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Essential Oils – My Experience

When we moved to the Stoney Creek Farm 12 Years ago, I have to admit, we had not heard anything about essential oils except for use in candles or potpourri. Now, it appears that most Americans have heard about them and a huge following of people are using oils for natural medicinal and alternative therapy uses such as:

  1. Cold and Flu symptoms
  2. Skin Rashes
  3. Relaxation and Sleep
  4. Hormone Balance
  5. Improving Digestion
  6. Pest Control
  7. Managing Pain, and much more….

I want to say, up front, that I do not want to use this post to solicit business for any particular type of essential oil brand. I just want to share with you what we have discovered over the past 5 years about essential oils, the specific ones we have tried that have been beneficial, and why. I am also not a doctor, nor do I have any special training in oils…just sharing my experience with them.  Also, I have multiple friends and family who sell different brands and do not want to get in “hot water” with any of them…love them all!

So I’ll start off by saying …I HATE taking medication! That is probably the number one reason I started looking into essential oils as an alternative to traditional medicine.  Some drugs are necessary, but I avoid any that I absolutely don’t have to take.  Ibuprofen is one that I like to avoid because too much of it, is so hard on the liver.  Unfortunately, I have sinus issues whenever the weather changes and headaches behind my eyes are a regular occurrence.  I had a friend suggest that I rub Peppermint Oil on three spots on the back of my neck to get rid of my headache…and it worked.  I didn’t need an energy drink either…it wakes you up!  It lasted about 3 hours and then I would repeat.  Knowing that it’s a natural alternative and loving the smell, hooked me for life!  This oil is also great to help prevent coughing…just put a drop on your finger and rub on the back of your tongue.

Homemade Peppermint Oil

I have a good friend whose granddaughter had a horrible diaper rash for months that just wouldn’t go away and the poor child was miserable. She had starting using oils and asked her consultant for some help.  The consultant told her to try using one drop of Frankincense Oil mixed with a carrier oil (like almond or coconut oil) on the diaper rash for a few days.  To her surprise, the diaper rash cleared up in 3 days! I have used Frankincense Oil for rashes and to help a wound heal after it has initially healed (not on an open wound) and have had wonderful results.

Every decade of life has its benefits and challenges. My 50’s  hot flashes and sleepless nights for a more than a few years.  I refused to take synthetic hormones and finally gave in to taking Tylenol PM when I went several nights without sleep in a row.  As  I mentioned, I HATE taking medication, so I tried using Lavender Oil, which helped me to relax and fall asleep…but not stay asleep.  I absolutely love the smell of lavender, so its easy for me to use as a natural perfume and it relieves itchy insect bites.

Homemade Lavender Oil

Since the sleep problem was still an issue, I sought the advice of Registered Nurse who used and sold Essential Oils who suggested I try Clary Sage Oil, which might help with the hormone balance and help me sleep.  The first night I tried Clary Sage Oil drops on bottom of my big toes and feet, I slept all night.  Now this was not a perfect situation, because there are always other variables affecting sleep, but this oil helped me sleep much better for years until this season of my life changed…thank goodness!

Since we are serious gardeners, I invariably get lots of cuts and non-life-threatening wounds throughout the season. My number one “go to” antiseptic is Melaleuca Oil which helps to speed the healing process in lightning quick time (at least in my estimation).  This oil is also call Tea Tree Oil and many people use it to treat Cold Sores, acne, congestion and respiratory tract infections, and fungal infections among other things.  An entire all-natural household products company (called co-incidentally, Melaleuca) is based off this oil…it must be pretty powerful!

There are a lot of Oil Blends on the market which target certain health issues.  The blends contain multiple oils blended with a particular concentration.  One blend that our family has really enjoyed and helps us survive the allergy season in Spring and Fall contains Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, and Lemon.  We use it in a diffuser (combines the oil in a mist into the air) to relieve our congestion and other symptoms.


