family.

We honeymooned for three weeks in Germany, yet another amazing experience that kept me away from much productivity. But after backpacking for three weeks, we both can do 100 squats without getting too fatigued – so that’s something! While in Germany, my husband visited some jewelry schools, and within just a few days of his visit was accepted into his first choice. This means that in September 2015, we will be moving to Germany for 3 years. I need to work on my German…

Cathedral in the town we will be living in

Cathedral in the town we will be living in

With all these changes happening, it is time for me to reorient myself, and find my place in this new life. I am currently playing the role of housewife, one of only two callings that I have truly felt. The second being educating women about their reproductive health. I’m learning to cook and clean, and I enjoy taking care of my husband even if I’m not very good at it yet.

I plan on spending the next month and a half working on various projects. The goal is to find something to supplement our income that makes me happy. A big part of that will be updating and growing this blog to be what I have wanted to it to be for quite some time. I am going to change my method of posting to be when I am inspired to write about topics I’m excited to share, rather than just looking to fill a schedule. I will continue to share essential oils, as I have seen the great potential for residual income from doTERRA, and we will be in need of that while we live in Germany. I may even write an ebook, but that is a little farther off in the future.

My biggest project right now is my own health. If you have been following How We Flourish for awhile, you are likely familiar with my reproductive health struggles. I ovulated on my honeymoon for the first time in 7 months (of course…), but I still have a long way to go until both my reproductive health and my general health are where I want them to be. Therefore, on Wednesday I began to follow the Autoimmune Protocol, Whole30 style (I’m avoiding sugar and SAD substitutes like pizza, pancakes, bread, etc). My biggest problem is my dependence on sugar and carbs, and I know I need to break the cycle, while also learning which foods my body can and cannot tolerate. If you follow me on Instagram, you can see what I’m eating every day.

AIP is also playing a part in the fertility cleanse I have designed for myself. There is so much information out there, and it is hard to know what needs to be done to bring my cycles back when the most common suggestions (clean diet, etc.) have not worked for me. My honeymoon ovulation may indicate that stress was the main factor, but my other two ovulations occurred during the most stressful semester of my career, so who knows.

My cleanse involves a month long detox to clean out all the junk I’ve put in my body recently. For three months, I will be focusing on clean eating, fertility supporting actions, and cleansing my lifestyle. I know that my mental health is not where it needs to be, and working through that is going to be a big part of this cleanse. But also the hardest part.

It’s a lot for someone that does not want to get pregnant, but as I mentioned, women’s reproductive health is one of my passions. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that a woman’s reproductive health is closely tied to her overall health, and I so badly wish to heal my body and embrace the power than my womanhood can hold. Cheesy? Oh yeah.

So this is where I am right now, and I am excited to move forward and share what I learn with all of you. I hope you enjoy the journey as well.


Green Periods: The Good, the Bad, and the Bloody

When I wrote the title, my first thought was that if you periods are actually green, you should probably see a doctor.

I’ve been using a menstrual cup for over 3 years now. It has not been continuous – in the first year I went back to pads and tampons a few times and twice I went over 100 days without any period. It took a year and a half for me to finally start supplementing with cloth pads. But I finally do have a completely waste free period!

I could sing the praises of reusable period products all day, but if I’m completely honest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Pads and tampons aren’t either, of course. Disposable period products are bad for your wallet – you have to remember to buy them every month. They are bad for the environment – women produce tremendous amounts of waste each month! They are bad for your schedule – they must be changed every few hours, with embarrassing to disastrous effects if you don’t! And they are bad for your body. Most brands are bleached and treated with chemicals. With tampons there is the risk of TSS and the problem with those chemicals being in intimate contact with a mucus membrane. Pads have slightly less intimate contact, but can still be irritating, especially as they rub against sensitive skin.

None of that is a concern when you say yes to green periods.

Green Periods: The Good, The Bad, and The BloodyWhat is a concern? Well, the number one concern of most people is hygiene. They think resuable products are really gross. And well….they are kind of right. When you grow up in a disposable culture, it can be really nice to just toss all of your menstrual waste in the garbage. And when it is thoroughly absorbed into a pad or tampon, you don’t even really need to look at it! It takes a slightly stronger stomach to get up close and personal with menstrual blood. You might even need to touch it.

Here’s the thing: Women used reusable for thousands of years, and nobody died from it. (this is not a verified fact, I’m just trying to make a point)

Yes, it’s gross. I’m not going to pretend that I enjoy rinsing out a cloth pad. I definitely don’t enjoy when my cup is too full and it spills over as a remove it. Sometimes my right hand looks like I disemboweled someone. It’s a thing. But I live with it. I flush the toilet and wash my hands and my menstrual cup. I reinsert it and go about my day, content in knowing that I did not produce any waste and that I am treating my body well.

You do need to be concerned about hygiene. This is, after all, blood that we are dealing with. Treat it as you would any other blood that you produce when cleaning it. But the gross factor is something that you will just need to get over. And that comes with time.

