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How to Clean and Maintain Your Cast Iron Skillet

Good Friday morning, Moppers! We’ve finally reached that day of the week where even if it’s raining cats and dogs, who cares? It’s almost the weekend, and nothing—not even a torrential downpour—can ruin our good mood.

Lately we’ve been talking a lot about toxins and the different ways they can harm you, as well as the benefits of essential oils. Today we thought we’d bring go back to the basics for a moment, because earlier this week we were cooking on the grill with one of our favorite items to use, a cast iron skillet, and that got us thinking about stuff.

Cooking on the grill, you ask? That’s right! The beauty of cast iron skillets is that they’re very versatile. You can cook on the stove top with them, make pizza and cakes in the oven, take them camping for use over an open flame, and yes…cook on the grill.

Though one of the ways they are absolutely not versatile is in the way you clean and maintain them, and that’s what we want to talk about today, because unbeknownst to some—you can’t just stick a cast iron skillet in a sink full of soapy dishwater and hope for the best.

So here is how we clean our cast iron skillet, and it’s the way you should be cleaning yours, too!

Step 1: Brand New Shine

If your skillet is brand new right out of the store, this is the only—and we mean ONLY—time you can wash it with mild soapy water. After you wash and dry it, it’s time to season it for the first time, even it it reads “pre-seasoned” on the label.

To do this, simply coat it inside and out in cooking oil, and place it in the oven at 350 for one hour. Turn off the oven, and let the skillet cool before removing. Wipe of the excess oil, and voila! It is now seasoned, which basically means you’re baking fat or oil into it to create a natural, non-stick coating.

Now you’re ready to cook!

Step 2: After the Meal

Now that you’ve cooked an awesome meal with your cast iron skillet, it’s time to clean it. You’re going o want to do this while it’s still hot, or at least while it’s warm. Do not soak the skillet in the sink, but rather wash it by using hot water and a sponge, or stiff brush. Stay clear of steel wool, as this will strip the skillet of its seasoning, and you’ll have to do that process sooner than expected.

Step 3: Stubborn Food

For food that’s being particularly stubborn, and won’t come off with just hot water and a brush, pour a bunch of kosher salt into the skillet and use hot water to make a paste. Put some elbow grease into it with your brush or sponge, and this should take care of those nasty bits.

Bonus Tip: If there’s still food that refuses to come off, it may be loosened by boiling some water in the skillet for a few minutes, then you can use your kosher salt paste to easily remove it.

Step 4: Dry

Now it’s time to dry your cast iron skillet, and there are two ways to do this. You can either a) dry it throughly with some paper towels, or b) dry it on a stovetop burner over low heat. You never want to let it air dry, because this will cause your skillet to rust, and that’s a big ol’ no-no.

Step 5: Coat

Once your cast iron skillet is clean and dry, take a paper towel or clean cloth, and apply a light coat of vegetable oil around the inside and out to keep it seasoned. Give it a good buff after that to remove any of the excess.

From there you can store it in a dry place at the ready to use the next time you need to cook a delicious meal.

If that seems like a lot of work for one skillet, trust us, it’s totally worth it. Food cooked in a cast iron skillet just tastes better. From steaks and fried chicken, to pizza and desserts, there’s virtually nothing it can’t cook.

Depending on how much you use it, you might have to re-season it as described in Step 1 from time to time. We like to do that about every six months just to keep it nice and coated, giving it a healthy non-stick shine.

That’s it for this week, folks. Have a fantastic weekend, and we’ll talk to you again on Monday!

10 Essential Oil Blends to Benefit Your Home and Your Health

What day is it? Hump Day! Congratulations, you’ve successfully made it to the mid-point of the week, and not only is it Wednesday, but it’s also the first day of summer! That’s right, at 12:24 AM EST it officially became one of our favorite times of the year as we welcomed in the summer solstice. The warm weather is here to stay, and with it comes pool parties, barbecues, vacations, carnivals, festivals, and a whole bunch of other fun activities that we can look forward to over the coming months.

One of the best things about summer is the way it smells. Flowers, trees, freshly cut grass, the scent of meat and veggies being cooked on the grill…it’s an assault on our senses, but in a totally good way because who doesn’t like things that smell good?

Nobody!

And as promised we’re here today with a post about things that smell not just good, but awesome: essential oils.

To get started, and for maximum results, you’re going to want to pick up a cold air diffuser since these work best because they don’t heat the oils, thus destroying their therapeutic properties. They work by using room-temperature air to blow the essential oils into a nebulizer, which in turn vaporizes them into the air. It sounds complicated, but really it’s not. They’re easy to set up, easy to clean, and once you start using one you’re never going to want to use another scented candle ever again.

So with all that being said, here are some fantastic essential oil recipes for your diffuser.