One of these days I want to learn how to make my own oils and tinctures from these wonderful plants. My friend, local TV celebrity and Herbal  Author, Cindy Shapton, has classes on the process of making oils and tinctures from herbs and flowers at her farm in Fernvale, TN.  If you have this same urge to learn how to make your own…check out her website www.cindyshapton.com. I might just see you at her next class!

Cindy Shapton (left) on Talk of the Town TV Show


What the Heck is an
‘Capsule Wardrobe’?

My journey to a simpler life started 12 years ago when we moved to Stoney Creek Farm and I was working in the corporate world often traveling 3 days a week in a car over a multiple state sales territory.  Traveling such a wide territory allowed me to pare down my work wardrobe because it was rare that I would visit the same customers in a two week timeframe.
I immediately saw the benefits:

Fewer Choices – which meant more closet space
Less Stress – which meant happier me
Less Money – which meant extra money for paying off debt (no more $800 Chico bills)
More Time – which meant I could relax and do things with family instead of making all those choices

Walk_In_Closet_-_Expandable_Closet_Rod_and_Shelfsee the Benefits…(above)
versus too much wardrobe/too many choices (below)


So then I began looking at my personal wardrobe and figuring out how I could make that simpler and more efficient too.  This journey has had it’s ups and downs, just like a roller coaster…especially with the ‘after Christmas’ sales every year, but I feel like I am finally getting a handle on it…after 12 years!  It’s certainly not perfect, but I have to admit my wardrobe is a lot simpler and I try to follow this important rule of thumb:

“If something NEW comes in the closet,

something OLD comes out of the closet!”

According to Wikipedia, “the term [capsule wardrobe] is widely used in the British and American fashion media… The term has come to refer to a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items only, to maximize the number of outfits that can be created. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be “key” or “staple” items in coordinating colors.”

My definition of an ‘capsule wardrobe’ is a small compact wardrobe that you can mix and match easily and will transition styles for almost any occasion.  There are numerous schools of thoughts on this type of wardrobe, and not all of them may fit your particular style, so I suggest paring down a little at a time…to see what works for you.

Although I still have some (still in-style) clothing from my sales career days, my goal is to eventually have a completely capsule wardrobe.  So now I work toward having 10-12 pieces of key clothing that I can mix and match with accessories to highlight the outfits.  Here is a list of my key clothing pieces for casual/business/church:
khaki pants, jeans, black pants, pencil black skirt, structured jean jacket, fitted short black/grey jacket, 3 short or sleeveless shells (complimentary colors), 2 long sleeve or 3/4 length sleeve shells (complimentary colors), and light pancho/sweater wrap.

unfancy pic

It’s very difficult for some people to visualize what their capsule wardrobe should look like or how to go about paring down their wardrobe…so below is a very helpful site called
http://www.un-fancy.com.  Caroline explains the process and even has a wardrobe planner that you can download for free to help you put together your own capsule wardrobe. http://www.un-fancy.com/capsule-wardrobe-101/free-wardrobe-planner/  The picture above is from her site.  Be aware that she considers the capsule wardrobe to have 37 key pieces, which may help you pare down your wardrobe initially, but it may still have too many choices…you decide.

Below is an example of a long weekend travel capsule (not for my 57 year old body, but very cute!).  How wonderful to travel with a small carry on bag rather than checking in and having your luggage mysteriously turn up in another state…yes, most of us have had that happen!  The capsule wardrobe can help you with keeping it simple.

travel capsule

On the other hand, my farming life requires dedicated “get dirty” clothes, so those are not included in this list, but I pared down this list of clothes too!  I didn’t need 50 T-shirts!  But they do wear out faster, so I generally have more farm clothes than casual/business/church clothes.

Another great website I follow is  Joshua Becker’s ‘Becoming Minimalist’  http://www.becomingminimalist.com/about-us/.  Joshua has a lot of guest posts about simple living and paring down wardrobes and material stuff.  It keeps me focused on the “simple” part of simple and sustainable living.

