DIY Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup (with essential oils)

I love the imagery of kitchen witchery. The wise woman in the kitchen making those potions people come seeking out, crafting recipes that heal from the inside out, and dispensing the advice and remedies to help people help themselves – it’s all deliciously rich. Not to mention practical. (Practical Magic is one of my favorite books of all time for this)

DIY Lavender Vanilla Simply Syrup (with essential oils) | Shalom Mama

When people come to my kitchen, I love to leave them with a little something special that just maybe they’ve never had before. Whether it’s a feeling or an unexpected flavor combination, you can give people this wonderful gift, too.

As a seasoned barista, one of my favorite everyday gifts to give to people is a phenomenal drink. Having flavored syrups around is one way to jazz up coffee, cocktails, and so much more. However, the syrups available on the market are rather passé. They are boring, loaded with artificial flavors, and are simply not something I’d want to serve someone I care about.

That’s why I started making my own.

Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup


Bring the water to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in a medium-sized pot, and begin adding sugar one cupful at a time, stirring constantly. Keep water hot, but not boiling. When all sugar is added, slice one vanilla bean in half, and place both halves in the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a quart-size mason jar and seal. (You may water bath can, if you need shelf life.)


  • Do NOT add more lavender before tasting the final product. I promise it is very potent with just four drops.
  • The vodka is a preservative. You can leave it off if you’re refrigerating your syrup or hot water bath canning it.

See? Entertaining and gifting doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.

In which I pour my heart out and share a new(ish) direction for my blog

One of the challenges I’ve had with this blog is writing. Weird, I know. It’s not so much that I can’t figure out what to write – I have so many lists of ideas. But sometimes, there’s so much that I want to say that I can’t type fast enough to get it all out.

So today, I decided I wasn’t even going to try. Writing, that is.

Instead, I recorded a message for you to share a few announcements and invite you to join me on the journey (or part ways if that’s where you feel led).

Here it is (you can catch the highlights and links I mentioned below):



  • Since I never actually told you where to register for this Thursday’s free webinar, I thought I’d put it down here. You can register here.
  • There’s a sweet special going on right now in which I bribe gift you with a free wooden essential oil storage box when you join my doTERRA tribe (you can also get some free oils). Here are the details.
  • I’m looking for Tribe leaders. You can find more details and apply here.
  • doTERRA is my main thing. I have a vision of traveling the world and serving with my family and this is the best, fastest way to make that happen. Expect less frequent posts and more info on using essential oils and building a doTERRA business.
  • Are you a doTERRA orphan? Maybe you bought a random kit from someone and you need help using your oils or even building a business. Feel free to reach out to me (nina @ shalommama . com) because I’d love to help you on this journey.

I’m so grateful for you!

Journaling Your Health Journey

Years ago I ran a handmade bath and body products business. What started out as an interest in essential oils quickly blossomed into soap making, hand and body lotions, salt scrubs, herbal baths, lip balms, herbal balms, facial steams, and so much more.

Journaling Your Health Journey |

The list of things I tried and sold was quite long and I don’t even remember all of the products off the top of my head. Thankfully, if I go back to my soap making journal I can find that list as well as most of my recipes, trials, errors, and notes about each experiment.

It was through my soap-making journal I began to see the the value of journaling more than just my daily thoughts.

Early into that adventure, I was overwhelmed with all the options of things I could make. There were so many different ingredients and so many different combinations to try. The trying out of new recipes & formulating my own unique versions were the best parts of that business for me.

In the midst of the overwhelm I read somewhere (I wish I could remember & give credit) about the idea of journaling each experiment with ingredients used, quantity of each, the resulting textures, effectiveness etc.

These notes became invaluable as I learned more about my craft, what worked, what didn’t, and what to tweak in the recipe the next time to get my desired result.

I still have notes tracking back through the 23 different combinations of oils I tried, just to find my signature face cream and hand lotion recipe. That base recipe is the one I still use today years later.

Not long after that I started a journal of my cooking adventures and hiking trips.

In my cooking journal I started to have fun re-working some my favorite recipes and kept notes on what I changed, the date, how it worked & what to try next time.

