Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Little Things....

This post is all about the little things that put a huge smile on my face!  Sometimes, okay most of the time, you don't need something ginormous to happen in your life in order to smile from ear to ear!  Just look to the little things that really make you smile!  It can be any kind of smile.....heartwarming, sentimental, silly, fun, cute, exciting!  Yes, there are lots of things that can get you down from day to day.  It seems that when one thing goes wrong then everything starts spiraling out of control.  I will be the first to admit that I let this attitude get to me of late.  Lack of sleep plays a huge role in attitude for me as does the weather ~it's still pretty icky here in the midwest, but I have been praying about my attitude a lot lately and for some additional help with the things that I just could not handle anymore.  I always try to give everything to God because what can we really handle on our own?  ~Not a thing!  However, just like in the poem 'Footprints,' there are things that require God carrying us instead of walking beside.  I am thankful for those singular footprints in the sand.  I learn more during those times.  I am also thankful when God puts me back down and lets me continue in my walk with Him!  I know that I have been carried by Him lately and I woke up today with a big smile on my face.  No particular reason...just a lot of little ones! 

LITTLE THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE TODAY!  (some may surprise you! haha)

1. My babies!  (of course!)

Little cutie wrapped up in blankies and watching movies with mommy!

This is actually an old picture but it is just so sweet!  He has since had his first haircut and yes, I kept the curls for his baby book!  I am that mama!

My babies always make me smile!  Of course, they can really frustrate me as well but the smiles outweigh the other moments for sure!  Today my baby boy was extra snuggly and my little girl and I colored a picture together!

2.  Cheap cleaning appliances!  Yes this may sound lame but I don't care!  I love cleaning tools!  My brand new carpet cleaner arrived on my doorstep this morning ~ I didn't even have to pick it up at the store, it came to me!  Hooray!
I was holding on to a gift card and some Christmas money and finally cashed it in for this bad lad!!!

3.  It's Reds Opening Day!  I realize the fact that this puts a smile on my face really surprises most of you, but I do enjoy baseball and I really enjoy the warm weather that soon follows!

4.  Colorful Salads and leftover Roasted Squash!  Delicious!

  5.  Tanya Tucker!  I was thinking about all of the 'little things' that have put a smile on my face today and her song popped into my head!  I looooove country music and Tanya Tucker is one of my faves!  Hope you enjoyed the video!

I could keep going with all of the things that have made me smile today but I will leave you with those 5 things! 

What little things have made you smile today????

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Washing Cloth Diapers!

When I first started my cloth diaper research, the question of washing was a serious headache!  There is so much information on washing cloth diapers.  What do you do with the poop?  What detergents are safe?  Where do I put the diapers until it's time to wash?  How long can I go between washings?  Should I dry my cloth diapers?  How do you take care of stains?  If you are anything like me then by the time you finished that list of questions your head was spinning and yet, you had more questions!  I understand!  I am a pretty severe person.  I need organization.  I like lists.  I have to have a plan.  I can't just go into something blindly. Research is essential!  I find that educating myself about what others do (and don't) when it comes to cloth diapers helps me to come up with at least a starting point!  Even if I don't follow the exact regimen that others have established, I feel like I can make the best decisions and have the best plan if I am aware of all the options.  Am I going to be presenting you with all of the options in this post???  HAHA  No way!  There are sooo many options.  I couldn't begin to give you all of them!  I am, however, going to give you the details on how we wash our diapers and what works best for us!  In my research, having other cloth mamas who gave details on how they washed dipes was the best way for me to picture how I might start doing it myself!  I wish there was a clear path:  This is the RIGHT way and this is the WRONG way type of thing.....but it just doesn't exist.  Washing cloth diapers is not 'set in stone!'  You will have to find what suits you and your family best but I hope that this post may help you on your way!

Let's begin with the detergent we use to wash our cloth!  First of all, not every detergent is safe.  Most commercial laundry cleaners will contribute to extra wear and tear, build-up and smellies.  Be careful what you decide to use!  We have found that Rockin Green works best for us!   Kelly's Closet is a great resource when you are getting started!  They also give you a handy printout whenever you order from their site.  It gives a good explanation of how you should prep, wash, strip and soak your diapers.  Do not let that last sentence intimidate you!  When you order your diapers, there will be instructions with them saying whether or not they need to be prepped and usually a brief 'how to wash' statement as well.  Diapers and inserts made with cotton (especially organic), hemp and bamboo need to be washed and dried 5-9 times before they reach their full absorbency!  That is all that 'prepping' entails!  Stripping is a simple process that needs only to be done if your diapers have obtained build-up and start to smell, an ammonia smell is usually your first clue.  There are a variety of ways you can strip your diapers.  If you have a good washing regimen, you will rarely need to strip your cloth.  You may never need to strip. Believe me will know if it needs to be done!  Everything else, including how you store your dirty diapers until laundry day, is about personal preference.....and the layout of your house in my opinion!

