Get Started with Essential Oils: Advice from an EO Teacher

posted in: Simple Living | 8
Essential oils teacher
For over 30 years Cindy has had a passion for holistic care through the use of essential oils, herbs, and other therapies. She is a teacher, author, and life coach and joins husband Dennis in their equine programs. Cindy’s personal coaching strong suit is her ability to empower people to believe in themselves. She listens intently and poses creative questions to guide individuals in self-reflection that results in clearer understanding of themselves and renewed enthusiasm about their potential and ability to thrive in life. She delightfully draws her clients to a place of hope, love, and acceptance of self as she lays the blueprint for creating a new way of life.

Note: Cindy is such an accomplished businesswoman, which inspires me, but what I admire most about her is her positive attitude! You can find out more about Cindy by visiting her website

*This post contains affiliate links.

How did you get started with essential oils? It was in 1985, when I was on my newly begun holistic journey through using herbs, and I was introduced to essential oils. Anything that has a high value to healing I was curious about as my immediate family had passed away from side effects of prescribed medications from illnesses. I wanted an alternative for mine and my children’s health.

Can you explain the different ways people use essential oils? The simplest way is inhalation. This is easy and comfortable for people, as when it gets on their skin they feel there is no backing out. Diffusing is another very comfortable way. It’s a great aroma for a room or area where essential oils are diffused, and it’s also not on the skin, so people feel safe using it this way. Topical is very beneficial if you have a trusted quality source. Quality is very important. Use directly on skin, reflex points in particular.

What are some unusual ways to use essential oils that most people wouldn’t think of? I have used essential oils on horses, dogs, and pigs since 1985. Essential oils are also very powerful in cooking. You don’t need much—just a drop, maybe two, when the oil is good quality. I also make candy and my own horse treats with essential oils.

Horse treats made with essential oils. Get started with essential oils.
Something for our four-legged friends.

What is the biggest mistake people make with essential oils? Not understanding the importance of quality and applications for EOs as directed from very trusted sources that have experience, rather than getting information just from what someone else said or did. I have been in the holistic world since the mid-eighties and have seen a lot of companies and marketing come and go. Know your source! When people say, “That oil is too expensive. I can’t use that,” they are not understanding the extent of what that oil can do for the body. You need to decide: Am I using it to give me a good feeling because of the way it smells, or do I need it to help my body recover? The right quality oils can do more than you can imagine.

What advice do you have for those just starting out with essential oils? For those on a budget? In my thirty plus years, I still have my favorite trio. That is lavender (probably the safest oil and called the universal oil), tea tree oil, and peppermint oil.  I carry these three in my purse and in my tack room in the barn because no matter what I am dealing with, one of these three EOs is going to benefit the situation at hand immediately. So I would suggest starting with any of these three.

tea tree oil, get started with essential oils
So many different uses–who knew?

If you could only have one essential oil, what would it be and why? If I was going to pick just one oil to have on hand, it would be tea tree oil. My husband calls it my snake oil. LOL. But it works for so many things. Everything from stopping bleeding, to sore throat, to infection, fungus . . . I could go on and on.

Do you make your own blends? I do make my own insect repellent, fly spray, face spray, migraine spray, and pain spray. Whatever I or someone else needs, I will come up with my own blend. It is different for each individual’s needs and emotions.

As the cold weather approaches, what are some essential oils or blends you recommend? Tei-Fu is wonderful for congestion. Inhale it over warm water on the stove. Put on a warm towel and put around your neck to open you up or apply on your feet, up your nose, or on your chest. It’s really good. Essential Shield essential oil protects against germs and lemon oil is always so cleansing. Use these last two to wipe your counters down. This time of year we close up our houses and we wear more clothing, so the skin doesn’t get the fresh air as we normally do in warmer weather. Essential oils that are high in oxygen, when diffused, are great in the air for everyone to breath. Oxygen gives life to our cells and body.

Any parting words of essential oil wisdom? I am honored you asked me to give my thoughts on what I feel has rescued me and my family from illness and injury due to the prevention and recovery we immediately gave the body through administering essential oils. I would like to add that your mindset plays an important part in what kind of results you will get with the oils, or anything, for that matter. Whatever you believe and think about them, that is most likely what it will be. Balance and true healing comes when the mind and body are in agreement of any belief. So when choosing, gather your information, make a decision, and believe in what you’re doing.