I look forward to more weekly posts this year sharing our sustainable, simple life here on the farm.  We would love to hear any tips and ideas you have and/or suggestions of topics you would like to hear more about…just send us a note at  stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com.




Start 2017 with a Simple, Sustainable Life

Over the past 11 years, Olin and I have changed our lives a little at a time by pairing down our “stuff” and being content with less.  We have found that this practice has created an incredible amount of joy and reduced a massive amount of stress from our lives.  We would like to share some of our successes (and things to avoid) in our 2017 weekly newsletters to help you discover new and different ways to live this year simply and sustainably.

We welcome any suggestions, comments and advice from any of our readers to share with others, so that everyone can benefit from your personal experience!  So please reply back to any of the newsletters this year with your input!  Thank you!

So here are a couple of tips that we began about 10 years ago for Holiday decorations:
If it takes more than 2-3 hours to decorate for Christmas, we don’t do it!

I know…it sounds ridiculous…it did to us too.  But we began by pairing down our decorations to the ones we really loved;  then we only put out the tree ornaments that have memories associated with them;  and we pack everything away in an organized fashion in large plastic bins, so that it’s easy to find and put up the next year (key to success).  And YES, whatever you are not using (after a couple of years), you can give away, donate, or use some things for wrapping gifts (like ornaments, ribbon, etc).  Think about all the people you can bless with your beautiful decorations that you don’t use anymore…

Another tip we started many years ago which saves money and keeps the wrapping station organized:
Use ONE Container for wrapping supplies; including all holiday celebrations (with birthday, anniversary, etc.)

clear-storage-box-for-gift-wrapI know…sounds ridiculous…but it can be done.  You will be amazed how it will simplify the amount of gift wrap you need in your home.  You will not feel the need to go buy oodles and oodles of 50% off gift wrap after the holiday to store for the next holiday, because you will have a manageable wrap station that holds an easy to view inventory.  The only additional bag we have outside the wrap station is a recycle bag full of gift bags that we reuse for the next holiday.  We also save bows and tissue paper (if they are not damaged) to help decrease the landfill for at least another year.

The lesson we learned about simplifying our decorations and wrapping supplies is this:  Simple and organized makes life easier and less stressful.  Simple living leads to sustainable living…

Happy New Year from Leigh and Olin!


    Holiday Fruit Tea Recipe (hot or cold)

    Make your Holiday gathering special with my yummy fruit tea recipe which you can serve over ice in a glass or warm in a mug with a cinnamon stick.  My recipe was featured in the Tennessee Cooperator last year along with a lot of other wonderful hot seasonal drinks from Tennessee kitchens…hope you enjoy!

    Hot Fruit Tea

    6-8 Family-size tea bags
    1-2 cups sugar (to taste)
    1 (12 oz can) frozen orange juice concentrate
    1 (12 oz can) frozen lemonade concentrate
    1 (46 oz can) pineapple juice
    small cinnamon sticks
    Directions:  Brew enough tea for 1 gallon; remove tea bags.  Add sugar; stir until dissolved.  Add enough water for 1 gallon of tea,.  Add thawed orange juice and lemonade concentrate and pineapple juices; stir until mixed well. Heat mixture until warm.  Serve in mugs with a small cinnamon stick in each.  Add additional sugar if needed.  Freeze any leftover tea for later use.  Yield:  About 25 servings.

    Happy Holidays!  Merry Christmas!

    Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanza! 

    We wish You a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

      The Dirt Rich Family Bundle
      makes a Great Holiday Gift!

      Want to support local agriculture and teach families about sustainable living this Holiday Season?  You can do both with the Dirt Rich Family Bundle.  The Bundle contains the following author signed copy books within a red mesh produce bag complete with sparkling bow:

      One “Dirt Rich – How to Experience more Joy and Less Stress Through Sustainable Farm Living” Book
      Two “Dirt Rich Kids Coloring and Activity Books”
      Two farm box crayons

      The bundle is only $25 plus $5 shipping anywhere within the continental US.