The following process is what we have found works best for our family....

We have a small house and a laundry closet rather than a laundry room.  Therefore, I found it best to use a wet bag placed in a lidded trash can as a diaper pail.  I put a few drops of essential oil on either an old wash cloth or the fabric swatch that is sewn into some bags to combat smell.  Personally, I like lemon or bergamot but you can use whatever scent pleases you!  I have 3 bags so I always have a clean one to use on laundry day.  When laundry day comes, I simply take my bag out of the pail and dump the contents into the washer followed by the now empty bag.  I should also mention that we have a top-loader.  Now, breastfed poop is no big deal.  Just toss it in the washer as is.  The other stuff can get a little messy (after they start eating solids and such) so I just rid the diaper of it's contents prior to placing it in the diaper pail.  If it's a really messy one, I will go ahead and do a smaller load of diapers or give it a short cycle cold rinse because our washing machine has an option for 'extra small' loads!

1 cold rinse with a capful of Calgon
1 long cycle hot/warm wash with Calgon and 3 Tbs Rockin Green Hard Rock  ~ we have extremely hard water and this combo works great for us. 
Soak in the washer for a minimum of 15 minutes.  I soak overnight or all day if the load is particularly smelly.
1 extra warm rinse
*(edited 1/25/12)*  We now use powdered Calgon which works better than the liquid.  I use 2 Tbs of Calgon and now I only need to use 1 Tbs of Rockin Green as opposed to 3.  Saves money and works great. 

Covers ~ Hang dry all covers
Inserts and Fitteds ~Hang dry outside if weather permits.  Sunshine is amazing for stains!   If they get stiff, just place in the dryer on 'no heat fluff' with a dryer ball or two for about 10 minutes.
                                ~Place in dryer on high heat if weather does not permit drying outside.  NEVER use fabric softener of any kind on your diapers, this includes dryer sheets!  You can use dryer balls with your diapers!  (Can you hang your inserts and fitteds inside the house to dry?  Yes, but I find it takes far too long and I am not willing to wait it out!)

TIP:  Rockin Green is some pretty amazing stuff!  I also use it in the washer as a boost for whites, to rid gym clothes of their stank clean my carpet!  That's right, I use it for treating spots and in my carpet cleaner!  Beautiful every. single. time!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Maybe???

Good afternoon folks!  It has been quite some time since my last menu post.  The reason for that is simply that I have not had the time or the energy to produce such a menu!  HA!  My solo grocery excursions ended a while back due to the fact that my little baby boy will not take a bottle, hates the car and cries when anyone but mommy tries to take care of him!  Don't get the wrong idea......he is the sweetest little thing!  He is just a baby and knows what he needs.  However, it was not allowing me to get to the grocery except for 'essentials' trips and quick runs to our local store.  Our local grocery store is actually a big chain store but it leaves much to be desired.  They are forever out of almond milk and don't even get me started on their organic produce!  It's bad.  So that in addition to the lack of sleep around these parts (seriously, I'm still up every 2 hours *sigh*) left me without any kind of menu.  I do know that it is better to have some sort of plan both for the wallet and for our sanity but I just couldn't get anything together!  At first I gave myself a hard time about it and really stressed over my inability to create some sort of structure but then I decided to give myself a break!  I was every spare minute that came about, I tried to let myself sit down or *gasp* attempt to take a nap rather than add to my work load.  In case you hadn't posts were few and far between as well!  However, this last week has been a little better and I have had a chance to play catch-up in a lot of areas!  One of these areas:  Menu Planning!  I can't tell you how much better I feel now that I have some sort of plan!  I really am going to try making a menu each week even if things go crazy again, it's a big load off my shoulders!

