In my last post I forgot to mention that I’ve been using dry shampoo to help keep my hair from looking oily.  And it does seem to work for the most part.  My hair is still feeling pretty waxy, I’m hoping that will disappear soon.  Because I have dark hair, I did use the cornstarch and cocoa powder recipe found in this post.  And it does seem like my hair looks less oily in the mornings (I shower at night).  I’m continuing to use water-only every other day or so.  All the hair at my scalp has the waxy feeling, but the rest of my hair looks great.  So there’s that.

I used up all the lip chap that I had put in the old lip chap dispenser, so I melted down the rest of what I made and added about a tablespoon of beeswax.  And now it’s not as melty as it was before but still just as moisturizing.

I also tried a new lotion, this one is less greasy, though it still does start out that way when first applied.  After a few minutes it doesn’t seem greasy at all.  I like how smooth it is and it was really easy to make.  It was like magic when I was blending it and it turned white and creamy.  And she said that she uses a combination grapeseed, safflower, and sunflower oils.  I just used a third of a cup of each since she didn’t specify.  The other day I offered this to a friend and she did not like the greasiness and almost immediately washed it off.  Gonna be honest, that hurt my feelings.  So next time I’m going with another recipe.  But unlike the other stuff I made that stayed greasy for a very long time, I will be using this until it’s gone.

I finally made this oil face wash.  I was skeptical since it is oil, but it worked!  I don’t love the sunflower smell so I think next time I’ll use olive oil.  Other than that, I love it.  Sooooo easy to make, two ingredients, and we’re in business.

I also made this hand sanitizer.  I used peppermint extract and found it smells a little too strong to me, but I do like it and would make it again, either leaving out the essential oil or using another scent.

I still need to find a satisfactory body wash and I want to try these ideas for air freshener.  Along those same lines, I just found this post of homemade perfumes.  I’d also like to try this facial moisturizer, since the one above is not for the face.   Very soon I plan on making this foaming hand soap, since my other hand soaps were such failures.  We’re getting closer, people.  I’ve cut out almost everything cleaning and toiletry-wise that had potentially toxic chemicals.  I’m very happy about it. :)

just some stuff

I haven’t done much more since my last post, but I thought I’d do a brief update.

On the hair front I’m doing okay.  I still not seeing the results I want, but it’s not been as oily and gross as before.  Turns out you’re supposed to leave the “secret ingredient” in for at least two minutes.  This was not mentioned in the PDF and so I was just washing it out almost right away.  I know that I shouldn’t have assumed just having it touch my hair would be enough, but it wasn’t until I was over a week into this stuff and feeling discouraged that I discovered this tip in the comments section.  So that’s definitely helped, but I’ve decided to go to an even greater extreme.  Water Only washing.

Jason kinda laughs at me for getting on the “hippy” wagon, but I think it’s important to take care of myself in as natural a way as possible and also be good to the earth.  So sue me if that means I’m becoming a hippy.  Anyway, the idea is that you literally wash your hair with water.  I’m thankful to have already done some of the transition away from the toxic hair products and I’m hoping that moving to this won’t be as difficult a transition.  I still have a bit of my homemade shampoo left, but I think it’ll only last me one more wash.  I’ve been trying to wash my hair every other day or so, which cuts down on the water as use as I’m not having to rinse out my hair.  I take about a 3 minute shower now when I don’t need to wash my hair.  I’m going to slowly move from this every other day to only doing it once a week.  Think of all the water and time I’ll be saving.  I’m excited.

A lot of what I read about using natural products (or water only) to wash hair is that the hardness of your water can really affect the results.  I used this test to determine if my water was soft or hard.  It appears to be soft, which is good.  I also bought a boar bristle brush, but I have yet to clean it so I haven’t been using it every day.  Anyway, I am so ready for my hair to also get on board with this plan, hopefully soon.

