Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DIY FUN: Lip Balm

We had a small 'crisis' this evening:  my husband's tube of lip balm disappeared out of the medicine cabinet.  A small thing really, until your lips are burning, dry and chapped which is a fairly common thing with the Polar Vortex and below zero temps and windchill.

Normally, I would have a stash of Chap Stick in the cupboard but in my DIY mindset, I haven't bought any lately.  I do, however, have a lip balm recipe from and empty tubes from (they cost 30 cents apiece!!!!) at the ready.  In the meantime, I gave hub my tube of lip balm to keep him happy while I sprang into action!

I pulled out my 3-ring notebook of recipes and quickly found what I was looking for and you can find Wellness Mama's recipe below.  I made half a batch as I only had 8 tubes on hand.  I opted not to add any tint but I did add 5 drops of peppermint oil for fragrance.

I put the ingredients into a small jar in a hot water bath and melted them, added the Peppermint Oil and here's where it got a little um..sticky.  I tried using a little metal funnel which promptly cooled the mixture and clogged.  A metal skewer removed that.  Also, it tended to cool as I poured it into the tubes.  Pouring it directly into the tubes worked well as long as I moved quickly but poured slowly.  I used a little scraper I had and scraped the cooled balm off the inside of the jar and remelted it and continued on.  Not a big deal but it took a little time.  I think I will be a bit faster next time now that I've done it once.  Be careful to place the tubes upright to cool in a place where they won't get bumped.  When cool, use a paper towel to wipe off the outside of the tube and then put on the cap.

I took a tube to my husband and he was thrilled!  Especially when I told him that it cost a lot less than what we had been purchasing.  I can't wait to share it with my kids and see what they think.

Estimated cost:  $1.60/tube.  A little more than Chap Stick but much less than lip balm sticks using similar ingredients:

Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm                        retail price $3.29       Vitacost price $2.63
Dr. Bronner's Sun Dog's Organic Lip Balm     retail price $3.24       Vitacost price $2.69
Alba Un-Petroleum Lip Balm                           retail price $2.75      Vitacost price $1.79
Aubrey Organics Lip Balm                                retail price $2.95      Vitacost price $2.19

A definite DIY Success!  Have you ever made lip balm?  Would you consider trying to do it?
Follow me on my DIY Adventure!

Wellness Mama's Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe
Natural Tinted Lip Stain Recipe with color options Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe
Prep time  
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax pastilles (or 2 Tablespoons if making in lip chap containers)
  • 1 tablespoon Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter
  • This base recipe will fill about 6 small tins or about 10 plastic lip chap containers.
  1. Melt the coconut oil, beeswax and shea/cocoa butter in a glass jar sitting in a small pot of simmering water (not boiling) and stir gently until melted (be careful not to get any water into the mixture).
  2. When melted, carefully stir in any colors or essential oils, if using. My favorite is lemon and vanilla for scent and a little red coloring or cocoa powder for color. A couple drops of peppermint will make it similar to Burt’s Bees Lip Chap.
  3. Once colors/scents are mixed in, use a dropper to transfer to tins or lip chap containers. Let cool.
  4. Apply the versions in the tins with your finger or use the version in plastic container as you would regular lip chap.
Optional Add-Ins For Red Hues: ⅛ teaspoon of beet root powder or 1 drop of natural red food coloring with no chemical additives. NOTE: Add these very slowly as a little goes a long way! I added one drop of natural red food coloring to the recipe above! For Brown/Tan Hues: ¼ teaspoon (or more for color) of organic cocoa powder, a tiny pinch of cinnamon or turmeric to get the shade you want For Scent: A drop of essential oil of choice (optional) 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DIY FUN: Nail Butter

I have spent hours wandering around the internet looking for DIY cleaning and beauty products resulting in a mixed bag of emotions:  Excitement to find a way to make something useful which will allow me to use natural products and save money, Frustration at not being able to find what I am looking for, Disappointment when things didn't work out so well and Joy and Happiness when I find something that works.

Sometimes in my wanderings I find recipes for things I didn't realize I needed.   For example, I discovered Ms. Rosie Velt ( who shared a quick and easy tutorial video for nail butter aka a cuticle and nail treatment on YouTube:

 Here is her recipe for 2 ounces.  I took me about 10-15 minutes to make this.