On top of being able to create a menu, I was actually able to go to the store by myself!!!!  Yahoooooo!!!!  My little guy is getting better when it comes to letting others hold him and care for him for a while!  My mama came over to watch the babies and I set out on my long forgotten solo trip to the store!  The first thing I did......take a deeeeeep breath!!! lol  It's nice to be alone sometimes even if it is for running errands!  I thought I would share with you the dinners I have planned for this week!  They are in no particular order.  I stopped planning each day and just pick from my list as I see fit!  A lot of the meals you may recognize from previous posts!  I was not about to be too adventurous with my time this week and decided instead to have some of our favorites mixed with a few (easy) newbies!

Butternut Mac N Cheeze  ~waaaaaay excited about this one!  The recipe only uses half of the squash, so the other half I will roast and keep for lunches! 

Baked Dijon Salmon and Steamed Broccoli  ~ I have had the biggest salmon craving lately!  This dish is really good with steamed broc and I always add a splash of lemon juice and sea salt to my steamed's all they need really!  YUM YUM

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili ~ this one requires a little extra planning simply because I have to soak the beans first.

Zucchini Marinara ~  super easy and always one of my favorites!  I was able to get my favorite Muir Glen pasta sauce on sale and had a coupon so that was exciting!  I really enjoy the portabello mushroom sauce!

Baked Sweet Potatoes and Sesame Green Beans ~  so easy and always tasty, therefore a perfect fit!  The green beans use vegetable broth as does the chili linked above which is one of the reasons for this meal.  I don't want to waste any broth!

Collard Wraps with Chia Chili Cheese Dip ~  we actually haven't had these in a while and are really, really looking forward to them!  Definitely a huuuuuuuge favorite!

Pumpkin Socca and Steamed Veggies ~ I bought some yellow squash, cauliflower, zucchini and enough broccoli to have with this dish.  I had been wanting to try making socca again....ever since my massive failed attempt!  I successfully made some last week and it was delish!  It also freezes well and makes for great lunches and snacks!  I changed the recipe ever so slightly to suit our tastes!  Basically I just reduced the amount of salt and pumpkin pie spice by half!  It is definitely not a sweet bread....more savory for sure but really good!  I found that using a 12 inch pan as suggested was just too big.  I used a 10 inch with much better results!

I cut the socca into small rectangles after flipping it out of the pan!

My little girl will eat it as is but it's really good with some cinnamon apples!  I also made the BEST sandwich when I spread some goat cheese on two warmed pieces and put some baby arugula in the middle!  I didn't take a picture because I didn't think it would be as delicious as it was......just take my word for it!  Yum!

In the original recipe for this socca, there is also a recipe for beet hummus!  I am super excited to try it!  I like beet greens but I do NOT like beets.  I am hoping this will be delicious and a good way for us to eat beets! 

I am really looking forward to our meals this week and I am soooo hoping that I am able to actually prepare all of them! Ha!  Hope you have a lovely evening!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Heart Green Juice!

Hi all!  I hope you are having a lovely day!  We were actually able to get to church this morning and almost on time!!!!  Hoo-rah!  It seems that no matter what we do or how early we start getting ready, we are always late!  Somebody always needs something right as we are trying to leave!  The baby needs fed or the toddler has a, I mean seriously it's always something!  Today we were only 4 minutes late which is like a record!  We were even able to catch the music, which was super lovely!  My little girl loves music in a big way so it was really awesome that she got so excited to hear the music in church!  :-)

Anyway, I wanted to tell you all a little bit more about green juice today!  I 'heart' green juice!  We had a stomach virus a couple of weeks ago and I had some serious lingering nausea last week.  I just could not stomach the thought of green juice and that is huge because it is normally how I start my day!  Big glass of green juice In. My. Hand.  I was definitely feeling the negative effects from not drinking this nutrient dense juice in a little over a week!  It's incredibly high in calcium and iron among many other things and my body was hurting!  My tail was dragging all week and my muscles were all crampy and tempermental.  Not fun.  Finally, this morning I felt like I could handle some serious green juice!!!!  My lovely husband juiced some beautiful Lacinato Kale with some green apples, celery and lemon!  My favorite combo!  I already feel soooo much better!  It's ridiculous really!  So I thought I would dedicate this post to green juice!

This is Lacinato Kale

Juicing releases 'trapped' nutrients and allows our body to absorb them!  When you eat these vegetables and fruits, yes you are getting some great nutrition, but drinking them in the form of juice allows your body to take everything in immediately and you get more nutrition because your body doesn't have to work to break down the cellular structure of the produce.  Instead, your body is just waiting to take in all the fabulous nutrients that fuel it! 

