Sunday, September 26, 2010
Here is what I do:
1 gal of water, 1 bar of soap (ivory, felth napthta or Zote are the most commonly used, but I have used Yardley as well...soaps with tallowate (animal fat) work best!) 1/4 cup washing soda (not baking soda), 1/4 cup of Borax.
optional: lavender or orange essential oil.
The recipes you will see online usually call for double the ingredients, but since I don't have the storage for 5 gal of water, I make smaller batches.
Cut a bar soap in half. Boil 1 gal of water in a large pot and grate the half of bar of soap into the water.
Once all the pieces have melted, I add my 1/4 cup of baking soda and borax.
I stir for about 2 minutes until the mixture is dissolved.
I turn off the stove and let it sit to cool. As it begins to cool, It will start to look like jello...this is normal.
I usually add 5 drops of orange EO to the mixture and 4 drops of tea tree oil.
I pour my mixture into a used empty laundry detergent bottle. You may fill up two laundry soap bottles. Note: Shake before each use since the consistency will be like Jello. I usually use one cap full from the laundry detergent bottle. This soap will not sud but it will clean. My husband is in the military and his clothe always comes out clean and smelling fresh. I have a top loader washer and it works great for me. If you have a front loader, you may need less. I have also heard some people using 1 cup of white vinegar per load before the rinse cycle, to remove residue if you have really hard water. You will not need a fabric softener since vinegar works to this. I usually don't use vinegar at all, but some people do.
You can find pictures and more instructions on this site:
I usually just take the leftover tiny broken pieces from my bar soaps and put the pieces into an empty dish soap bottle with water. The soaps that you collect from hotels also work great for this. The soap dissolves and creates nice dish soap for me. Even if dish soap is cheap, I still do this just to use up my pieces of soap. Plus I find that soaps like Ivory, are better for the environment. There are plenty of dish soap recipes online, but this is simple and works for me. I've tried using castile soap but it doesn't cut grease as well and leaves a residue.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Ever since I've decided to home-school my son, many people had asked me about it and are curious as to why I had decided to do this. It seems as if this is something that is becoming more common. It is a fact that the United States is slipping in comparison to other countries and our children are indeed "falling behind." Whether you blame the teachers, the lack of funding, or the parents for the poor education your children are receiving, it is time for us to properly educate our children. Most students who usually fall behind are blacks and Hispanics. This is probably because they tend to come from lower income families. As a woman of color, I am proud to home-school my child and hopefully will inspire others to do it. Many of us can't afford to send our kids to public school, so if able, why not home-school? There is so much information on the web that can help you if you are not sure about homeschooling. After all, they are the future. Our country is failing behind academically and we wonder why other countries such as Japan and China are excelling, while we are not. I'm very proud of my son's academic progress. He is going to be five at the end of October and can read simple words. He can do simple addition and is already beginning to write. I'm not in anyway bragging but just simply stating that if we invest time in our kids, it will show.
Here are some benefits to homeschooling:
Flexibility: You can set your own time along with the school year or do it all year around. You can set the amount of hours you want to school for. You can decide what classes they are getting and give them classes that interest them. For example, my child loves to draw, so I plan adding lots of art to my curriculum. Many schools also offer programs for home-schoolers just in case you are worried about social interaction. My son has no problem with that since we have lots of friends with children.
Quality: You know what your child is learning and what he is not. You can give him extra classes that schools can't provide. I know one of my friend's children is taking Greek and Latin. Something that the child can't take in public school.
Spending time with your child: One of the things I like about it is getting to spend time with my children. Getting to know them and raise them is truly a blessing.
A few years ago, when my son was about one, like most parents, I pictured my son’s first day of school. Like most Americans, I thought that I would have a full time job by now, and like most parents today in America, put my child in public school in hopes that someone will teach him what he needs to know. While living in Texas, I met some friends who home-schooled their children. I have to admit the idea of home-schooling seemed kind of strange to me at first. I noticed, however, that the children I knew that were being home-schooled were well behaved, well rounded children. What convinced me to home-school is the belief held by both my husband and I that there is no better person to teach and raise your child then his or her own mother. I think public schools today have too many issues and it will take another post for me to explain those issues. As an Orthodox Christian, I want my child to be influenced by the right teachings, beliefs, and attitude. I don’t want someone else raising my child. I could choose to put him in private school, but after researching different home-schooling methods and options, I found myself excited about doing it on my own. I read a book recently called Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss, whose ideas was influenced by Charlotte Mason. I also did some research on other methods to home-school. After much prayer and advise from friends, I’ve decided to follow through and home-school Isaiah.
This is my 1st year home-schooling and I am following a mix of the Classical Method and Charlotte Mason’s as well. Isaiah has mastered basic things such as colors, numbers, sounds of letters, sorting, matching, naming objects and animals, coloring and beginnings of writing and tracing. Now we are focusing on reading, writing and simple addition and subtraction. We also try to color one icon a week and learn a little about a saint. For science we learn about animals, plants and how the body works. I also love Charlotte Mason’s approach on “living books” and having good literature for the kids. I try to read to my child daily and ask him questions about the story we are reading. I try to base some of the things I do with him on the books we are reading. Isaiah also likes to do pages out of pre-school workbooks, so I let him do those as well. We also use a big white board I purchased at Wal-Mart to write words and draw pictures on. I sometimes use the white board to present new topics in art form such as matching items, writing numbers and learning new words. So far, Isaiah really enjoys it and he has learned so much.
Though I am new to home-schooling and I am learning through trial and error, I can say for certain that through home-schooling I have gotten to learn much more about my son. I am starting to recognize his interests and taste for things. This is important to me because I want my child to love learning and I want him to excel in his talents. I will update his status here what I am doing with Isaiah from time to time. Hopefully I will be as successful at home-schooling as some of my more experienced friends. I plan on posting updates and my current curriculum soon. Since my son is starting Kindergarten, I don't worry too much about a set schedule just yet.