1 ½ oz - Shea Butter, nourish and repair dry, cracking cuticles
½ oz -- Beeswax, softens cuticles and creates a long-lasting protective coating against the elements
1 tbs - Coconut Oil, has softening properties which help keep nails healthy and strong while keeping cuticles moisturized
1 tsp -- Olive Oil, helps soften and moisturize cuticles
5 drops - Tea Tree Oil, antibacterial properties
2 oz Jar, to store cuticle cream for on the go use

I added 5-10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil because I adore lavender!

Melt all ingredients (except the jar and the essential oils) in a re-purposed glass jar or glass Pyrex measuring cup in a pan of very hot water.  Remove the jar/measuring cup from the water.  Be careful!  It's hot!!!  Add your EO's and pour into your container(s).  Let it cool and there you go!

Run a fingertip across the cooled product to warm it and then rub the balm on your finger into your nails and cuticles.  My nails are no longer dry and brittle, my cuticles look nice.  It's only been a few days so I can't say whether or not my nails are stronger, but they are definitely more hydrated and less brittle and look nicer.  I keep a tin near my usual 'spot' on the couch to apply when I'm sitting there as well as a tin on my nightstand to apply at bedtime.

And there we go!  A DIY Success!  Are you going to try this?  Have you made something similar?

Follow me on my DIY Adventure!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

DIY Disappointment

I bravely entered the DIY craze this year.  I pored over the information on and ordered wonderful things like Shea Butter and Castor Oil and Cocoa Butter and Beeswax...and Castille Soap from a beautiful, easy to navigate, website,

I've made hairspray and toothpaste and cuticle cream and wipes.  I've made body powder and shaving creame and salt scrubs and even a body scrub with coffee and vanilla.  I was so happy re-purposing containers and making simple, homey labels with masking tape and a Sharpie.  I even put Henna in my hair.  Yes, I've spent hours surfing the internet looking for recipes and rejoicing in being non-toxic and environmentally-friendly and frugal.

And then I attempted to make shampoo.  Noticing that my daughter, aged 20, was getting low on her shampoo, I whipped up a batch of coconut milk shampoo from a recipe that I've found all over the internet containing coconut milk (I made it from scratch), Castille Soap, Water, a little Vitamin E and essential oils.

I gave her the shampoo to try and ran off to do some errands.  Upon my return I eagerly asked her how she liked the shampoo.  She hated it.  Upon further inquiry I was informed that it became a sticky mess and she had to use her regular shampoo to get it out.  I was crushed.

Back to the internet.  After more searching, I discovered that Castille Soap does not like hard water as it binds with the minerals in the water and gets sticky.  Castille Soap is named after soap originally from the Castille area of Spain made from olive oil.  Today it has a  broader definition and refers to vegetable-based soaps. 

I love my house.  I've been here since December, 1986.  We have over nine acres, six acres of it is wetlands, and we are near civilization.  I, however, have a love/hate relationship with my water.  We have a well which means that, while we don't have city water and the chlorine that comes with it, we have iron.  Lots and lots of iron.  Our water is so hard, you can get a concussion just standing in the shower.  We do have a whole-house water softener which helps but it's not a consistent level of softness and tends to get clogged.  We also have a reverse-osmosis water filter at the kitchen sink for drinking and cooking.

Back to the internet...again.  This time to see if I could find an alternative to Castille Soap, a different DIY shampoo recipe or a suggestion on anything I might add to the Castille to make it not do what it was doing.

I found many websites with the same or similar recipe. I found "no 'poo" recipes (washing the scalp with baking soda, rinsing and the ends of the hair with apple cider vinegar).  I won't knock this idea until I've tried it but, well, I'm pretty sure I'm not trying it.  I even found a few touting the advantages of honey shampoo (washing the hair with honey mixed with water).

So here I sit.  No viable alternative to Castille Soap, no alternative shampoo recipe, no way to refill my soap dispensers (Castille and water) and I just actually read the label of my current hand soap (Method) and it contains stuff I really don't want in my house, let alone on my hands....

We need to call for service on the water softener and that will happen soon, I hope.  I also hope that this will solve the problem.  In the meantime, I have a quantity of hand soap and I am stuck ordering my ready-made shampoo.  It IS mostly organic and person/earth friendly and I get a good price for it on but, compared to making it myself, it is still pricey.