      To order your Dirt Rich Family Bundles click the link below:
      Dirt Rich Family Bundle

      Three reasons to brew your own Kombucha.

      1. Cost. The average bottle of kombucha is $3 plus at the store for a 16 oz bottle which is roughly $24 or more per gallon. So after the initial investment in jars, scoby, sugar and tea the continued cost for a gallon of homemade kombucha is roughly $2.
      2. Control.  By brewing your own you control the source of water, sugar and tea. You control the intensity of the final drink by the length of time it ferments. You also control which fruits and juices are used in the second fermenting process thus ensuring its quality meets your personal standards and the amount of sugar content. 
      3. Community.  As time goes on new scobies will grow and you can share them with friends and teach them how to brew their own.

      Brewing Kombucha Class
      with Deana Marcum and Courtney Windham
      Sunday, October 9th, 2 – 4 pm
      Cost $45, which includes instruction, gallon brewing jar, scoby, organic black tea, organic cane sugar

      Deana and Courtney will involve the class in the following activities:
      1.  Demonstration of how to make Kombucha
      2.  Flavoring of Kombucha after fermentation is done
      3.  How to save starter liquid to continue another batch of Kombucha
      4.  Tasting of flavored Kombucha
      5.  Discuss benefits of Kombucha (healthy gut, probiotics and much more)
      6.  Discuss Jun tea (like Kombucha, but made w/ a different scoby and green tea), Keifer, ginger brew, etc.

      All attendees will go home with their own fully brewed gallon jar of Kombucha tea with scoby, so they will not have to wait on it to brew!
      To register:

      http://stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com/events/kombucha-brew-your-own-probiotic-rich-drink/Deana Marcum Bio
      Deana Marcum’s ease into natural living was inspired by two do it yourself, back to basics,question everything parents who lived as self sufficient as possible while raising their five children. Further influenced by grand parents and great grandparents who all gave her a solid foundation on natural living, canning, gardening, cooking and baking from scratch. Her journey into herbalism and natural health really peaked at the age of 19 when researching female health and being introduced to the work of Jethro Kloss. As a working homeschooling mom Deana has a passion for teaching others and finds joy in seeing that “aha” moment when students from 2 to 92 learn something new.  http://www.pinksugarbowl.com

      Courtney Windham Bio
      Courtney Windham is a stay-at-home mom and owner of Simply Traditional Body Care.  Her journey into natural living began over 10 years ago, when her oldest child was diagnosed with severe food allergies in infancy.  She enjoys sharing the knowledge she has acquired along the way with others – hopefully saving them some of the frustrations of trial and error that comes with learning something new!

      #scoby #kombucha #drjoshaxe #healthygut #stoneycreekfarm #dirtrich


      The Secret to Turning a Raised Bed into a Cold Frame is a support system
      that can stay up all year long.


      Olin started with a 4’x8′ raised bed and measured six old windows he had from a remodeling job that were all similar in size.  He then used scrap wood from 2×4’s and plywood to create the frame and placed two hinges to hold each window on the top wood piece.  He was careful not to place the windows too close together because they will shrink and expand depending on the humidity…causing them to stick together during a heavy rain. As you can see from the picture below, the windows create a green house effect that protects cool weather plants from frost damage.


      Last winter we were able to grow carrots, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, lettuce, radishes and kale.  I’m sure we could have grown a much bigger variety, but I ran out of space.  Also, we keep a thermometer in the cold frame, and when it get 80 degrees, we prop open a couple of windows, so the plants don’t wilt or dry out.  The cold frame almost serves as a terrarium, because you don’t have to water much at all after you germinate the seeds and everything starts growing.

      #coldframe #stoneycreekfarm #dirtrich #wintergarden #sustainableliving


      Fall Gardens are pretty short lived, so you have to choose seeds that have a quick growing cycle. Otherwise, you can buy plants at the garden center to have bounty before frost.

      My favorite publication site is:


      Just enter “Fall Garden” in the search bar and all sorts of relevant information will pop up.  Great site with great resources!

