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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Pocketful of Oils: Our Family's Foray into Essential Oils

Mark and I have always enjoyed using essential oils. When we first bought some scents from Phuket, we burned them in our burner. We also used them for aches and pains. However, some of the oils turned rancid after a while, and we gradually lost interest in them.

Sometime last year, I read somewhere that they could be used to halt toddlers' tantrums in their tracks. Apparently, smelling something new causes the brain to switch gears, long enough such that it helps to take the toddler's mind off the tantrum and thus takes it down to another level, when we can deal with the little one more effectively once his or her emotions are under control. You can watch a fascinating video here on how this works! It has definitely worked for us on more than a few occasions.

However, I have never explored the use of essential oils seriously nor done much reading on how they could be used to help with the daily health challenges our family faces.

With two children under 5 in our household, we are always looking for ways to calm and soothe the senses. Painting is definitely therapeutic.
Recently, our dear friend Wendy most generously gifted us with a set of Everyday Oils by Young Living, as well as a Young Living Diffuser, to try out with our family and to review for our blog.

I did not know what to expect at first. We enjoyed the smells, but I was quite unsure about the effects which using the oils would have on us, nor whether I would be able to keep up with the regimen of "oiling" alongside our daily routine. However, I promised Wendy I would try to use them for a month and let her know if we had found them beneficial.

Our precious oils. Thank you, Wendy! The small squarish book is a reference guide - precious information on how to use the oils for all kinds of conditions from asthma to eye conditions.
Our family was down with a bad bout of flu for the whole month of May, taking turns to fall like dominoes, so I was glad to find any sort of remedy to help with the situation. Mark and I were having a bad throat and Wendy recommended swallowing a drop of Thieves to help soothe the throat.

I had not heard of ingesting oils before, so I decided to inhale the Thieves Oil instead.  It had an instant effect of soothing my sore throat and was a constant "friend" for us throughout the infection! 

Apparently, there are different schools of thought as to how essential oils can be used - the German method of inhalation (which yields one of the most instantaneous results as the molecules are sent directly from the olfactory system into the brain), the British model (which we are most traditionally familiar with, the use of oils in massage or Aromatherapy), and the French School of Thought, which uses both the German and British methods as well as oral ingestion of the oils. The French see the oils as having medical properties for healing as well as boosting immunity. You can read more about these different schools in this well-written blog post. Oils can be used in their neat (undiluted form), or in the case of skin sensitivity and especially with children, they should be used diluted with any form of pure vegetable oil. Extra virgin oil is great for this purpose.

Of course, the thing to remember is that everything we apply on our bodies and especially consume needs to be approached with much caution and medical advice must be sought if applied in combination with any medicines or treatment. Those who practise the use of essential oils are quick to point out that they are not  replacement for seeking medical treatment for illness. 

Rather, I have come to see the use of essential oils as part of our everyday lifestyle, to improve the health and immunity of our family, and also to relieve some of the symptoms we experience due to the toxins and pollutants in our environment. And they are perfect mood enhancers as well!

The Everyday Oils selection. Don't you think the colours are so pretty? Our sons have taken to choosing their own oils and smelling them everyday.

I have taken to toting around my little pocketful of oils in case a need arises. What my favourite oils are and how I have been using them is food for another post! But I can give you a lowdown of what we have been using everyday.

I usually do most of the "oiling" at night as part of our bedtime routine. Our younger son likes helping me add water to the diffuser before I choose the oils to diffuse for the night. (More on the type of diffuser to use in another post.) My favourites for bedtime are the soothing oils like Peace and Calming or Eucalyptus. They fill the room with a piney scent that is soothing and clears any blocked or runny noses.

I rub the oils recommended for children on the soles of their feet. Lavender, peppermint and lemon are some of our favourites. Mark and I have been using a lot of Thieves and Peppermint, especially to clear our sinuses and to help with coughs and sore throats. I have indeed experienced the instantaneous effect of inhaling these oils, and they've often carried me through a tiring day or given Mark an energy boost when he's feeling sleepy in the car on a hot afternoon.

My pocketful of oils. Thank you Wendy!
I really see their effect on our boys when they are having a bad day or on the verge of throwing a tantrum. I rub Valour on the back of their necks and behind their ears, and we have witnessed the calming effect it has on them. 

