“Beauty” Regimens I No Longer Perform

20140528-215510-78910454.jpg…….because it’s unnecessary, and I don’t care what “you” think. That’s right, I said it. I really don’t care what you think, and I don’t think anyone should have to care about it. And if it bothers you that I don’t do these things, well, I think you are sweating the small stuff, baby 😉 Let loose, and check out what I don’t worry about in terms of my beautiful body anymore:

Shaving. Yup, I don’t shave. Anywhere. I personally think it’s ridiculously unnecessary. Sure, if you have hair somewhere that is functionally or hygienically getting in your way, take it off. Like a beard, for example – I get that. It gets food in it. It hangs in yours or your girlfriend’s mouth, yeah. If I had a beard I would probably trim or shave from time to time so it didn’t get out of control. If you are a championship swimmer and you want to cut a few millisecs off your time – raze away. But do I need to spend countless hours of my lifetime stripping minor, non-irritating hair from my pits and legs? And other uncomfortable areas? God, NO! My hubs does NOT care (really, he really really doesn’t) and I don’t think he should. My legs are actually softer without shaving, and I certainly don’t have stinky armpits. In fact, the hair actually binds to my deodorant to make it more effective, IMO. Be strong and resist the brainwashing, ladies! We don’t need to be hairless.

Styling my hair with product. I keep my hair on the short side, although I am waffling on the style lately. My hair has very little volume, and has a lot of weird little flicks and waves in it. But I am NOT spending my time putting product in it anymore. 1). Because I can’t get behind using the kinds of toxic products that it takes to give my limp hair more shape, 2). I can’t be bothered to waste my time making alternative products for it, because I don’t care. If it’s clean and brushed, it is soooo not my problem if you think it looks ‘weird.’ It’s hair. It’s unique. It doesn’t need to look like the overly coiffed hair in commercials. But just FYI, I will eventually be posting a recipe for chia hair gel. It is pretty cool stuff…and fun to make with the kids. Stay tuned.

Applying make-up. So you may have noticed I don’t have any make-up recipes on the site yet. I confess, it’s because I don’t wear it. Ever. My complexion loves me for it. No pimples, no problems. Why do we need to look like dolls? Why? Make-up is super time consuming and annoying to apply (especially eyeliner, holy hell), and creates a vicious cycle of clogged pores and irritated skin cells that fight back and then need to be squelched again under another layer. I really don’t get the whole make-up thing. Well, okay, I do, I guess, maybe you want to impress someone….and I will probably figure out some basic recipes for those of you who may need it. But I am not rushing on that, because I really don’t think you need it. And I will probably only go as far as lip tint, rouge and mascara. I would be more thrilled if y’all would just let your natural loveliness out 🙂

For fun, check out this article on “How to Liberate Yourself From Make-up”.

Dying my hair. So I think it goes without saying that if I am not styling my hair with product, I am certainly not dying it. Dying your hair is an incredibly toxic process (Don’t believe me? Read THIS). It was fun in my youth to play around with crazy colours, but that is soooo done. And I am not interested in covering my grey, which has actually started to come in, by the way (hmmmm, maybe kids really do give you grey hair). You know, I actually kind of like it! I look at it as my wisdom and experience shining through. I earned that grey. And I wouldn’t cover it up for a minute. I think we need to remember that we can age gracefully and without shame. Be proud of your grey – it’s who you are, and it’s beautiful.

So okay, maybe I am extra crunchy for being this way. Then CRUNCH AWAY, I say. Take control of what is really important in your life, like eating healthy, staying active, respecting the earth we live on, being mindful and present, and enjoying each moment and person in your life like this is your last day on earth. And lastly, being kind and compassionate to one another, and teaching our children to do the same. When you think about how important all of these things are, make-up and hair dye seem a little ridiculous, don’t they?

What parts of your beauty routine have you thrown to the curb?

Golden Turmeric Milk – An Amazing Home Remedy

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So I researched “golden milk” a while ago, and have spent some time testing it out – now I want to share this amazing remedy with you! I saw the recipe initially on Pinterest (many a blogger has posted something similar), and felt like I should give it a try just because it truly looked and sounded delicious. Little did I know about all the amazing health benefits to this helpful tonic!