Do you DIY your own shampoo?  What do you use?  Do you have any suggestions?  Follow me on my DIY Adventure!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Television vs. Meditation

Yesterday I had a tough day.  As we move into fiscal responsibility, my husband and I have a great deal of anxiety.  We worry about the unknown; those expenses we forgot about or the unexpected repair bill, blah, blah, blah. 

I was having so much anxiety yesterday that I could not focus.  I knew I had quite a few things to do but I found myself flitting both in body and mind from one task to another.  I really needed to center myself with yoga and meditation but I could not settle enough to do either.  What I really wanted to do was to grab another cup of coffee and plop down in front of the television and veg out, neither of which would have been constructive.

So what did I do?  Posted on FaceBook, of course!  This prompted a great conversation with a dear friend of mine where I was encouraged to not feel guilty about sitting in front of the television to relax.  Now there is nothing wrong with this, in fact I do so frequently but it got me to thinking about the difference between meditation and plopping on the couch in front of the television.  Those who meditate, understand the difference but I feel it is a good point of personal inquiry.

Relaxation in front of the television is mindless.  We may think about what we are watching and have an opinion about what we are watching, but this is an externally-focused activity.  It gives us an opportunity to get out of ourselves and escape into a different place.  To unplug from whatever is going on inside.

Meditation, on the other hand, allows us to unplug from the external and delve into the internal.  It is an opportunity to still the body as well as to quiet the monkey-mind of all those thoughts that the ego tells us are important.  This allows the spirit, the center of our being, to be the star.

When I am in the throes of personal growth, be it working through an issue from the past, a conflict in the present, anything that causes me to be in turmoil, I find it very difficult to sit and be still and turn inward.  I also find it difficult to be on my yoga mat because yoga also directs one to turn inward.  One tool that I do utilize is my breath.  Breathing in and out through the nose, deeply and fully is very calming to the body and I employ this tactic as much as possible. 

So, what did I do?  I cleaned out a drawer and made my to-do list which I tackled with a great deal of energy and intentional breathing and, gradually, I found my focus.  I expended a good deal of energy as well as accomplished some of the things that were concerning me and I was finally able to bring myself to my yoga mat and then, finally sit and be still.

As I gain more understanding of myself, I realize that I cannot force myself to meditate or do yoga.  I must listen to what I need, breathe and figure out what I have to do to enable myself to come to my mat and my meditation cushion and, most of all, give myself permission to do these things with compassion and without judgement or guilt, including plopping down on the couch and watching television for awhile.

What do you do when you are stressed?  Do you give yourself time to just sit and be?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Henna Hair Happiness!

I have an odd relationship with my hair.  I pretty much wash, apply gel, scrunch and ignore it until I get that rare haircut that doesn't quite lay right.  It works, the hair curls on its' own, I don't have to mess with it.  Get it cut every six weeks, color the roots and add highlights every other cut.  Boom. 

My hair is dark with a slight red-brown tint and blonder highlights

 I spend about $100 every six weeks and with, our new budget, that just wasn't working but I'm only 53 and not ready to go gray.

I tried coloring my hair with coffee and tea neither of which seemed to do anything so I dove into the idea of henna.  I looked at a lot of different websites and it seemed really messy and complicated.  then I stumbled upon  The site recommended using plain henna mixed in yogurt.   The amounts were nonspecific so I went with 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1 teaspoon of henna, leaving it on for one hour..

3.5 oz. Henna ($1.49)

I used an old t-shirt to cover my head.  The neck hole fit snugly around my head

The t-shirt absorbed some of the yogurt/henna mixture so I immediately put it to soak.  It washed out fine.
I didn't see a LOT of coverage and my grays reappeared the next day.  It takes three days for the color to fully develop and I didn't see a lot of change.  Five days later I repeated the process but DOUBLED the henna (2 teaspoons in 1/2 cup of yogurt).  After three days, here is what it looks like:

1/2 Cup of yogurt, 2 teaspoons of henna, left on for 1 hour
I am thrilled!  The grays are covered!  My natural color is darker so once the highlights/color grows out, I may have to change the formula a bit.

I got my hair cut without the color/highlights and saved $60.  That works out to about $500 savings/year!

So far, I am putting this down as a HUGE DIY win!  Follow me in my DIY Adventure as I try to save $$ and save the planet!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Less Really IS More...

In 2001 I had the opportunity to go to Taipei, Taiwan, for 19 days with my family.  It was an amazing experience but the 12-hour time difference was brutal!  Never fear, there was a Starbucks on what seemed like every corner.