I also made this body wash.  I did use it all, but it made my nauseous every time I used it.  Maybe it was the honey I was using.  I think the combination of honey and oil was not a pleasant smell.  On the plus side, it did leave my skin feeling very soft afterwards.  I just can’t justify the sick-to-my-stomach feeling I got with each use.   I still need to find another recipe.

Lastly, I made this moisturizer.  Another fail.  It was too greasy for my taste.  Unfortunately I now have all this moisturizer that I don’t want to throw away but also don’t want to use.  Oh well.  Next time I’m going to try this recipe.

Something else I’m looking into is living mostly Zero Waste.  This is an awesome movement where nothing is sent to the landfill but everything has another use.  It’s not just recycling, in fact recycling is not part of it at all.  I’ve managed to cut down a lot on things that were before single use by using hand towels instead.  It feels good.  My next challenge is kitty litter.  I’m doing some research on it and will share what I’ve found in my next post.  I’m not sure I want to go super hard core with this, but if I can even reduce the waste our household produces, I’ll be happy.

back to basics

This last weekend I made a few more products that I will review and link here.  As with before, I’ve had some mixed results.

Firstly, I want to review this hand soap.  I tried it after the utter fail of the first one.  This one was just as watery, though it is prettier.  I think I might move to foaming soap and will try this next.  I don’t love bar soap as it feels really unsanitary to me.  The slime seriously grosses me out.

I mentioned in the last post that I hadn’t yet tried the dryer sheets.  Well, the next time I did laundry I took the container out.  As soon as I opened it, I was hit with the intense vinegar smell and decided then and there that I wouldn’t be using it.  I’ll just stick to the felted balls, thank you.  This means that I can now use my Snapware for something else, so win win.

This weekend I made my own lip balm using this recipe.  I used the ratios in the original recipe but I think next time I’ll use more beeswax since this iteration is very melty.  It has a tendency of drying quickly so I find myself applying a lot more frequently than the the store bought stuff.  I do love it though and before it dries, it makes my lips very shiny.

I also tried this toothpaste.  I’m really glad I didn’t add the salt as it’s extremely salty already.  It does leave my mouth feeling really fresh (after I’ve completely washed the salty taste out).  I find that I brush more vigorously than normal, probably because it doesn’t foam up like I’m used to.  This has made my gums bleed, but I’m trying to remember to be more gentle and am also hoping my gums will just toughen up.

Shampoo and conditioner were the two I was most worried about.  The recipes are not difficult and have just a few ingredients.  However, I was not concerned about that as much as what my hair would do.  As this article says, the toxic stuff strips hair of its natural oils, which means your hair is working harder to maintain that balance and producing more oil.  When switching to a more natural product, hair tends to go through a detox period.  The shampoo recipe also has a secret ingredient (you’ll need to sign up to receive the PDF) that is supposed to help reduce the detox.  This recipe is also supposed to restore the pH levels of your hair.

So.  I’ve been using the shampoo, the secret ingredient, and the conditioner (the recipe for the conditioner is in the PDF).  The results?  My hair has still been oily.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring the shampoo into the tub when I was taking my shower one night and so I ended up using the toxic stuff.  I’m hoping that doesn’t set me back too much.  I’m also hoping it won’t take the 7 weeks (of the typically 2-7 weeks) I read that it can take for hair to detox.  We’ll see.  I’ve also found this conditioner recipe that I might want to try too.  In some of my research I read that it’s not good to use coconut oil in hair products as it solidifies at room temperature and could clog the drains.  I’m hoping that the coconut milk will not have the same problem.

I also made this toilet bowl cleaner.  Unfortunately the glass spray bottle I put it in had a defective spray head so I had to use a plastic bottle.  It seemed to work as well as the other stuff and was easy to make, so I will continue to use it.