A lot of people also worry about the upfront cost. Menstrual cups and pads can be quite expensive. I totally understand that it can be difficult to put that kind of cash down for somethings you aren’t positive that you will like. Definitely shop around and read reviews to help you determine what is best for you. To help with cost, scroll to the bottom to find a 10% off coupon for my favorite menstrual cup!

And remember, reusable menstrual products are cheaper! A cup may be more expensive than a box of tampons, but do some math. How much does the menstrual cup you are looking at cost? How much do you spend on tampons a month? How long until your cup is paid off? Reusable menstrual products can last for years, and will easily save you money in the long run. Just one upfront cost, then free periods!

Tips and Tricks for Green Periods

Alright. So you have you cloth pads and menstrual cups. What do you do with them now? And holy crap they are huge. Those can’t be comfortable…

Well, they only will be if you do it right, and this takes some practice. I find longer cloth pads are more comfortable, as the edges don’t rub on my sensitive bits. I also only use them for back up and light days because I find cups do a much better job of dealing with heavy flow for me. If you are only using light day cloth pads, their bulk should not be an issue. Just put them in and go!

Now, menstrual cups. You’ve seen how big those are, right Chloe? Yes, I have. And I’ve even had a couple different sizes of them successfully inside of me! TMI? Eh, we’re writing a post about periods.

The biggest trick to making a menstrual cup comfortable is to have it properly inserted. This will get easier with practice, as you learn how it works with your body and where you need things to be. For full insertion (and removal) instructions, click here. For me, I find that using the punch down fold described here works best. I find rotating the cup very difficult, and have never achieved a full 360 degree rotation. However, as I learned how the cup and my body react to one other, I have found that as long as I feel it open, get it fully inserted, and then walk around for about half an hour and maybe do some squats, I don’t have an issue with leaking. Feel free to experiment if the standard instructions don’t quite work for you.

Cleaning

Here’s the part people worry the most about. Removing and cleaning reusable menstrual products. A necessary evil for green periods, but one that is totally worth it! How frequently you need to change cloth pads will depend on the pad and your flow. Purchase extra liners to save money by changing the liners as needed, and only changing the pad “base” once a day.

To clean cloth pads, your best bet to is get them soaking in water, or at least rinse them out, as soon as they are removed. This will prevent the blood from drying and staining too badly. They can then be washed in your normal laundry – think how you would treat blood stains on any other piece of clothing. You can also buy special cleaners to help with staining and scent on pads. I find these unnecessary, but if you choose to use them, make sure they are natural products meant for cloth pads – they will be the least likely to cause irritation. Note: If you leave cloth pads to soak, change the water every day. You don’t want to smell multiple day old period water. Ask me how I know.

For menstrual cups, it’s super easy and only needs to be done every 12 hours. Simply remove the cup, dump the contents, and rinse it out in the sink with water. To remove, focus more on bearing down to lower the cup until you can break the seal. This will be much better for you and the cup rather than just pulling on the stem. I do usually need to pull on the stem as well, but it is the bearing down that will move the cup most effectively. When washing, use a gentle, natural, fragrance-free soap if you wish. Then reinsert and go about your day! At the end of your period, it is recommended that you boil your cup for 5 minutes before storing it for the next month.

My heart goes out to menstrual cups

Cloth pads are great. I am very thankful for the back up and some days I’m too lazy to deal with a cup. But cups are lovely. You can leave them in for 12 hours with no fear of toxic shock syndrome, and when inserted properly they will not leak. Bye-bye tampons! I also find cups to be much more comfortable than tampons ever were, including during sports, and they don’t dry me out since they collect rather than absorb.

But how to you know which cup to choose? This is hard. Cloth pads tend to all look the same, but menstrual cups are clearly different. They come in different shapes, sizes, and heights. They have differences in rigidity and you will see all types of stems. Which is best for you?

Most companies will give you guidelines for what size to choose, but as far as which company to go with…I can tell you my personal preference, but I can’t tell you it will be your vagina’s best friend.

I liked my first menstrual cup plenty good, but it had some bits I wasn’t crazy about. So I began to research new cups, which is how I found SckoonCup. On paper, it has all you could ask for in a menstrual cup, such as being made in the USA from medical-grade silicone. But my current cup was doing fine, and I wasn’t ready to spend money on a new one. So when I was selected to write a review in exchange for a free SckoonCup, I was super pumped.

My first menstrual cup was firmer and much longer than SckoonCup. While I couldn’t feel it when inserted properly, I would struggle occasionally to do so. This would leave me able to feel the stem irritating my sensitive skin. This was the first thing I noticed about SckoonCup – it is short and the stem is incredibly flexible and soft. Even if the cup is sitting a bit lower than it should, I am unable to feel it at all. This is aided by how short and soft it is. And yet, the height give me no trouble inserting and removing it. WhooHoo!