So began my Starbucks habit.  Fast forward to 2013 and you would see that almost every outing involved a trip to Starbucks.  As we journey into 2014 and fiscal responsibility, I've turned off the automatic reload on my Starbucks card and hoarded the $35 balance on it...supplemented by a $25 gift card I received at Christmas.

As a treat,  my husband and I stopped in at Starbucks last week and we each ordered a latte.  Instead of dashing out the door and drinking them in the car while multitasking, we  sat down, took in the atmosphere and  shared some quiet conversation and hand holding while we enjoyed our drinks.  When they were gone, we left, still holding hands.  I was filled with appreciation and gratitude; for the coffee, yes, but more so for the moment

As we move into having less, I realize that I am not losing anything.  Instead, I am gaining so much more.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Change is Hard and Transitions are Even Harder

When I am making big changes in my life, either by choice or by circumstance, I want  to make them all at once.  I've come to realize that I feel that way because I don't like the transition period of change.  It's uncomfortable!  I want my New Normal and I want it yesterday.  I don't like having to stop and think about implementing the new procedure.  It disrupts my flow.  I want to move from one thing to another smoothly and easily and I can't do that during transition.  I have to stop and, well, think.

I want all of my routines to flow smoothly like a river but, really, rivers don't flow smoothly, do they?  They are always bumping into something, be it the shore, rocks, plants, logs, fish, people, animals, etc.

What does the river do when it bumps into something?  Two things:  1) It flows around the obstacle, sometimes slowly, sometimes crashing through with great energy  and 2) it slowly works at wearing away those obstacles that are immovable.

As my path is impeded by obstacles, I must flow around them, I must crash through them and I must slowly whittle away at them.   The wisdom comes when one knows which tactic to employ for each obstacle.  This comes from being present and mindful, accepting and peaceful.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tales of Toothpaste

My Vitacost order came yesterday and I made DIY remineralizing toothpaste.  I used the recipe found on

This recipe calls for calcium capsules emptied or pills ground up.  I used my Nutribullet to grind them to powder.  Placed it in a bowl with Xylitol and baking soda and peppermint oil.  I used a pastry blender to cut in the coconut oil.  The oil was still a little cold so it was a bit of a challenge.   In addition I did not grind the calcium as fine as I thought I had so test samples were very, very gritty.

At this point I was getting a little stressed I was trying to save money and go more natural and I just wasted all this money and time...I am a creative person and I decided that I had nothing to lose and popped everything back into the Nutribullet and processed it.

Reusable travel tubes.
The results? A very liquid, runny mess that smelled really good!  I added more dry ingredients and processed it again and ended up with a slightly gritty melted ice cream texture.  Crossing my fingers that the coconut oil would harden, I put some in a travel tube I'd purchased at the drugstore (see pic), a tiny bit in a 'test' bowl and the rest in a storage bowl.

It hardened beautifully with the texture of a baking soda toothpaste.

Now, this toothpaste does not foam and because it is oil-based, it melts once you put it in your mouth.  You only need a pea-sized/half toothbrush, tiny amount.  I definitely recommend bending over the sink when you brush because it tended to run out of my mouth a bit.

The taste was rather minty so I may put more peppermint oil in next time.  My teeth felt really clean, my mouth felt fresh.  One thing I did notice was that my gums were a little sensitive but I think that's the baking soda.  I may decrease that next time but I'm thinking that my gums were already sensitive and this sensation should diminish over the next few days.

Another thing I noticed was that my toothbrush was oily.  The handle was a bit oily (from not bending over the sink the first time) and my sink was a bit oily.  I am not too concerned about clogging the drain because coconut oil has such a low melting point.

So the jury is still out on this for me.  It's a bit different than what I've been using for 50 years but I'm willing to use this batch (about the equivalent of a large tube of store-bought toothpaste) and then  see how I feel about it and see what my next dental checkup looks like. 

While I've mentioned this to two of my family members, I don't know if they've tried it yet.  Hub has a sensitive tooth, I hope he will be open to using it regularly to see if it will become less sensitive with the calcium.  More to come!

Have you ever made toothpaste?  Thought about it?  Read the ingredient list on your tube of toothpaste?  

Follow me on my DIY Adventure as I attempt to go green, save money and detox!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snow Day = Goof Off Day! Back to DIY!