I wanted to end with some stuff I found about using essential oils around cats.  We have two furry children of our own and love them dearly.  To think that something I’m putting in these products could harm my precious babies is horrifying to me.  I had remembered reading something about lavender and citrus and how it’s not good for cats and they don’t like them; but the possible serious health problems was news to me.  So before I started freaking out too hard, I thought I’d look into it.  Everything I read seemed to suggest that as long as high quality essential oils are used, and used correctly, then it should be okay.  The problem is that if the oil is synthetic or not high quality, then those ingredients can be harmful to our feline friends.  I still haven’t looked into which brands should be used, but I definitely plan on doing that before adding more essential oils to anything.  I’m not going to worry too much about the things I’ve already made.  I will be monitoring our cats to see if they seem to have changes in behavior or health, but so far so good.

Here’s what I’ve been reading about essential oils and cats:

http://essentialoilworld.com/essentialoilreviews/pet-health/essential-oil-safety-with-cats (the comments section is really great)

http://www.animaleo.info/cats.html

http://www.thelavendercat.com/images/PDF-TheLavenderCat_temp_use.pdf

Cats and essential oil safety

http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/05/14/dr-shelton-on-pets-essential-oils.aspx

naturally

I’ve decided that I want to try and replace all cleaning and toiletry/beauty products with natural, homemade ones.  In my journey so far, I’ve found that not all-natural recipes are made equal.  I like the idea of simple, two or three ingredient, and easy to make recipes.  However, that laziness on my part is not always the best.  I’m going to share some of the recipes I’ve found and used so far.  Some of them I’ve made but not had a chance to test out.  I might update this post once I have, or just write another one when I’ve made more things.

This deodorant is amazing.  I LOVE it.  Jason happened to be almost done with one of his store bought deodorants and I just tossed about a inch of what was left from mine.  With 6 ingredients it can add up in cost, especially when getting the Shea Butter, but that can be used for other things so it’s not too bad.  It does leave my pits a little oily feeling, but it does dry pretty quickly (especially if you do the thing I do and just swing your arms forward and back to create some friction in there).  Knowing that I made it, and can customize the scent with different essential oils, it’s all worth it.

Next up is this hand soap, made from three ingredients.  Perhaps I should have given it more of a chance, but this did not thicken the way I was expecting.  Also, I made the mistake of using an ugly green bar of soap, which resulted in it being very vomit-like in color.  I had bought a really cute globe glass soap dispenser and was so excited to use it.  Upon pouring the soap in and testing it out, I couldn’t handle it and threw it out.  Next I’m going to try this recipe, hopefully it’ll be more viscous.  I would also like to try this homemade foaming soap, though probably not for a while since that also means I have to get a special dispenser.

I found that quite a few recipes referenced washing soda and was relieved when I found this recipe to turn normal baking soda into washing soda.  Many of our local grocery stores have great bulk bins so I have a lot of bulk baking soda on hand.  It does take some time (45 minutes in the oven), but it’s really easy.  I went ahead and doubled it since I knew I was going to need it for a few recipes.

As with the hand soap, this liquid laundry detergent was pretty watery.  I do really like the smell (I used lavender essential oil) and am not opposed to using it again.  I’ve done one load of laundry using it and didn’t notice a smell to our laundry at all.  I guess no smell is better than a bad one, right?  It was extremely easy to make and it would be more viscous the less water you added at the end.

Speaking of doing the laundry, I also made this reusable dryer sheet solution.  Of course, the day after I made it my Mighty Nest monthly subscription came and it was the felted laundry balls (LOVE them! and have added a few drops of lavender essential oil (are you seeing a theme yet?) to them. . .mmmmm).  As a result, I haven’t tried them but I probably will with the next load.  I did end up cutting a few of our hand towels (we just get a pack from Costco so it’s no great loss).

To add to the laundry list (haha), I made this laundry booster.  Two ingredients and you’re good to go.  The washing soda and hydrogen peroxide started smoking when I was mixing them together.  It was really alarming at first, and I could feel the heat radiating from the jar as I combined them.  I did use this in the last load of laundry, but honestly can’t say if it made a difference or not.  I figure it doesn’t hurt though.