Our children are created in the image of Christ and are jobs as parents are not just to help them get a good jobs when they grow up, but to help them recognize and reach their full potential. They should be encouraged to use their talents for Christ and motivated to achieve greatness.
I decided to post the story of my saint in which my name (Macrina) was given.
ST. MACRINA THE ELDER Feast: January 14
This lady was the grandmother of saints, the most notable being the brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. It was Macrina and her husband who founded the faith of the family and passed it on as a splendid treasure to her children and grandchildren. That faith was born of suffering and persecution.
St. Macrina the elder was a native of Cappadocia, in what is now eastern Turkey. It was here that the great apostle of Cappadocia, St. Gregory the Wonderworker, established the faith around the year 250. When he arrived in the territory, it was said, there were only seventeen Christians in the town of Neo-Caesarea; when he died in 268, there were only seventeen pagans.
Macrina was born about the time of Gregory's death, and it was the faith of this ardent apostle that became the way of life for her family. Early in the next century, during the persecution of the Emperor Galerius, Macrina and her husband were forced to leave their home and to live in the wooded hills of Pontus for seven years, during which they suffered much. They were often without food. Later, during another persecution, their property was seized by agents of the emperor, and they lived in almost total destitution. When the persecution ended, they were honored as confessors of the faith, a much revered title among the Christians of that time.
It was at his grandmother's knee that Basil received his first instructions in the Christian faith, and it was from her that he and his family were nourished in that Christian discipline that made them saints. Macrina was known to have treasured and read the writings of Gregory the Wonderworker, and it was the fire and zeal of his writings that was passed on to Basil and his brother.
The exact date of Macrina's death is not known. She is revered as a saint in the calendars of both the Eastern and Western Churches.
Troparion of St. Macrina the Elder:
The image of God was truly preserved in you, o mother, for you took up the cross and followed Christ, by so doing, you taught us to disreguard the flesh, for it passes away but to care instead for the soul, for it is immortal. Therefore your spirit, o holy mother Macrina, rejoices with the angels!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This is the main link to her article:
Simplifying Grocery Shopping & the Benefits of Monthly Menu Planning
Loading the kids into the car is a significant endeavor – making sure we have a clean diaper, putting on socks, shoes, coats, and finally loading them in and strapping them into car seats. The whole process may take up to 30 minutes of my day. Pack a quick snack, an extra diaper, and we are off. Arriving at our destination, it takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes to remove children from the car to the grocery cart. Halfway through the store, child #2 begins to melt down. The snack holds them over temporarily (and yes, I feed them at home before we left!). By the end of the store excursion, child #1 has to use the bathroom. Ten minutes later we are back to the store aisles. And we are only at stop number one of the intended three. Does this sound familiar? After going through this experience numerous times prior, I decided it was time to make a better strategy for grocery shopping. I have been practicing these methods for over a year now, and can highly recommend it!
1. Limit your trips.
Why not make it easier on your stress levels by limiting our trips to the store? Consider starting with a weekly trip and see if you can gradually stretch it.
2. Limit your stops.
Why do we find it necessary to visit three different grocery stores to get all our groceries? Many times it may be due to various prices differences at each location, coupons, or sales. When you really think about it, is the extra time involved and the added stress of loading and unloading really worth it? When I stepped back to compare: driving, extra gas, and the added tiredness that entailed were not necessary. Find a store that you can make all your purchases, adapt your menu so that you can get all the ingredients at one location and stick with it. It will be well worth it – your whole family will be more joyful as a result.
3. Order online.
It is becoming so much easier now to actually order your groceries online. How sweet is that? Check out Safeway, New Seasons (local natural grocery in the Portland metro area), Organics to You, and other online delivery systems. Ask around in your area. Many will allow you to order online and you can pick up in store to save on delivery fees, but also save you all the time and effort of touring the store. For a busy mommy, that sounds like a wonderful alternative.
4. Make a menu plan. Make a monthly plan for real simplicity.
I have been a huge advocate of monthly menu planning and my mission was only re-affirmed after a recent season of carelessness in this area which had to lead to sky-rocketing grocery bills and frequent trips to the store. Menu planning in general is definitely not my favorite activity. I would much rather just be in the kitchen preparing the food rather than planning what to make. But taking the time to plan your menu not only ultimately saves you significant time, but it will also help save you money. Why not take a simple step to simplify it for yourself?
Where to Start?
1. Start with a simple plan.
If you are new to menu planning, please start by beginning with just a weekly menu plan, and once you are comfortable with that to adjust to two weeks. Start your weekly plan by making a list of 7 dinners, 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches. Lunches can be mainly leftovers from the previous dinner if you make a bit extra. Breakfasts can be the same each week as we do it (see examples below). After you can make that work, build a monthly menu plan and work with the seasons. You will learn how much your family needs to make it through two weeks. You will also learn to stretch your food purchases in amazing and creative ways.
2. Figure out dinner themes to work from.
I have found it extremely helpful to start out my menu planning by making daily dinner themes. That way I had something to work around. I make a vegetable and rice stir fry or main dish salad every Monday, adding variation with different vegis and sauces. Tuesdays is always soup night, served with a biscuit or muffin. Increasing soups in your diet is an excellent way of increasing nutrition but also keeping the budget down. Fridays is pizza theme each week for family night. Making a large batch and serving it for different lunches or freezing a portion for another meal is also making the most of your time in the kitchen. Here are a few ideas:
Monday – Stir Fry/Main Dish Salad
Tuesday – Soup
Wednesday – Fish/Lentils
Thursday – Mexican/Chicken/Casserole
Friday – Special Dinner – Pizza
Sunday – leftovers or eat out
Other themes could include: crockpot, Italian, etc. I have heard other creative ideas such as Meat Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. Have fun and be creative! Anything to make meal planning enjoyable for your household.