Turmeric has long been an Ayurvedic remedy for many an ailment in India and other parts of the Middle East. Many families would cook with it to prevent and treat illness, and would specially prepare a tonic similar to this for sick family members.

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been found to have amazing antioxidant , anti-inflammatory , and antibacterial / antiviral properties, as well as being helpful for bone and joint health. It is widely used as an alternative treatment for arthritis, as well as being beneficial for osteoporosis – especially in conjunction with natural, whole milk. It is also a very effective treatment for pain.

Curcumin has also shown promise as a possible aid in the treatment of cancer, (as with many other potent antioxidants), although research is in its early stages and involves the isolated component, and not the whole food (I question whether they would have more immediate results had they not isolated the compound and instead just used it in natural and traditional forms).

One problem with turmeric by itself as a supplement is that the curcumin is not readily absorbed by your bloodstream in its raw form. However, a substance called piperine in black pepper makes it infinitely more bioavailable. Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it is ideally consumed along with healthy fats.

So how should you take this amazing spice? The answer is: in this delicious golden milk recipe!! Milk contains the fats necessary to help your body absorb the curcumin, and the black pepper in the recipe also steps up your absorption a mega-notch. And there are also some other tasty and beneficial ingredients on the list. Care to check it out? Keep reading:

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1). In a small pot, add:

1 to 1.5 cups whole milk (OR for a vegan option, choose whole fat coconut milk)
1 – 2 tsp finely grated / “zested” fresh organic turmeric root OR organic, fair trade pure turmeric powder
10 or so kernels black peppercorns
5 or 6 thin slices of fresh ginger root
A cracked up stick of organic fair trade cinnamon (I don’t recommend subbing the powder, but you can if need be).

2). Bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently, until the milk turns a nice golden colour (3). It will take less time to become golden with the powder than with the fresh root. I usually simmer the milk from 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover the milk to steep for an additional 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 tsp to 1 tbsp (depending on sweetness desired) of organic, quality raw honey. Mix until dissolved. I totally forgot to put this in the picture…..sorry ;). It’s mostly a taste thing.

4). Pour the milk through a reusable coffee filter or very fine strainer, unless you want it chunky ;). Sip and enjoy!

I find that for pain relief, this recipe usually goes to work within 15 to 30 minutes. I once used it to treat some bad menstrual cramps, and it literally took them away for the rest of the day. Just gone. I have been using the milk for a severe headache today, and it has worked pretty amazingly well. I am sitting here sans headache right now. It also works brilliantly well to settle tummy and other digestive troubles, especially with the ginger included.

Not to mention it is SOOOO delicious! I just love it. My picky eating two and a half year old even drinks it! Let me know how it works for you if you try it! I highly recommend giving it a shot before taking and pain meds (although I am certainly not a “doctor” and you should always research for contraindications). I find it works infinitely better than Tylenol or Advil. It’s worth a try, no? And at the very least you get a tasty drink with many other health benefits to your bod 😉

Some sources on turmeric and curcumin:

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

http://www.naturalnews.com/043054_curcumin_antioxidant_cancer_treatment.html

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/turmeric

Multipurpose Skin Ointment

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Way back when I promised you my ointment recipe. I wanted to really give it a good test before putting it out there. I just LOVE this ointment for our family’s skin issues. This recipe is a very effective balm for lots of problems, such as: eczema, psoriasis, generally chapped skin, rashes, mild burns – try it for anything!**

Melt together, stirring constantly, in a double boiler on medium-low heat (see my FAQ for an explanation of double boiling):

1 part coconut oil
1 part beeswax pellets (organic, preferably)
1 part cocoa butter

Remove from heat, wait to cool for about 3 minutes while still stirring, and then mix in (per 3 tbsp or so of base ingredients):
15 drops cedarwood essential oil*
15 drops rosemary essential oil*

*Please make sure you are using high quality oils, as pure as possible, to get their maximum benefits. A few highly reputable companies are doTERRA, Young Living, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

Pour / spoon into desired container immediately and allow to cool, in the fridge if desired. Should be good to remove in about 5 minutes. Finished product will be somewhat hard – use a fingernail to remove some and soften between fingertips when applying. Can be applied to the face as well (I use it a lot in the creases of my nose) but MAY be pore clogging if used in excess, due to the high beeswax content. Keep applying as often as needed until the issue resolves!