I love my kitties, but unfortunately boy kitty has a tendency to pee everywhere but the litter box (we’re pretty sure girl kitty has frightened him out of using it. boo. ).  I tried another recipe but found that it left the carpet soaking and damp for several weeks (and smelling strongly of vinegar, which isn’t much better than pee imo), which can cause another terrible problem, mold and mildew.  So I was thrilled to find this solution, one that leaves the place smelling better than before (in more ways than one ;).  I leave it soaking for 24 at least and then vacuum it up.  The next time I do this, I will also leave our dehumidifier close to the area to help it dry up, as I’ve found that even this one seems to leave the carpet feeling damp for a long time (honestly, we live in a pretty damp area so it’s not really a surprise).

The very first thing that I tried was this window cleaner.  I need to add more lavender essential oil as it still has a very strong vinegar smell.  I do really like using it.  I bought these glass spray bottles and need to buy more (I just looked them up and they are currently out of stock.  no!!!).   Another easy recipe and one that works well.

I don’t traditionally wash my fruits and vegetables when I bring them home (I know, I know) but with this spray, it takes no time at all.  And it didn’t leave the vegetables tasting or smelling like vinegar.

All in all, I’m very happy with this journey I’m just now embarking on.  I look forward to sharing more recipes with you!

spice of life

I am obsessed with glass jars; whenever we buy salsa or jam or anything in a glass jar and it comes time to clean and toss that puppy out, I just can’t bring myself to do it.  It’s resulted in a lot of weirdly shaped containers for things.  Pairing that up with the awesome bulk bins at one of our grocery stores means that I have a great use for the jars.  We live in an old house and the drawers are not constructed in a way that makes sense.  If we pull the drawers out too far, they tip down and I’m always afraid they’ll fall out.  One of those drawers has held a lot of the glass jars filled with dried goods.  It’s a very heavy drawer and I was having a difficult time getting it open and closed.  I decided I needed a shelf to store them.  However, living in earthquake country means that I have to be careful.

I knew the internet would have ideas and I was right.  I didn’t get the idea from just one source, but a few.  I will try and source everything that I’ve found.  We already have a shelf in our dining room, but when I tried to put the jars in the shelf, I discovered it was actually too deep, and it would be difficult to reach the back jars.  I decided to go with a narrower shelf and happened to find just the right one at Target for about $17.  It also happens to be the same brand as the current shelf I have, so they match.  Winning!

I went to our local lumber yard and had them cut me some thin board, all of which cost me less than $2.  They ended up being a bit too long but I was able to use my jigsaw to cut them to the right size.  I sanded and then painted the boards using chalkboard paint (inspiration taken from here).  Using my electric drill I made pilot holes in the shelf and then hammered the boards in (yeah, I could have used screws, they just intimidate me a little).  I used three books to prop the boards up and make sure they were all evenly spaced.  I wanted them to be high enough to keep the jars from tipping over, but low enough to still catch the shorter jars.  I think I found a happy medium.  There’s a lot of open space above the jars to allow me to reach to the back row and get the jars out.

In the above inspiration post I saw a lot of comments about keeping the jars from knocking into each other, as that would also break them.  I didn’t really see any ideas that seemed economic or useful.  Then it struck me, thick rubber bands.  They would be stretchy enough to fit all the weird shapes, and also thick enough to create a band to write on.  One of the issues with my jar system is that I could write on them but then inevitably I would grab the jar in the place where the writing was, effectively wiping off the writing.  Some things are obvious, others are not.  Now I could protect the jars while also labeling them.  Yay!  And I found some rubber bands at Staples for about $3.  Two bags were more than enough for all my jars.  Some of the jars needed more than one rubber band as they had protrusions that were still striking the other jars.  Even still, those two bags have been enough.

Lastly, I will need to secure the shelf to the wall.  It doesn’t to me a lot of good if the shelf can tip over.  I know I need to find the studs in the walls and I have the worst time trying to find them using the knocking method.  And so to the internet I went.  Here’s what I found.  Magnets?  Genius.  And it worked.  And to secure it to the wall?  How about this video?  I haven’t actually done this part, but it seems pretty straight forward.  I might even have all the supplies needed, but if not, it’ll be pretty easy to acquire the wire (haha) and take care of this step.

