How to Get Started With Essential Oils


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

By guest contributor Jade Cardy of Yurtigo.

Essential oils are all the rage right now, but they can be intimidating if you don't know how to use them. Learn everything you need to know to get started using essential oils in this comprehensive guide, complete with recipes for homemade essential oil blends and answers to common questions about essential oil usage and safety.I’ve always liked essential oils. I used to buy them to diffuse in my apartment to make the room smell nice. Or I would make a body spray to make myself smell nice. I had no idea the health benefits that lay hidden within these amazing oils. 

My official essential oil journey began one day last year when I was looking into natural hair care. Since we moved off-grid we do not have running water, so I wanted to find something I could use to nourish my hair and scalp between showers. I saw a YouTube video that mentioned using essential oils and misting your hair and scalp. I was curious to give it a try, so I joined a few online essential oil groups to start my research, and dove head first down the rabbit hole.

I didn’t initially realize the strength of essential oils. I had thought they were natural perfumes, rather than medicinal tools. The more I learned, the more I realized I knew very little about essential oils.

I was drawn to the safety groups. I spent hours pouring over previous posts and videos. And more hours learning about solubilizing, diluting, dispersing and emulsifying.

I learned the difference between hydrophilic and hydrophobic substances and how they interact. I learned which oils were unsafe for pets, kids and pregnancy. I learned about maximum dilutions, as well as safe dilution percentages to make skin tonics versus room sprays. I took notes on many different recipes for different products, while creating a wish list of essential oils. After quite a few months of research, I was ready to get my hands on some oils.

After doing even more research on essential oil suppliers, I chose to deal with Plant Therapy (affiliate link). The quality of their products, coupled with their free essential oil safety education, outstanding customer service, and their price point made them the choice for me.

Plant Therapy also provides batch-specific GC/MS reports for their customers to review on their website, which test the quality and purity of each oil. These reports are important because they show the breakdown of the main chemical constituents that give an essential oil some of its therapeutic properties. The safety considerations of each individual oil are also determined by their chemical profile.

I spent a little over two weeks studying Plant Therapy’s menu. I quickly figured out that the gift sets were the best value, so I ordered gift sets #1 and #4 to get me started, which comprised of Cinnamon Cassia, Eucalyptus Globulus, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Orange Sweet, Peppermint, Rosemary  and Tea Tree.

While I waited for my order to arrive, I delved into researching what I could make with these oils. This was when I learned the true importance of using the proper carrier with essential oils.

 

What’s A Carrier Oil And Why Do I Need One?

I had always thought I could simply mix my oils with tap water, apply and be done. But since oil is hydrophobic, it doesn’t mix with water. Shaking it vigorously doesn’t mix the two, it simply disperses the water and oil molecules into smaller particles. So you could potentially be applying essential oils “neat” to your skin, which is basically undiluted essential oil on your skin. This can lead to sensitization and problems later on, to the point of potentially not being able to use essential oils anymore.

The solution? Use a carrier oil.

Oil lasts longer on the skin, so you’re going to get the most out of your essential oils. Oils also dilute essential oils very well so they are safe to use topically, and most don’t need preservatives.

Oils also have a fairly long shelf life. Fractionated coconut oil is a popular choice, since it is in liquid form and can be sprayed on. Different oils have differing therapeutic properties and comedogenic ratings, so depending what you are planning to use them for, you may want a few different carrier oils. See the chart below to help determine which oil is best for you.

Essential oils are all the rage right now, but they can be intimidating if you don't know how to use them. Learn everything you need to know to get started using essential oils in this comprehensive guide, complete with recipes for homemade essential oil blends and answers to common questions about essential oil usage and safety.

 

Using Water As A Carrier

Water is still an option to use as a carrier for essential oils, there are just a few rules to follow.

First off, if you are going to use water, it has to be distilled; otherwise, the essential oils could bond with impurities in the water which can lead to health problems. Also, if you are using distilled water you will need to use a preservative to prevent anything harmful from growing in it. The only exception to this is if you use up your concoction within a few days, and you keep it in the fridge.