If you are breastfeeding, apply the balm with some of your freshly expressed breast milk, and you will get brilliant results. Breast milk is a fabulous tonic for the skin!

**For pimples / acne related issues, do not apply this balm – it may aggravate the issue by preventing the oils in the pimple to escape. Instead, try using my deodorant recipe to treat a fresh pimple – it will dry it out really well. Apply a thick coating of it directly to the pimple and allow to sit overnight.

Hope this does wonders for your skin troubles! I also sell this balm if you can’t make it yourself. Drop me a line and we can arrange for local pickup!

Crunchy cabbage carrot salad with spicy orange mayo dressing!

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I haven’t posted a salad recipe yet, and I was compelled to share one of my family’s favourites. This recipe goes great with fish and potatoes, or just as a standalone dish to bring to a summer BBQ! Take a gander at my series of lovely yet geeky instructional graphics, and tantalize your tastebuds!

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Add dressing to salad to taste – if you like a heavier dressing, add it all, if lighter – add until it looks right to you!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Busting Odours In Your Home….Naturally!

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Although many families turn to commercial odour fighting products like Febreze, Glade plugins, and the like, I often stop to wonder how many consider the negative impact of these kinds of products? Advertising makes these solutions look borderline miraculous. Yet, solutions that appear miraculous often come with a price. And in this case, like many others, the price is your health.

Of course, don’t take my word for it. Take a look at THIS article on Care2 listing some of the very toxic ingredients in Febreze, and THIS article speaking to the concerns surrounding Glade. And these are just common brands. For a breakdown of the general risks surrounding commercial air fresheners, seeTHIS excellent article.

Anyway, now that we’ve spoken to the dangers of these popular chemical deodorizers, what alternatives do we have? Of course, as you know by now, that’s what I’m all about. So here we go!

Keep your home clean. For goodness sake, this is number one. If you think you can cheat and just mask odours by spritzing something that smells nice on top of them, well, you’re in for a wake up call. The most important step to eliminating odours in your home is regular cleaning (with natural products, please). Take the trash and compost out regularly, and clean your pet’s litter box daily. Don’t let spoiled food sit in your fridge. This should all hopefully be commonsensical, but I feel I need to say it!

Open your windows regularly. Allow regular air circulation in your home. Stale air can really add to the problem. If you get the air moving, you will notice a lot less odour problems!

Use baking soda in your deodorizing routine. Sprinkle some (and allow to sit for a time) on your carpets, couches, and pet beds before vacuuming. Keep a shaker of it to add to your cat’s litter box after cleaning. Keep an open box / bowl / mason jar with cheesecloth on top in your fridge or in other problem areas (you can even add several drops of essential oil to your baking soda to give it an extra scent). And you can sprinkle it into stinky shoes or work boots, nasty gym or hockey bags.

Soak problem items in vinegar. For items that will tolerate being soaked in a solution of vinegar and water, let them sit for a few hours prior to washing. If you choose to soak them in your washing machine, make sure you drain the water before adding your detergent, or the vinegar may cancel out its cleansing effects.

Rub lemon on problematic surfaces. If you have stinky cutting boards or countertops, or pans that are holding a stank, slice open a lemon and rub it on. Let it sit for a bit, wash it off, and you should be good to go. You can even use raw lemon as a natural personal deodorant!

Keep natural, essential oil based scented oil reed diffusers in your bathroom and other problem areas. You can make your own oil diffusers by adding 10-20 drops of the essential oil of your choosing (citronella, lemon, rosemary, and orange oils are the most potent varieties) into 1/4 cup of a carrier oil (sitting in the bottom of a small jar) like olive or grapeseed. Place some bamboo barbecue skewers in the jar with the oil, fan them out, and voila. The skewers will absorb the oil and diffuse it into the air naturally. Refresh every two weeks to a month or so.

