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.


Crochet Wire Bracelet | DIY Craft Tutorial

One of Will’s coworkers makes crochet wire jewelry. They are very pretty, yet simple to make, so I decided to make them as gifts for my maid of honor, bridesmaid, and Will’s sister (who is doing a reading). I picked out the beads and wire, and received a quick tutorial. However, when I got home and started to make the bracelets, I had a few questions. As it turns out, there is nothing I can find on the Great Google instructing on how to do this very simple craft. So I figured it out on my own, and now I’m creating a tutorial for others like me!

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial

What You’ll Need:

  • Beads
  • Soft Flex beading wire
  • 2 crimps
  • Flexwire cutter
  • Crimping tool
  • Crochet hook

1. Gather supplies. First pick the beads that you want to the bracelet. From there you can pick a beading wire that allows the beads to move freely. Choose a crochet hook that is smaller than the beads so that the bracelet will curl up and have more volume.

2. Measure wire. It is better to err on the side of too much wire, rather than two little. I wrap the wire around my wrist 9 times and find that provides plenty of wire and cushion for a bracelet.

3. Make a slip knot in the wire and tighten it over the crochet hook. The knot may not hold tightly. This is okay, just make sure that it is tight once you begin crocheting.

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

4. String beads and first crimp. The first crimp should be placed about 5 beads in. I put a charm on each of my bracelets, which I strung so that it could also be crocheted into the bracelet. You can always add or remove beads later as needed.

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

5. Crochet the first bead. Draw the first bead up to the crochet hook and wrap the wire around. The bead should be behind the hook. Pull the wire through the loop on the hook – a chain stitch.

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

6. Continue chaining the beads in your desired pattern. You can chain one bead or multiple beads as you desire. When you come to the first crimp, crochet it with another bead so that it will be hidden within the bracelet.

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

7. When the bracelet is the desired length, add the final crimp. Work as if to chain the crimp, but pull the wire all the way through, effectively knotting the wire.

8. Pass the wire through the crimps. Use the crimping tool to close the crimps.

9. Cut the wire. Congrats! You are done!

Crochet Wire Bracelet Tutorial | How We Flourish

For the bracelet above, I alternated chaining one or two single green beads with chaining a cluster of 3 purple beads to create “flowers.”


My Must Have Essential Oils

I <3 essential oils. I don’t try to hide that. I have seen such a huge improvement in the health of myself and my family since I started using and sharing them.

A lot of people are overwhelmed by the number of oils available. How do you know which to use and how to use them?

My Must Have Essential Oils

I love having a larger arsenal of essential oils to use for whatever may come up. It also allows me to experiment and find which oils work best for my. This is why I chose the Premium Essential Oils kit when I first enrolled with doTERRA, and why I love ordering new oils every month. However, if I had to select just a few to never run out of, these would be my must have essential oils:

Lavender. Oh, lavender. How I love you. A couple drops in a bath, and I’m transported to a spa. Less than a drop on my hands, and I am able to de-stress and fall asleep. I’ve used it on burns and eczema with great success. There are many uses for the calming properties of lavender!

Lemon. Lemon is an oil that is good at cleaning…everything! I make up a spray bottle of 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and 30 drops lemon for a great all purpose cleaner. I have used it to remove the sticky gunk left behind by stickers. I also love to put a drop or two of lemon in water as a detoxing drink. It’s my favorite hangover cure (shhhh…)

Peppermint. Peppermint is another everything oil. It is cooling – I’ve used it along my spine to help me get through a hot day, and it can be very helpful for hot flashes. It is energizing – a little bit on the back of the neck can really pick you up and help you focus. It is great for headaches and muscle tensions. And it tastes great! I love using peppermint to flavor my homemade toothpaste or to make mint brownies.

-Want to try these three versatile and basic oils? Learn the power of doTERRA essential oils by purchasing their introductory kit for just $26.67-

My Must Have Essential OilsFrankincense. Frankincense may seem expensive, but it is such a wonderful oil! A small amount on the roof of my mouth is my preferred headache remedy. I also use it, diluted in fractionated coconut oil, on my face to help heal my acne. It help with cell repair, so it is great to help with healing acne and prevent scarring. Frankincense is also commonly used in more long-term oil protocols.