Finally, if using distilled water and wanting to apply topically, you will want to use an emulsifier such as castile soap, or a solubilizer such as grain alcohol. This will help dilute the essential oils and allow them to mix with the water so they are safe to put on your skin. An added benefit of grain alcohol is it also acts as a preservative, so it works double duty. 

 

Essential Oil Safety

If you are thinking of getting into essential oils, I would recommend joining a few essential oil safety groups to learn the basics. Robert Tisserand is an excellent source of information and the Safe Essential Oil Recipes Facebook Group is one of my go-to’s to ask questions and learn about essential oil safety.

Do some research. Read up on the oils you have or are interested in getting. I recommend the book Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing if you’re looking for a comprehensive reference guide to essential oils.

And learn the dilution charts. These charts are an amazing resource for when you’re ready to make your own products. They tell you how many drops of essential oils to add to a particular volume of carrier, in order to get a certain dilution percentage. See the graphic below on dilution guidelines for essential oils. I like to start all my creations at around 1-2% dilution so I don’t waste any oils. I then add more as necessary.

 

Getting Started With Essential Oils

I’m often asked, what are the best oils to get when starting out? A lot of it really depends on what you are planning to do with the oils. My initial intentions were for hair and scalp care, bug repelling, respiratory aid and to reduce anxiety and depression.

Here are my top 6 suggestions in order of how often I use them:

Lavender – soothes skin, calming properties.

Frankincense Serrata – skin care, anti-inflammatory, meditative properties, respiratory aid.

Patchouli – skin care, odor eliminator, soothing, meditative properties, alleviates nervous tension and worry.

Peppermint – energizing, soothing, cooling, queasy stomach aid, bug repellant.

Tea Tree – skin care, cleans air, bug repellant, antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal, good for minor cuts & scrapes.

Cedarwood Atlas – scalp care, bug repellant, respiratory aid.

You don’t need to have a lot of oils to get started. It’s actually easier to start small with two or three oils and get to know them really well. Learn about their benefits and what other essential oils they blend well with. As you learn more about your oils and how you want to use them, you’ll notice where the gaps in your collection lay.

Essential oils also have a shelf life, so best to start small to avoid wasting money on oils you never use or don’t know how to use.

Essential oils come in singles and synergies. Singles are one essential oil, while synergies are a blend of essential oils. I like to buy singles and make my own blends, though there are many great synergies out there that help with bug repelling, sleep, mood, germ fighting… the list goes on.

Here are a few of my go-to blends. I’ve included my full recipe, as well as a modified version for those with a more basic set of essential oils.

 

My Top Homemade Essential Oil Recipes & Blends

Essential oils are all the rage right now, but they can be intimidating if you don't know how to use them. Learn everything you need to know to get started using essential oils in this comprehensive guide, complete with recipes for homemade essential oil blends and answers to common questions about essential oil usage and safety.

 

Bug Spray Essential Oil Blend

1 oz. Witch Hazel
1 oz. Distilled water
9 drops Lavender
6 drops Citronella
4 drops Patchouli
4 drops Peppermint
1 drop Lemongrass

Add witch hazel to spray bottle, then add essential oils. Shake well. Top up spray bottle with distilled water. Be careful not to overfill. Shake well before using. The above recipe can also be made into a topical spray or rollerball by substituting the witch hazel and distilled water for your favourite carrier oil. Diluted at 1.5% but can be increased up to 5%. Recommended for short term use.

This recipe is for clothing and furniture only, must be kept in the fridge, and should be used up within a few days. Apply to clothing, furniture, doorways… anywhere mosquitoes are present.

* Modified version: 8 drops Lavender, 4 drops Cedarwood Atlas, 4 drops Patchouli, 4 drops Peppermint, 4 drops Tea Tree.

After-Bite Essential Oil Blend

1 tsp. Sesame oil
2 drops Frankincense Serrata
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Orange Sweet
1 drop Copaiba
1 drop Palmarosa
1 drop Patchouli
1 drop Tea Tree

Add sesame oil to a roller bottle or a clean, empty essential oil bottle, then add essential oils. Shake well. Apply to bites as needed. Diluted at 5% which is safe to use topically on a short term basis. Dilution can be increased up to 10% if needed.