My hiking books became journals of the dates I went on the hike, my personal rating what I liked about it, and how I felt during and after the hike.

In our journey for improved health there are so many options, ideas, suggestions and conflicting opinions out there that it can get overwhelming on where to start and what to try.

Pick 3 Things to Experiment With

My suggestion? Pick out 3 things you would like to try. For example:

  1. An essential oil bath
  2. Give a healthy makeover to a family favorite recipe
  3. Start a Couch to 5K running plan

For each experiment, document what you tried and what you learned. Did the recipe turn out? Did you like the combination of oils, did you feel great after your first day of running? With each experiment you will learn, grow in confidence, and be ready to try something new the next time.

Health Journal Tips

1) Get Organized

One thing I wish I had done better with in my soap journal is to keep a better separation of types of experiments. My lip balm tests are buried somewhere in between facial steams, carpet freshener and body butter. When I am in a hurry and I want to look at what I have tried already, it can get frustrating. I do have it broken out by soap and then bath & body… but some days that is not enough

2) Write. It. Down.

Trust me even when you are trying only 3 simple things. You will not remember in a week how many drops of essential oil you used or what new spice you tried. These types of notes are invaluable later on in your health journey. Plus it’s fun to go back through your notes and see just how far you have come.

3) Make It Fun

Your health journey should be something to look forward, not dreaded. Keep your journal notes in a great binder or a super cute journal that you can’t help but smile at when you see it. Find a way to look forward to documenting what you have learned.

4) Save Your Favorites

Once you find your favorite soap, lotion, essential oil or cooking recipes, treat them special. I usually type them out and put them in a sheet protector at the front of my notebook for easy reference. Even still… keep notes on what you do each time you make that recipe. As you continue to grow and learn you will find yourself tweaking ingredients and experimenting even more.

What experiments or recipes do you need to start documenting today?

My Top 10 Essential Oils & How to Use Them


A few years ago, my Grandma bought her first essential oils – the Family Physician Kit from doTERRA. A month later, though, my mom brought me the box of oils and told me that my Grandma didn’t want them anywhere. Perplexed, I asked why. “Well, she doesn’t know how to use them,” she explained.

Crap. My bad. Lesson learned.

If I sell someone essential oils without explaining how to use them, I’ve done them a great disservice. (Which is why I offer such a huge amount of resources in the Shalom Mama Tribe.)

So today, I’m breaking down how to use the Family Physician Kit, which includes the top 10 essential oils to use for your healthcare needs.

While these oils are doTERRA specific, you can still use them for the same purposes using other pure essential oils (I just want people to use essential oils!).

First, how do you use essential oils?

Topically – you can apply essential oils directly to your skin. If you are at all in doubt about whether you can use an oil neat (neat means using an oil without diluting it – it usually says on the bottle if you can), dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil like coconut oil (my favorite because we have so much of it and it boasts its own benefits).

Internally – I use doTERRA oils internally because they’re safe to do so. Your essential oil will say on the bottle if you can, and if you’re in doubt, call the company. Most brands don’t allow for internal use as they’re not free of harmful components. Certain essential oil companies perform lots of testing to ensure they’re safe for consumption.

Aromatically – Diffusing essential oils in the air is another great way to get the benefits of essential oils. Try lavender in your room at bedtime. I plan on diffusing essential oils in the bus on a regular basis.

Using the Family Physician Kit

Just a note – when I use the oils, I start with one drop unless I’m using a recipe that says to do otherwise. These oils really do go a long way because you need so little at once for them to be effective.


The calming essential oil. We use lavender essential oil a LOT to help calm our crazy kids and induce peaceful sleep. I also use it to relieve stress and apply it neat to burns and wounds – it helps take the pain away very quickly.

  • Apply to temples, bottoms of feet or pillow cases before bed.
  • Apply to temples with frankincense to take away headaches and relieve stress.
  • Apply to burns and wounds to ease pain.
  • Diffuse in your house for calm.
  • Add some to a soothing sleep balm to use before bed.
  • Add to baths (with epsom salts) for extra relaxation.


doTERRA’s peppermint smells SO good. It’s the oil that sold me on this company. I’ve used it to help relieve nausea, increase energy and ease headaches.