So here’s the (almost) finished product.  Whoo hoo.

Haven’t gotten around to labeling it yet, but I will.  Also, excuse the poor quality picture, this was taken with my phone.  I might update with a better quality photo.

It’s nice when projects actually turn out the way I want.

diy, belinda, and me

Whoa.  It’s been a loooong time since I’ve stepped foot here, so to speak.  Part of that is because I’ve been journaling for real, like with a pen and paper.  I started the first of the year and have faithfully done it before bed every night.  I started that kind of journaling when I was in first grade and have treasured it, but neglected it for a long time.  I decided to go “off grid” so that I could be more open and honest about my feelings.  Most of the time it’s just about what happened in my day, nothing super exciting.  But I enjoy the way it helps me reflect on some of the things that happened or how I was feeling.  Nice to put it down in writing.

So life is really good right now.  We’re in an awesome season and rhythm of our lives.  I’m really happy.  We recently had a few serious discussion about finances and it encouraged me.  We don’t fight about money because we’ve been doing a budget for about 5 years now.  It’s worked very well for us, even if we don’t stick to it 100%.  We decided to make a few needed changes and I am so happy that we’re on the same page with this stuff.  So many couples fight about money but we don’t have that problem.  He keeps me in line if I want to get something I shouldn’t, and I do the same for him.  It’s nice to not feel stress or anger about that very important part of our lives.

We did Whole30 last year and I discovered that I’m mostly lactose intolerant.  This saddens me a little because I really like cheese.  However, I have been vegetarian for a while now and I have been thinking about going more or less vegan.  This kind of forced my hand.  I still have milk with my cereal (which is weird because that’s almost the only way I have any milk, I’ve never enjoyed just having a cup of milk; also it’s weird because you’d think the lactose in milk would bother me.  oh well) but I can’t really do ice cream and I definitely cannot do cheese.  This has forced me to try cheese alternatives.  But I probably would have done that anyway because that’s how I am.

My parents got us a Vitamix (who I’ve christened Belinda the Blenda) for our anniversary last year and making vegan cheeses and nut milks has really put Belinda to work.  I found this great article and have been working through the recipes in the list.  Some of the links are broken, but most are not.  I’ve tried  quite a few and most of them have been quite tasty.  Conveniently so far, all the cheese I’d make again are the easier ones.  I have actually made some of them more than once at this point.  It makes me happy to find things that I can make that will replace my cheese love.

Also, I made some things that I want to share here, in separate posts.  I’m excited to share them and more excited to be back.  I do still plan on posting more for the Bible and Cream Puffery.  And that’s another big reason I haven’t written, because I felt like I couldn’t until I wrote that first.  I’ve finally come to be okay with delaying that until it’s ready, but still writing here about other things.  I’m doing some more reading and reflecting for those posts, but they’re not ready yet.

animal night light diy

Martha Stewart has instructions for these adorable animal night lights and I just had to make them for my nieces and nephew.  They are not babies, but they love animals and I thought it would be a fun gift for them.  As with all projects that I do, I ended up tweaking it to fit what I could find/what I thought made more sense.  I have three nieces and one nephew and rather than making just one or two lights, I decided to make one for each of them.  Good ole Martha only provided a template for two animals, a turtle and an elephant.  I decided to also do a whale and a pig.  I forgot to take pictures of the process with the first three, but one of the balloons popped during the first step so I’m doing a (mostly) step by step photo tutorial of that one.

I found a wire basket at one of our local thrift stores for about $5.  Martha says to use an 8″ diameter round lampshade bottom wire but this was much cheaper.  I had originally tried to just buy a roll of wire but to get it exactly circular and lying flat was not going to happen.  So I used the basket, stripped the plastic off, use a wire cutter to separate each ring, used the file to get the nub down to the ring, and then used the clear nail polish to keep it from rusting.  I learned with the other three that the exposed metal rusts.  Not that it matters in the end.  But we’ll get to that.

