Boo-Boo Salve

I have a little boy.

Little boys get hurt.

A lot.

All the freaking time.  Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

That means bandages and neosporin abound.  Even when he isn’t actually injured in any way.  He just thinks he needs a bandage.  That’s my kid.

Neosporin is great stuff.  Until you remember that it’s a bunch of chemicals suspended in petroleum.  A leftover from the processing of gasoline.  You are putting chemical laced gasoline leftovers on your child’s open wounds.  Yuck.

Now, I’m not telling you not to use Neosporin, since it’s a magical cure all and it does, in fact, work pretty darn good on the various cuts and scrapes and boo-boos.

I just don’t want to use it.

So, I headed to the interwebs, because, where else would I go?

I found lots and lots of lovely salves, with lots and lots of ingredients I just don’t have on hand and wouldn’t use for anything else.

What’s a girl to do?

Have a look at what she DOES have.

I have plenty of carrier oils.

I have beeswax, because everyone should have that.  Great stuff.

I have essential oils.

And I have garden fresh (Ok, dried and crushed, but still from a garden) rosemary.

Rosemary is great stuff.  And you know what you can do with herbs and oil?  You can infuse oil.  You can do it to add flavor to oil.  You can do it to add the fragrance and herbal goodness for use in body products.  It’s easy.  Seriously.  (I used almond oil, because I don’t particularly like olive oil, but that’s just me.)

Essentially a salve is just a carrier oil and beeswax to thicken it.  Beeswax increases the melting point of what it’s added to.  It makes things solid at room temperature.  It is used in lotion bars, lip balms, and salves to make them more solid.

Now, a salve would be pretty damn useless if it was actually solid (though you could actually make a portable version like a lotion bar).  I wanted mine to be more like the consistency of Neosporin.  Easy to apply and leaves a light coating to protect the wound.  I also wanted it to be full of skin loving ingredients.

I took equal parts coconut oil, shea butter, and infused almond oil and combined it with a bit of cocoa butter and beeswax.  Melted them all together, added lavender for its analgesic properties and tea tree for it’s mega healing abilities.  I also added a touch of honey for it’s antibacterial goodness.  It set up into a nice semi-solid consistency and the cocoa butter works as a nice barrier.

Recipe

2oz rosemary infused almond oil

2oz shea butter

2oz coconut oil

1oz cocoa butter

1oz beeswax

Melt it all together (I use a small pyrex measuring cup that is just for making lotion bars and salves and lip balms, because all the oils and waxes are hard to clean up and you really want a pour spout.  With a good pyrex one, you can just put the measuring cup in a pot of water to melt everything safely and pour with ease.) and add your essential oils.  Pour into jars (this recipe makes almost a pint.  I used 4 4oz jelly jars.)  Squirt in a bit of honey, if you want, and mix now and again while it sets up.  Mixing is particularly important if you used honey, since the honey sinks to the bottom.  Wooden skewers are good for mixing.  This will stay good for about a year.

Now for the good recipes links, because yeah…

Wellness Mama – Homemade Healing Salve

Mrs. Happy Homemaker – Healing ‘Boo-Boo’ Salve (PS you can order the dried herbs from her premeasured for her recipe.  Couldn’t be easier.)

Crunchy Betty – Not Your Mother’s Neosporin (Great pictures of the process.  And she’s hilarious.)

 

 

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Food is Evil

After much research on the interwebs, I have come to a conclusion.

Food is poison and it will kill you.

Ok, I’m only sort of kidding here.

Everyone, laymen and nutritionists alike, has their very own belief on what foods are actually good for you.  The newest diet/lifestyle is the Paleo DIet… in which you only get to eat what a caveman could.  Because grains are evil.  So is dairy.

Fat is evil too.

So is meat.

And salt.

Carbohydrates.

Soy.

Sugar.

Legumes.

Genetically modified foods… organic foods….

You can eat pumpkin, thankfully.  Everyone seems to think pumpkin is good even if they can’t agree on anything else.