  • Add a few drops to water for energy boost.
  • Apply to temples for headache relief.
  • Inhale deeply to help relieve nausea.
  • Apply to bottoms of feet to reduce high fevers.
  • Diffuse aromatically to help your house smell yummy.


This is now one of my favorite essential oils. I use it regularly to relieve stress and deal with any headaches that might pop up. It also gets added to my baths with lavender and epsom salts for a super relaxing experience.

  • Apply to minor cuts to speed healing and relieve pain.
  • Apply to bug bites and stings for immediate pain relief.
  • Add to baths for extra relaxation.
  • Apply to temples with lavender to relieve stress and headaches.
  • Apply to the bottoms of feet for immune system support.
  • Use to reduce scars.


I think my oldest daughter is Breathe’s biggest fan. She’s even faked a cough to use it. This essential oil works very well at clearing up coughs and helping you breathe during a cold.

  • Apply topically to your neck and chest to clear sinuses.
  • Diffuse aromatically when someone has a cough or cold.
  • Apply to the bottoms of feet or chest when someone has a cough or cold.



Melaleuca or tea tree oil is a great antimicrobial essential oil that belongs in every home. I use it on rashes and sometimes my scalp, to heal ear infections and to clean my house.

  • Apply neat around the base of the ear to heal ear infections naturally. (This is the only reason I’ll use it on my kids, otherwise I keep it out of their reach – make sure they do not ingest it).
  • Add a drop to your homemade shampoo and hair rinse.
  • Add to cleaning spray recipes to help kill germs.
  • Use on skin rashes to help with itching and speed healing.
  • Apply to feet to keep your toes happy (I made a special mix for my brother with lots of melaleuca and he said it works great – he typically makes fun of my “hippie ways”).


This is the oil that sold my husband on essential oils. DigestZen is my go-to oil for upset stomachs, whether it’s from a stomach bug or if I ate something I shouldn’t have (like gluten).

  • Drop one drop under your tongue to relieve stomach pain. Repeat every ten minutes until it works for serious stomach pain.
  • Apply to your abdomen to relieve stomach pain and gas.
  • Apply to the bottoms of feet (my kids’ preference) for digestive discomfort.

Deep Blue

This blue essential oil is helpful for aches and pains. My favorite application is as a sore muscle rub, especially when I can get Ian to give me a massage. :)

  • Dilute with coconut oil to make a sore muscle rub. (Don’t apply after you get out of the bath!!!)
  • Apply to aching joints for relief.
  • Rub on muscles before or after exercise to reduce soreness.


Oregano essential oil doesn’t come out much in our house, mainly because we don’t get sick often. When we do, however, oregano plays an important part in helping us heal.

  • Add 5 drops to an empty gelatin capsule for immune support or to help fight infection.
  • Apply diluted to the bottoms of feet to help fight illness (you will smell like pizza sauce).
  • Use internally (in a capsule) once a month to help cleanse your digestive tract.


I love citrus scents, especially doTERRA’s lemon. It smells just like a fresh lemon. I use it in my house for degreasing and cleaning. It’s also great to help lift your mood and detoxify.

  • Add a drop to honey to soothe a dry or sore throat.
  • Diffuse in rooms to get rid of odors and to lift your mood.
  • Apply neat to remove sticky residue (like tree pitch from your hands or clay from your dining table)
  • Add to dish water to degrease dishes and remove smells from cutting boards.
  • Add to water to detoxify internally.


I think of this blend as my immune system supporter. I apply it daily as a defense against illness, use it liberally when we are sick and use it with lemon and melaleuca to keep things clean at home.

  • Add a drop to your toothbrush for clean gums and teeth.
  • Apply to the bottoms of your feet for immune system support.
  • Diffuse aromatically to kill air-borne pathogens.
  • Add to cleaning spray to clean surfaces.
  • Add 5 drops to a gelatin capsule when you’re not feeling well.