There is something about the relationship between our senses that I think we do not consider enough in our modern lifestyle, where everything is so compartmentalised. Especially in terms of the effect which our environments have on us. The olfactory is something we often ignore in a culture so reliant on the visual. 

Putting aside even the health benefits of the oils (of which there are many!), there is something to be said about going to bed in a room filed with the scent of sweet eucalyptus, or citrus and ylang ylang (key ingredients of Peace and Calming). 

There is still much to learn about essential oils, and with anything new, part of the job for me will be in the reading up and research on the history and chemistry of the oils. I think they provide a great complement to the routines we have put in place to make our home a calm and peaceful place for our kids to grow up in - as well as provide the natural health remedies which are always a preferred option to falling sick and relying heavily on medication.




If you are interested in exploring essential oils for your family, do drop a note in our blog or email us at marklim.suetan@gmail.com. We would be glad to share our journey with you!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Grand Margaret River Adventure - the Wining & Dining Episode

Wine for Dudes (& Dudettes)

In the minds of most international travellers, the Margaret River region exists for one reason and one reason only - its huge variety of vineyards that produce one of the world's most delicious wines! A brief history of viniculture will provide the knowledge that wines are classified into "Old World Wines" and "New World Wines". Many traditionalists turn their noses at the New World wines of countries such as America and Australia; believing Old World wines from countries like France to be the best. But while the Old World wines have a unique distinctive quality, the New World wines easily stand their own. And if you were to look to Australia, you would definitely consider the Margaret River region to be one of the best regions for the growing of wines in the country.

We took a day away from the kids, leaving them in the good hands of Sue's parents. Deciding that it's never safe to drink and drive, we booked a wine tour from reputed tour agency Wine for Dudes -  we chose them as there was a "wine blending" component on the tour that we really wanted to experience.
A day of wining and dining. Some would describe this as the coup de grace of a Margaret River visit.

Happs Vineyard & Pottery

The first stop on our tour was the lovely Happs Vineyard and Pottery. Our friendly wine guide Wayne recommended this venue as it is known for its sweet wines; Sue is not a wine drinker but she does enjoy a sweet wine occasionally.
Wine tasting is serious business. You take notes on what you like so you can select the best!
Just a sip. After all, we are going to drink more than 50 different wines!
Happs is apparently famous for its lovely pottery. Really fine and delicate items!

Woody Nook Wines

Nestled in a lovely wooded setting, Woody Nook Wines was our stopover for lunch. We were asked if we wanted pizza or a food platter, and the choice was obvious; so if was off to Woody Nook; and a delightful wine tasting session awaited.
Woody Nook not only sells wines, they also sell various wine and kitchen accessories.
The tasting bar. I enjoyed most of the six wines offered for tasting here. This was not a vineyard
I had heard of before, so it was a pleasant surprise!
Choosing what wine to go with my lunch. A most important decision.
For the record I chose the delectable Cabernet Merlot. A lovely blend.
This is the reason to come to Woody Nook. Spectacular tasting platters. The food was paired splendidly with the wine!
The two of us really ate to our hearts' content!
The "wine guy" Wayne. We really enjoyed his sense of humour and friendly personality.
One for the road!

Vasse Virgin

Taking a break from wine tasting, we headed off for a dose of aromatherapy - that's what we felt when we entered the showroom/factory of Vasse Virgin, one of the region's best olive oil producers. But it was soap that we ended up buying the most - Sue really enjoyed the luscious feeling of the organic products, and in fact we're still using the products today!
The luxurious soap showroom and factory at Vasse Virgin.
Our friendly tour guide Wayne nudged me to get my hands scrubbed; that was
truly a most "purifying" experience!
We wanted a photo with the vines; after all we were in the Margaret River region!
Luscious and tranquil scenes at Vasse Virgin.

Aravina Estate

One of the most unexpected places on our wine tour was the opulent Aravina Estate. When businessman Steve Tobin first established this vineyard, he had an incredible vision, as articulated on the Aravina Estate website:

With a passion for wine-making, artistic and architectural design and enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life, the Tobins' vision for Aravina Estate is the creation of a wonderful dining experience for families, couples and children and enhancing it with the production of distinctive wines of exceptional quality that best represent the region. 
Aravina Estate is located in really beautiful surroundings; but most people come here for these beauties!
The star of the show!
Then it's off to the Tasting Room! Aravina's wines hint of its luxurious surroundings.
Full-bodied, yet easy on the palate, they were a most delicious delight to the senses!
Parting shot. We can't imagine what it must be like to live in such luxury! And it was a treat to meet
the owner Steve Tobin himself! We can see why he enjoys being here!