Cindy’s disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes and in no way intended to diagnose. These are my personal experiences.

get started with essential oils, essential oil advice from an eo teacher
Oh I’m jealous! One of these days I hope to have a well-stocked essential oils cabinet!

Do you use essential oils? If so, which are your favorites? Tell us about it in the comments.

Related posts: Gardening Advice from a Thirty-year Greenhouse Veteran

How to Soak Nuts

How to Dry Herbs

Finding My Pace: Slowing Down to Enjoy Life


How to Be a Peacemaker

Inside: Think it’s possible to pursue peace in a chaotic world? It is possible, but it starts with you and me. Learn how to be a peacemaker. How to Be a Peacemaker.

“I’ve called you to be a peacemaker.”

Those words surprised me during my prayer time about a year ago. And they irritated me.

I snickered before answering, “So you waited fifty years to tell me this? Isn’t it a little late in the game?”

The reply came back swiftly, “Would you have listened?”

The truth was I wouldn’t have. Mostly I grew up with strong women–fighters, scrappers–and being the oldest granddaughter on my mother’s side, it seemed like the mantle was passed on to me. I mulled this over, thinking of not only the major women influencers in my life, but also how God had added several more such women to the mix. Maternal grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, daughter. I was surrounded!

Days later I continued the conversation with God. “If you called me to be a peacemaker, then why would you put all these fighter type women around me?”

His reply, “With all of those fighters, don’t you think there needs to be a peacemaker?”

I turned that over and over in my brain for several more days, wrapping my head around the term, trying it on for size, making my peace with being a peacemaker. To be honest, I struggled with it. In my mind it was the classic strong versus weak. Peacemaker equals doormat. My grandmother would talk about those kind of people–the sensitive kind–and she’d say the word sensitive like it was something to be pitied, rejected. Those people were a burden to the strong ones in the family. The Lord had been working on me about this for the last several years, renewing my mind, pointing out the truth, but obviously those old tapes were still playing in my head.

A few weeks later, more was added to the assignment: “You are a bridge-builder.” Hmm. I liked that. I pictured workers moving heavy materials by crane, constructing a foundation and building on top of that, from opposite ends, finally to meet in the middle. Nothing weak about that. Armed with this new image, I began to incorporate these little revelations into my own life, walking it out, practicing Ways to become a peacemaker.peace. Here is what I’ve learned:

Look for the best in people.

Instead of immediately thinking the worst of the folks who cross my path in my day-to-day living and judging their behavior, I tried to extend a generous dose of grace–the same grace that has been extended to me!

At my dad’s memorial back in January, a cousin told me that Dad’s thinking the best of people was something he had admired about my father and now practiced in his own life. He said he’d rather think the best about people and risk appearing naïve or foolish rather than finding fault with others.

Me, too, Glen.

Avoid words that tear down.

Words are powerful things. They can either hurt or heal. Build or tear down. So often we speak without thinking, without considering the weight of what we say. I often joke that a good comeback comes to me half a day later, at two in the morning, after the confrontation. I’m not quick with a flippant reply, and, really, I’m starting to see that as a blessing in disguise. If you are quick with a comeback, consider practicing a slower response. Evaluate your words first. Is that really what you want to say? How will you feel about those words tomorrow? While, yes, a heartfelt apology can re-establish a relationship, words already spoken remain out there. You can’t take them back.

Don’t leave positive words unsaid.

Often there is a reluctance attached to paying someone a compliment or expressing warm feelings. A vulnerability on the part of the speaker. Much like seeing the good in people, there’s a risk involved. But most of the time, it’s definitely a risk worth taking. My aunt Deb has been a good example of this. Years ago she started telling people how she felt about them. Though I don’t see her often these days, whenever I do she says, “I love you, Amy.” I find myself doing this with others more frequently–and I like the change in me.

And I love you, too, Deb.

Guard your heart.