Seriously, if you followed the evil food guidelines of all the different diets, you wouldn’t be able to eat anything at all!  Mostly because our bodies simply aren’t designed to perfectly digest anything.

Our stomachs aren’t designed for plants.  Our intestines aren’t designed for meats.  Everything will kill you.

So eat up!

What I can tell you for sure is that pre-packaged foods are filled with chemicals, some of them incredibly toxic, rather than food.  It’s also more expensive than buying produce and meats and cooking them yourself.  When you buy low fat, low sodium, low sugar/sugar free foods, that is only adding to the chemicals and other hidden nasties.

Oh, and coconut oil is a miracle.

Things Every Kitchen Should Have but Probably Doesn’t

On my little quest to green up and simplify my life, I’ve found several things that everyone should just have on hand because they are that useful.  Whether you want to detoxify your cleaning routine or amp up your food or have skin care products that actually work, these the the things that should be in your kitchen but probably aren’t.  Yet.

Vinegar

Vinegar is magic.  Vinegar is love.  Vinegar is fabulous for cleaning, deodorizing and softening fabrics.

Right now you are staring at this post and telling me “Vinegar reeks, I’m not going to use that!”  The thing is, vinegar might smell bad, but the smell goes away once the vinegar is dry and it takes any other odor away with it leaving fresh clean air.  I actually use it like I would use Frebreeze, spraying it on my upholstery to get rid of… umm… potty training accidents.

If you really, truly can’t stand the smell, save some citrus peels to infuse it (just soak them in a jar for a few days before straining them out.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a baking staple.  It’s also another odor magnet, which is why if you do have it, it’s probably living in your fridge.

Baking soda can be used in homemade laundry detergents, chemical free soft scrub, oven cleaner, carpet powder, in place of shampoo and toothpaste, made into deodorant… I go through a ton of it.

It’s also really, really, really cheap.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is great stuff.  Not only is it filled with good fats, it has a high smoke point, which makes it great for cooking instead of olive oil.  Apparently olive oil isn’t supposed to be heated.  It has a mild flavor that doesn’t disguise the natural flavors of foods and it’s not as oily as some other cooking oils.  Flat out, you should just replace all your shortening and vegetable oils and especially soybean oil with coconut oil.

Now, not only is this magical stuff good for cooking, it’s also a top of the line moisturizer.  It is great for frizzy fly away hair.  Mix it with baking soda and you have the best whitening and plaque control toothpaste you’ve ever seen, not to mention great for sensitive teeth.  It’s great for soap making, giving a nice fluffy lather.  It can be used as a natural spf 4 and tanning lotion.  It’s even good for your immune system.

Seriously, magical stuff.

Chia Seeds

Remember Chia Pets?  You spread those gooey seeds on pottery and they grow?

Well, those innocent little seeds are a super food.

You need more energy?  Need to feel fuller longer?  Need some hydration help?  Antioxidants?  Chia seeds are your answer.  These little bad boys are amazingly nutritious, filling and full of good things to give you a natural energy and immune boost.

Canning Jars

You see them in the grocery store, those unobtrusive little jars.  They come in packs of 12.  They come in lots of sizes.

These little bad boys are great.  I store my cleaning supplies and cosmetics in them.  I store leftovers in them.  I store everything in them.  I even use them for convenient toddler cups.  They’ve hit the floor many times without shattering.

Plastics are an invisible toxin that we don’t think about.  But more than that, plastic retains odors from foods, are easily stained and can be broken down by certain foods and cleaning supplies.  And dude, seriously, finding the matching lid for that tupperware is a nightmare.

I store my lids with my parchment paper, and they are easily bought if they do need replacing.

I also save every other jar that comes into my house.  I should probably admit that this might eventually become a problem.

A Container of Vegetable Scraps in your Freezer

Ok, this one is, admittedly, a little weirder than the rest.  Hear me out, especially the non-composters.