Keep your breakfast and lunch plan simple by rotating the same schedule each week. Here is ours:
Monday – kefir smoothie, bread (muffin, bagel, or toast)
Tuesday – Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Wednesday – kefir smoothie, bread (muffin, bagel, or toast)
Thursday – Oatmeal w/raisins & apples
Friday – Eggs or French Toast
Saturday – Pancakes
Sunday – Granola (a quick breakfast before church)
Lunches are a bit more flexible, as often times we will have leftovers on hand to eat from a previous meal, but if not, I keep the ingredients on hand for these ideas:
Monday – Ham & Cheese sandwiches, fruit/vegi
Tuesday – Egg Salad Sandwiches, juiced vegi & fruit
Wednesday – Salmon Melts or Tomato Soup & grilled cheese/ham sandwiches, fruit, salad
Thursday- Quesadillas, burritos, or baked potato bar (chili, cheese, lettuce, misc toppings)
Friday – Peanut Butter & Jelly or regular sandwiches
Saturday – Leftovers (Saturday is generally leftover day or clean out the fridge day)
3. Make a list of 4 ideas for each of those themes.
Now simply collect ideas for 4 weeks of recipes around those themes. Chicken Ceasar Salad, Taco Salad, Cobb Salad are some of our Monday choices. Jot them down on your monthly calendar.
4. Compile a master shopping list for the items needed to make those meals.
Go through each recipe and make a master shopping list of all the ingredients required. Now each month you have the same list of groceries, and you can keep a memorized list on your computer, phone, or notebook. You can see my master grocery list here. We use the Shopper app for its usefulness in organizing our shopping to the tee – aisle by aisle and keeping track of the costs in one.
5. Limit your shopping to one major stocking day, and one small refiller day in a months time!
A easy plan is to shop at the beginning of the month for all your staples, toilet paper, body products, meats, and dairy and produce for two weeks. I have found produce and dairy can last for two weeks successfully. Then make one extra stop halfway through the month to restock on produce and dairy. Or if you have a local farmer’s market, or farm stand, that would be a even better alternative.
6. Build a new monthly plan with each season.
You will appreciate the variety if you build a new monthly menu plan for each season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. In this manner you can incorporate the more comfort foods for winter, and the light refreshing foods for summer. You can stick with a Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter plan as well, as I have done in the past. Now you only have to plan a menu 2-4 times a year! How nice is that? Care to join me? For inspiration, check out my Winter monthly menu plan and Spring/Summer plan from previous years.
I have experienced it first hand that doing a monthly menu plan can definitely save you money. I have saved at least $100 per month pursuing this method – which is certainly useful when you are striving to eat naturally on a budget.
Those are just some of my practical ideas for simplifying the grocery shopping adventures!
What tips do you have to share?
Other Menu Planning Ideas & Resources:
Weekly Menu Planning – by Crystal Paine
Healthy & Frugal Menu Planning Help Part 1 & Part 2- by Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
Printable Monthly Menu Form
Printable Weekly Menu Form
Menu Planning: Saving Time in the Kitchen
Menu Planning Made Easy
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Last night, I pre-pooed with some olive oil and coconut oil, washed with aloe juice mixed with Dr. Bronner's castile soap, 8 drops of rosemary oil and a little glycerin. I poured it in a squirt bottle and proceeded to wash. I noticed that the mix was not strong enough to get the oils off my hair, although my hair felt really soft. I then used some Giovanni 50/50 shampoo to wash the oils off. I did not wash the oils off entirely but I was happy that I didn't. When I was done I applied some aloe juice mixed with Giovanni's direct leave in, about half and half, and let my hair air-dry. My hair felt amazing. It was soft, shiny and bouncy. I love this Aloe Juice! and pre-pooing with olive oil and coconut oil is definitely staying in my regimen. I later used some of my homemade aloe moisture spritz (same recipe I posted before). I also love this mix. I am so happy with my curls. I had little shedding and split ends, even after flat ironing.
Here is a pic:
I was so happy with my hair that I decided to try something new... a curly fro-hawk. Although this is a tad bit funky for my taste, I loved the way it looked. I tied my hair into thre sections, top, middle and bottle and used black large bobby pins to work the rest of it and shape it.
Here is what it looks like:
My kids, Gena and Issy:
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I have been flat ironing my hair on and off for about two years and now and I feel like every time I do it, my hair comes out different. I never get the same feel of my hair twice. I always wondered if it's the products I'm using, the iron or technique.
This time I diluted some of my Giovanni 50/50 shampoo with water ( 1 part poo and 2 parts water). I then deep conditioned with silicon mix for about 20 minutes under the dryer. My hair was so soft, but of course, it was filled with cones. After rinsing I used some Skala cerimide leave-in, combed out my hair and let it airdry. I then flat ironed in sections spraying some silk elements heat protectant. The flat iron I'm currently using is Leornardo ceramic 1" (I got this from ebay for 30.00). It works really good. I have also tried the solia 1 1/2" and GVP from sally's. So far I like leonardo the best. My hair came out excellent. I loved the way my hair felt. Usually when I flat iron my hair, it is dry or not straight enough or too poofy. This time my hair was soft and shiny root to tip. This may also be because every part of my hair except for the last 2" is virgin hair.
Since I've been flat ironing my hair, I learned some lessons that can maybe help someone who is still trying to master flat ironing. One thing that help me is to remind myself that hair is just like fabric. When we iron our clothes, we are gentle with it and we go through each section of the clothes making sure that each wrinkle is smoothed out. If we rush through ironing clothes, you still see some wrinkles and the results are not as good. Patience is definitely the most important thing to getting good results.
