Good For You


I’m all about doing the natural thing whenever possible.  I love this post from Simple Mom on doing just that—Natural beauty and how to go about it.  Here are the tips from Simple Mom:

by Tsh on November 16, 2009

in green & frugal living

So we’ve talked about going shampoo-free, and we’ve talked about using oil to clean your face naturally. But a few of you have asked — what about the rest? What about soap, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, and the like?

I’ll be the first to admit that going natural with my toiletries and cosmetics is new to me. This isn’t something I’ve done for years, and am just now dispensing my experiential wisdom. Switching to homemade or natural is something I’ve been doing just over the past six months, so I’m learning as I go.

I do know that the more I learn about what ingredients are in conventional toiletries, the less comfortable I am in spreading them on my largest, most porous organ. But I’m not an alarmist, so we’re doing this gradually, as we run out of the stuff we’re already using.

Here are the remaining product choices we make in our family, tweaking and adjusting as we go.

Soap

Typical ingredients for conventional shower gels are detergents, preservatives, fragrance, and foaming agents. None of these things are toxic in very small quantities, but they do enter the bloodstream from our pores, and they’re technically not necessary to get clean. So I figure — why bother using them if I don’t need them? And they’re extremely dangerous in larger quantities.

 

Many people make their own soap, but I don’t. I just don’t have the time right now. So for us, we use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. It’s concentrated, so just one bottle will last ages. There’s nothing in it but pure castile soap and essential oils (if it’s scented).

Once you start using pure and simple castile soap, you’ll realize the film that traditional shower gels leave. Dr. Bronner’s is cost-effective, long-lasting, and serves many purposes. My husband actually washes his hair with this instead of the baking soda and water rinse that I use.

Not only can you wash your body and hair with castile soap, you can also use it as a household cleaner, as dish soap, as a produce rinse, as laundry soap, and even as toothpaste.

Toothpaste

Most conventional toothpastes have dyes synthesized from petroleum, sodium fluoride, foaming agents (also used in engine degreasers and strong household cleaners), and a myriad of other toxins.

There’s something about the fact that it’s used in the mouth that makes me squirm when I read about the nitty gritty ingredients in toothpaste. If you’d like to learn more, head here for more information.

I recently started making our own toothpaste, and I’m still tweaking the recipe. My husband isn’t crazy about the baking soda flavor, but I like it. Admittedly, if I had access to natural toothpaste brands like Tom’s of Maine, I’d probably stick to buying that. But since I don’t, here’s the recipe I’ve tried.

 

Basic Homemade Toothpaste

  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Stevia powder
  • a few drops of pure peppermint extract

Mix it all together until it resembles toothpaste.

Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this toothpaste feels more liquidy during warmer weather. It doesn’t change its effectiveness, though.

The Stevia provides a bit of natural sweetness, making the toothpaste palatable, as does the pure peppermint extract. You could try a variety of flavors to your liking.

Right now, I’ve got this toothpaste in a small lidded jar, and I scoop out a tiny bit with a tea spoon onto my toothbrush. But you can also get empty squeeze tubes, often found among camping supplies at stores.

Lotion and Moisturizer

Caramel Pecan Double Vanilla Bean lotion from Verbena Custom Blends on Etsy.

Body Lotion

Right now I’m using a deliciously divine lotion a friend here made from me. I watched her melt the ingredients together in just a few minutes over the stove, then whipped together in the blender to make a rich, creamy lotion. She used lemongrass and lavender essential oils together, and it smells heavenly.

There are a wide variety of homemade lotion recipes; it just requires the ingredients. Most ingredients are easily found in health stores or online, so don’t let finding these things stop you. If you’d like to make your own, Brambleberry is a popular and reliable source for lotion ingredients.

Lotion is simply a mixture of water, oil, emulsifier (which blends the water and oil together so that it doesn’t separate), a thickener (the most common is stearic acid, found in cocoa butter), and a natural preservative.

You could also support homemade and buy from an Etsy shop — there are thousands of options there.

Facial Moisturizer

In warmer months, I don’t need a moisturizer with the oil cleanser I use on my face. But as the weather cools, I find I do need a touch of moisturizer in the morning. I use straight up coconut oil, easily found in major stores. A tiny bit goes a long way, and since it’s also a common ingredient in other natural toiletries, a jar of this stuff really comes in handy.