1. Cool Your Jets

When you’ve been on the go all day sometimes it can be hard to settle your brain down in the evenings enough for you to get a restful sleep. Try this blend in your diffuser after dinner for a cool, calming effect:

1 drop patchouli essential oil

1 drop bergamot essential oil

1 drop ylang-ylang essential oil

2. Sinus Support

Summer is great, sure, but in the spring and summer months allergies can really get you down. To help keep your breathing clear and you immune system in tact, try this blend that is sure to help:

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops peppermint essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

3. Pick Me Up

Feeling tired during they day or just need something to help you focus? Ditch those energy drinks and use this blend in your diffuser to help keep you alert:

2 drops peppermint essential oil

2 drops wild orange essential oil

4. Bye Bye Pet Odor

This next recipe is great if you’ve got pets and have a constant problems with pet odor taking over your home. This will help to freshen the air, and eliminate those odors lickity-split:

1 drop cilantro essential oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

1 drop lime essential oil

1 drop melaleuca essential oil

5. Welcome Home!

If you’ve got company coming and you want to make them feel right at home, this next recipe is great for creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere that will soothe your guests and make your home, feel like theirs:

2 drops lemon essential oil

2 drops rosemary essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

6. Breathe Easy

Are you suffering from respiratory problems and have trouble breathing? This recipe is great to help open up your airways so you can take deeper breaths and get the help you need:

1 drop eucalyptus essential oil

2 drops peppermint essential oil

1 drop rosemary essential oil

1 drop lemon essential oil

7. Stress Free

Has life been dealing you a bad hand lately? Are you completely stressed over bills, work, the kids, or any number of other things you might be trying to juggle? Put this next blend in your diffuser to help quiet your mind and release some of that tension:

2 drops bergamot essential oil

2 drops frankincense essential oil

8. Wake Up!

If you feel sluggish in the mornings, even with a cup of coffee, this next recipe will work wonders to help give you a nice boost so you can start your day off feeling energized:

2 drops frankincense essential oil

2 drops wild orange essential oil

2 drops cinnamon essential oil

9. Fresh Cut Flowers

Want the pleasant aroma of flowers in your home but can’t be bothered to pick and maintain a bouquet? This blend will have your house smelling like an amazing garden in no time flat:

2 drops lavender essential oil

1 drop geranium essential oil

2 drops roman chamomile essential oil

10. Rock-A-Bye Baby

If you’re looking for a blend that will help you fall asleep at night, then look no further. This recipe will do wonders to have you off to dreamland before you can count 50 sheep:

2 drops chamomile essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

2 drops vetiver essential oil

There you have it! Ten essential oil recipes for your diffuser that are super easy to do. See, we told you we had something awesome for you.

Not only will these make your home smell great, but the health benefits of essential oils will work in a variety of ways to help you out when the going gets tough.

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone. We’ll talk to you again on Friday!

5 DIY Uses for Sugar Other Than Eating

Well, another Monday is upon us and we hope you’re not feeling too down about that. Hopefully you had fun this past weekend and made lots of good memories to carry you through the week.

For some of us it was a weekend spent outdoors in the garden, tending to our crops and flowers, making sure everything is coming in nicely. The thing about gardening, though, is that while it can be very therapeutic and help take your mind off your troubles, it can also be extremely messy. Your clothes and hair get dirty from digging in the dirt, and your hands? Lordy, don’t even get us started on the hands. Dirt, mud, caked on grime. After a day spent in the garden they look like something from The Walking Dead, am I right?

Luckily we always have some DIY hand scrub available to take care of those nasty messes. It’s made with just two simple ingredients: sugar, and dish soap. Of course after rinsing our hands clean we got to thinking about some of the other ways we use sugar, which leads us to today, where we’re going to tell you 5 uses for sugar, other than eating.

1. Hand Scrub

As mentioned, this is our go-to recipe for creating a great sugar hand scrub that will take care of some of the nastiest messes. All you have to do is fill a jar 3/4 of the way full with sugar, and then add dish soap until the jar is full just below the mouth. Mix it all together, and add more sugar a little at a time until it turns into a paste consistency…and you’re done! You can even decorate the jars any way you wish and pass them out as gifts.

2. Body Scrub

This one takes the same principals as the hand scrub, only it can be applied to your entire body for exfoliating purposes. Not to mention it’s a lot cheaper than purchasing those expensive sugar scrubs you find on the market.

To make it, just combine sugar with coconut, almond, or olive oil until it forms a loose paste. For added effect, put in some drops of your favorite essential oil for a refreshing fragrance.

To use this wonderful scrub, just step into the shower and wet your skin and allow those pores to open up. Turn off the water or step out of the stream, and apply the scrub to your body just like you would your ordinary soap. Then, turn on the water or step back under the stream and rinse it all away.

3. Clean Your Grinder

We love freshly ground coffee in the morning, but the only drawback is that coffee beans contain natural oils that can build up over time in your grinder.

To clean your coffee grinder with sugar, just pour 1/4 cup of the white stuff into the machine, then let it run for a few minutes. The sugar will do all the work breaking down and cleaning out the excess oil that has built up, as well as scour it clean at the same time.

4. Cool Your Tongue

You know how you burn your mouth when you sip a drink that’s too hot, or eat something that hasn’t quite cooled yet because you’re so hungry you just can’t wait for it to simmer? Hey, we’ve all been there.

To relieve the sting caused by hot food or drink, try sucking on a little bit of sugar to bring you some comfort, or alternately suck on a sugar cube until it has completely dissolved.

5. Fresher Flowers

Whether they’re flowers cut from your own garden, or flowers your significant other has brought you just because they love you (or they’re trying desperately to apologize for something), using sugar can help prolong the life of those beauties.

Just add 3 teaspoons of sugar to one quart of water, and drop your flowers in the vase. The sugar will feed the stems, helping those roses, carnations, and peonies to thrive long after they’ve been separated from their natural habitat.

For an extra kick, pour in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to help combat the growth of bacteria.

Pretty neat, right? Most of the time we think of sugar as something we use to take care of those sweet tooth cravings. Who knew it could be used for so much more than eating?

We hope you got some use out of those DIY tips, because there will be some more coming your way on Wednesday when we pass along some great combinations of essential oils that will help make your home smell amazing!

Until then…have a great start to your week, everyone.

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