Gabriel Chocolate

It was a lovely Australian afternoon; and perfect for sipping a cup of cocoa and enjoying a taste of chocolate. Our trip to Gabriel Chocolate was nothing less than extraordinary! We particularly enjoyed the dark chocolate varietals with more than 70% cocoa. Most delicate and delicious to the taste. And it pairs perfectly with coffee!
It's nice to hold a cocoa pod in your hands and know that you'll be enjoying the fruits of its labour!
Gabriel Chocolate has an interesting philosophy. All chocolates are packed
according to where the beans originated. Each is unique in that way.
Here's our Wine for Dudes guide Wayne pointing out where Singapore is on the world map.
Did these chocolates come from these cocoa pods? Wow!

House of Cards

Located just next to our chocolate venue was a quaint boutique vineyard, the House of Cards. Inspired by the "gamble" that winemakers make when they grow and harvest their grapes, this unique winery is what has been described as a "single vineyard", which means that all the grapes are from a single location; and the wine produced is therefore dependent on the quality of the annual harvest. Single vineyard wines are therefore more unique than wines that are made from the grapes of different vineyards. And we were not at all disappointed from the excellent wines we had!
The wines from the House of Cards are all named after cards e.g. Queen of Diamonds, King of Spades, One-Eyed Jack etc.
The "One-Eyed Jack" fortified shiraz was an amazing burst of flavour.
Thoroughly enjoyable!

Bush Shack Brewery

After a day of wine tasting and merrymaking, our friendly guide suggested that we end off the day with a bottle of beer. And it was a terrific idea! Bush Shack Brewery, one of the few breweries in Margaret River, was the perfect place to end of a most delightful day.
Deciding what to drink.
The brewery has on tap a most remarkable selection of beers. The question was not
whether we should drink, but rather what we should drink!
Getting ready to serve her thirsty customers.
One final choice (from left to right) - Ginger Beer, Chilli Beer, Dark Roast Wheat Beer, Chocolate Beer,
Yallingup Old and Twisted Lemon Lager. (Mango Madness not in picture.)
We thoroughly enjoyed the beers; lovely surroundings, lovely company, and a six-pack of
Yallingup Old & Chocolate Beer to take home!

Final shot for the day - our friendly and knowledgable wine guide, Wayne.
What a full day we had! A most delightful wine tour (complete with a couple of bottles of wine and beer for the suitcase). The Margaret River region is clearly the place of choice for wine lovers (and non-wine lovers) alike. We know we will be back for more. And perhaps we'll get to visit some of the other 200 vineyards the next time round!

Next: Bye Bye Busselton!

Previously: Exploring the jewelled caves of the Margaret River region.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Giveway: 4 Tickets to I Theatre's The Gingerbread Man on Sat 30 May, 2.30 pm at the Jubilee Hall



What a great way to kick start the end of exams and the start of the June holidays. I Theatre is known for its heartwarming plots and hilarious characters, catchy tunes and fascinating puppetry. They are reprising this previously sold-out version of the family musical,  rainbow-sprinkled with a colourful collection of crazy puppet and live-action characters, frosted with some valuable lessons to learn, and interesting thinking points for young and old alike.


This tasty tale – the one you know so well – is presented especially for ages 3 to 93.



Returning because of audience demand, you’ll want to catch The Gingerbread man before he escapes yet again!

To enter our giveaway: 

1. Visit our Parenting on Purpose Facebook page. "Like" our page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parenting-on-Purpose/803165826364996

2. Visit I Theatre's Facebook page. "Like" their page.

https://www.facebook.com/ITheatreSG?fref=ts

3. Leave a comment on the Facebook post and share it on your wall. Remember to make the setting public so we can see it. Here's the link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parenting-on-Purpose/803165826364996?fref=nf

The giveaway ends on 20 May. All the best! :)

Update: Congratulations to Sandra New who has won the giveaway! Do email us at marklim.suetan@gmail.com to claim your prize!