I've decided to list some do's and don'ts when flat ironing your hair:
1. Do not flat iron wet or damp hair. I know that there are irons that say you can, but don't. That will damage your hair. Make sure it is completely dry. I prefer to air dry rather then use a blow drier. You can blow dry on low heat, but for some reason it seems to suck out the moisture more from my hair. If you know you won't have time to air-dry, wash the day before, section out your hair and let it air dry over night. You can then flat iron the next day. I also add some type of creamy leave-in like, Skala cerimide leave-in or lacio lacio to seal some moisture. This is the only other product, besides the heat protectant spray, I use.
2. Do not use only natural oils to flat iron. I know some people do this to avoid chemicals and build up however, the process of flat ironing is very rough on the hair and you will need to protect it with strong silicones. You can add dab a tiny bit of oil at the end. I sometimes use a little coconut oil after my hair is flat ironed. The purpose of silicones is to add a layer to your hair sealing the hair and protect it from outside damage. The high heat from flat ironing will quickly eat up those oils and leave your hair vulnerable to damage. You can also use a gentle sulfate when it comes time to washing you hair again. I usually shampoo my hair with a gentle sulfate when I'm switching back to curly hair. Products with mineral oil and no silicone may also work, but again, the stronger the silicone, the more protection. Mineral oil is not strong enough and will offer only a little protection. The strongest silicone I believe is cyclomethicone. You want your heat protector to have this ingredient at the top of the list. Now if you are doing wash and go's, I do not recommend using products with silicones since you will have to use a sulfate shampoo to get rid of it.
3. Pre-poo. I know most people just go straight into washing their hair, but I would suggest adding an oil or some type of treatment before shampooing. I usually pre-poo with coconut oil or olive oil. I just drench my hair with oil and let it sit on my hair for at least an hour massaging my scalp. When I first enter the shower, I let the warm water through my hair for a few minutes before I shampoo. Since water alone does not remove the oils, the warm water allows for the oils to penetrate into the hair better. I then proceed to shampooing my hair. I also add eggs to my pre-poo if my hair needs protein. Pre-pooing protects you hair from drying out when you shampoo and will affect the results of your hair during flat ironing.
4. Do deep condition under a dryer. I think this is the most effective way to do it. I have tried leaving my conditioner under a plastic bag with no heat and the results are not the same. Body heat is not as warm as a hair dryer. Heat opens the cuticles of you hair and allows the deep conditioner to penetrate further. When I deep conditioned under a hair dyer this time around, my hair felt like butter.
5. section you hair as neatly as you can and avoid ironing too much hair in one section. The smaller the piece the straighter and neater your hair will be. You also won't have to go over it again and again. I also use a comb or brush right underneath the flat iron so it keeps all the hairs in place as the iron goes through it.
6. Remember that using too much or too little heat protectant can make all the difference. I use to think that the silk elements heat protectants spray was too greasy and heavy for my hair until I realized that I was using too much. I learned that three sprays per section from a distance is what my hair likes. I also don't combine any other heat spray or serum with it. I noticed this product works better alone. You may have to experiment with serums and sprays before you learn what your hair likes, but it does make a difference.
7. Take your time. I can't stress this enough. The more gentle you are and patience you have the better the results. Do not be tempted to snag on your hair, comb through knots carelessly and grab bigger sections to finish quicker. You will loose a whole lot of hair and you will not get all the sections evenly. You will then have to go back over it again and you will mix up and go over pieces that were already flat ironed, making your hair more prone to damage.
8. Do not automatically flat iron on the highest setting. Start at a lower temperature and work your way up slowly. For me the best temperature is around 385-390 degrees. Learn what's the lowest temperature your hair can work with.
9. If you find that your hair is not as straight as you like, especially the ends, instead of going over it continuously with the flat iron, add a dab of your creamy moisturizer or light oil and wrap your hair like you normally would. Put a saran wrap or scarf over your hair and sit under the dryer for a few minutes or over night. Usually the next day my hair is tamed and straight.
10. Most ladies know to keep a straight style, you must learn to wrap your hair. I do this for the first three nights. Since going natural my hair tends to get more greasy quickly.
Just for the fun I'm also adding this delicious recipe I made last night. I bought some organic apples and decided to try them baked for dessert with some vanilla ice cream. It was so good. I decided to take a picture and post it. This is the recipe I used from http://allrecipes.com:
- 4 tart green apples
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
After my recent hair chop, my hair has been doing great! I have less breakage and my hair is softer than ever. I was going to make a post about my regimen, but so far my regimen is really simple and not really long at all. I usually wet my hair everyday and apply a conditioner.. I then follow with a leave-in and seal with an oil. I wash and deep condition when needed, usually about once a week. I've been alternating between, Aubrey Organics Honey Suckle Rose, Island Naturals, Giovanni smooth as silk and the Magnetic conditioner. I like all of these for my hair so far. I was using Nature's gate but on further investigating the ingredients, I've discovered that it's not so great due to the Phenoxyethanol preservative. According to the FDA "Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants." The article was referring to a nipple creme for breastfeeding that contained that ingredient. Even though we are technically not ingesting the chemical, I still would like to be safe. I will finish my Nature's gate bottles but will not purchase them again. The Giovanni direct leave-in also contains this as a preservative, but I will still continue to use it until I finds something else. I also noticed that some of the Nature's gate conditioners and shampoo contain some form of paraben in them like methylparaben. The ones I use, Jojoba conditioner and biotin do not have it. If you look it up, it says that methylparaben has been proven to be safe for cosmetic use, although some natural sites and pro-organics would say otherwise. I guess you have to research everything and come up with your own conclusion. I still think Nature's gate is a much better selection then many of the conventional brands out there if you are on a budget. I found my conditioners for $1.50 at Big Lots and they retail for about about $7.00 a bottle.