Lip Balm

Photo from Diaper Ware

There are also lots of easy recipes for homemade lip balm and salve, but I use 100 percent lanolin. Yep, it’s the same stuff you use while breast feeding. In fact, I’m still using the tube I used when I was nursing my son a year ago! This stuff lasts forever.

It doesn’t dry out my lips like manufactured wax-based products, and a little lasts me almost the whole day. Lanolin is simply an ointment secreted by wool-bearing animals to protect their coats from water. So yes, it is essentially sheep sweat. But it’s not gross, I promise.

We’ve got a guest post on the way about making your own deodorant, and later, we’ll discuss using natural makeup, so stay tuned.

Natural Beauty: Clean Skin, Teeth, and Lips

I found a great blog from The Whole Child: An Integrative Pediatrics Blog today and LOVE this idea.  With cinnamon having natural antibacterial properties (see Care2 for even more details), and the cold and flu season coming, our family needs all the help we can get.  I will definitely try this out.  See an excerpt from the blog below:

The Secret of Thieves

The NY Times “Really?” column today profiles cinnamon oil as a natural antibacterial, part of my home-made essential oil hand sanitizer recipe modeled on the infamous “Thieves” blend.  What is this “Secret of Thieves”?

Props to Young Living Essential Oils (YLEO), the company that has popularized “Thieves” as a natural alternative to chemical alcohol-based sanitizers.  Their blend is a patented mixture of cinnamon bark, clove, lemon, rosemary and eucalyptus oils.  I have adapted this blend of oils for use as a DIY hand sanitizer, adding 1-2 drops of each oil (but 5 drops of the lemon oil – or grapefruit or orange, if you prefer) to a small dispenser bottle filled with filtered water and 1 tsp aloe vera gel.  We use it at the Whole Child Center and it’s been the feature of my last 2 Earth Day presentations at my children’s school.   We even made a cute how-to video.

I read this review on the new blow dryer, Emi Airwave.

Has anyone used this?  The lady reviewing it has thick, curly hair.  I—unfortunately—-have thin, wavy hair—and it’s the ugly waive (one here, one there, cowlick here, cowlick there…).  So, I’m wondering how it would work for my hopeless hair!  Let me know!

“The Best Thing That Ever Happened to My Hair

This is a post I originally wrote for the Blissful Style Channel of Blissfully Domestic – my other gig. I am re-posting it here because I am very excited that I am going to be on the “Try It Before You Buy It” segment of our local news show 10 Connects at 4 PM today. I will link the video here once it goes live. Link. Let me know what you think, and people, BUY THE BEST DRYER EVER!

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

I recently made peace with my long, wavy hair, and by made peace I mean surrendered long after I had been soundly beaten. Despite the unrelenting nature of my hair’s innately thick and wavy texture, I have been blowing it out and straightening it since junior high, and before that I made my mother do it.

My earliest beauty memory is clutching a bottle of new shampoo as a child and hoping against hope that it was this particular bottle that would finally transform my wild mop into the shiny and sleek tresses of a golden girl. I wanted straight hair, and always have. That shampoo bottle did not contain the magic potion, and I have spent the last three decades being easily seduced by every new appliance and product being peddled by the hair care industry in search of it.

When the flat iron came around, I thought I had finally been given the key to achieving the hair of my dreams. With no small investment of time and amount of hair product du jour I was able to get my hair as straight as a supermodel’s. For about five minutes. I live in Florida, the land of humidity and hurricanes, so good hair days for me are few and far between.

One day about six months ago I just couldn’t fight nature any longer and started letting my hair dry naturally, about a three hour process. My friends and family let me know right away they liked my wavy hair and, oh yeah, I looked ten years younger. Gaaaaaahh!  Still, I wasn’t content and I felt my hair always looked a little homespun.

A week ago my life changed forever. I read about a strange new hair dryer by Remington called the Emi Airwave Anti-Static Style System. Allegedly, this hair dryer would spin and smooth your hair into perfectly styled waves in a fraction of the time without so much as a brush needed. Yeah, right. I raced to Target to get it. See above problem with hair products.