      Here are the seeds I plant for Fall:  turnip greens, kale, collard greens, lettuce, spinach, radishes, mustard greens and carrots.

      I plant them in a raised bed that we convert to Cold Frame (made with recycled old windows to let the sun in) when the weather starts to get cold and frosty.  I will share more about Cold Frames another blog.

      Leaf Cutter Bees – Super Hero Pollinators!

      When Jay Williams from Williams Honey Farm approached us about a pollination test this Summer season for Solitary Bees (Mason & Leaf Cutter Bees), we didn’t really know what to expect, but he made it very easy. Jay basically did all the work and we reaped all the benefits. We only paid him for cost of the bees and materials. He placed two T-Post Hives on our farm. One T-post Hive was in the area of our U-Pick Community Garden and the other post hive was in our rental gardens. (We rent plots to local people who are either learning how to garden or do not have the space at their homes or apartment communities.) Jay placed approximately 1,000 Leaf Cutter cocoons and bees at each T-Post Hive for the test.

      Leaf Cutter Bees 1

      He placed the bees in early June and they began their pollination cycle. We have never seen anything like it before! We are only estimating, but feel that they at least tripled our pollination rate. We began to feel overwhelmed because we do not have a large enough staff (just the two of us and two volunteers) to keep up with the production of vegetables we were picking every day…much more than in the previous 5 years we have been open. We started out with 6 rows of green beans (4 rows less than last year) and we were not able to pick all of the green beans on two of the rows, before they got dry on the vine…there were just so many beans.  We are determined next year to be more prepared, because we lost a lot of veggies…we just couldn’t harvest it all!

      We sold more squash, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and berries than any previous year we have been open and we feel it is due in a large part to the increased pollination of the leaf cutter bees.

      We opened the garden in mid-June and closed in 6 weeks, 2 weeks earlier than usual. Increased pollination may have played a part, but the heat and excessive rain definitely accelerated plant deterioration.

      Even though we closed two weeks earlier than usual…we still increased our sales 35% above 2015 (and 2015 was higher than any previous year). We had more produce than we could sell so, we also donated almost 1,000 pounds of produce (estimated worth of $1,000) to OneGenAway (www.onegenaway.com) which distributes food throughout our community to the needy and homeless. We felt very blessed this year!

      If you have an interest in getting some Solitary Bees (Mason and/or Leaf Cutter) for your farm, garden or landscape, we definitely recommend Jay Williams and his little Super Hero Pollinators. Contact him at jay@williamshoneyfarm.com.

      Last Week of the Summer U-Pick Garden

      2016 has been a blessed year for sure at Stoney Creek Farm!  We’ve been blessed with a new source of pollinators called “Leaf Cutter Bees” (http://www.williamshoneyfarm.com) which have tripled our pollination rates of our veggies and berries (we are guessing, but feel pretty confident about that ratio). So we have had more produce than ever before and been able to sell more to the community and donate more to needy families through an organization called One Gen Away ( http://www.onegenaway.com)…so it has been a very successful Summer Season.

      All that to say…we are winding down and this will be our last week for the Summer U-Pick Garden.  We will be open two days this week:

      Wednesday, July 20th, 7 am – 7 pm
      Saturday, July 23th, 7 am – 7 pm

      Pesticide Free Berries and Produce available this week:
      Slicer Tomatoes
      Green Tomatoes for frying (be glad to give you my superb recipe too!)
      San Marzano Roma Tomatoes
      Grape Tomatoes
      Red Cabbage
      Brussel Sprouts
      Peaches, dwarf limited
      Basil/Lemon Balm
      Mint/Choc Mint
      16 oz cup of flowers and herbs are only $5 cup stuffed full
      Dirt Rich Book by the Funderburks
      Cracked Pot Herb Book by Cindy Shapton
      Thanks for supporting our Volunteer’s Annual Trip by buying a Farm Temporary Tattoo for $2