So far I have been pleased with the Aubrey Organics line because the conditioners can double as deep conditioners as well. All the ingredients seem pretty safe and most importantly, the products work. The prices are really good and each bottle lasts me a good while since the conditioners are rich and thick. You will definitely get your money's worth with these conditioners. I also have tried some of the shampoos but found them to be too drying. I ended up using them as body washes. I plan on trying the white camellia next since I've heard good things about that one.
I've been experimenting with a homemade moisturizer since I finally got my aloe-vera juice in the mail. Here is the recipe that I have been using:
4 oz of distilled water
2 oz of aloe juice
2 tsp of jojoba oil
1 tbs of glycerin
10 drops of orange EO or EO of choice
I love this mix! I'm not so crazy about the smell of the aloe juice so I recommend using an essential oil to cover up the scent. I applied this with a squirt bottle after I rinsed my hair with conditioner and my hair was so soft and moisturized. Once my hair was dried, I applied a little more to see how my hair felt and I'm in love with this recipe. My hair was so so soft and I had not felt my hair that moisturized in a long time. I keep the bottle inside the refrigerator to avoid spoilage.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I was surprised to here that baking soda is actually not as good for the hair and can actually harm the hair more than a commercial shampoo would. I have not tried baking soda yet but after watching this, I may not want to try that.
I knew that the Dr. Bronner's castile soap was pretty alkaline but I also dilute it with water and orange EO which I'm sure brings the Ph down. I wonder if adding aloe vera juice or apple cider vinegar to my castile wash would balance the alkalinity? I'll have to try that next time I wash my hair and I will post my thoughts on this later on.
Monday, August 23, 2010
The Georgia humidity made it unable for me to keep it straight very long, so I washed my hair 6 days later.
As you can see in the picture above, my ends were needing a trim, so I decided to chop off my ends. My hair went from waist length to bra strap length, so I cut off about 3 inches. I don't know if it would be considered a chop but I just had to get rid of some of my previously relaxed and color treated ends. My hair felt damaged. I still have about 3 inches worth of relaxed hair on my hair but I will not chop that off. I just can't go any shorter. Here is a picture of the length below. I prepooed with one egg, olive oil and ORS repleneshing pak. I then washed with Dr. Bonner's peppermint castile soap mixed with some jojoba oil, olive oil and orange eo. I mixed it with some water in a squirt bottle and squirted through my hair. I then deep conditioned with Aubrey's HSR, rinsed and used some Naturelle hypoallergenic gel. I later sprayed some of my glycerin, water and jojoba oil mix to refreshen my curls. I love this homemade spritz. It really moisturizes my curls.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I've been recently experimenting with natural products and homemade stuff and have discovered some concoctions I like and what I don't like. My favorite mix so far is Dr. Bronner's Hemp and Peppermint castile soap mixed with water and sweet orange oil. My husband said that he didn't like the smell of the peppermint castile soap so I added some sweet orange EO and it smelled nice. I may try adding lavender next. It left my hair soft and clean. My scalp felt great. I even used it on my face and body and I loved the tingly feeling it left all over. I think my hair is finally adjusting to the product changes. For the first week, I noticed my hair was frizzy, like it was craving some heavy product. It was also hard to detangle. I then realized I was washing my hair too often. I got use to washing my hair twice a week but since I'm not using products with that cause built up, I no longer need to shampoo as often. I also learned that I needed to seal my leave-in or moisture spritz with oil or my hair would dry out. I have also learned that my hair is in the 3c range. My curls are like the diameter of a small pencil. I always thought I was more in the 3B range but without the added products my curls seem to pop more. I'm also trying to figure out how to style my hair without having to wet it in the shower everyday. I sometimes just use a spritz with water mixed with some oils and Giovanni-leave in to re-wet my hair. I also began doing braid outs so that my hair doesn't tangle so much. So far I'm loving the whole natural product thing. My hair, especially my scalp feels so much better. I have no dandruff and my scalp is always clean and soft. I also love smelling natural like coconuts, lavender and flowers.
Even though I have all natural products now, there are a few products that I can't get rid of just yet which I have just in case I want to straighten my hair. Those products are my Dominican deep treatments and my silk elements heat protectant spray. I don't plan on styling with heat very often but I figured I will keep those on hand. Either way I'm still reducing the amount of chemicals by avoiding daily use of certain products.
For my braid outs I usually braided while it's wet and apply Giovanni's direct leave-in, naturelle hypoallergenic gel (bought at sally's) and some extra virgin olive oil to seal. I usually do two french braid and take it out the next day when it's dry.
I'm still waiting on a few products that I ordered (such as Aloe Vera Juice and Rose Water) so that I can experiment with some homemade moisture spritz. I have yet to find something I truly like yet, but I've only tried two mixes. When I find something that works, I will post it.
My Braid out...
Friday, August 6, 2010
Going green does not always mean that you have to spend a ton of money on organic foods and natural products. Not everyone is able, as we are, to spend a whole lot on groceries and natural products. Here are some personal things I do to save money and attempt to turn my family and home a little more green.
1. I only purchase specific items organic or I do my best to avoid produce with high pesticide levels in them. You can also buy frozen conventional fruits or vegetables since these are washed thoroughly before freezing and tend to contain less pesticides. Juices, such as apple juice, tend to contain less pesticides since the fruits are washed thoroughly and filtered. I do purchase dairy and meats organic because of the hormone content. I usually go for sales and compare prices before buying. Most companies offer coupons for their products online. I don’t buy deli meats or cheese organic because we don’t feel it’s necessary.
Research by the USDA revealed the top twelve produce that contained the most pesticide levels. Of course there are many other reasons besides pesticide levels to buy organic, especially when some produce today is genetically modified, which I will cover later on. However if you're going to take small steps, these below are must to buy organic for my family or avoid them.