Each time you make a meal with fresh veggies, you cut off bits, peel them, and have scraps.  These scraps are nutrient dense, even if they won’t work in most foods.  There is one food you can make with them.

Broth.

I find recipes all the time that call for broth or stock.  That’s something I don’t buy because it’s salty.  If I can’t get away with using plain water, I’ve have those little stock cubes you add to water, but again, salty!

Did you know the broth is just flavor and nutrients boiled out of other foods?  Yeah.  Grab your stock pot (no aluminum!) and throw in those veggie scraps, then simmer them.  Boil the hell out of them.  Then you just strain it, put it in some of the canning jars or freezer jars or freeze them into ice cubes…

I’m currently trying to make a bone broth.  I’ll let you know how that goes…  yeah, you can freeze your scrap bones too.

Coffee with Cream Soap

I have been a soap making machine.  Mostly because I keep screwing recipes up.

Are they all soap that will clean your butt and leave your skin wonderfully moisturized?  Heck yeah!

Are they lovely soaps with fluffy lather and luscious scents that I’d want to give to my friends and family?

Yeah….

Not so much.

And so I keep trying.  Specifically, I’m trying to find/make recipes that don’t take huge amounts of expensive ingredients that I have to special order from magical lands of organic goodness.

So many online recipes require things that I just plain old don’t want to mess with.  Like palm oil.  First you have to find the kind that doesn’t destroy rain forests and kill puppies.  Ok, it doesn’t actually kill puppies, but you need to find fair trade organic.  And then you have to melt the whole damn container every time you use it.  Blah.

Other recipes require huge amounts of essential oils that cost more than god.  (See rose absolute.)  That shit better fold my laundry and give me orgasms every time I smell it for those prices.  Keep in mind, you need approximately 1 oz per pound of oils when you are making soap, give or take depending on the specific oil.

I want my soap to be skin loving and give me lots of fluffy lather.  And most important, I want it to be easy.  Easy to make, easy to use.

So I keep trying to make my own perfect base recipe.  And then I ran out of ingredients.

But then I got creative.

This is how I ended up making coffee and cream soap.  Sadly, without shea butter, which is one of my favorites.  I’d also like to have some hemp oil.  And ditch the soybean oil for something nicer, since soybean is sort of just a filler.

But, dude, coffee and cream!

I hear that coffee is good in soaps.  Energizing and good for clearing up redness of all sorts in the skin.  Also good for undereye bags.  And coffee!

Milk is one of my two favorite soap additives.  Personally, I don’t bother with goat’s milk.  Yet.  This time I’m using good old fashioned evaporated cow’s milk.  Just a warning, milk is going to turn your soap orange.  Solved by adding coffee this time around.  It’s just what milk does in soap.

So, on with the recipe!

Coffee with Cream Soap

Coconut Oil 30%

Olive Oil 30%

Soybean Oil 20%

Grapeseed Oil 10%

Almond OIl 10%

(You can ditch the soybean oil and use 50% olive oil instead, just run it through a lye calculator)

Lye required for a 5% solution

Divide your water requirement in half, one half will be coffee the other evaporated milk (you can use goat’s milk, if you like)

1 tablespoon coffee grounds per pound of oils (you can leave this out, but it looks pretty and is a nice exfoliator)

If you choose to add fragrance oils, be sure to get the kind made for cold process soap.  You will need a total of approximately 1 ounce per pound of oils.

To make the coffee, you can’t just use regular old brewed coffee.  It won’t be strong enough.  Instead, simmer a cup of grounds with plenty of water for about 20 minutes.  It should verge on a syrup.  Strain it using your favorite straining method.  Frankly, it’s alright if it’s not perfectly strained.  This is what you will use for your lye solution, creating a double strength solution (that means really really caustic!)  Make it in an ice bath so it doesn’t get too hot.  It helps to partially freeze the coffee.

You can either add your milk to your coffee/lye solution or directly to your oils.  It’s up to you.