If you are looking for a scent burst, fill a small spritzer bottle with water and some essential oil. A good rule is about 10-20 drops per half cup of water. Lightly spray your mixture into your bathroom after a BM, on your bedsheets or pillow to freshen them up, or anywhere you need an extra scent lift. Keep in mind this IS water, so it will dampen material a bit. Don’t go crazy with it.

If you really want a strong, consistent blast of scent, consider purchasing an Aroma Diffuser like THIS one from Young Living. You add essential oils to it, and it puffs out a constant stream of water vapour infused with the oil. Most of them come with timers that have an auto shut-off. These diffusers are also helpful to have when using essential oils therapeutically, like eucalyptus for a cold – so this would be a purchase with multiple benefits.

You can also prepare a stovetop air freshener by simmering herbs and spices in water, in a pot on low heat. We all know how fresh baked goods can add a delicious scent to your home – this technique applies a similar strategy. A great recipe uses lemon rinds (or whole lemon slices) along with fresh rosemary branches in enough water to cover them. Keep adding water as it simmers down. Don’t let it burn out on your stove!! Keep a timer going if you are likely to forget.

Consider adding some indoor plants to your household. Plants keep the air fresh in your home. Not a green thumb? Don’t worry, there are lots of easy to take care of plants available. I personally love the philodendron family. Ask your local garden centre for plants that need minimal care.

Add a sachet of lavender blossoms to your car rearview mirror. You can also purchase natural deodorizing sachets, or make your own simple hanging freshener with essential oils like THIS one. You can use these same sachets in your underwear and sock drawers, or hang them in your closet. Another sachet idea is using a coffee filter with a string tied around it to contain baking soda with essential oils added.

And there you go, folks, a big list of great alternatives for you to use instead of the chemical laden commercial deodorizing products. Do you have any other natural stank fighting tricks you use in your home?

Check out my DIY Air Freshener & Deodorizer Pinterest board HERE for a bunch of other unique air freshening ideas!

Disinfecting Naturally

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When I wrote my last post on lathering action, I felt compelled to write another piece on disinfecting your home. Many critics of natural cleaning methods always seem to come back to one point – “So how do you make sure you kill bacteria and viruses in your home?” Well, the solutions are, in keeping with tradition here, pretty darn simple.

First of all, I want to start off with a bit of a plea to the public. Can we give up on the idea that our homes need to be 100% “free of germs”? I really think we need to let go of that one. Yes, I know, we have endured years of advertising that claims we need to eliminate “99.9%” of the bacteria on our household surfaces. But you know what? Modern science is telling us that this may NOT, in fact, be a wise decision. We need to be more realistic, and look at the facts more closely.

You may have heard about “superbugs”, and antibiotic resistance. This has been a pretty hot topic over the last few years. Explained simply, this basically means that, through years and years of persistent and excessive antibiotic use, many bacteria have become tolerant of them and have been surviving better despite antibiotic treatment. The “germs” are getting stronger, and resisting the tough methods we are using to eliminate them. Why is that?

Well, when you treat bacteria with an antibiotic, it does not necessarily kill off every organism. And the ones that remain are generally the strongest, most resilient ones. Eventually, more and more of these resilient strains start to reproduce, and you are left with tougher and tougher bacteria that require stronger and stronger methods of elimination.

And guess what – medical professionals are running out of options faster than these superbugs are growing. It is a definite area of concern, especially within hospital environments where sterilization is necessary and mandatory for successful surgeries and invasive procedures.

Now let’s apply this same theory to your home. When you bleach or apply alcohol or sanitizing, antibacterial wipes, and other very potent disinfectants to your surfaces, guess which bacteria remain behind? That stronger “0.01%” that your product is not killing off are the ones who are left to reproduce. And those are the ones that are least likely to be affected by your disinfecting solutions. See where this is going? By applying unnecessarily strong disinfectants in your home, you actually may be breeding stronger bacteria. At the very best, you are leaving the strongest behind.