1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
I also buy eggs, meats and milk from local farmers or I'll buy them organic. To save money we also avoid eating eggs and meat daily. Instead, we try to eat beans or wild fish in place of meat.
The twelve with the least provided by the USDA are:
* Corn (However, almost all corn is genetically modified)
* Sweet Peas
(These I buy conventional to save money).
I read somewhere that by avoiding or eating the top twelve produce organically, you can reduce pesticide levels in your body by up to 80%.
2. I try to make my own cleaners and shampoos. I recently bought some castile soap, washing soda, baking soda, borax and white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and some oils. A combination of these items can make shampoos, laundry soap, dish soap, window cleaners, ect. These items are all inexpensive and there are so many recipes using these items. I also eliminated buying shampoos in place of castile soap. You can even make your own body wash with castile soap and add your own fragrances, eliminating the use for soap. I use eggs, mayo and other foods to make my deep conditioners and mix them with natural conditioners to avoid using up the conditioner everyday. On shampoo days, I portion out a little shampoo in a cup and dilute it with water. I mix it with essential oils and oils, like extra virgin olive oil. This helps make the product last and allows me to alter the shampoo to fit my hair’s needs. If I’m having scalp problems, I use rosemary oil and tea tree oil, If I need extra nourishment, I add Olive oil and almond oil and if I need more moisture, I add glycerin and castor oil. I also add a scent, like lavender or sweet orange.
3. I stopped buying unnecessary hygiene items like shaving crème. I found that my olive oil soap is gentle enough to use in place of shaving crème. Lotions are also a waste of money for me. Instead, I use coconut oil or shea-butter mixed with oils on my skin. My skin is in so much better condition because of this. I also use it on my baby instead of lotion and massage her skin. It’s gentle and great for things like eczema. I also use my olive oil soap as a face wash and use jojoba or almond oil in place of face lotion. These oils are light and sink into my skin without leaving a greasy feeling.
4. I save all my plastic bags I get from the grocery store and use them as a shower cap for my deep treatments, as garbage bags and for storing lunch and other items such as, flour and bags of rice. I also re-use some bottles and pour in my own homemade stuff. I do the same thing whenever my product is finished. I re-use the bottle and pour in my own concoctions.
5. I buy used clothe and items. There are certain items you don’t want to buy used , like hats, bed mattresses, and of course, underwear :O. Places like Goodwill are great for our family because we can donate are old clothe and get a new wardrobe for very cheap. I love finding name brand clothes and accessories for so cheap. I also skip going to bookstores like Barns and Nobles and buy my children books from there. It’s also a great place to get decorations and dishes. Just make sure you sterilize them in the dishwasher first. I’ve found dish sets work hundreds of dollars for like thirty bucks. I think it is much better to buy used clothes, than buying brand new clothes labeled “Organic.” I think it’s pretty stupid to spend money on organic clothes that are pricey when you can buy used clothe.
Shopping online on sites like Ebay.com or Etsy.com is another great way to look for items you need at great prices.
6. Avoid spoiling my children. This is a must for me. In our home, we adhere to Christian values and expect our children to appreciate what they have. We do not buy toys in our home very often, and if we do, most have some sort of educational purpose. Instead of forking over dollars on tons of action figures (though my son has a few), we try our best to get computer games, simple wooden blocks, puzzles, books, and art stuff. We give our old funky clothe to my son for dress up time. I do not like hoarding toys. Everything we buy I use and it has a purpose or it gets donated. This helps us to avoid clutters around the house. Since my son is home-schooled, I try to look for toys that double as an educational tool and something he loves to play with. I actually find that my four year old enjoys the simplest toys like popsicle sticks, dominos, board games and blocks. You can teach your kid to use his imagination to make things and challenge him to build stuff with simple items. You would be surprised what pleases your child if you sit down with him. He would rather sit down and play a board game with me than giving him a Wii to play with alone. On Christmas time we teach our children that it’s about giving. They get one large toy from us and he gets the rest from family members. The focus is not on how many presents they get,`` but on the spiritual meaning of Christ birth and incarnation.
We do buy presents for others instead of using the money to buy tons of gifts for ourselves.
7. We began eating out less. I didn’t realize that we were spending almost two hundred dollars more a month eating out. I decided to start cooking more often. I have developed an interest in finding recipes for our family. Fresh bread can be pricey and you never know what is in it. Instead I began making my own flat bread with this simple recipe: No rise time or yeast needed. It takes me a total of 15 minutes to make.
One cup of whole wheat flour
One cup of all purpose flour
1 tbs of baking powder
1tbs of olive oil
3tsp of salt
3tsp of sugar
And 1 cup of water. I stir everything with a wooden spoon, knead for 5 min and flatten out over some flour into 3 large flat pieces. I usually spread a little olive oil over it and sprinkle garlic powder and salt and ground up flax seed. Stick into a pre-heated oven 500 degrees for 7-10 min and that’s it. It taste like pitta bread and it’s yummy, quick and simple. You could even alter it to make it into a pizza crust or roll stuff into it like cheese and spinach. My son loves making recipes with me. I will probably be adding recipes to this blog later on.
8. Avoid vanity: honesty just keeping my wardrobe simple is important. I try to buy pieces of clothing I can mix and match easier. I buy scarves of different colors to add some flare and style without spending extra money. I try to buy sweaters and such to put over summer tops in the winter. In the summer I go for simple cotton dresses that I can use for Church and day-wear. I try to buy shoes that go with everything. The same applies to what my family buys. I own a few simple purses that go with everything. I really don’t care about name brand and what’s trendy. I try to buy clothe that are comfortable and look nice. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look nice, but clothe that tend to be exceptionally stylish or cut differently are more likely to go out of style quicker than those that have a simpler appearance. I do buy many of my stuff from Goodwill or Salvation Army, and pair it with new items. I do have lots of makeup but I have not purchased in a while since I don’t wear makeup daily so it lasts me forever.
