DIY Bathroom Scrub


Happy Sunday friends!

Yesterday I managed to get my whole house clean (save the floors which I did today), it had been far too long since my bathrooms had a good scrub.  As I was cleaning using the products I make myself I thought that it was about time I start to share some of my tried and true DIY and toxic free living recipes with you.

I’m going to start with one of my very favourites – my husband was even blown away after seeing how powerful this is! This scrub is amazing for showers, tubs, sinks, stove tops or really anything that needs a good scrub.  I use this once every month or two on our shower when I notice the hard water spots building up.  My all purpose cleaner (which I’ll share soon) keeps the build up at bay for the most part but every so often it needs a bit more of a cleaning. When using this on the shower I make sure to clean it right before I’m going to have a shower.  I scoop it out with a wet sponge, scrub the walls and then to rinse off I just jump into the shower – because of the peppermint oil I use I get a wonderfully invigorating wake up shower at the same time as getting a sparkling clean shower!  I’ve used this on tough to clean bath tub, dull and stained kitchen sinks, caked on and burnt food on stove tops and it’s worked amazing every time.

The recipe:

1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 Tbsp Dr.Bronner’s Castile Soap (I like non-scented so I can add my own scents)
Enough distilled water to make a paste (you can alternatively boil water and let it cool down)
10 drops each lemon and peppermint oil (or essential oil of your choosing)

Add everything to a glass jar and mix well.

Give it a try and let me know what you think! If you don’t have any essential oils (and want to try them out) feel free to contact me via e-mail or leave me a comment and I’ll give you some more info.  If you want to know why I use essential oils check out this post.

Becoming Oily


I’ve been wanting to start writing a lot more about my journey with essential oils – why I love them, how I got started, and how we are using them.  As always I don’t really write unless I get a spark of inspiration and today that inspiration is coming from my husband jumping on my oily band wagon! So before the inspiration fades I’m going to just hammer out a post in true “Ashley” fashion.

I’ve been using essential oils for about 3.5 years now – ever since Ezekiel was a baby.  I’ve written before about how I really started to focus on wellness when he was a baby.  I’ve been back and forth on this wellness journey – one step forward a couple back, two steps forward one back and it goes on and on.  I’ve found beauty in this journey and I have no shame about my set backs because each one has taught me something new.  So anyways, when Ezekiel was a baby I ordered a starter kit from Young Living.  I chose Young Living after researching other companies and realizing that their Seed to Seal process was and is far superior to any other company out there.  I guess the gardener/farmer in me just really resonates with planting a seed, growing that seed and preserving the amazing product that comes from that, but I don’t think you need to be a farmer or gardener to appreciate knowing EXACTLY where the product is coming from and how it got there.

After receiving my starter kit I basically only used my oils for diffusing in replacement of candles as well as for all my own cleaning products.  I didn’t dive any deeper into the science of the oils or how they could really support our bodies and our health.  My main purpose in using them was to eliminate some toxins in our home, to have cleaning products that I could use while my small son could be right beside me helping and I wasn’t worried about him putting anything in his mouth or touching the products.

Fast forward to this past year, and specifically the last few months and I’ve been diving deep into the health portion of essential oils and I am BLOWN AWAY at just how incredible these little bottles are and how they are changing our lives.  I’m not going to share all of the ways here right now – that post would be far too long.  Here’s the thing: there is actual science behind these oils.  They may not be researched much in western medicine (but we are getting there!) but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t true science in the oils.  I used to think they were a bit “hokey” but since starting to learn the actual science I’m 100% a believer in these oils.  The same science that applies to any drug also applies to oils but oils are FAR superior!

Please don’t get me wrong – I am in no way saying we should all ditch the drugs we are on and use only essential oils.  I am currently taking two prescription medications and I will not be replacing those with essential oils but I WILL be supporting my body and all it’s systems with essential oils especially my immune system.  My husband is hoping to reduce the amount of prescription drugs he is taking by starting to eat healthier and use essential oils to support his body as well because the drugs he is currently taking definitely can be reduced by lifestyle changes.

So don’t think that just because I’m a bit more crunchy than before that I’m swearing off western medicine – not true and I don’t think that will ever be true of me.  What I am saying is that the less toxins and man made and manufactured things we put into our bodies the healthier we will be.  I’m so excited to be on this journey and the more changes I see in myself and my family the more I want to share!

If you have ANY questions at all PLEASE connect with me, I have so much more to share and I’ll be doing that on the blog from time to time but I really love a good one on one chat!

You can find me on Facebook or Instagram (m_l_ashley) or E-mail me at joyofsimplicityblog@gmail.com

Are you currently an oil user? Have they changed your life like they have changed mine??

Garden Update August 5, 2017

I wrote this post sitting in a  car, driving to my parents.  It’s a long drive and an even longer one with two kids – one being 4 months old.  I figured it was a good time to post another update! We are enjoying our very short trip and I’m really hoping the garden is still doing well when we return! That’s the downside of gardening – travelling is hard to do unless you have someone to tend to the gardens. 