"It's a fact:  nothing is more live-enzyme rich than freshly extracted vegetable juice.  Ounce for ounce it is the most enzyme-loaded, easily absorbable form of nutrition available on the planet today."  Natalia Rose, 'The Raw Food Detox Diet'

I know that drinking greens sounds particularly unappetizing but seriously, this stuff is delicious!  Mostly it just tastes like the best lemonade ever!!!  I will give you the recipe of my favorite combination but we use a lot of different combos!  If you find that you don't like one combination that certainly does not mean that green juice is out for you!  Just try to think of other recipes you might like!  You can use any combination of apples, lemon, cucumber, celery, romaine lettuce, spinach, any variety of kale, collard greens, swiss chard......the list goes on!  We really enjoy beet greens in our juice!  I have found that spinach is difficult to juice so mostly I use spinach in smoothies but we rotate our juiced greens!  Check out this post from 'The Fitness Dish' about why rotating greens is so important!

Our favorite green juice:
serves 2 very thirsty people!
- 2 lemons (peeled)
- 3 stalks celery
- l bunch Italian (lacinato) Kale
- 2 romaine leaves
- 5 apples (or to taste) ~our favorite is a combo of granny smith and gala
yields roughly 36 ounces juice!

*Typically we juice the celery and greens first followed by the lemon and apples.  We find that this method extracts the most juice.  We also do it this way because we like to have a certain amount of 'green' juice before adding the other fruits/veggies that have a higher yield.  You will find that greens don't seem to have much juice but it's some very potent stuff!  The above combination when juiced in the order mentioned will give about 250 ml of juice from just the greens!  I do hope you will be adding this amazing juice to your repertoire soon!  Have a lovely day!

What are your favorite juice combinations?  (doesn't have to be green!)

***PS it took me a little over an hour to type this post because I had to stop 3 times to take care of the baby! lol  You do what ya have to do!!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Homemade Dairy Free Chocolate Chips!!!

Yes, you read that correctly!  Homemade chocolate chips!  Holy moly!!!!  Sadly, I cannot take credit for this recipe.  It's a widely used raw recipe with many variations and why I am just now jumping on this train is beyond me, but alas I finally made these chocolate chips and I am amazed!  I used Angela's recipe from 'Oh She Glows' (have I mentioned that I think she's a genius?!)

 I wanted to do a quick post about this because I have a few friends with babies who have an intolerance to dairy and my family no longer consumes dairy either.  Here is the frustrating thing about chocolate chips:  there are lots of brands that don't use milk or milk products in the ingredients for their chocolate but I have yet to find a bag of choc-chips that doesn't say "made on the same equipment as products containing milk."  Well, that's a big bummer.  It doesn't bother me to eat them but it does bother my son's eczema.  I can buy chocolate chips that say specifically "dairy free" but when you read the ingredients (sigh) they generally list an enormous amount of soy.  What's up with that?  I don't see why you can't buy dairy free chocolate chips without all the added junk?  However, you can make them!  Hooray!

This past weekend we really wanted some chocolate chip cookies.  Really.  Like for realz.  Had to have them.  As I was reading my usual blogs it became apparent that we were not the only ones who had this craving!  The genius had posted a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough blizzards ~  seriously!  So we set off on a grand adventure.  The posted recipe calls for chocolate chips.  I have been avoiding them because of the dairy thing so I thought maybe I could use cacao nibs but I wanted some melt-in-your-mouth chocolate and though I dearly love cacao nibs, they were just not gonna cut it this time!  I poked around her blog a bit and found that I could make my own chocolate chips in about 15 minutes.  15 minutes and I have chocolate I can actually eat!?!?!?  Yes please!  Here is the recipe which is also linked above!

Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup carob powder  (~you could omit this and use an extra 1/2 cup of cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 T maple syrup  (~the original recipe calls for agave but I used maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix it all together by hand and then roll out.  Freeze for 15 minutes and cut into chocolate chip pieces!

The cutting process

We made our tasty little chocolate pieces to go in these beautiful chocolate chip cookie dough bites!  To make them gluten free, simply substitute the spelt flour for a gluten free flour.  I used brown rice.  I decided to use the linked recipe because it used dates instead of agave and I prefer the taste of anything over the agave nectar in my baked goods.  The idea was to make our cookie dough and then add it to the banana soft serve to make the blizzards she suggests (linked above) but they were so delicious that we ate them plain! 

This was only half, the other half never made it as far as the spoon!!!