9. Buying tips: We try to not over eat in our house and portion out our meals so that they last. I try to make exactly what we’ll eat and eat leftovers the next day for lunch. My son gets his meals and snacks portioned out. We only eat when we are hungry and not because we are bored. Of course I am flexible with this since we tend to crave treats and sweets. I don’t keep too many candies and cookies in the house. I try to buy snacks that are nutritious and organic. I also give him a variety of fruits and vegetables as a snack. Another trick I do is get a big box of organic cereal and give him a small bowl of dry pieces for a snack. Organic cookies can be pricey. You can save money by buying a box of organic cereal and portion it out as a snack. If you get sweet ones it’s basically like giving them small cookies without all the added sugar, and it has vitamins. I do the same for my infant daughter. Instead of buying Gerber puffs, I buy a big box of cheerios and she eats that for a snacks. We sometimes eat oatmeal for breakfast in place of cold cereal, since it's cheaper.
10. Make a shopping list and stick to it. I use to not make lists in the passed and would end up forgetting items and spending more than what I should have. I usually keep a generic shopping list saved on my desktop and go shopping for food every two weeks. I modify the list as necessary and print it out. I usually right out the price next to it and total everything out, that way I know how much I spending. Budgeting for us has become so important. Every so often, my husband and I get together and talk about our spending habits and what we can improve on. We try to buy things we need and not just wants. I allot each of us some free room of spending money, that way we don’t feel deprived. For example, my husband likes to buy energy drinks everyday, so he usually takes out thirty five dollars from the ATM every two weeks to purchase his drinks. that way he can keep track on how much he’s spending.
These are just some of the things I do to save money and still eat organic. If I think of anything else, I will update this post. The important thing for me to remember is not to obsess over it. This is just a guide for me. I think what comes out of our mouths triumphs what goes in it. We do stop for fast food when we need to and have no problem eating anything. I just try my best to make a healthier home and environment for my family.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I've finally began making my own cleaners in the house and wanted to share my experience so far.
I made my own all-purpose cleaner using, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 tsp of borax, 1tsp of washing soda and 2 cups of water. I put it in a spray bottle and use it to clean my stove, on top of tables and mop my floor. I even tried it as a dish-washing liquid and it leaves my dishes clean. So far this has worked great for me. I have white tile floors in my kitchen and I mop every two days and it does a good job keeping my floor white. It is also gentle enough to use on my wood floors as well and I don't have to worry about my baby daughter crawling around on chemicals. I also started using diluted castile soap to wash my dishes. If my plates are extra greasy, I use a little of my all purpose cleaner to cut the grease.
I also made my first shampoo. I have not tried it yet but I will in a few days. Here is what it consists of:
2 cups of baby castile soap unscented, 1 cup of water, 1tbs of almond oil, 1 tbs of jojoba oil, 6 drops of rosemary EO, 6 drops of orange EO, 4 drops of lavander EO, and 1/2 tbs of olive oil. I shook everything up and put it in a glass squirt bottle. I may add some glycerin if I feel that it's not moisturizing enough. I'm not sure how long it will last but I made put this in the refrigerator just in case since I only wash twice a week.
On my skin I usually use a mix of raw shea butter and olive oil after I shower or I use plain extra virgin coconut oil.
To wash my face at night I use a liquid black soap or olive oil soap. I them massage almond oil or jojoba oil on my face. So far my skin is doing great!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
So, I finally got my huge package in the male yesterday from Vitacost.com. I was sad to see that my rosewater spray and Giovannin magnetic conditioner had spilled out. :( I was also missing items. I emailed the company, so hopefully they will send me my items. My box was crushed and messed up, thanks to UPS. Terrible! Anyway now that I'm done ranting, I was still excited to get my other items. Today I washed with Dr. Bronners 18-1 castile soap unscented for babies. I diluted it with some water first, then poured on my head. I rinsed then used Giovanni's smooth as silk conditioner and left on for about 4 minutes before rinsing. I toweled dry and then use some of the Direct Leave-in. I am impressed with this leave-in. I like the fact that it has a low hazard score of 2 (based on the skin deep's cosmetic database), and it was very thick. Thicker than the smooth a silk conditioner. I applied a quater size amount to my hair and used a little of my homemade spritz (Aubrey HSR, water, olive oil, lavander eo, orange e0, honey). My hair is now dry. I did noticed a little frizz but that may be due to washing it. My curls are defined, soft and fluffy. It almost felt like I was putting a thick creamy lotion on my hair. I love it. I may use more next time and seal with oil. Overall I am pleased with my purchase. This will be my staple leave-in for now.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Okay so I read online that you could use coffee to stop shedding and add sheen to your hair, so I decided to try it. I brewed a plain cup of coffee at normal strength and poured it in a cup after cooling. In the shower I let warm water run through my hair then I used some Aubrey's Island naturals conditioner. I then poured the cup of coffee through my hair and let it sit for about 4 min while I finished showering. I then rinsed it off. I love the smell of coffee, so the aroma was a treat for me. However, I don't know how it would smell on my hair when it was dry, so I used some Honeysuckle Rose afterward and rinsed. Next time I may try not rinsing it off. My hair felt a bit stronger and defined but I couldn't tell if it stopped the shedding. I combed through my hair with my shower comb and I had no broken hairs; all the hairs had bulbs on them, which was good for me. Overall I loved how my hair felt after it dried. It was soft and defined. I will continue to do this once a week and report my findings later on. I also read that Coffee is a natural way to dye hair, which is good for me since I have pieces of brown hair I want gone from when I dyed my hair. I didn't notice a significant change in color, but with continued use it may darken my hair.