Melaleuca. This oil is more commonly known as tea tree. It is antimicrobial, so I use it in most of my personal care products, especially toothpaste and deodorant. I also use it on my acne for this reason.

On Guard. On Guard is an anti-viral and anti-microbial blend of oils. It is available in oil, beadlet, and softgel form, so there are many ways to use it. It can be great for using in cleaning products, and I love using it to help avoid getting sick and to help getting over colds.

Deep Blue. I’ve written about Deep Blue before. Such an amazing oil for pain and inflammation! I encourage you to read my post about why this oil blend is so great.

Digestzen. Digestzen is an oil blend that helps support digestion. I don’t use this oil much, but when I need it, I am soooooo glad I have it! I just rub a drop or two, diluted in fractionated coconut oil, on my stomach and shortly I experience amazing relief from the GI discomfort I was experiencing. This discomfort can be from overindulging, detoxing, eating something I shouldn’t, or any other cause of stomach and intestinal discomfort.

Breathe. Breathe is a respiratory blend, and my must have when I’m sick. It helps open up my airwaves and relieve my stuffy nose, which is especially welcome when I’m trying to sleep with a cold! I have also seen it help with snoring.

Oregano. I actually only used oregano for the first time this past week. I keep it around because it is a strong antibiotic. It is a very hot oil, and must be treated with care, but it is really helpful to treat various ailments, and I will be talking more about this in a couple weeks. But I have now seen first hand that it really works at what it does!

My Must Have Essential OilsThose are my top 10. If you are interested in sampling these oils, you can find them all in the Family Physician Kit. I actually didn’t even realize this (I’ve never purchased a Family Physician Kit) until I made the list! It just goes to show that this really is a great set of oils. If you are interested in larger amounts of these oils, you can find them all in the Home Essentials Kit. I listed the enrollment kits for these because the enrollment kits are actually cheaper than the retail of these kits – and you get 25% off the oils in the future! If that sounds like something you are interested in, you can purchase here (join as a Wellness Advocate), or contact me with any questions.

For other oils that I love, check out my posts on Clear Skin, ClaryCalm, and Slim and Sassy.


Things I Love: May

Oh wow. This month.

I haven’t posted in a week, and that was my first post in awhile, too. Things have be crazy. I graduated May 25, and we moved Will into our new apartment on the 29th. I feel like I barely have time to breathe!

But what a great month May was! Like I said, I graduated from college! I now have a BA in biology and Latin. While I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done the past few days as we’ve been moving, and I’m not even moving in yet. But the apartment is really nice and it’s so exciting that we have a place to live after the wedding.

With the chaos of the week, I totally forgot about the other things that happened this month until I sat down to write this post. My finals went well and I ended the year feeling really good about my friendships. I had a really great goodbye with all of my Classics profs and got a really good hug from a friend I hope to continue to grow closer to. I spent some great time with family during a birthday party and a bridal shower.

So it was a good month. A stressful month, but a good month.

Here are some things around the web I’ve loved this month:

One more thing I love? This is for June. This month at doTERRA, Terrashield is 10% off. This oil blend can be used to make an AMAZING bug spray. It really works to repel mosquitoes, ticks, etc. and only costs 12 cents per ounce! It is safe for children and pets. With an LRP order of 125PV or more, get a free bottle of balance. This blend is grounding, calming, and oxygenating. It love it to bring me peace. Anyone that places an order of 200PV or more gets a free bottle of On Guard and of Breathe. On Guard is an anti-viral and anti-microbial blend that can be used for cleaning, fighting infection, and boosting immunity to ward off sickness. Breathe is a wonderful blend that can help with any breathing difficulties. Will and I both use it when we are stuffed up.

Things I Love: 10% off Terrashield and free Balance!

All that to say, it’s a crazy exciting month at doTERRA! I was so excited when I learned about the specials for the month. If you are interested in getting these discounted and free oils, you can learn more about essential oils here, and you can always contact me with questions or to receive samples.

Things I Love: Free On Guard and Breathe!