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Turning over new leaves

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odds and ends 024

I thought I’d show you some of the differences in our personal care routine now that we’re trying to make it more natural. 

Natural Toothpaste

Natural Toothpaste

I don’t know how true it is that conventional toothpaste actually helps to destroy your teeth with all the nasty chemicals etc.

What I do appreciate about natural toothpaste is that I know what everything is in this toothpaste, it’s cheaper, and my teeth are whiter. I don’t appreciate the saltiness but what can you do :)

The recipe is super simple

50% baking soda to 50% coconut oil

50 drops peppermint essential oil

10 drops clove bud essential oil

I also added some “real salt”. Apparently it has 60+ trace minerals etc that are good for your teeth. And salt is supposed to be good for sloughing off the gunk too.

More info here:

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2012/04/rethinking-oral-health-care-a-homemade-toothpaste-recipe-for-tooth-remineralization.html

Natural Deodorant

Natural Deodorant

Also super simple to make. Some recipes add arrowroot powder. I never have had any on hand so instead I used corn starch which was suggested for a substitute. This recent batch though I cut out the cornstarch and basically made the toothpaste, 50/50 baking soda to coconut oil and added essential oils to kill the bacteria and provide a nice scent.

The essential oils I used were

Sweet Orange – because it’s cheery

Lavender – for skin soothing and antibacterial

Tea Tree – more antibacterial

Clary Sage – great for the skin and an awesome green scent

Chamomile – also good for your skin and I love the smell

Black Pepper – to ground the scent more than anything

For more information:

http://www.theeverythingsoapblog.com/2012/03/recipe-best-natural-deodorant.html?m=1

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/09/gentle-all-natural-deodorant-stick-recipe.html

Natural 003

Natural Moisturizer

I also really enjoy coconut oil as a moisturizer, so I made up a batch of straight coconut oil with the same essential oils as the deodorant {minus the tea tree}. Slather it on while you’re still wet from the shower and then dry off as you normally do.

Natural Hair Care

And then of course the natural hair care – baking soda cleanser {clear liquid} and herbal rinse {brown liquid} for a conditioner. I also added some honey to the rinse for added conditioning.

From my previous post:

For my hair, all I need is a bottle of

1 tbsp of baking soda {otherwise it’s too drying}

to

2 cups water

I add a couple drops of Peppermint,

Lavender

and Rosemary essential oils.

I pour that onto my scalp and really massage it in.

Let it sit a couple minutes, then rinse.

After that I have, premixed in a bottle,

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

to

2 cups water

with the same essential oils

I pour that through the entirety of my hair and then wash it out immediately, or, I find it weighs my hair down too much.

 I’ve also started using herbal rinses more often then the baking soda.

My hair was super dry before at the ends but now they are manageable, and not frizzy, and I still have that awesome volume at the roots.

My every day I need it Nourishing Rinse

What?

Why?

1 small aloe leaf peeled

  • Makes your scalp feel amazing and can help with itchiness and flaking

  • Makes your hair beautifully shiny, strong and just plain awesome

  • Helps new hair grow

  • Balances hair’s ph levels

  • Great conditioner

1 tsp basil

  • Stimulates follicles

  • Promotes growth

  • Nourishes and adds luster

1 tsp ground flax seeds

  • Great conditioner because of the mucilage

  • May help prevent hair loss

1 tsp ginger

  • Increases scalp circulation

  • Great for thinning hair

1 tsp parsley

  • Super rich in vitamins

  • Makes your hair look and feel awesome

1 tsp rosemary

  • Great for your scalp and thinning hair

1 tsp thyme

  • Ditto above

Add herbs to a bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them.

Let sit over night.

So how do you use it?

It really depends on how much benefit you want.

  1. You can just pour it through your hair in the shower and let it sit while you soap up, shave and do whatever you need to do. Then rinse out at the end. This doesn’t really let it sit in your hair though so it won’t provide the most benefit.

  2. Or you can bring a bowl with you, sit it in the bath tub, pour your concoction in and then sit your whole head in it until you get dizzy :) Ok, not dizzy but for 5 or 10 minutes. This lets it really sink into your hair.

I poured about a cup into the bowl and filled the rest with warm water. Then let my hair soak in it for several minutes. I knotted it on top of my head and had my shower, then rinsed it out at the very end and let it air dry. My hair felt amazing afterwards. No dry frizzy ends like before.