It’s been a busy week around here but I still managed to get some gardening done.  I finally have all the tomatoes supported, including catching up on the big gardens tomato weave – the pictures I have were taken on Tuesday before I finished the weave.  The greenhouse tomatoes have almost grown taller than their supports and still look awesome.  The outside potted tomatoes don’t look amazing but they’ve all been fertilized now so hopefully they perk up.  The garden peppers seemed to have liked the fertilizer, there are lots of peppers popping up now and they look a lot greener and healthier.  We are eating a zucchini a day and I think I’ll be making a lot of zucchini baked goods.  I put up a garden net securing it to the garden box and then to the fence for the butternut squash, watermelon, and cucumbers to climb.  I haven’t had any flowers or fruit on any of those yet – next year I definitely have to start them early in the greenhouse.  

I think that’s it for updates this week.  Seemed like the tomatoes are all getting ready to start ripening – then the fun begins! 

Disclaimer: you are about to see my yard in its truest form – always cluttered with various things Ezekiel drags around.  I did clean it right after these pictures but in the spirit of keeping it real didn’t retake them! 


That’s it for this week! Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 8,2017

I’d really love to make these updates more regulated – like say – make an update every Sunday.  Yet this time in my life and motherhood journey I’m learning to be ok with “good enough” for most things.  So I take pictures regularly (confession: currently I have more garden pictures on my phone than kiddo pictures) and when I have some time to sit on my phone (and not scroll Instagram) I’ll write out a post.  Right now my baby needs some momma snuggles while sleeping so I have Jessica Jones on Netflix (my husband and I have recently become obsessed with all the Netflix original Marvel shows) and a post to write.

Since I last wrote I’ve actually gotten quite a lot accomplished in the garden.  I have all the tomatoes potted up, the tomatoes in the garden are pruned, supported and fertilized.  I harvested A LOT of greens and we’ve been enjoying salads daily.  The garden is growing amazingly, the wildflowers are blooming more and more each day, the herbs are coming along well, the tomatoes are mostly all flowering and many have tomatoes, and the peppers are finally starting to perk up and we already have a few growing. 

This next week there’s a couple “have to” items on my list: hang up a shade cloth in the greenhouse and pot up the rest of the peppers.  Along with those two things I’m going to try and work through the rest of the potted tomatoes – prune them, stake them and fertilize them.  Lots and lots to do around here! 

So here’s the last while in pictures:

Now, here’s the garden today:

Garden Update June 22

I’ve been trying to sit down and write this for a couple days but each time I try a little person needs my help.  I suppose that’s the life of a mom – especially moms of younger ones.  So I’ve resorted to writing this on my phone – convenient but not as trust worthy when it comes to spelling (dang autocorrect!) so forgive any grammatical and spelling mistakes.  

It’s been a good week in the garden. We are going to be having fresh salads next week and I cannot wait! There’s several tomatoes forming, some of the plants have sun damage but there’s lots of healthy new growth which is what really matters. The hot peppers seem to be struggling I guess I should have been a bit more patient before putting them in the garden.  I have a lot still in the greenhouse to fall back on if they don’t produce anything.  My paprika peppers, jalapeños, and sweet peppers all seem to be doing well though! The rest of the garden is sprouted and growing – I’m most surprised by the watermelons, really hoping to get at least one! The wildflower gardens are thriving as well – it’s going to be fun seeing what pops up there when they start to bloom.  

Here’s the pictures this week: 


Gourmet, rocky top, and midnight ruffle lettuce in the back.  


Arugula (super delicious!) and kale in the back.  Swischard and spinach in the middle.


Butternut squash, cucumbers and watermelon, peppers in the back. 


The tall pepper plants are paprika, then there’s the tomato forest! 


The rest of the peppers and the squash at the back. 


I’ll never tire of looking at this! Greens in the back, carrots in the center and onions in the front. 


Barrels of potatoes are doing well – time to add more dirt.


Ezekiel’s gardens are also doing pretty good.  I’m interested to see for how long they do well.  Carrots in the top picture and peas in the bottom.


Wildflower beauty.


Last but not least – the greenhouse.

How are you gardens growing? Any fun surprises? Or hard challenges? 

Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 31

Well, another 2 week garden update.  It’s been busy and I’ve been pretty tired lately so blogging hasn’t been on the top of my list.  However, the garden is doing pretty great!  I have a lot of cucumber’s starting but none that have produced anything, today I did some manual pollinating so hopefully I get a few!  Some of my peppers weren’t doing so great in the greenhouse so I cleaned it out completely and put all the plants on the deck.  I’m hoping they perk up.  I’ve had some zucchini’s, tomatoes, a pepper and of course greens harvested.  A lot of flowers have started to open which is fun for me, I’ve never really grown flowers before.

Without further ado here’s the pics!

July 24:

July 31:

Until next week friends!