My town, here in Michigan, got almost 15.5 inches of snow and hit lows of -15 (F) with a -35 (F) windchill with the Polar Vortex.  Now I don't know why, but when there is a snow day, I find myself not feeling very motivated to do much of anything.  My kids are now 23- and 20-year-old college students.  My son managed the hour-long drive back to school on Monday and my daughter and I hung out for two days.  We watched anime and read, played online, played video games.  You get the idea...completely goofed off.  Nothing got cleaned and I have the messy kitchen to prove it!

On Wednesday it was business as usual and I have been a busy little DIY bee:

I am on my last attempt at using coffee to tint my hair.   I now have  a mixture of coffee, Tazo brand Passion Tea (contains Hibiscus flower and is a beautiful red) and a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar.  UPDATE:  This post is taking two days to write and this morning I used more of this solution, applied with a cotton ball (don't squeeeze!) at the root and then combed through and left to air dry.  I've applied this twice this morning and may do so again as I don't need to go out.  My hair is definitely a different color (warm reddish brown) but I don't know what will happen after I wash it.

My husband is going to the doctor for a check up this afternoon.  In the same complex is an Indian Market where, hopefully, he can pick up some natural powdered henna.  As I was wondering around the internet on our aforementioned snow days, I came across this post:

DIY Beauty Tutorials on Blogspot 

This post shows a number of ways to naturally color ones' hair including another coffee rinse.  I, however, am considering the henna option.  This recipe seems manageable.  The henna is mixed with yogurt, refrigerated overnight and then worked into the hair where it stays for an hour or more and is then washed out.  I feel very brave!

Have you ever tried henna?  What was that like?  Did you like it?

I found another DIY project:  DIY Reusable Natural Fabric Softener Sheets!

I put the word out to hub that I wanted some old t-shirts to cut up and he found 8-10 men's white t-shirts in storage downstairs.  Now I'm not too sure where they came from but they may have belonged to a young man who lived with us before enlisting in the Marines.

I wanted to cut them up to make fabric softener sheets and then I had an epiphany:

I am using new, inexpensive white washcloths as cleaning cloths but I may need to re-purpose them to use with the oil-cleansing skincare routine I am going to introduce to my  family once I receive my supplies...more on that another day.

So.  Here's what I did:  Sacrificing one T-shirt to experimentation, I cut off the t-shirt sleeves, cut the sleeves in half (front-back) which made four separate pieces.  I may cut those in half later on.  I folded them in half and placed them in one of my SnapWare containers.  From various sources on the internet I gleaned this recipe:

1/2 Cup white vinegar
6 drops tea tree oil
essential oil (optional...for fragrance of the wipes but it doesn't really fragrance the laundry)

Whisk all ingredients together in a glass bowl, pour over cloth.  Seal container.  Toss one 'sheet' into the dryer with wet clothes.

I used 5 drops each of orange, lemon and bergamot essential oils.  I probably need to add a bit more.

Test:  Threw one 'sheet' into the dryer with my load of towels.  This worked quite well!  There was no static and the towels were quite soft.  Not as soft as they might be with a commercial fabric softener, but within my 'acceptable limits.'  The towels came out with no fragrance at all but smelled fresh and clean.  I threw the now-dry fabric softener sheet on top of the dryer to be placed on the bottom of the stack in the SnapWare container.  Cost:  not much!  Savings:  no chemicals or fragrance to irritate my allergies, no waste as they are reusable.

I cut up the front and back pieces of the t-shirt to use as cleaning cloths.  I found that if I cut straight across from the bottom of the arm holes and trimmed off the bottom hem I had a good-sized piece of material.  I cut it in half and got a nice-sized cleaning cloth that worked really well when I cleaned the bathroom.  I trimmed the remaining 'chest/upper back' portion into a rectangle that gave me a slightly smaller cleaning cloth or a couple more dryer sheets.  These worked much better on the mirror than the washcloths!

Have you ever considered getting away from commercial laundry products?  What have you tried?

I also made a Salt Scrub by mixing sea salt with just enough olive oil to hold it together and peppermint essential oil.  It smells wonderful and does a great job of softening and exfoliating my hands and feet but requires soap or shower gel to remove the excess oil.  Safety alert:  this can make the shower SLIPPERY...use caution...or a bucket/dishpan/tub and treat yourself to a DIY pedi!