I’m still fighting frizz with the hair. Hopefully the honey will help tame it. My scalp still feels amazing though. I also got a Denman boar bristle brush to help properly brush my hair. Maybe that will help.

I’m loving the whiter teeth with the toothpaste so I’ll put up with the saltiness.

As for the deodorant, so far it has worked. I have no idea how I’ll fair come summer though. We shall see.

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Stitches and Hair

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Some Stitches

Stitches on Cotton

Sorry, these pictures were taken at night so they are not the greatest. 

Stitches on Cotton Stitched

And for any of you that were interested in the Shampoo Free post – I’m still at it.

It’s been about a month now and my scalp feels fantastic. I had to fiddle with it to make it work for my hair. Some suggestions really didn’t work at all. I also had to do some more research because I found my ends really dry and I would get weird buildup at my neckline.

For my hair, all I need is a bottle of

1 tbsp of baking soda {otherwise it’s too drying}

to

2 cups water

I add a couple drops of Peppermint,

Lavender

and Rosemary essential oils.

I pour that onto my scalp and really massage it in.

Let it sit a couple minutes, then rinse.

After that I have, premixed in a bottle,

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

to

2 cups water

with the same essential oils

I pour that through the entirety of my hair and then wash it out immediately, or, I find it weighs my hair down too much.

I was using the baking soda once or twice a week but I got a weird build up at the base of my head around my neckline. My hair felt kind of sticky or waxy. I think this is because the baking soda, for whatever reason, was just staying there once I poured it through at my scalp, even though I really rinsed my hair.

Too much baking soda = not cool!

So I’ve started using herbal rinses more often then the baking soda.

My hair was super dry before at the ends but now they are manageable, and not frizzy, and I still have that awesome volume at the roots.

My every day I need it Nourishing Rinse

What?

Why?

1 small aloe leaf peeled

  • Makes your scalp feel amazing and can help with itchiness and flaking

  • Makes your hair beautifully shiny, strong and just plain awesome

  • Helps new hair grow

  • Balances hair’s ph levels

  • Great conditioner

1 tsp basil

  • Stimulates follicles

  • Promotes growth

  • Nourishes and adds luster

1 tsp ground flax seeds

  • Great conditioner because of the mucilage

  • May help prevent hair loss

1 tsp ginger

  • Increases scalp circulation

  • Great for thinning hair

1 tsp parsley

  • Super rich in vitamins

  • Makes your hair look and feel awesome

1 tsp rosemary

  • Great for your scalp and thinning hair

1 tsp thyme

  • Ditto above

Add herbs to a bowl and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them.

Let sit over night.

So how do you use it?

It really depends on how much benefit you want.

  1. You can just pour it through your hair in the shower and let it sit while you soap up, shave and do whatever you need to do. Then rinse out at the end. This doesn’t really let it sit in your hair though so it won’t provide the most benefit.

  2. Or you can bring a bowl with you, sit it in the bath tub, pour your concoction in and then sit your whole head in it until you get dizzy :) Ok, not dizzy but for 5 or 10 minutes. This lets it really sink into your hair.

I poured about a cup into the bowl and filled the rest with warm water. Then let my hair soak in it for several minutes. I knotted it on top of my head and had my shower, then rinsed it out at the very end and let it air dry. My hair felt amazing afterwards. No dry frizzy ends like before.

So now I’m thinking I’ll baking soda wash every so often but anytime I need a shower I’ll use the rinse instead. Hopefully then no build up or over-dying of my hair. I also found this site, Minimalist Beauty, where she suggests using green or black tea for a cleansing rinse. Haven’t tried it yet but it looks interesting. 

Have you tried anything like this with your hair? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you and what hasn’t?

No-Poo or the Shampoo Free Alternative

Shampoo alternatives recently caught my eye. In researching the idea many people seem to list “no poo” as a mostly a cost solution but I really think that’s the wrong way to look at it. The benefits are what are most important, not the cost.

What you may think of when you hear "shampoo free".

What you may think of when you hear “shampoo free”.