Next, I blew up a balloon (from the Dollar Tree) and placed it in a bowl to keep it upright.

DSC_0110-001

Using a towel, I lightly covered the top of the balloon with oil. I placed the metal ring around the balloon so I knew how far to spread the oil

Removing the ring on the balloon, I placed the cheesecloth over the balloon then pressed the cloth over the oil and made sure to smooth out any wrinkles.  Then I placed the ring back over the cheesecloth.

I trimmed the cheesecloth close to the edge of the ring, but left enough to fold over the ring.

I used this cornstarch homemade fabric stiffener and coated the cheesecloth with it, all the way to the ring.  Once it had been completely covered, I folded the edges of the cloth up and over the ring, brushing upwards to secure the cloth.

Then I let it dry for over 24 hours.  I ended up putting it in our bathroom since it’s one of the coolest rooms.  I was afraid that the other one had popped because it had gotten too warm.  This one had no such problems.

Once it was dry, I used this cooked flour homemade paste for the paper mache (PLEASE, make sure to put salt in when making the paste because it might mold, which you can see in the turtle picture below).  Before placing the tissue paper, I lightly coated the mold with the paste.  Tearing off pieces of tissue paper, I layered the mold, making sure that the whole surface was covered, all the way to the edge.  I did several layers so that the cheesecloth couldn’t be seen.

I let that dry another day or so (it took less time than the fabric stiffener).  Once it was ready, I used bias tape to bind and cover the unfinished edge (which is why the rust problem ultimately didn’t matter).  (Make sure to use the double fold, otherwise you’re left with an unfinished edge, which is what happened with the elephant.)

Using a hot glue gun, I went slowly around, overlapping at the end and gluing down the underside as well.

Lastly, I used the hot glue gun to attach the tail and water spout.  I used a sharp knife to poke a slit in the top and then made the slit just long enough to fit the spout through, folding and gluing the extra paper to the underside of the mold.  The tail does have a v slit so that it would curve up and out from the body.  In fact, the head and tail of the turtle and the trunk of the elephant also have this feature (if you look at the template on Martha’s website, you’ll see what I mean).  It allowed me to more easily attach the paper to the rounded side of the mold.

I used the bottom of a paper cup for the pig nose.  I cut slits all around the sides (like a fringe) and folded them inward, putting the hot glue on the concealed flaps.  The cups I got from the Dollar Tree happened to be the exact same color as the base tissue paper (I used a darker shade of pink for the first few layers and then used a lighter shade over that).  I used the paper mache paste to cover the bottom of the cup (which was originally white) and then drew the dots on with a sharpie.  I think it’s pretty obvious that the tail is a pipe cleaner.

Here are the lights I used; I got them at Bed Bath & Beyond.  Martha’s instructions include Popsicle sticks for legs since the lights she uses have a cord.  I found these to be perfect since they are LED and they sit right under the domes.

And here they are in all their lit-up glory.  I’m really happy with the variation in colors.

“a-mason” shelf

Get it?  Like, “amazing.”  I’m so punny.

Anyway, I turned all this:

into this:

here’s how:

I (well, mostly Jason, I love that guy) broke the pegs off:


I had originally used screws to attach the pegs but they were really crooked so I used wood glue instead:

I made pilot holes in the lid of the jars:

and screwed them in:

And then I painted the blackboard paint on the edge.  And now I have three of these cute little shelves.

Cost breakdown:

Shelves: $4 each (3 shelves)
Mason jars: $.42 each (6 jars)
Jar lids: $.10 each (6 sets)
Pegs: $1 for whole set

Total: $5.52 per shelf

reveal

I don’t know if you remember, probably not, but I shared a picture of the back of an embroidery project earlier this year.  It was a gift for my mom’s birthday so I couldn’t show it until now.

This is still the most complicated embroidery pattern I’ve completed.  It was really fun and was what kick-started my wanting to do embroidery projects for Christmas gifts.  Goodness, I love embroidery.