One thing of note is that SckoonCup does become thicker toward the top, and has a sizeable rim. The entire cup, including the holes at the top, is continuous which makes it very smooth. However, the rim is a bit large for me and if the cup opens before the rim moves past my vaginal muscles, it can be quite uncomfortable. Once it is high enough, however, I can’t feel a thing. I have fewer problems with leaking during the day, too. I have loved menstrual cups since I first started using them, with my SckoonCup, I now love them even more!

Interested in purchasing your own SckoonCup? Simply click on any of the (affiliate) links in the post, and you will receive 10% off your very own SckoonCup!

Questions? Want to share your own experience with reusable? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Thank you to SckoonCup for providing samples of the products mentioned in this post. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of the Green Moms Network, and the content and opinions expressed here are 100% my own. Make sure you check out SckoonCup on Facebook, Pinterest, Instragram, Twitter, and Google+.


How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

After a long break (which I promise I’ll explain later), I am happy to provide you with this awesome guest post from Angela Privin of Paleo Kitchen Lab. Like me, Angela loves essential oils and wrote up a post just for you about how to use them in the kitchen. Remember: only use the highest quality of oils that are safe for internal use. Angela and I both recommend doTERRA.

Essential oils are growing in popularity these days as more people discover that aromatherapy can reduce stress, increase energy, lift a bad mood, induce relaxation and ease minor health complaints like headaches or nausea.

Typically essential oils are used topically or inhaled, but high quality food grade essential oils can also be used in tiny quantities to flavor food.

There are a few essential oils that are a staple in my kitchen. So I never have to worry about being out of fresh ingredients like lemons, limes or ginger. I substitute essential oil in place of fresh ingredients without worries of any produce spoiling and going to waste.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

Essential oils don’t need to be refrigerated and will last for years on your counter top.

If you’re new to essential oils it can be overwhelming to choose from the hundreds of scents available. You can follow your nose and let it pick favorite smells or you can stock up on a few super versatile oils to use as flavorings, scenting baths or body oil, making natural cleaning products or taking a whiff when you need quick support.

Essential oils are incredibly concentrated so you never need to use more than one drop in food. Here are the oils that are staples in my kitchen.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

Lemon Essential Oil

If you only want to buy one oil I suggest lemon for its versatility and low price.

Lemon oil, just like fresh lemon, is good for detoxification. It also has energizing and emotionally balancing properties.

Get the daily benefits of lemon oil by putting one drop in your still or sparkling water every morning. It adds a refreshing flavor and helps support the liver. It’s particularly convenient for traveling, or when you can’t get fresh lemons. It’s also easier than cutting and juicing a lemon.

I also use lemon oil to flavor plain yogurt. It transforms the bland flavor.

Lastly I use lemon oil to freshen applesauce or fruit salad or in my salad dressing. You can even add it to olive oil to make lemon oil. The options are limited only by your imagination.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

Lime Essential Oil

Lime essential oil has many of the same antioxidant benefits of lemon oil. Lime oil is also antiviral so it’s used to protect against and treat infection in the body. The lime scent is one of my favorites. I use it in place of fresh lime juice in guacamole.

You can also add it to any beverage that uses lime from alcoholic beverages to limeade. You can also dilute it in olive or coconut oil to drizzle on fish or seafood.

Peppermint Essential Oil

This oil works great for soothing and relaxing the belly.

It also helps wake you up. I use it to flavor homemade chocolate or fudge or add it chocolate almond milk smoothies for a minty kick.

Lavender Essential Oil

This is one of the most popular essential oils for it’s calming and stress relieving properties.

I use it to flavor honey. If you’re adventurous, you can use it to flavor cookies or ice cream, but most people like to use lavender to scent body care products or their bath. You can also put it on the soles of your feet if you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

Lemongrass

Though this oil is a bit more obscure than the others, it’s a favorite of mine to use in Thai dishes and soups. Despite its name, lemongrass is a tropical herb with no connection to lemon. It is used in Asia as an antiseptic and antimicrobial to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, yeast and fungus in the digestive tract.

You can also use it as a bug repellant, but it’s a great to have on hand if you want to whip up a Thai dish.

Ginger

This is a great oil to have around during the holidays when gingerbread cookies are popular. Here is a great recipe for gingerbread cookies. You can also flavor hot coco or coffee drinks with this powerful oil. And you definitely want ginger oil on hand as a quick fix for nausea.

How to Use Essential Oils in the Kitchen

As I mentioned, it’s important to purchase food grade oils to use in your recipes. Most oils sold in stores are not food grade. You can purchase these high quality oils here.

Angela Privin love to play in the kitchen and create easy and fun Paleo dishes at Paleo Kitchen Lab. Years ago she used the Paleo diet to heal her chronic digestive symptoms that were diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It healed her food allergies. And later she lost 13 pounds on it while enjoying lots of bacon.