Taking Back Control

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I’ve been thinking a lot today about living with a chronic illness and/or chronic pain.  I bet there’s thousands upon thousands of blog posts on this subject but I process best through writing and so I will add my few words to the millions already written.  Grab a coffee with me and keep reading if you’re interested :).

Why this post today?  Well I guess it’s because the last couple days I’ve been struggling more with my energy and so I’ve been wondering why.  I’ve gone through the mental list of possible reasons and in the end I think it’s just what comes with the territory of chronic illness – and you know, that’s OK.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be ups and downs but I really think living well through all of it requires consistency, persistence, and a whole lot of grace.

I’m not quiet about my medical conditions/history, in fact I’m probably annoyingly verbal about it.  Yet if you were to meet me and spend a week with me and if I were not to verbalize anything you would never know that I have any sort of condition (granted you could probably pick up on the twisted back if you were really paying attention).  In fact I would have never ever given myself a label of “chronic” anything up until a couple years ago.  I suppose I never labelled anything until I was trying to conceive and was advised to stop taking my NSAID’s to boost my chances.  In that moment I began to understand that I did in fact suffer from chronic pain and had done so for so many years that I can’t remember a time without pain.  Despite the chronic aspect of my pain I continued to live well and it really didn’t impact much of anything in my life.

Fast forward to the last 7 months.

I was just coming out of my full time working momma fog and began to realize that I had been feeling significantly unwell.  I’ve already wrote about my health struggles but it’s only recently that I have accepted that this too could very well be a chronic thing.  The thing is, it’s only the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve began feeling well again despite my health issues.  I feel as though I’m finally rising above the fog and now that every serious scenario has been ruled out I can finally begin to gain control again.  See, in the midst of all of this I had allowed myself to spiral downwards in a number of ways.  I felt out of control of my health as a whole and because of that I began to feel out of control of other areas of my life – spiritually, mentally, and financially.  I am so thankful for amazing physicians who allowed me to find solutions – even if they are just helping symptoms at this point – so that I could be lifted out of the dizzy fog and back onto solid ground.

A couple weeks ago I made the conscious decision that I was now going to gain back some control.  Obviously I know I’m never fully in control but there are always steps we can take to live well and live responsibly in a way that benefits our own lives and therefore the lives around us.  The hard part is realizing that it is our responsibility to live well, and living well always takes a certain amount of effort and consistency.  I know from past experience that it is very possible to live well despite chronic illness and pain and I am determined to get back to that point.  Here’s what I’m doing to get to that point:

Physical

  • Daily walking – this means getting up as early as 0445 in the morning and walking for a minimum of 30 minutes as well as getting out for walks during the day.  There’s not a lot I can do safely in terms of exercise but walking is easy, cheap and safe.
  • 3x/week body weight exercise – a lot of the time this is a very short amount of time and crammed into the daily routines of life.  It looks like dance parties with my son incorporating squats, planks, push-ups etc, or cooking supper while doing squats, or planking during Ezekiel’s bath time.
  • Eating fresh and eating green – having the garden has helped a lot with this part and I’m not being strict yet because I know it will be a natural evolution of life but I am trying to be far more conscious of what goes into my mouth.

Mental

  • Podcasts – I’ve been listening to a lot of health and wellness podcasts that have greatly enhanced my mental health.  I love learning but rarely have time to do new learning so this is something that’s easy to do while walking and driving.
  • Sleep – I’ve been getting to bed at a consistent time and waking at a consistent time.
  • Walking and exercise also contributes to mental wellness.

Spiritual

  • Meditation – I’ve committed to a daily meditation using an app.  I don’t outline a specific amount of time or what I want to accomplish – all of that will come with practice.

Financially

  • Keep the credit cards at home – I’ve taken them out of my wallet and put them away in a drawer.  I don’t do much online shopping so that’s not even a temptation for me but I consistently have been using my credit cards when I run out of cash and then paying them off with my pay cheques instead of just keeping myself accountable to the budget.  I’m determined to be credit card debt free in the next few months so that I can focus on paying student loans/debts.  The easiest way to get rid of the temptation is to remove it all together.
  • Strict grocery budget – I spend a ridiculous amount of money on food.  So I’ve instituted a strict grocery budget and I’m following it by using a calculator in the grocery store which helps me to say “no” to those extra items that I don’t really need but think I want.  When I go to the farmers market I take only the amount of cash left over from the grocery store and leave my wallet in the car so I’m not tempted to by anything extra.
  • Drink drip coffee – this is huge for me guys.  This was the hardest one to come to terms with.  If I have some extra money in the budget I’ll buy my special coffee but otherwise I’ll drink the drip coffee that my husband drinks.

There are sacrifices that need to be made but I know that these small sacrifices now will reap amazing rewards when it comes to living well and especially living well with chronic illnesses and pain.  Each part of our lives are intertwined and when one part is suffering the other parts are sure to follow which is why I’m addressing each area of my life in order to gain back wellness.

The end goal is to be in optimal health before getting pregnant with our next child and I’m determined to reach that goal.