What we watch on TV, read in books or on the Internet, or listen to affects us and the way we see the world. It’s hard to offer peace to others when we lack peace in our heart because we’ve filled it with contentious or negative things. Speaking for myself, that means fasting the news. The constant stream of news–almost entirely bad–isn’t healthy. When I was a kid, people got their news from newspapers, and a combination of local and nightly news from 5 – 6:30 and also 10 o’clock. In the mornings stations ran other shows, like children’s programming. Now the local news stations compete for 4 a.m. ratings and at 7 usher us off to New York for 2 more hours of national news. Not to mention 24-hour news cable stations and newsfeeds on Facebook or our ISP homepages. Go to a restaurant, doctor’s office, or the car mechanic’s and there are more TVs tuned into the news. Is all this necessary? It seems to me we’ve become a nation of imbalance when it comes to the news. We’re saturated with it, and we bring that negativity with us wherever we go. Or wonder why we keep refilling our prescriptions for Prozac.

It’s too much.

Find a healthy way to vent.

Peaceful people get angry, too. It’s important to find a way to deal with negative emotions. Venting to a trusted friend or journaling your feelings are two good ways. Or take the example of David, psalmist-writer, and pour out your feelings to the One who knows us, loves us, and understands what we’re going through. I have done all of these, and still do.

Pray for your enemies.

I’ve seen the fruit of this many times in my own life. I remember a couple of years back, a woman whose path crossed mine about once a month in a group setting had been irritating me, and I referred to her as “the woman I hate.” (Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s the truth.) One day during my prayer time, when I was asking God to move her elsewhere, He said, “Don’t call her ‘the woman you hate.’ ” I rolled my eyes, figuring that God wanted me to change my words to “the woman I love.” Then He said that if I can’t say anything positive to say “the woman He loves.” When I thought about it through that lens–that though this woman had said negative things about God, here was God saying, “I love this woman”–my attitude toward her began to change. I started including her in my daily prayers, and the relationship improved significantly.

Admittedly prayers for my enemies often start out as what I call “gritted teeth prayers.” Somewhere between a growl and a heavy sigh, words spoken through teeth tightly clenched together. But with time, those same prayers turn into something positive. Beautiful, in fact. It’s amazing to witness.

Peace within. How to become a peacemaker.

While I’m not suggesting pursuing peace is easy, I am saying that little by little, you will reap the benefits. Less stress. Better relationships. A healthier outlook, which results in a healthier mind and body. More room for joy and blessings and grace.

And we could all use more of that.

Do you consider yourself a peacemaker? Tell us about it in the comments.

Related posts: Finding my Pace: Slowing Down to Enjoy Life

Gifts of an Introvert

The Useful Art of Daydreaming

My Noisy Clock

Best Time of the Day


Sugared Plum Visions, Maryland Bound, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Inside: Adventures in making jam, postcards from the road, and finally getting there. Get all the news fresh from the farm.

Sugared Plum Visions, Maryland Bound
Plum jam–quick, someone get me a spoon!

Adventures in Making Jam

I love plum jam–I’ll just put it out there. So to add craziness to my already hectic schedule (I tend to choose simple over hectic, but life happens) I bought twelve pounds of red plums, knowing my trip to Maryland was imminent (read on), knowing I still needed to finish preparing my class as well as write posts for two websites, and pack, among other daily tasks. But I started the three-day jam process–not without a glitch or two. For one thing, last year my plums were purple, which results in a deep, rich burgundy jar of loveliness. Red plums will get you a sort of pink-orange color with an odd discoloration of plum skin turning, in some cases, green.

Go figure.

Well, when life gives you red plums (or that’s what’s on sale) you make red plum jam with slivers of greenish skin. And you taste it and give thanks regardless. Because although it wasn’t quite what you planned aesthetically, it still tastes amazing.

Family, you will be getting some. Ignore the odd green peels when you come across them. It isn’t green peppers. I promise.

Postcards from the Road

I’ve been in sore need of a road trip, and arriving just in time comes the annual vacay to Deep Creek, Maryland, where I will once again be teaching a writing class. I find this year, especially, I crave the rhythm of the road with the best travel companion a girl could ever want (he and I have been at this for thirty-plus years, have definitely found our groove) trekking mile after mile of Heartland Harvest. Fields of corn and corn stubble where combines have tread, listening to tunes from my past that remind me of where I’ve been.

Small farms out my passenger window, and large expanse of blue sky ahead as we move closer to our destination. We’ll get there, all in good time, knowing for now the journey is the thing.

Sugared plum visions, Maryland bound
My way is the highway.