My Vitacost order should arrive today and I think I will have all of my supplies for NaturalMama's remineralizing toothpaste!

In the meantime, I am gathering and cleaning any of our used containers to re-purpose later! 

See you soon!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

More DIY hair

I have been wandering around, finding more recipes, saving and printing them for my Green recipe book.

I came across a recipe for a hair treatment:  4 tablespoons coconut oil melted with 1 tablespoon honey, work into hair and leave on for 20 minutes or more.  My hair is color treated and I rarely use a hair dryer but it still felt 'crunchy' and dry so of course I had to try it!

I mixed the ingredients in my glass measuring cup and melted them by placing the measuring cup into my larger glass measuring cup filled with hot water (watch out for displacement overflow...put them together over the sink!)

I did not melt it completely, just enough to mix it together easier.  I went into the bathroom, threw an old towel over my shoulders and began working it through my hair.  It was pretty goopy but not difficult to work through my chin-length hair.  If you do this, be sure to wear a top that you don't have to pull over your head if you are planning on washing your hair in the shower!

Twenty minutes after application I hopped into the shower.  I had some concerns about how hard it would be to get it out of my hair but it came out easily.  WARNING:  This will make your tub SLIPPERY!  Use a bathmat!  I shampooed my hair twice and decided not to use conditioner this time to get an accurate view of the results.

After my shower I took a squirt of shower gel and washed the bathmat, closed the drain and ran enough water to fill the bottom of the tub, used my hand to clean the mat and emptied the took 30 seconds and was worth the effort to avoid a slippery tub.

I opted to use the hair dryer to speed up the drying process, which gives me a straighter hairstyle. I did not use any of my other products, not even the DIY hairspray, so I could make an accurate assessment.

My hair was less 'crunchy' and felt softer and fuller.  I think I will have to repeat this treatment in a few days to see if there is additional improvement.  I'm thinking I may also add in a packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee and see if it changes my hair color.

The adventure continues!  Next up:  Powdered foundation!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Let's DIY!!!

Now that I've given you a little background, let's talk about what I've been doing in the past couple of days!

I am awaiting the arrival of my ingredients from and but I found a couple recipes  on that I could do with what I have on hand!

The first DIY I tried was HAIRSPRAY!  I don't normally use it but my daughter does and, since the half-bath she uses is five feet away from this computer, I often find myself choking on fumes.  You can see the recipe here.  I cut the recipe in half because the spray bottle I'd re-purposed was only six ounces.

Basically it involves bringing water to a boil, dissolving SUGAR into it, letting it cool, adding a tiny bit of VODKA (alcohol = preservative) and essential oils for fragrance.  My daughter and I culled through our meager collection and decided on equal amounts of lemon, orange and bergamot  which is kind of citrusy-musky.  The result was a nice, fresh fragrance.  I tried it out and it really made my hair SHINY!  There was some stiffness but it eased up and it worked pretty well.  I could refresh it by running wet hands through my hair.  Here's a pic:

The hold can be adjusted by changing the amount of sugar used.  My daughter liked it also!

Another thing that's been concerning about my hair is that I color and highlight it every six weeks.  I have had some concerns about what these chemicals are doing to me and I need to cut the expense.  I haven't tried any of wellnessmama's natural hair color recipes yet but here's what I DID do:

I took a packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee I had in the cupboard, mixed it with enough water to make a thin paste (a beautiful reddish brown) and worked it through my hair.  The first day I left it in about 10 minutes and today I left it in about an hour (I got busy baking bread and couldn't get to the shower).  I'm not sure if it's doing anything, but I sure smelled WONDERFUL!  I shall continue the experiment for a few days.  The picture looks a bit red and the highlights seem to have diminished, but that could just be my iPod camera.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Next Level

We have composted for years and switched to mostly organic food, went mostly vegan for our health.  I cannot tell you how many times I've watched Forks Over Knives!

I had been using Melaleuca products in my home until I discovered  GoodGuide.comrates companies and products on three criteria:  Health, Environmental and Social impact.  Melaleuca did not rate very well and neither did the few Mary Kay products they had analyzed.  I was becoming aware of the fact that what we put ON our bodies is just as important as what we put IN them.  I left both companies.