I can say with some certainty that I will ALWAYS have these chocolate chips in my freezer from now on!  Here are some ideas for variations;  you can use all cocoa powder for a more traditional flavored chocolate chip.  If you use the carob along with cocoa powder as suggested, it is a tangy chocolate.  You could also use all cacao (raw cocoa) powder which will give you a deep chocolate flavor that I think has a hint of coffee flavor as well.

Have a good one!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No Shampoo, Hair Update

Hello friends.  We are big time under the weather around these parts.  My husband and I have some sort of lovely stomach bug (yes, that is sarcasm!) but so far the babies are still healthy.  I am praying they remain healthy!!!  Anyway, I haven't the energy for much so I suppose that gives me time for another blog post. 

If you are just now following along with us, you should check out the first post about washing your hair with baking soda and vinegar.  I have to say that I have mixed feelings about the subject.  There are lots of positives but there are some negatives as well.  Some of them can be remedied I think, but as of right now they definitely exist.  I will put all of these updates into one big post about the process later but so far this is the deal...

I have been washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar for a couple of weeks now.  Generally, there is a period of time where your hair is not at it's best because the oils in your scalp are trying to regulate and recover from shampoo and conditioner.  In certain ways I am feeling a transition and I am still hopeful it will even out.  However, as far as my curls go.....they get better with each washing.  Here are the picks in order of washings.  Most are a day or two between.  I have been letting my hair air-dry without adding any kind of styling products or shaping the curls.  I wanted to see if the curls started doing better on their own and I didn't want to interfere with the process of my scalp's own oil regulation.
This was the first time.  My hair felt soft and my scalp was no longer itchy after my hair was dry.  Though it looked dull.

This is the second washing.  I was pleased with the texture.  My curls felt lighter and bouncier and my hair didn't take as long to air dry as usual.

Close-up of the curl action.

This is after the third washing.  I noticed that my hair was more dull and not as soft.  It seemed a little frizzy, now it was raining outside this day so that could have been the difference with the frizz.  I also noticed that all of the lingering smell from my other shampoo and conditioner was gone so this must have been the final clarifying wash. 

Fourth washing.  My hair still felt more dry than I would like but the curls were starting to get bouncy again and the shine started to come back which means my natural oils are regulating. 

Fifth washing.  In this picture my hair was mostly wet.  It was a ponytail kind of day and I couldn't wait for it to dry before throwing it all on top of my head, but I wanted a picture to post first.  The curls are still doing great as far as shaping, texture, bounciness goes.  Here, you can see the shine is definitely coming back.

Ok.  Sixth washing.  This time I actually styled my hair.  I didn't have time to make any kind of natural styling product so I just used the mousse that I already had, then blow-dryed.  I forgot to take a picture until we were in the car on the way to church, haha!  This is pretty much how my hair always looks when I style it so...not better not worse. 

I would like to present the positives and negatives as I have encountered them.  I will start with the negatives, because I would rather end on a positive note!

1.  the process takes FOR-EV-ER.  I don't have a lot of time for a shower anyway and this takes just waaaay too long.  I don't know yet if it will get easier and therefore eventually take less time, but I am willing to stick it out and see.  Currently I use about 2 Tbs. of baking soda, make a paste then wet my hair and try and scrub my scalp with it.  TRY.  It is not easy to actually get the soda mixture on your scalp, I miss spots a lot or just end up with a tangly mess where the mixture glopped on my hair.  I tried flipping my hair over to see if I could better distribute the baking soda but that just made it all go in my eyes.  Some people use little squirt bottles to apply directly to the scalp, I may try that next and see if it helps.  Right now, once I get the soda on and scrub what I can, I then run a comb through it.  THEN I have to try and rinse it out and THEN pour the apple cider vinegar over my hair.  This brings me to the next negative.

2.  I have a really terrible time getting the baking soda rinsed out which is bad news for itchies and if I don't get it all rinsed but I still add vinegar to the mix.....HELLO science experiment!  Hah!  I don't know if this is just a curly thing or not?  My hair doesn't like to separate and gets really, super tangled when it's wet.

3.  Ok.  IT STINKS.  The smell is not good.  Once my hair was rid of the shampoo/conditioner build-up, all you could smell was the vinegar.  It's lessened after my hair dries, but definitely still smells like vinegar.  I did notice that the styling products covered up the smell but if you don't add anything, it stinks.  I even diluted the vinegar after the second time I washed my hair.  I now have a 1 to 1 water and vinegar ratio but it didn't seem to help.  I read that some folks were adding essential oils to the vinegar mix in order to decrease the scent, but for me....that's just going to add another step to the already lengthy process and probably just smell like essential oil AND vinegar!   I personally, prefer the smell of white vinegar so I may try that and see if the smell gets better.  If not, I may find another method.  Coconut milk?  Castile soap?  We'll have to see.