Here are some pics of the before and after: I still have some relaxed pieces in my hair so I have different textures... the second picture below you could see my true texture, except for the ends.
First two pics are before and the next two are after. Hair was about 90% dry.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
All items except for the baking soda, ACV, Crystal deodorant stick and white vinegar were purchased at vitacost.com.
ACV: use to clarify my hair
Baking Soda: Use to make cleaners and to clarify hair.
White vinegar: use mixture with borax as an all purpose cleaner.
Crystal Body deodorant stick 4.25 oz 4.89 ...has no aluminum Cholorohydrate. Actually there are only two ingredients: Natural Mineral Salts and Ammonium Alum. I have to say I was skeptical about this because, honestly I tend to need some strong deodorants :P. This has no scent and it is a solid bar (feels like a solid dry glycerin soap). It is not wet at all. You have to wet it a little and smooth it under your armpits. I have been using this for three days now, and it is summetime, I am so so so so so impressed. I have absolutely no body smell under my pits. OMG I wish I would have known about this. I literally kept rubbing my fingers and smelling to see if there was anything (I know gross). I didn't even re-apply. I tried this after shaving and no stinging. On the back it says that this can last up to one year. I am so happy because I use to go through my dove and secret deodorants every 2 to 3 months and feel like I'm just masking my smell. This is a keeper. It's cheap, chemical free (hazard score of 0)and it works. Sorry for the long review but I love it.
Aubrey honeysuckle rose conditioner and Island naturals: 11 oz purchased from vitacost.com
Love these conditioners, especially the honeysuckle one. I've been using this for some time now and it's so thick that it last me along time. I put some in a spray bottle with water and mix with extra virgin olive oil and use as spritz. I noticed with this I have to alternate with other conditioners because the wheat germ oil in it which acts like a protein, so my hair doesn't feel as moist with constant use. This is one of my keepers even though it has a hazard score of 3 on the cosmetic database. I do not like their shampoos because they are too drying.
Giovanni Smooth as silk conditioner: Hazard score of 2 and it works great to moisturize.
Giovanni Direct Leave-In™ Conditioner -- 8.5 fl oz
Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Toothpaste Mint -- 7 oz
Desert Essence Castile Liquid Soap with Organic Tea Tree Oil -- 32 fl oz
$7.08 I plan on using this to make my homemade dishwashing liquid, floor cleaner and laundry soap.
Tom's of Maine Natural Cleansing Mouthwash Spearmint -- 16 fl oz
Heritage Products Rose Petals Rosewater -- 4 fl oz - I will be adding this to my hair moisture spritz. Will post review when I get it.
Heritage Products Castor Oil Hexane-Free -- 8 fl oz
$3.48 I love castor oil especially mixed with shea butter to seal my hair and for my body. It whips nicely with shea butter.
Aura Cacia Sweet Orange Essential Oil -- 0.5 fl oz I love addint this to my homemade stuff for the scent. Especially when mixed with lavander and vanilla...mmm
Aura Cacia 100% Pure Essential Oil Rosemary -- .5 fl oz
Jason Kids Only ! Toothpaste Strawberry -- 4.2 oz $3.19
This is for my four year old son who still swallows his toothpaste. It is flouride free and has a good taste. I've been using this for about 3 months on my son and he is still on the same toothpaste bottle. Hazard score of 2...lowest I could find for any toothpaste.
Dr. Bronner's Castile Liquid Soap Baby Mild -- 16 fl oz I plan on using this to wash my hair in place of shampoo and for cleaning.
Heritage Products Vegetable Glycerin -- 4 fl oz Plan on using this for my homemade moisture spritz.
Lily of the Desert Organic Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Juice -- 32 fl oz using this for my moistur spritz as well.
Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar Soap -- 8 oz This has a hazard score of zero and 8oz is a huge size for the price.
Desert Essence Jojoba Oil -- 4 fl oz
Giovanni Magnetic Restructuring Conditioner -- 8.5 fl o $5.25 $5.25
Crystal Body Deodorant Spray -- 4 fl oz
Nature's Alchemy 100% Pure Essential Oil Tea Tree -- 0.5 fl oz
Aura Cacia Cold Pressed Oil Sweet Almond -- 4 fl oz
Kirk's Natural Castile Soap, Original -- 4 oz Each / Pack of 3
$3.90 I'm using this to grate for my home made laundry soap. Will post recipe.
Heritage Products Aura Glow Lavender -- 2 fl oz for scent
All this came out to 100.00 and this is literally everything for my family that should last at least 6 months. No buying cleaning products or shampoos, deodorants and so forth. I will post some recipes I'm going to try and will review them after I try them. Let me know if you have any ideas as to how I can use some of these items as well.
So what exactly am I doing for this natural change? Well like I stated above, I got rid of all my products that have harmful chemicals in it...so goodbye, Suave, Garnier, Pantene and Creme of Nature :( I kept my Aubrey Organic Honeysuckle Rose and Island Natural and my Giovanni stuff. I have also made my own leave-in using stuff from my kitchen and essential oils. I will post some of my recipes on my next few posts. I eventually would like to just use homemade stuff, but I will see how it goes first. My goal is to be natural, chemical free without spending money. In fact, I want to show myself and others that you can be healthy and natural and spend less money than you would buying commercial products. I've also extended this philosophy to everything I buy, use and eat at home. I try to cook and eat healthier and use "green friendly" products now. However, I refuse to spend any more money than I use to so I try to make my cleaning products as well. As a mother and wife I realize everything I do affects my family. If I'm healthy, so are they. I'm also a licensed nurse, so health is something I'm use to thinking about.
I will post on different topics which include but are not limited to, natural hair and products, product reviews, homemade recipes, mothering, spirituality, food reviews and exercising.