Please check out this page if you’d like more information on essential oils and this page to learn more about the Shalom Mama Tribe.

What uses can you add?

Giveaway: Essential Oil Cleaning Trio

Giveaway: Essential Oil Cleaning Trio

Earlier this week, I released a new ebook into the world. After weeks of compiling content, writing, editing, formatting and designing, it’s done. Which means it’s time to celebrate.

And what better way to do than with a giveaway?

So until Sunday night, you can enter to win a cleaning trio of doTERRA essential oils!

What’s included?

Total retail cost: $67

Why these oils

Lavender, lemon and melaleuca essential oils boast some pretty amazing properties.

  • Lemon: a wonderful degreaser that also kills bacteria, plus it’s a mood lifter that smells amazing!
  • Lavender: antiviral and antibacterial, this soothing essential oil cleans without a nasty chemical smell.
  • Melaleuca: also known as Tea Tree essential oil, this is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal – it even kills fungus.

Simply Clean Home. An eguide to help you clean less and live more. My ebook, Simply Clean Home, is all about creating a more peaceful, tidy home as simply as possible. In it, I share decluttering tips, my own simple cleaning routine and recipes for the natural cleaners I use in my own home.

And you can get it now for 25% off (no discount needed) and a special natural cleaning bonus!

The main cleaning recipe I use is a an all-purpose cleaner. It’s great on counters, toilets and other surfaces because it combines powerful, yet safe essential oils that take care of all sorts of germs.

So I have no problem handing the bottle of cleaner to my kids and having them clean the bathroom. ;)

I call that essential oil combo my cleaning trio. And I’m excited to send this powerful trio to one lucky winner!

How to enter

You can enter simply by using the handy widget below. There are three options:

  • Visit the Simply Clean Home page and leave a comment here telling me what section of the book would help you the most.
  • Like Shalom Mama on Facebook
  • Easy peasy entry – just hit enter!

Ready? Go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


How is your self-care routine for 2015?

It’s 2015 and New Year’s resolutions, words, goals, and themes have been flying around Facebook, Pinterest and blog posts.

How is Your Self-Care Routine for 2015?

I have found it interesting that this year, I am seeing and reading a recurring theme of self-care in one form or another. Nina mentions it in her word for the Year of Sustainability and Rest is one of my focus words for 2015.

The question I run into next is, now that we have these goals, how do we pursue them and make them happen?

Start small, create a routine.

A great first step is to create a routine as a foundation. Routines can become habits, and when done consistently, these habits can help you reach and exceed your goals. Keep in mind that small steps taken every day, add up and make a huge difference in the long run. You might not see it in just a few days worth of effort but, look back over 2 or 4 weeks worth of effort and you will see improvement and forward motion.

So let me ask you… do you have a self-care routine?

You Are Important

Can I let you in on a secret? You are important! So when you hear the old saying, “what is important to you, you will make time for” remember that YOU are important. It’s time to make time for you and your personal well being.

As women it is natural and waaaay too easy to put everybody and everything ahead of your own needs. As Moms, daughters, sisters, business owners, teachers, homemakers, chefs, and shuttle service, we want to be there for our friends and provide for our families.

But when taken to the extreme, it can become a health and wellness issue. Soon we start to experience burnout and neglect ourselves.

If you are constantly feeling run down and bedraggled you are not only doing yourself a disservice but your ability to help others will also be affected.

A Self-Care Routine for the New Year

A new routine does not have to be anything lofty, hard to do, or expensive to start. My advice? Start small and go for the small wins.

For each person, self-care will look and feel differently. Here are a few examples:

There are so many small things we can do in any given day to take care of ourselves, even if it is just 5 minutes to start with. Then you can gradually start to increase the time to 10-15 and (gasp!) maybe even 20 or 30 minutes! The point is to create a foundational starting point and build upon it.

If you do not have a self-care routine yet I challenge you to make that a focus of your new year. Keep it small, keep it something you will actually do and enjoy. Use that as a foundation to create a routine, that can grow into a habit and help you achieve your goals this year.

What are some self-care routines you can add into your life this year?