1.  I love what washing my hair this way is doing for my curls.  They really look a lot better and require less effort, at least when air dried.  However, I didn't notice much of a change when I styled them.

2.  My scalp is far less itchy.  (provided I get everything rinsed properly)  In the past I had to use tea-tree oil shampoo to keep the itchies at bay and it was still not wonderful.

3.  Obviously this is a cost efficient method of hair care!

4.  No chemicals!

Ok, so there ya have it thus far!  I am going to continue my little experiment and let you know what I decide to do about it all.  On the 'coconut oil moisturizer' front...

LOVE IT!  My skin has never felt better, including the skin on my face!  My husband has problematic skin and he has been liking the coconut oil as well!  This is also extremely cost efficient!  A little goes a long way and I can usually get a 16oz jar on sale for 6-9 dollars.  I have noticed that you must use virgin or extra virgin though.  The regular coconut oil was not strong enough.  The only difference I have noticed between the virgin and extra virgin is the smell.  Extra virgin is stronger but they both fade after it dries.  

Have a good evening!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Catching Up!

Hello everyone!  I am so grateful for the beautiful weather and SUNSHINE!  I know that our cold, dreary days are nowhere near over but it's nice to have a break from the yucky stuff!  My plan is to get the kids out for a walk today but the toddler is still without a nap so she will probably put a stop to that plan.  However, I will get outside today even if just to breathe the nice fresh air!  I also looooooove how much cleaner the house looks with the sun beaming through the windows.  I don't care how many times I mop the floors or dust the furniture, if it's raining outside...the house looks and feels a fright!  Not today though!  I even have some clothes hanging outside to dry!!!  I'm also pretty excited about the coming spring because I can finally hang my cloth diapers in the sun again!  It's so much fun to wash cloth diapers when you can hang them outside!  Yes, I do know how ridiculous that sounds but if you ever decide to give cloth diapers a will love it too!  I saw this awesome post yesterday about carrying a cloth diaper caddy around instead of using a changing table!  I am really excited to do this because we have two in diapers now. The changing table takes up a lot of space and if the toddler lady is sleeping, I can't go in to change the baby.  Currently I have diapers in two locations so it will be nice to condense them in a cute carry-all!!!!  This post really isn't all about cloth diapers though, don't worry!  :-)  I just wanted to have a catch-up post with a compilation of things we have been up to lately!  Our little lady recently had a birthday!  The big 2!  She also learned to do a head stand pretty much wherever she wants!

Silly girl!  (That's an Imse Vimse wool cover on her bum by the way!  I love it!  I only splurged for one but it's great at night and for toilet training!) 

This one has been showing the playmat some love!  Which is actually a really great thing because he previously hated to be put down at all and now he will spend some time playing so I can catch a breath or two!  Little sweetheart! 

We finally decided to give banana soft serve a go...
TOTAL YUM!  I topped mine with cacao nibs!

I also decided to give nut cheese a whirl!  Sooooooo glad that I did!  It was really delicious!  The only problem is that it takes a long time so if you know you want it, you have to plan ahead.  (or you could just keep some on hand!)  I was intimidated by it before but it is actually really, really easy and kinda fun!  I used this recipe for 'goat' cheese from Choosing Raw.  It's a macadamia nut cheese.  It was really delicious!  Though next time I will add more lemon and water because it came out a bit dry!  Here is the process!

You just put a cup of soaked macadamia nuts in the food processor with 2 teaspoons miso!

Miso is traditionally a fermented soybean paste but we don't eat soy and you can get a lot of different types of miso these days.  We use chickpea miso!

Ok, so then you process the nuts, miso, and a few Tbs of water.  This is where I should have added more!  I also added some probiotic powder, but that is optional!

Then you place the mixture in a clean jar, cover it with cheesecloth and a rubberband (or one of your daughter's hairbands because you can't seem to find a rubberband anywhere!) and place it in a warm spot for up to 12 hours.  Gena says 85-95 degrees is optimal.  I just turned my oven light on, put the jar in the back by the light and closed the door!  Worked great!  After it was good and fermented, I added some sea salt and lemon juice!  I will definitely be trying this again!  My next adventure is going to be a cashew cheese I think!  Something with sundried tomatoes perhaps?  (you know I love my sundrieds!)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this hodge podge post! :-)  What is your favorite springtime activity!?!?!