And Finally Getting There

We arrived in western Maryland to warm weather and a warm welcome from my dear friend Patty. Together we put on these writing retreats once a year, though she does most of the planning, teaching, and logistics, as well as the cooking! Actually, starting with the second year, participants began bringing a main dish and either a side or dessert. So not only do we have this wonderful time of writing and camaraderie, we eat the most delicious food for the duration of the retreat. Then we all pitch in to help with reheating food and clean up. It works great. I highly recommend it.

As for me, I taught a class entitled “How to Create ‘Quite a Character.’ ” I’m not a natural teacher, like my daughter is, so I compensate by putting as much value into my talk as I can. Writing has opened up so many doors for me, brought some wonderful friends into my life, and I am so grateful for this writer’s life! I like to give back when I can. Not like it’s hard in beautiful Deep Creek, Maryland.

Hard to leave this year, but to quote Dorothy, There’s no place like home.

Teaching a class at Dreamweavers INK Writers Retreat.
Teaching a class at Memory Maker.
Dreamweavers INK Writers Retreat.
The Memory Maker lodge. Nice digs.

How did your week go? Tell us about it in the comments.

Related posts: My Yellow Horizon, Pickling, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Mum’s the Word, 100-mile Man, and Other News Fresh From the Farm

Faith, Farm, and Family





Coffee Love: How to Make Pour-over Coffee

posted in: Simple Food | 2

Inside: The best way I know to start the morning–pour-over coffee. Never heard of it? I’ll give you a crash course in how to make pour-over coffee the simple way. 

*This post contains affiliate links.

How to make pour over coffee
My morning brew, pour-over style.

So a couple of years ago the Hubmeister comes home with this odd-looking black plastic funnel thingie and cone-shaped filters. He’d been to the high-end grocery store near his work and caught a demo for something he called “pour-over coffee,” which inspired his impulse buy.

“You got to try this,” he said. He then measured out the hot water from our Keurig and showed me how the lady at the store had made him a most memorable cup of coffee.

I observed.

“What’s the point?” I asked. I’m always about simple.

“It’s supposed to be less bitter.” He handed me the cup.

I doctored it up my way, adding creamer, and took a sip. It actually did taste less bitter to me than my normal coffee pod method. And more robust somehow.

I was hooked.

That was several years ago. Since then we’ve switched over to this method to make our coffee and purchased a ceramic pour-over coffee brewer to accommodate a larger cup. Here’s how we do our daily grind.


  1. Line the brewer with a coffee filter.
  2. Measure the amount of coffee you want to make an 8 – 12 ounce cup and place inside the filter.
  3. Heat water to desired temperature (we do this in our Keurig).
  4. Measure water for desired size cup and pour only enough water to moisten the coffee grounds.
  5. Let this “bloom” for 30 – 45 seconds before adding remaining water.
  6. When water has drained through grounds, remove brewer, add your favorite creamer, and enjoy.

Admittedly, after going through the process, the coffee is then not quite as hot as I like, so I microwave it 30 seconds. Also of note: Some people swear by adding the remaining water in a swirling pattern from a kettle with a long, thin spout. My measuring cup has this, and I’ve tried it and found no difference at all between just pouring in the remaining water and adding it in a swirling pattern.

While this might seem to be a fussy method for making coffee, I like the simplicity of the humble little brewer. It’s inexpensive, and I do find this method enhances the taste. I also only want to make one cup at a time. If I made an entire pot, I’d feel like I had to drink all of it–not a good idea.

I also prefer this to the pods or K-cups, which are quite expensive. Plus I find the pods are just not strong enough for me anymore. Interestingly I had some K-cups the other day and ran my own taste test using the K-cups for one cup and then emptying the contents of another K-cup into my pour-over brewer. The pour-over method produced a more flavorful cup of coffee.

One more perk: This week as I’m on vacation in Maryland, I was able to easily bring along our brewer and enjoy pour-over coffee here in beautiful Deep Creek, Maryland. What a treat!

How to make pour over coffee.
The best part of waking up is my pour-over cup.

Have you tried pour-over coffee? Tell me about it in the comments.

Related posts: How to Soak Nuts

Best Time of the Day

Simple Suppers: Easy Pizza

Simple Suppers: Roasted Chicken Thighs