Not to mention the fact that bleach and other antibacterial chemicals can be very dangerous for children and pets, and are generally disconcerting for me to have in my home at all. Fumes from bleach are harmful to the respiratory tract, and ingestion of it can be deadly. And these substances negatively impact the environment when they go into the groundwater (bleach especially so).

Furthermore, there are lots of bacteria and microorganisms that may be of benefit to our bodies and immune system that live in our environment (not to mention within and on our own bodies). We need a healthy amount of “gut flora”, and even our skin has a layer of protective microbes that are undesirably killed off by things such as hand sanitizer and cleaning with bleach.

All of that being said, it leads me to this. How do I eliminate ALL of the bacteria in our home? I don’t. That’s right, you heard me! I don’t. I clean my home to an acceptable standard that eliminates health concerns, but I don’t make it a personal goal to just kill off all of the microorganisms in my house. My goal is to keep my home healthy and disease free. Can you do that with natural cleaning methods? Absolutely. How do I do that? Read along!

First, hand washing is a must in my home. Whenever we come in from being out in the community, or from playing in the dirt, we wash our hands. With regular soap. Using soap has been widely demonstrated as the best method for eliminating harmful bacteria and viruses from your hands (and body). Why? Because you are scrubbing them and physically removing the germs rather than just ‘killing’ them. It is this physical, mechanical removal of microorganisms that is the most effective method of cleaning.

Second, when I want to do more of a disinfecting type job (cutting boards, countertops, doorknobs, bathroom surfaces), I use vinegar and tea tree oil. These two are my best germ busting buddies. The natural acids in vinegar actually cause about 80% of bacteria and viruses to become inert. And tea tree has natural antimicrobial properties. Plus, it smells nice. I also use baking / washing soda and borax to clean things like toilets and bathtubs. For further reading on these methods, check out my article and recipes HERE.

Do I kill off 100% of the bacteria with these? No. But the sodas and borax, being naturally abrasive, physically remove most anything of concern. And I use soap, get in a good scrub, and physically remove bacteria and viruses on the surfaces that really count, like dishes.

Should you eat lunch off of my toilet seat? Mix up a batch of chicken soup in my bathtub? Prrrobbbbably not. There might be a few stragglers on there, and I certainly don’t clean them after each use. And seriously, ew. But you aren’t going to die of a staph infection because you didn’t chemically destroy all of the bacteria on your toilet. As long as you aren’t scratching your bare butt and then eating a sandwich, you are probably good to go.

I am also a firm believer in the fact that our immune systems need practice to become effective. If you lived your whole life in a completely sterile environment, and then tried to function in the real world, your body would probably react incredibly negatively to even very mild strains of bacteria and viruses.

If you have items of concern that you really think need a thorough disinfecting, first, scrub them well with soap to physically remove microorganisms, and then allow them to soak in a sink full of full strength white vinegar, or just spray them down with it and let sit. Hydrogen peroxide is also a beneficial disinfectant – I don’t use it much because I am satisfied with my vinegar, but I have researched that wiping with vinegar, and then following with hydrogen peroxide (NOT both together), kills off most microorganisms of concern. If you own a dishwasher, it also likely has a setting to sterilize – using your detergent and super hot water as active agents. You can also boil things that are heat tolerant (do NOT boil plastics).

So, long story short, I think it is time to rethink what “disinfecting” means in your home. We really don’t need to kill everything off – we can live in harmony with a few microorganisms and be perfectly healthy (in my opinion, more so). Here’s to hoping we can collectively reach a new level of comfort with what constitutes “clean enough” 🙂

For further reading on the topic, check out these links:
Does vinegar kill germs? – David Suzuki Foundation
Non-toxic Disinfecting – David Suzuki’s Queen of Green
Does vinegar really kill household germs? – ABC Health & Wellbeing
What is bleach and why is it dangerous? – Sustainable Baby Steps