Modified version: 5 drops Lavender, 3 drops Frankincense, 2 drops Tea Tree. You can make any blend out of Lavender, Frankincense and/or Tea Tree oil. Play around with them to create your favourite After Bite scent.

 

Related: DIY Essential Oil Rollerballs 

 

Mojito Foaming Hand Soap

1/4 cup Castile soap
2 tsp Jojoba oil (or carrier oil of your choice)
1 tsp Vegetable Glycerin (if you have it)
10 drops Lime (or substitute Grapefruit Pink, Lemon, or Orange Sweet)
10 drops Peppermint

Mix ingredients in an 8oz. foaming soap dispenser. Shake well. Fill the rest of the dispenser with distilled water. Don’t overfill. Use up within a few days. Diluted to less than 0.5%.

Some other amazing blends for foaming hand soap are:

Calming: 10 drops Cedarwood Atlas & 10 drops Lavender.

Grounding: 8 drops Lavender, 7 drops Frankincense Serrata, 5 drops Patchouli.

Soothing: 10 drops Lavender & 10 drops Lemon or Grapefruit Pink. 

Germ Fighting: 6 drops Eucalyptus Globulus, 6 drops Lemon, 6 drops Rosemary, 1 drop Cinnamon Cassia.

Immune Boosting: 4 drops Frankincense Serrata, 4 drops Tea Tree, 3 drops Eucalyptus Globulus, 3 drops Lemon, 3 drops Orange Sweet, 3 drops Rosemary.

Holiday: 10 drops Cinnamon Cassia & 10 drops Orange Sweet

Menstrual Cramp Relief

1 oz. Coconut oil
6 drops Lavender
3 drops Frankincense Serrata
3 drops Patchouli
2 drops Copaiba
2 drops Cypress
2 drops Palmarosa
2 drops Peppermint
2 drops Rosemary

Add essential oil drops to coconut oil. Mix well. Apply topically to lower abdomen to ease menstrual cramps. Diluted at 2.5% but can be increased up to 5% if needed, for short term use only.

Modified version: 9 drops Lavender, 7 drops Frankincense Serrata, and 4 drops Peppermint.

 

Related: DIY Hair Pomade with Rosemary Essential Oil

 

Worry-Free Personal Inhaler

2 drops Cedarwood Atlas
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Patchouli
1 drop Ho Wood
1 drop Peru Balsam
1 drop Saro

Place a cotton ball inside an empty, resealable container, such as an old prescription pill bottle or an empty M&Ms candy tube. Add essential oil drops to cotton ball. Inhale whenever stress, anxiety or worry hit.

Modified version: 3 drops Cedarwood Atlas, 3 drops Lavender, 3 drops Patchouli.

 

Essential Accessories

Another question I’m often asked is, what accessories should I get? Again, this is going to depend on what you want to get out of your oils. If you want to apply topically, I would suggest getting a rollerball and a spray bottle.

Spray bottles are my main go-to as they are so versatile and fairly inexpensive. Coloured glass spray bottles are always the best option, but aluminum or PET plastic is perfectly acceptable as well. I love to reuse empty containers, so I turn empty essential oil bottles into rollerballs and mini spray bottles.

Find healing with natural remedies 

Personal inhalers are also a very popular delivery method for essential oils. I like to make my own inhaler by taking any small empty container that seals, like a prescription bottle or an old  candy tube. Put a cotton ball in the bottom of the container. Add 9-15 drops of your essential oils. Voila. Your own personal inhaler. Add more drops of essential oil as the scent dissipates.

One thing to keep in mind is you don’t want to be opening your essential oil bottles very often, so in a pinch you could use your essential oil bottle as a personal inhaler, but the more you open it, the more oxygen gets in which shortens its shelf life.

Time to talk diffusers. Contrary to popular belief, diffusers should not be running for long periods of time, even though they come with 2, 4, 6, and 8 hour settings.

The best practice for diffusing is typically 30-60 minutes on, and 30-60 minutes off. When choosing to diffuse for longer periods of time it is best to use an intermittent setting. Since essential oils can affect people differently, it’s best to start slowly to determine which practices are best for you and your family, so you don’t risk sensitization.

I personally don’t diffuse anymore, as I have cats and live in a yurt, so although the ventilation is good, there’s nowhere for the cats to escape to in our 314 square feet (and some essential oils are dangerous to cats). I find using my personal inhalers work just as well.