I must go now, lots of cuddles and silliness await!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Been a While

Hello all!  It's been a whle since the last post, yes?  Well, it's been crazy around here lately.  I say lately, but really it's been crazy since mid-October when a certain little one came into the world!

  (crazy but wonderful!!)  Anywho, I have some interesting happenings I am going to blog about soon!  Remember the Baby Steps post about 'no shampoo?'  I have decided to give it a go!  Today was the first day!  I have already discovered that I was not entirely correct when I applied my baking soda.  For those of you who are just now catching up with us, you can read more about using natural cleansing agents for your hair in this lovely post from my Blessed Country Mom friend!  I recommend you read her links as well!  In her posts she comments about the fact that not much advice on 'no poo' exists for those with curly hair.......well! 

Enter:  yours truly!  I am the curly-q'd cleanse your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar guinea pig.  I am sure other curlies have done the same but I can't seem to find info on the subject.  Soooo in addition to attaching photos I will also be giving detailed instructions and post my findings.  ie: what worked for me, what didn't...that kind of thing!  I am treating this like a recipe.  I figure everyone has different hair so what works for me may not work for you, but if I can provide details and advice through trial and error then you can tweak things to suit your taste!  The basic idea is to use baking soda on your scalp for clarifying and deodorizing which is especially important at first because we have years of build-up and chemicals on our hair from regular shampoo, conditioner and styling products.  Then you pour vinegar on your hair and rinse.  Most info says to pour a diluted amount on just the ends.  * I am thus far annoyed because I can't seem to find specifics.  I am sooooo type A (as if you couldn't already tell) and I NEED details.  I am also very visual so if at all possible I will attempt to upload a video of the process once I have finalized the 'recipe' and it has achieved greatness!!
The first time I used the soda/vinegar on my hair was yesterday.  I couldn't seem to find whether or not you wet your hair prior to massaging the scalp with the baking soda paste so my executive decision was to do it dry.  I was wrong.  Definitely wet your hair first!  The only 'amount' information I could find said about a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with enough water for a paste so that's what I did.  It was not enough.  I was only able to really massage around the edges and I didn't have time to get more because I was working on nap time, which is currently quite limited!!  So I just jumped in the shower and rinsed.  I then poured undiluted apple cider vinegar on my ends.  I decided not to dilute because my hair is very dry and the only reason for diluting is to avoid getting too oily.  I don't have this problem, my hair needs lots of moisture as I think most curls do.  Don't expect the process to be anything like your showers were before.  Your hair feels gritty and weird until you rinse everything out!  No suds!  ~ This is really important:  when I was explaining this process to Kyle, he said "So you put the baking soda on, then you do the vinegar and let everything fizz and do it's thing then you rinse?"  NO NO NO  (though I was laughing hysterically)  Please do NOT make a science project of your hair and apply the soda and vinegar at the same time.  You don't need a volcanic eruption in your shower!  Soda-Rinse-Vinegar-Rinse!
Ok, back to the hair.  After the shower my hair was really dry feeling and my scalp was very itchy.  Now my hair is not incredibly healthy anyway.  Post-partum fallout and hormone shifts have made it a bit brittle and dry.  Regular shampoo and conditioner mask this but they don't fix the problem.  I am trying to FIX the problem now so there will be a grace period.  The itchiness is not unusual regardless of what I use to cleanse my hair.  It wasn't frizzy which is good but it was not maneageable.  I didn't last very long before I threw it up in a pony!  It also still smelled of my other shampoo/conditioner so I knew I didn't cleanse very well.

Take two!  I decided to try again this morning.  I ended up using about 2 Tbs of baking soda with enough water to make a paste.  I put it in a measuring cup and then got in the shower.  I wet my hair and applied the paste with my fingers.  This time I had enough for my entire scalp and it was much easier to apply on a wet head.  I did have some problems trying to move some of my hair in order to get underneath to the scalp but I also have this problem with shampoo.  Curls don't always cooperate! :-)  It was still very gritty and I ended up getting more on my hair than I probably should have so it felt dry.  After rinsing, I poured undiluted apple cider vinegar on my entire head instead of just the ends.  I know my hair and applying to just the ends is not going to work.  This may change once my natural oil balance is restored but at the present moment, my entire head of hair was doused with vinegar!  (I do know that some people just absolutely cannot stand the smell of vinegar so I have other options at the end of this post!)  This time my hair felt softer after rinsing out the vinegar.  I also noticed that it dried faster.  Now, my hair is a very fine texture as opposed to the coarse texture that a lot of people with curls have so I don't know if this will make a difference with the final result.  I combed it and let it air dry.  I did not shape my curls at all or apply any kind of styling substance.