Make the soap using your favored method, adding the coffee grounds when you reach trace.  Frankly, I’d recommend cold process, in this case.  It’s very easy to burn your coffee and milk.  Milk always makes the hot process act weird, anyway.

Ta-da!  Coffee with Cream soap for your scrubbing pleasure.

A Few Produce Bag Tutorials

Want to add some cloth produce bags to your arsenal and can’t stomach the cost of them?  Got some unused yarn or, better yet, some old t-shirts?  Booyah, you can make you own!

Here’s a few tutorials I’ve tracked down for your pleasure.

Oh The Cuteness – Crocheted Produce Bags

Delia Creates – Green… Easy Knit Produce Bag (not a knitting pattern, but rather made from knit)

Sustainable What?

On my current kick to simplify my life, I ran into a roadblock.

Face first I plowed into a problem I didn’t know I had and didn’t know how to fix.

Multi-blade razors.

You know, those expensive bad boys you pay a fortune for, then can’t make work with your all natural, homemade, truly moisturizing shaving-cream-in-a-can replacements?  Because oil plus dead skin plus little bits of hair stubble equals one clogged razor that sort of just scrapes at the top layer of your epidermis.  Not to mention, you use them over and over while they rust away in your shower, hoping to get one more use out of them before you have to trash it because they cost a freaking fortune!

Yeah, those.

So I set to my interwebs research, because I rock at that.

It took awhile.

There are millions and billions of shaving soaps, creams, pre-shave oils, and other alternatives to shaving cream, but very very few alternatives to disposable razors.  In fact, there are two.  And mostly manly men know about them.  There are even entire message board communities filled with men who use them (here and here).

And very, very few women.

I think it is a vast conspiracy.

The men want to keep their shaving secret… well… secret.

You see, REAL shaving is a manly art.  An art practiced in men’s barber shops for… well… a long time.

Women are the newbies on the shaving scene.  We’ve only been doing it a hundred years or so.  We never had to use our handy dagger to scrape the scruff from our… well… anywhere.  We were tricked into it, and now are addicted to being fur free.  But we still aren’t, really, in the club.

You see, I’m talking about the two schools of wet shaving.

You know, a mug of soap, that fluffy brush, and a Razor.  It’s a ritual involving oils and hot wet cloths and stropping (or not, depending on the kind of razor you use), then taking your time applying foamy soap and using tiny strokes until you are baby butt smooth.  It’s straight razors passed down from grandpa or a double edge safety razor.  It’s reusable metal that you can pass on rather than cheap plastic that barely works the first time.

And apparently women can do it too!

So, I’m going to say goodbye to multi-blade razors and give wet shaving a try.

Starting with a double edge safety razor, though I find myself strangely drawn by the idea of using a straight razor on my legs.  Maybe I’m a bit of a romantic after all.

Simplifying my Life by Spending Less Time in the Lotion Aisle

You know, when you tell someone you do not use shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, face lotion, toothpaste or deodorant, they think you are a stinky hippie.  Well, not that there is anything wrong with hippies, but I’m not.  I smell like jasmine, thank you very much!  My hair is shiny and clean, my skin is healthy and soft, and my breath is cinammony fresh.

Before I had a kid attached to me, standing in the lotion aisle trying things, sniffing things, reading their claims… it was a luxury.  One that is impossible with a three and a half year old chomping to peruse the toy aisles.

I’ve spent countless amounts of money on lotions for face and body, shampoos and conditioners, body care products of all sorts and descriptions.  Few of those worked (hence the constant trying of new things that didn’t work) and all of them contained harmful chemicals that when you really REALLY think about it you don’t want anywhere near the largest organ of your body to be absorbed into you… urgh.

I mean, if you wouldn’t want to EAT it, why would you want to absorb it through your skin?

I stopped using shampoo a long time ago.  Shampoo was a luxury… one that became more of a hassle than a benefit.  For so long I spent so much effort on my hair.  Dry, brittle, baby fine hair that turned to frizzy poof at the drop of a hat.  Unless I wanted to damage it more spending time blow drying it to perfection.