Remington Emi Airwave Hair System

Remington Emi Airwave Anti-Static Style System

After reading the directions, I got started on what I figured would be another shameful chapter in my hair saga. See the attachment tube? I separated a section of hair at a time, turned on the dryer, and dropped the ends of the hair sections into the tube. A vortex of air sucks the hair in and spins it round and round, drying it from the roots to the ends into a perfect curl.

When all of the sections of my hair were dry a mere eight minutes later, it looked like I had smooth dreadlocks, a look I hadn’t really considered at this stage of my life. After letting my curls set for a minute or two, I finger-combed each section apart and checked myself out in the mirror. Holy hairnet! My hair looked amazing. The curls were perfect and I looked like I had just come from the salon. Shower to done in about 10 minutes, with an actual hairstyle. Life changing!

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hairblissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

I am in awe of how well this hair dryer works. It’s got the necessary 1875 watts, speed and heat settings, and uses ionic and ceramic technology. Of course, this level of fabulous comes with a steep price. You’re going to need $24.99. Update: It’s on sale at Target right now for only $22.99. Can you even believe it? Get thee to a Target immediately! I’m sure there’s going to be a run on these things once the word gets out.

It is impossible to overstate how amazing this dryer is. Unless I were to tell you this is my “after” picture.

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

I got this recipe off of the Care2 daily email I receive, and I can’t wait to try it.  Yumm!!!

“Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins

I think I could eat plain sauteed spinach every day of the week and be happy, but sometimes it’s fun to dress it up a bit. This recipe from Eating Well puts a Catalan spin on spinach with pine nuts and sweet golden raisins to brighten things up.

INGREDIENTS
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach (see Ingredient Note), tough stems removed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shaved Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add raisins, pine nuts and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and salt. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and pepper.

Ingredient Note: The sturdier texture of mature spinach stands up better to sauteing than baby spinach and it’s a more economical choice. We prefer to serve baby spinach raw.

Recipe Nutrition, two servings. Per serving: 158 calories; 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 5g mono unsaturated fat); 2 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 310 mg sodium; 804 mg potassium. 1 Carbohydrate Servings. Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fruit, 2 fat

Visit EatingWell.com for free quick and easy healthy recipe collections!”

I’m all about natural, the way God intended it—for our bodies to heal themselves.  However, we must CARE for our bodies in order for this to work.  Going along with this is using natural cleaners.  I found this great post from Care2 with instructions on how to make your own natural cleaners—and a good tip—put them in a pretty bucket—you’re more likely to use it then!

“As an added bonus, ounce for ounce homemade cleaning formulas cost about one-tenth the price of their commercial counterpart—and that includes costly, but worthwhile essential oils, and concentrated, all-purpose detergents for homemade recipes.

SUPPLIES
Baking soda
Washing soda
White distilled vinegar
A good liquid soap or detergent
Tea tree oil
6 clean spray bottles
2 glass jars

CREAMY SOFT SCRUBBER
Simply pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid detergent to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.

Note: Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to the mixture and store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist. Otherwise just make as much as you need at a time.

WINDOW CLEANER
1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid detergent
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
Spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

OVEN CLEANER
1 cup or more baking soda
Water
A squirt or two of liquid detergent

Sprinkle water generously over the bottom of the oven, then cover the grime with enough baking soda that the surface is totally white. Sprinkle some more water over the top. Let the mixture set overnight. You can easily wipe up the grease the next morning because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven. If this recipe doesn’t work for you it is probably because you didn’t use enough baking soda and/or water.

ALL-PURPOSE SPRAY CLEANER
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
A dab of liquid soap
2 cups hot tap water

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

FURNITURE POLISH
1/2 teaspoon oil, such as olive (or jojoba, a liquid wax)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.

VINEGAR DEODORIZER
Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board and in your bathroom and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don’t even rinse but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.

MOLD KILLERS

Tea Tree Treasure
Nothing natural works for mold and mildew as well as this spray. I’ve used it successfully on a moldy ceiling from a leaking roof, on a musty bureau, a musty rug, and a moldy shower curtain. Tea tree oil is expensive, but a little goes a very long way. Note that the smell of tea tree oil is very strong, but it will dissipate in a few days.