Please ignore my EX to the HAUSTED face k!?!  :-)  My hair actually had more volume and body than it usually does if I let it dry the same way with shampoo/conditioner.  Again, air dried with no shaping or styling products.  I asked the husband to do a smell test and he said it didn't smell like anything, just clean.  The vinegar smell will linger a bit until it dries completely but then it is gone.  My scalp stopped itching once my hair dried also.  This is new!  My scalp pretty much always itches even if I use a clarifying shampoo so I am excited about that!  Ok, so there you have the trial run!  Obviously not 'date hair' but I wanted to see what the result of all naturale compared to before.  I will keep you updated and include all my findings!  I am excited to see how long the grace period will be for me.  I expect it to be longer than usual because of the curls.  We shall find out!

Some other things you could use to cleanse your hair naturally can be found here.  There is an option with liquid castille soap that looks easy.  The only thing about castille soap is that, it is soap.  There might be build up with that as well.  So I am going to try and stick to the baking soda and vinegar thing because your hair will start to self regulate and your skin will adjust the oils accordingly.  There are also lots of homemade and natural concoctions for styling your hair.  I will experiment with those once I feel my hair and scalp have regulated.  Coconut milk and avocado make good conditioners!  This could be fun!! 

In order to evenly distribute the natural oils of your head, most people brush with a natural bristle brush.  This is not a vegan option as most are made from boar.  I am unaware of whether there is a vegan brush that will do the same thing but I did come across an article about using a washcloth in a similar way.  You rub the washcloth on your wet hair (or wet the cloth and use on your dry hair) 100 times on both sides, scalp to ends.  I got to 60 before I became annoyed! lol  I will continue and see if it makes a difference though! 

In other fun natural body care news;  I used coconut oil to moisturize my entire body....including my face!!!  This is day two of the coconut oil and my skin feels fantastic!  My midwife first mentioned coconut oil as a moisturizer when I had my son.  I was looking for something natural that would be strong enough to combat eczema, which both of my kids have.  My son's skin was still dry so I gave up and used some other lotions.  However, I figured out the problem!  I need to use virgin coconut oil!

Can I just tell you how much brighter my mood has been just from using this stuff!  My skin is always dry and itchy which thoroughly annoying and this fixed that little problem immediately!  It also smells like the beach when you are applying.....and well, I need something that reminds me of the beach in this dreadful midwest weather!  Though once the oil is absorbed, the smell goes away!  Actually, I read the back of the jar and there were 'bodycare' instructions!  :-D  They also said you could apply the melted oil to your hair, let sit and then rinse!  Let me know if you give it a try!!!  You are probably thinking I am crazy for using this on my face, but it works so well!!!  If you have excess oil on your face, you have dry skin.  It sounds like an oxymoron but it's true.  Your skin will overproduce oil to compensate for the lack of moisture it is given.  Instead of quenching it's thirst, most people scrub more and apply less moisture to their face and then the cycle continues.  Moisturizing is the best thing you can do for the skin on your face ~ even those with acne!  My face is no exception, I get shiny an oily just like everyone else but I used the coconut oil yesterday and my face was smooth, soft and not at all greasy even hours later!  I did the same this morning and the clarity has improved as well!  A little goes a loooooong way so this is a cost effective option also.  Though, I am not sure you should get it too close to your eyes!  It is also very important to exfoliate.  You can read a bit about dry brushing if you like.  However, I don't have a body brush and I have limited time.  So after I applied the vinegar to my hair in the shower, I let it sit while I exfoliated with a washcloth.  I started with my face.  The washcloth was only wet, not soap.  Then I washed with castille soap (yes, even on my face!)  I currently have lavender scented liquid castille soap but I think the bar might actually be easier.  Rinse everything and dry.  You're ready for coconut oil!!! 

So, let me know if you give this a try or find other natural products you like!  Also, this recent adventure made me sacrifice the time I would normally spend cleaning.  My house is a mess so I feel like my posts are going to be more sporadic than they used to be but hopefully things will settle down soon!  (ie:  the kids start sleeping!!!!)  Have a fabulous day!