 

My Essential Oil Picks

Another question I am frequently asked is, what oil can you not live without? My favourite oil to date is Peru Balsam. Its benefits include soothing emotions, soothing skin issues and minor scrapes, soothing respiratory congestion, soothing nervous tension, and treating dry and reddened skin. The smell is absolutely amazing. It has a sweet, coconut, vanilla, aroma with a hint of marshmallow and cinnamon. I’ve added it to a few of my creations to enjoy its scent throughout the day.

Of the more common essential oils, I would have to say Lavender is another oil that I cannot live without. Its versatility and soothing properties work well in my life. Plus I love the smell.

While there is much to learn about essential oils and using them safely, it is also very empowering to use Mother Nature’s tools to live a healthier, happier life. Delving into the essential oils world should not be daunting or scary, but rather exciting and refreshing. Always remember, Mother Earth has got your back, and she’ll make you smell amazing in the process.

Happy oiling everyone!

*** For more information, I highly recommend Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing. This is my go-to guide on everything to do with essential oils. It includes everything you’d ever want to know about just about every essential oil on the market, including common uses, safety precautions, plus a complete list of illnesses, injuries and ailments and the essential oils that can be used to treat them. ***

 

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2 Comments

  1. Stefan Bradley

    I didn’t know that lavender possesses calming properties. My wife and I would like to find some essential oils for our son. We’ll be sure to get some essential oils that contain lavender.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Stefan,

      Yes, lavender is one of the best for calming properties. There are also some really nice calming blends available from Plant Therapy that we use for our daughter. Our favourite is called “Calming the Child” which has lavender, chamomile and orange oils.

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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When I graduated from university with a degree in journalism many years ago, I remember thinking that while I knew how to write, edit, interview, shoot, and handle just about every part of creating a publication from the editorial standpoint, I really had no clue how to actually get published, let alone how the printing process works.

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It’s been a minute since I popped into IG to say hi. (Hi! 👋) But before I share what’s been going on behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good time to (re)introduce myself, because I’ve never actually done that before!

My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

(Continued in comments…)
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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

(The answer is obviously no one… No one wants that).

Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

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Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

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There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
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🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn inside the Society:

🌱 Food Security and Self-Sufficiency: Learn the art of growing and preserving your own food, ensuring you and your loved ones have access to nutritious meals year-round.

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📚 Monthly Video Lessons: Gain access to our ever-growing library of video lessons, with fresh content added each month.

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🏡 Private Community: Join our private community forum where you can ask questions, share your progress, and connect with like-minded individuals.

I only open the doors to The Society once or twice each year, but right now, for one week only, you can become a member for just $20/month (or $200/year).

In today’s world, self-reliance is no longer a luxury, a “cute hobby,” it’s a necessity. Join us inside The Society of Self-Reliance and empower yourself with the skills you need to thrive in the new world!

Link in profile or visit thehouseandhomestead.com/society to learn more.

#selfreliance #selfreliant #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #sustainableliving #modernhomesteading #homesteadingskills #preparedness
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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

(Continued in comments…)
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Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-guide to get your free copy!
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#garlic #garlicharvest #homesteading #selfsufficient #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #selfreliance #homegrown #groworganic #growfoodnotlawns #gardenersofinstagram #homesteadersofinstagram
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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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#homesteading #modernhomesteading #raisinglittles
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If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/12-frugal-living-tips-summer/
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#houseandhomestead
#momentsofcalm
#pursuejoy
#simplepleasuresoflife
#thatauthenticfeeling
#findhappiness
#artofslowliving
#simplelifepleasures
#lifesimplepleasure
#simplepleasuresinlife
#thatauthenticlife
#authenticlifestyle
#liveanauthenticlife
#livinginspired
#savouringhappiness
#livemoment
#localgoodness
#simplelive
#lifeouthere
#enjoywhatyouhave
#frugallifestyle
#homesteadingmama
#offgridhomestead
#modernfarmhousekitchen
#crunchymama
#rusticfarmhouse
#farmhouseinspo
#farmhouselife
#modernhomesteading
#backyardfarmer
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