2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water

Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse. Makes two cups.

Vinegar Spray
Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing if you can put up with the smell. It will dissipate in a few hours.

And I love this note, “Just like antibiotics, common disinfectants found in sponges and household sprays may contribute to drug resistant bacteria, according to researchers of drug resistance at Tufts New England Medical Center. Furthermore, research at the Government Accounting Office shows that many commercial disinfectants are ineffective to begin with, just like antibiotics”  Here’s to a healthy, happy life—to le dolce vita!

Don’t you HATE the “What’s for dinner?” questions?  Whenever my husband’s on the phone and asks me that, I want to hang up and run away.  Yes, it’s been going through my head all day, but I didn’t plan ahead and now it’s catching up with me!  It’s the inevitable question, dinner WILL come, but I try to push it off as long as possible and hope my husband will come home and do one of his creative chef creations for us all!  BUT, when I do plan ahead the week before, DO I feel like WONDERWOMAN!!!  I’m on top of the world and I’ve got it all under control.  So why don’t I do that every week?  I don’t know…  Thankfully, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam has some lifesavers for me when my brain just isn’t working.  I have a lot to learn still…

Here are her tips on cooking ahead—it doesn’t take any more time, and LESS to clean!  Amen to that!!!

“C.O.S.T. cooking – have you thought ahead?

Since I am the Queen of Best Intentions, I challenged myself to put my money where my mouth was during some of my meal planning/couponing posts, and “walk the talk” with this C.O.S.T. cooking – Cook once, Serve Twice.

If you double or triple your cooking, it will save you time later.
What is the cost of not planning ahead?
I was going to answer this rhetorical question, but I will leave you to fill in the blank for your own family.
(If you didn’t read about it the first time around, I have multiple posts, but the one where I give these suggestions are under Grocery Grumps -1.
Scroll down to the second half of that post with specifics since I won’t go into all the details again here. :)

For so many of you, this may come naturally, but as the food costs rise, and life becomes busier, it seems that this is an area which causes stress and ma ham in kitchens around the blog world.

Seeing what someone else has done might just inspire a little kitchen creativity this weekend.
So join me….take one hour to copy me or some other foodie and ease the mealtime mountain next week. This just might be the solution. Iron sharpens iron and I need to be held accountable in this grueling area as well.
As I was cooking this, I was literally just trying to get basic food on the table for my family, and then after the fact, I thought of taking pictures. I undid the spaghetti casserole after it had already been put in the freezer, so this isn’t much of a tutorial FYI.

Get out of that chair right now, and grab as much ground beef from your freezer that you have on hand.
Go on, I’ll give you a little time.

After it’s thawed, get going…cook up that stuff and drain that grease.
Oh, it looks a bit gross in that pan picture.
If you want to do just a bit more work, but work that’s so worth it….add fresh garlic, onions, and green peppers…..yum!
Now depending on how much you have browned, start separating it into zip lock bags.
You can see in the picture below, that I had about 2 pounds of beef that I seasoned with my Homemade Gourmet taco soup seasoning,
and sealed in a Ziplock bag.
We feasted on taco salad, taco dip, and burritoes throughout the week…all from this meat mixture…meals in minutes literally.
Typically, we never miss a week without taco soup, but we sure will have it this week.

Ok, I hear your screaming…we want recipes!!
Ladies – the beauty of Mexican is that you can add whatever you want…even if cooking terrifies you. Start with these basics…it’s so easy! Any of my children can fix their own dinner from these options. I promise!
Here are some ideas, but they change based on what produce was marked down, what items I have stock piled or purchased with my BOGO free items.

Taco salad – layer a plate with crushes tortilla chips, romaine lettuce (as yummy as ice burg is..stay away if you can help it – no nutritional value), top with the seasoned meat mixture, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and dollop of sour cream to top it off.
My mouth is salivating as I think of this favorite meal of mine. I love to mix just a tad of Catalina dressing in it, but my kids opt for ranch. Your choice.
Of course, get as healthy as you want by adding fresh tomatoes or green/ red peppers
Any of the above works well in your burrito/taco…just heat the burrito and melt that yummy cheese.
Taco dip….this is almost a daily staple at our home.
I will do this as a vegetarian option quite often with taco soup seasoning, and then add more beans. If beans make you wary, start with black beans. All of my kids LOVE them, and they are so good for you.
Mix seasoning, meat, cottage cheese if you want it low fat (or cream cheese), sour cream, black beans, cheese, salsa, peppers (my kids will eat them raw in this dip), salsa….stir and go at it with tortilla chips.