So, I stopped using shampoo.

I tried the whole baking soda/vinegar routine, but my hair felt like straw.  Lovely looking straw, but not a texture I liked feeling.  So I switched it up, found a natural conditioner and still skipped the shampoo.  That worked for a long time.

Then summer hit.

Maybe it was the heat and sweating, or maybe it was a change in humidity.  My hair suddenly was looking oily, though it hadn’t been for the months I’d been shampoo free.

I recently switched back to baking soda and vinegar, just a couple times a week.

But I added a new thing.

Not a new thing to me, but a new thing to my hair.

See, I also stopped using facial moisturizer, because I found something better.

I met grapeseed oil.

I added a little fragrance oil, and BAM!  I have a moisturizer that smells fabulous, is great for my skin and contains no toxins!  Who knew oil was what skin needed?  It just takes a drop or two straight out of the bath.  (Grapeseed oil might not be the best for your skin type, though something out there will be).  No oily skin either, it soaks right in.

THAT very same bottle of grapeseed oil is also my go to leave in conditioner.  After applying to my face, I add another drop or two to the ends of my hair.  No more straw!  It’s light, it’s not drying, it’s wonderful.

I had been using argan oil, but that stuff is liquid gold.  Grapeseed oil is very economical, as are avocado oil, hemp oil, and almond oil.  All have different properties, so either test them on yourself or look up their properties.  Not so incidentally, they are great in various other body products too.  More bang for your buck!

So, now my skin looks and feels great, my hair looks and feels great, and I’ve discarded a whole slew of products from my bathroom.  Baking soda is cheap, apple cider vinegar is cheap, grapeseed oil is cheap… essential oils and fragrance oils can be pricey, but a few drops go a long way in most uses.

That sent me looking around my bathroom, looking at other products I use and how I can make a change.  Which led me to a whole bunch of information on the toxins I’ve been loading into my body without even realizing it.

Did you know deodorant has aluminum and parabens in it?  And really doesn’t work all that well in the first place?  Yeah, me either.

Deodorant had to go.  Even if it isn’t overly expensive.

BO was not an option, though.

Turns out, baking soda is an excellent deodorant for more than just your fridge.  Coconut oil (yeah, the stuff you use to make fried chicken, go figure) has antibacterial properties and is solid at room temperature.  If you want a bar or stick, you can add beeswax, then mold it, though a little starch helps with both moisture and solidifying.  Or even a bit of shea butter so you can have silky smooth moisturized underarms.  It costs pennies to make from things I already have.

This clearing out my cabinet has now become a landslide of discarding products and changing them out for the SAME FEW INGREDIENTS.

Ingredients I already have for laundry soap, soap making, and general cleaning.  A few oils and butters, plus beeswax and baking soda.  Epsom salt is a good thing to have, so is washing soda (though you can turn baking soda into washing soda in a pinch).  A few essential oils, and you are SET for body care and keeping your house clean.

What the hell?  I’ve been spending a crapload of money to buy all these products that I can replace with just a few?

I can EVEN make a good for me toothpaste that doesn’t taste bad!  It’s cinnamon flavored!  Sweetened with stevia, flavored with essential oil, a bit of baking soda to clean and either castile soap (ew!) or coconut oil to make a paste.

Seriously, a few ingredients makes tons of things that work as well or better than the commercial counterparts.  They take a bit of time to prepare, but generally less time than the drive to the store.  And you can make them in your pjs.

Just start with one, single change.  One product replaced by a natural healthy alternative.  Give that change two weeks for your body to acclimate (this is particularly true with chucking shampoo or store bought deodorant or facial moisturizer.  Your body will need time to adjust to the change.)

Make a vegetarian meal once a week.  (Don’t tell the family, just feed it to them.)

Start reading labels and thinking about the products you use.

It might SOUND difficult, time consuming, pain in the ass, but it’s not.  Really.