About a year and a half ago I started making my own soap and loved it. I would hate that horribly itchy feeling I got every time I got out of the shower with regular soap. It was as if my skin was so dry it would crack if I stretched it too far. And the scents would give me a headache. That just can’t be healthy.

 Northern Naturals Guest Soaps

My soap is all natural and as environmentally and animal friendly as possible. I chose not to use things like palm oil in it because of the Orangutans in Borneo and elsewhere. I also didn’t use “fragrance oils”. Seriously what does that even mean? Only essential oils went into my bars. And only natural colourants. Be careful of what people call natural in their advertisements – do a bit of research first. If it’s metallic green, I’m sorry there is absolutely no way that’s natural :)

My skin felt incredible and I will never go back to regular soap after this.

But then I started having issues with my scalp. It was super itchy and flaky and had little itchy bumps all over it but felt waxy and nasty at the same time. My hair looked fine but I was a little worried. I realized I had been taking great care of my skin and horrible care of my scalp.

My sister sent me a link to a “no poo” recipe for curly hair that she was interested in. I thought that looked pretty interesting but also slightly weird.

Not “washing” your hair?

So I did some research and, of course, this has been done for as long as humans have been around. Shampoo is really a very new thing compared to what people have used for centuries, if they bathed at all :)

So I thought I would try it. If it made my scalp feel better then that’s pretty sweet.

I am just starting out so here are some links I found for and against the idea just to give you as broad a perspective as possible.

See what you think and let me know in the comments. Is this something you have tried? Are you considering it? Never would consider it? Why?

Against Baking Soda and Vinegar and for Wen: http://www.futurederm.com/2012/06/20/3-reasons-why-baking-soda-and-apple-cider-vinegar-destroy-your-hair-and-what-to-use-instead/

Against Wen:

http://jillipoo.blogspot.ca/2009/01/weird-product-wednesday-wen-hair-care.html

Over a year of “no-poo”:

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2009/07/no-poo-update.html

2 years of “no-poo”:

http://simplemom.net/the-oh-so-important-hair-update/

Almost 9 years “no-poo” and dyed. This is an amazing resource for more than just “no-poo” recipes. She has recipes for natural hairspray and extensive information:

http://babyslime.livejournal.com/174054.html

Sorta Crunchy Why and How:

http://sortacrunchy.typepad.com/sortacrunchy/2009/05/shampoofree-why-and-how.html

The Amazing Oatmeal!

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I thought I’d share my new favourite breakfast with you today.

I’m not much of a breakfast person, I’d rather eat lunch around 10:30. But my Mum always told me that I needed to eat my breakfast. She was the one who introduced me to this.

When I was in school we had oatmeal basically every morning. Water and oats, some brown sugar and usually canned peaches on top. Not the most appetizing and by high school I hated it. But it was good for me.

So as soon as I was a grownup and chose my own own breakfast I just stopped eating it. Or ate it sporadically. Not good, I know.

This winter I was cold and starving quite a bit so breakfast became a necessity. Enter the Amazing Oatmeal.

I’m serious, it’s stinking awesome!

Plus I’ve been having some issues with too much milk consumption and this only has a dash while still being incredibly creamy and delicious.

I make mine in the microwave but I’m sure you could do it stovetop.

For 1 serving

 Amazing Oatmeal

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup + a bit water

Microwave for 1:30 minutes

While that’s in the mic

1 egg

dash of milk

In small bowl beat them well.

When the oat mix is done it should be a little runny, stir well and add the egg mix. Stir well again.

Put back into the mic on half power for another 1:30. I don’t know how to do half power on my microwave so I use Speed Defrost and that seems to work just fine.

While the egg mix is cooking pull out some craisens, brown sugar, ground flax and my Crab Apple Butter-ish.

When the oatmeal is finished cooking pull it out and stir well.

Then add

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp ground flax

a handfull of craisens

a scoop or two of Crab Apple Butter-ish, or Canned Peaches if you want to be traditional :)

 Oatmeal with ground flax and crab apple sploosh

It is delightfully creamy and kind of desertish without having too much milk in it. I love it!

I hope you will too.

Enjoy!