Once I removed the taco seasoned ground beef (for anything Mexican), I also put a small baggy of ground beef mixed with Italian Mozzarella seasoning.
This made delicious “meatloaf muffins” made with the meat mixture, and Pillsbury Grand biscuits that I had stocked up on with my double coupons.
I will post the recipe if anyone is interested. They are great for dinner or served the next day…cold…for lunches.
The ground beef that was left quite lonely in the skillet became homemade spaghetti sauce. I served half of it over noodles the same night, and the other half became Dream spaghetti – another family favorite. This I froze for a later date.
I know some of this I went over from an early post, but they say that it takes five times for something to sink in? hee hee
I know that one of you attention to detail ladies will notice what I wrapped around the casserole dish.
Yes, it’s true….I recycle grocery bags and use them for almost everything. I rarely spend money on wraps…and only then with a great coupon.
I add just a bit of plastic wrap (if anyone’s worried about germs), and then I really seal it with a plastic bag.

So for less than one hour of work, I had six meals (and taco dip) set for the week.
I can’t tell you what a stress reliever it was. So just go for it.
Stop procrastinating…ha…coming from the Queen….and have some fun in the kitchen.
I promise it will pay huge dividends, not just in time management, but also in the pocket book.

I know this is now two posts without a complete bedlam moment…trust me, they are continually happening. When I was cooking all these great amazing meat mixtures, let’s just say our dog agreed…..grrrrr……”

Here’s to Le Dolce Vita, and more time to ahh, relax…or so I like to think! ;D


I love this post from Financial Bliss, it’s a quick overview of the secret of coupon shopping…

“Coupon Queens don’t shop like normal people. Normal shoppers go to the store with a list of things they need, and then try to match coupons to those items. You wander up and down the aisles and spend hours trying to find the right coupon to go with the right item. In the end, you discover that generic is often cheaper, and the hours you spent using coupons saved you under $15. Doesn’t exactly seem like its worth the effort.

But that’s not how a Coupon Queen shops. We go into the store armed with a list of things we know are on sale, and coupons for those items. 75% of the time those items are free. I don’t shop for items I need. Wait, did I say that? I can see the confused looks on your faces….because I was confused at first too. I don’t shop for what I need. I shop for what’s free.

Now, how do I make that work? When exactly do I shop for what my family needs?

I do it every week. I just shop in advance. Meaning, I don’t shop for cereal when my family needs it. I shop for cereal when its on sale. If I find my family’s favorite cereal on sale for .50 a box, I’m going to buy enough to last till the next time its on sale–even if I’m not actually out of it. By doing this on every item we use, I never pay full price. In fact, I tend to save at least 75% on every item we use. This is groceries, health and beauty, cat food, household products and more! This strategy is called stockpiling. Its stocking up when items are on sale, instead of waiting until I need them and running the risk of paying full price. It takes a few months to get a healthy stockpile built–but once its built, my list of items I ‘need’ each week is extremely small. Less than 4-5 things a week. In fact, most weeks my list is at zero. It goes faster than you think….I know many who’ve done it in under 3 months!

Now, how do I know what to stockpile? First, I sit down and I make a monthly menu and master shopping list. From there I started a pricebook, so that I could track the prices of the items I buy every day. Now, when items come on sale, I match them with my pricebook and my master shopping list to see if they’re items I want to stock up on. Is it something I’ll use? If not, I’ll pass on it. Is it at the lowest price according to my pricebook? If not, I’ll pass it by and wait for a better sale.

Coupons are like poker cards to me. You don’t play them all right away. I hold onto them, and use them at exactly the right moment.

Shopping is the same. I don’t run out the door and buy everything I need in one setting. I wait and get it when they are at the lowest price possible. Patience, strategy, and a little bit of cleverness together lead to me feeding my family for as little as I do.

Join us….it doesn’t take long to learn. Anyone can do it”

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