The search began for new household cleaners and new skin care and cosmetics.  There was a lot of trial and error and expense but I finally settled on MyChelle skin care products (expensive!) for my face, Aubrey Organics and and found several brands of laundry products that seemed to meet my needs:  Method, Seventh Generation, Grab Green, BioKleen.  I also discovered the wonders of hydrogen peroxide diluted with water (1:1) and I continued using white vinegar for my floors and my acrylic tub and shower walls.

I continued to prowl for organic products and discounts.  I thought the transition was complete until we ran smack into the credit card reality and began looking at budgets.

A week before Christmas, 2013, I came down with a nasty case of bronchitis.  I coughed like crazy but my energy was good and I managed to get done what I needed to do for my Christmas Eve gathering.  Every day I got better.  New Year's came and went and I'm still coughing up junk but I feel pretty good.  The biggest issue is that I am hypersensitive to smells. I am sensitive to fragramces anyway but the bronchitis/upper respiratory issues exaggerated the issue.

For some reason I was awake at 1:00a.m. on January 2 when my newly-showered husband came into the bedroom to go to bed.  He uses baby powder to eliminate chafing issues and the smell of the baby powder made my nose itch and I began coughing and having  trouble breathing.  I immediately abandoned ship and headed out to the couch in the family room.

Being wide awake by this time, I began searching for natural replacements for Baby Powder.  It's made with talc and fragrance and who-knows-what else and it had to GO.

Wandering around the interweb I came across an amazing website:

She has all kinds of DIY items you can make to replace the more harmful, more expensive store-bought products...including a natural replacement for baby powder:  arrowroot powder mixed with a few drops of essential oils (I didnt' have the chammomile petals to grind up and add but by 2:00a.m. I had made a small batch of powder with arrowroot and a few drops of lavender and orange essential oils.  Hub really liked it!

And so began my DIY journey!  I've ordered approximately $150 of components and I will have materials to make remineralizing toothpaste, body lotion, body bars, shower gel, shave cream, shave bars, salt spray for hair, makeup, hairspray, lip balm, daily shower spray, foaming hand soap, facial cleanser.

I've begun printing out recipes and creating my own 'cookbook'.  It's in a green binder, of course!

Follow me as I delve into this new world of DIY natural products! 

Going Green to Save Green

One thing I learned in 2013 is that if you don't pay attention, one's credit card debt can get out of control. We were doing ok until 2008. On July 13, 2008, my husband's mother passed away at the age of 84, two month's later my husband failed a stress test and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea. He underwent a cardioversion where they anesthetized him briefly and used paddles to zap his heart which reset it to normal rhythm. He underwent a sleep study and brought home a c-pap machine to wear at night. At the same time I was dealing with extreme iron got down to 7 due to fibroid tumors in my uterus. In November, 2009, I underwent a complete hysterectomy where they removed a ten-pound, benign fibroid tumor...instant menopause. I was 49 years old.

In June of 2010 my husband was bitten in the genital area by an insect...perhaps a spider. This resulted in his testicles swelling to the size of grapefruit, ten days in the hospital, surgery to drain the infection, a visiting nurse to change the dressing. A trip to the urologist to have the wound drained. This 2-3 month ordeal was, obviously, very stressful.

2011 was fairly quiet as was the beginning of 2012. My husband's brother passed away suddenly from a heart attack the beginning of April. He was 58 years old. This was a huge blow to our little family and we were overwhelmed with grief.

In June of 2013 we had to put our 13-year-old Shepherd/collie Zelda down due to ill health and four months and $1,500 later we had to put down our 3-year-old cat. He had a chronic cystitis issue where he would develop crystals in his bladder and be unable to empty his bladder. We had done everything we could to no avail and the next step was surgery. Sadly, we could no longer afford to treat him.

An emotional five years.  Throughout that time we were eating out a lot, traveling, spending, spending, spending and building up a lot of credit card debt.  We have finally reached the point where our cards are maxed out and we are just making the minimum payments.  In other words...something must be done and done now.  We have the assets to pay it off immediately but we would take a huge hit.  If we wait two years and eight months, we can withdraw from an annuity without penalty because my husband will be 59-1/2.

So we are looking at our options and will rectify the situation.  In the meantime, we are looking at ways to cut back on our spending.  I have been very interested in becoming greener and we have been eating as much organic food as possible.  I recently switched my skin care to a more natural product (and more expensive one) and I have taken to baking my own bread and using a lot of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar to clean with. 

Follow me as I move into more DIY cleaning products, , beauty and body products, go green, save green and discover they joys of this journey.