Black Olive Tapenade

I’ve been promising this for awhile, and, now that you have all of the necessary components…

Black Olive Tapenade

 With Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

Assemble

6 of your largest Roasted Tom halves

your Roasted Garlic Paste

3 or 4 cups of sliced black olives

Green Garden Spice*

 Ingredients Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Black Oilves

Method

  • Buzz Toms in a buzzilator with a bit of the olive juice until smooth – place in a bowl, set aside
  • Now add olives to buzzilator and puree. This part is entirely up to your taste. I prefer a bit of chunk left to my olives so I didn’t completely pulverize them, but if you’d rather them totally smooth go right ahead.
  • Add olives to the bowl of pureed Toms and then add a dollop or 2 of the roasted garlic paste. Not so much that you overwhelm it but enough that you know the garlic’s there.
  • Add a dash or 2 of Green Garden Spice and then mix it together.
  • I spooned mine into a Mason jar and popped it in the fridge overnight so that all the flavours got acquainted, made friends, and tasted really good!

 

This is lovely with a smear of Roasted Garlic Paste underneath it on crackers or crusty bread or by itself. I’m thinking some Goat’s Cheese would be a nice addition as well as a sliver under it on a cracker.

Have fun!

*Sorry I’m not that good at naming things. This really is just green garden spice mixed together. We had some rosemary, thyme and basil growing out in the garden last summer and then I might of added a bit of dried oregano to the mix. At least it looks like I did. I don’t really know what I added but it tastes really good. So here’s a guess.

  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1tbsp oregano
  • Add to mortar, and with pestle, grind medium fine.

Roasted Garlic

Most people have a definite relationship with garlic. In our family it was love, love, love! And it still is.

 

So here is an awesome spread, and, or, add in, made with roasted garlic.

Peel 3 or 4 heads of garlic. Yes, heads.

 

Place in a small oven safe dish like a mini French White round baking dish.

Because olive oil is expensive I half and half it with vegetable oil. I want the flavour but completely covering the garlic in oil takes a lot of olive oil.

However if you have enough, by all means use straight olive oil.

Sprinkle on a little coarse salt. Friends of ours just came back from Italy and they brought us some Truffle Salt so I put some of that in to see what it would do.

Then pop them into the oven with your Roasted Toms at 200. The garlic only needs 2 hours or so, so I wouldn’t suggest putting them in with your toms overnight. They can get too roasted and don’t taste as good. But 2 or 3 hours is perfect.

Pull them out of the oven and spoon the garlic cloves out into a small jar, smooshing them with the spoon as your put them in. {Save the oil in a glass jar in the fridge. I’ll explain later}

This makes an amazing spread for crusty bread. You can also smear it on crackers, add a bit of aged cheddar and a slice of your favourite hot pepper, like serranos, and enjoy!

Or you can smear it onto crusty bread and then add a dollop of some fantastically delicious Black Olive Tapenade

Roasted Tom

I had said the Black Olive Tapenade would be the recipe this week but then I thought maybe I should give you a run down of the bits that go into it first and then give you that recipe.

Not that it’s tricky or anything, it just has many parts that require a bit of work before you put them all together.

First up my new favourite thing!

Roasted Tom

 

Amazingly simple and yet so very yummy. We were watching a Restaurant Takeover at a friend’s house awhile ago and they were making a pizza sauce. Corbin suggested roasting the toms first in order to get a super flavourful sauce. I had done slow roasted toms before because of a book by Skye Gyngell “A Year in My Kitchen”. Many people found the book a bit pretentious, I thought it was beautiful and the Toolbox section is valuable.

Prep

I usually grab a bag or 5 of those reduced toms on the 50% off rack at the grocery store. You want them good and ripe but not smooshy. Garden toms are of course so much better but I only had enough for one tray full of those lovingly gleaned from friends.

 

Method

Wash up your toms {they can get a bit wet in those bags}.

Slice in half and take out the stem remains.

Arrange willy nilly on a cookie sheet, tightly packed.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

 

{Aside: I had always used table salt, growing up, at my parent’s place. Most normal households have salt shakers full of regular old table salt. But one day, after I was married, I ran out. We were having a tight week so I looked in the cupboard and there was some coarse salt, or pickling salt. Salt is salt right?

Wrong!

After cooking for about 3 years now with coarse salt you realize the huge difference in saltness.

Table salt permeates everything with an ubiquitous salt taste.

Coarse salt allows the food to retain it’s own flavour and then adds, in little crunchy wonders, that splash of salt flavour. It’s a party in your mouth.

Never again shall I return to drab old table salt!}

Place your Toms in the oven just before bed and put the temperature at 170.

Go to sleep.

Next morning you will have lovely slow roasted toms.

 

Depending on the size they can turn into sun dried toms too. I had a batch of little ones and I shouldn’t have left them in that long. Though they made some nasty rapini I foolishly purchased a little more palatable.

If you don’t want to leave them in overnight you can roast them for 5 or 6 hours at 200. And yes, they do need that much time to turn out as beautifully as they can be.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Next up: What you need to put in the oven with your Toms for a super yummy Tapenade.

Scarf Sent

My lovely winner got back to me last week so I sent her off her scarf. Can’t wait to hear what she thought of it.

Crumby gray weather here, no sun for days. Had a different thought for the silk pieces but I’m not sure if it will turn out. Hopefully I can see if it’s possible sometime this week.

Have a wonderful new recipe for you next week. Someone gave us copious quantities of black olives so I made up a Tapenade {pronounced tap-e-nod, but only if your snobby :) I call it tap-e-nade like lemonade}.

Hope your week turns out sunny and lovely!

Crab Apple Butter-ish

I thought I’d share some of the preserving recipes I’ve fiddled with over the last little bit of autumn mayhem and madness.

A new friend gave me two giant boxes of crab apples. I’d never made anything with them and didn’t really feel like trying a jelly in the chaos of a newly moved into house so I thought I’d try something easy that I could make up as I went along.

First off I consulted my loverly Women’s Home Companion Cookbook circa 1945.

It teaches you how to make such things as lettuce ladies and the joys of canning.

So I grabbed a syrup, boiled my crab apples in it and made a lovely tart/sweet crab apple butter that can be put on scones or beside roast chicken.

I love this stuff but I will warn you in advance, this is labour intensive and unless you really like the flavour it’s not worth the work.

Crab Apple Butter-ish

1 1/2 cups white sugar {brown works in a pinch but it’s not as pretty}

1 1/2 cups water

60 crab apples

Mix sugar and water in saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir the sugar to dissolve but stop stirring once in starts to boil. Allow to boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

This is your “thick syrup”.

While your syrup is boiling cut 20 crab apples in half and core them {a grapefruit spoon works wonders for coring fruit}. Place in syrup and bring back to a boil for 1 minute. While this is going on continue to half and core another 20.

Strain the crab apples out of the syrup and place in a clean quart mason jar.

Put the syrup back on the heat and add the next 20 crab apples. Repeat the process of straining and put in the last 20 crab apples. Cook as per previous instructions and strain into your mason jar.

I found that a quart jar would only fit about 60, sometimes less, and that was all the syrup could handle before it had really thickened.

When all of your cooked crab apples are in the jar pour the remaining syrup over top and pop it in the fridge. You can can {:)} this stuff as well if you want to, or, to make it last longer without canning leave some room at the top of your jar for expansion and freeze it.

The colour is gorgeous, I find the flavour wonderful and I’m sure you will enjoy it if you like your preserves not-too-sweet. 

The Hot Asian

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AS you may already know I’ve been suffering with a head cold this week.

It should be illegal to get sick in the summer!

But to cope with it I made the best sickness fighting soup I’ve ever concocted.

Last winter my husband and I were both sick and cranky and needed some really good chicken soup but we felt like something a little more exciting… and hot!

This is what happened.

 

We minced

1 head of garlic and

1 large onion and

1 large chunk of ginger.

In a large saucepan we added a shlook of peanut, sesame and chili oil.

In went the garlic, onions and ginger to saute for about 2 minutes.

2 bunches of green onions were sliced and added.

1 tbsp of red curry paste, or roasted red chili paste and

1 heaping tbsp of black bean and garlic sauce were also added.

Everything gets stirred around to a lovely sticky mess and then add

5 cups of homemade chicken stock and

a dash of salt and pepper.

Bring this to a boil. Then add

3 cups baby bok choy sliced.

Allow to boil for 2ish minutes to semi-cook the bok choy and meld everything together.

Serve piping hot and enjoy!

A friendly word of warning: You may choke and sputter and your nose will run like a tap but you’ll feel great. We promise :)

Oh, we call it…

THE HOT ASIAN