DIY Products and Temperature Shift – How to Deal.

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So if you’re new to DIY products (especially for your bod) and you’re experiencing the summer heat, you may be noticing your creations are not handling the heat well. That’s ok – I don’t always handle the heat well either, but I have lots of tricks to help my body cope – and good news: you can help your body butter cope, too. Here are a few of the tips I have up my sleeve:

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1). Some recipes can benefit from a higher ratio of solid / higher temperature withstanding ingredients. For your body butter, you may consider greatly increasing your ratio of cocoa butter, which holds a solid state at a much higher temperature than coconut oil, or adding a bit of beeswax to the mix. For your toothpaste, you may want to increase your baking soda content by a tablespoon or so. Play with your recipes a bit to get the mix that works for you.

2). Experiment with changing your location of storage. Some rooms in your house might be hotter than others, maybe you can keep your product in a downstairs bathroom if it is cooler there? Even switching the product from your countertop to under the sink might be enough to make the difference. On the extreme end, you may just want to keep it in the fridge. However, this can cause it’s own problems for texture – some things you just don’t want to be rock solid. For this problem, I recommend either:
A). Popping your products in the fridge from the time after your hygeine / beauty routine til about 8 hours beforehand, and then taking them out again, to soften up until you start your routine again (for example, if you have a morning routine, refrigerate the items during the day, and then take them out to sit overnight to be malleable for the morning) OR
B). Keep a lunch cooler bag in your bathroom with an ice pack in it. I have done this in my hot bathroom, and it works like a charm. Just don’t forget to change out your ice pack!

3). Just use your recipe in liquid form, or try an alternate liquid recipe. For example, you could use my glycerin based spray on moisturizer for your skin in replace of a body butter. However, even if your body butter turns to body oil, it still works just as awesome, it’s just not as fun to apply. Consider transferring it to a squeeze bottle, or just using plain old olive oil out of a squeezer instead if you are worried about the mixture solidifying in there again.

Out and about with some sunscreen or another product in danger of melting? Keep a freezer pack in your bag with it. Have a product that’s already separated or melted? Not to fear, just mix it again as per the directions in the recipe, and refrigerate or freeze to harden prior to leaving it out again to soften to workability. The only thing that might need adjustment is the essential oil content – you may want to freshen your oils up by adding a few extra drops when you re-mix, as extreme temperature changes and additional processing can cause them to evaporate off a bit.

I hope this helps with your temperature troubles!

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!

Bay leaves in your pantry – More than just a seasoning!

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Thanks to my mother in law, I now have a new tip to pass on to you! While cleaning an older lady’s kitchen, my mother in law kept finding bay leaves here and there. When asking her client what she wanted her to do with all the bay leaves, she reportedly asked her right back – “Don’t you know about bay leaves? They’re for the bugs!” After some quick research, it seems that this “old wives tale” checks out – bay leaves actually do seem to keep pests out of your kitchen, and there’s an actual scientific explanation behind it.

Bay leaves contain – according to my sister in law, an entomologist, many natural insect repellents like alpha pinene, beta pinene and lauric acid. Who knew? Clearly not me, or I would definitely have some in my cupboards by now! By adding some bay leaves to your containers of flour, oats, rice, and other grains that you are storing long term, you may be able to avoid the dreaded pantry moth. And avoid the immense hassle and expense of throwing out contaminated food. It’s been suggested to use FRESH bay leaves if you can, and to replace them a few times a year. The older and dryer the leaves are, the more broken down the active repellents will be.

And there you have it! I hope this quick little trick saves you some possible future hairpulling that may have come from any unfortunate infestations!

Get those leafy greens!

We all know dark leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, collards, and the like are super good for you. Packed with vitamins and minerals (although it varies with soil quality and method of farming – choose organic), they should be a staple in your diet, right?

Not necessarily! A lot of us do not find them very palatable, especially our little ones! And like any vegetable, sometimes the preparation time gets us down. So today I’ve prepared some quick tips for you to save yourself some time, and sneak those greens into unsuspecting places!

TRICK ONE: STEAM ON TOP OF CARBS
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If you are steaming your leafy greens, it’s known that a bit of nutrients are lost in the water. This is not to say you shouldn’t steam them, a lot of leafy green vegetables contain “anti nutrients”, or compounds that interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients, especially when raw. Cooking them reduces these in most cases. After LIGHT cooking (your veggies should still be green when you have done cooking them – they shouldn’t be that yucky brown green tinge), the great vitamins and minerals in these green veggies will be more available to you.

But some of the nutrients may also have been lost in the water! My solution for this? Cook your greens on top of your pot of pasta, rice, noodles, quinoa, or the like – the carbs will suck in the lost nutrients as they absorb the reservoir water.

TRICK 2: PUREE & SAVE
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As I don’t find a limp steamed leaf of kale or chard very appetizing (and neither does my two year old), I usually do something else with it after I’ve steamed it. I will steam a whole head of whichever green (sometimes a few), and then puree and freeze serving size portions. When I want to add them to something, I take a serving out of the freezer and thaw in the sink in warm water (I would advise you against microwaving for many reasons, but primarily because you will then cook your already precooked greens further and remove more nutrients).

Some examples of how I use my pureed greens are:
1) In pasta sauces / curries
2) Mixed with beans in a burrito
3) As a spread on a sandwich
5) Mixed in with guacamole or salsa
6) Mixed in with apple sauce for a snack (my son gobbles down his “green apple sauce” like a champ).

In this form, the greens really don’t contribute a ton of flavour to whatever you are adding them to, so they can be nicely disguised!

TRICK 3: FREEZE A HEAD OF KALE

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The third trick I have for your leafy greens is simply to freeze an entire (washed & prepped) raw head of kale in a bag with something to absorb the moisture like a cloth. You can then later rip off a handful and crumble in into whatever you are cooking – this is a great option if you want some uncooked kale to add to your dish but you don’t have the time to chop or shred it up. I haven’t tried this with other leafy greens, but I’ve been told kale is this best for this.

Next up: My recipe for kale chips: my personal favorite recipe for greens! Forthcoming in the next few days 🙂

Quick hand soap and body wash!

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I figured I would K.I.S.S. this Friday afternoon for you 😉 with my hand soap and body wash “recipe” – it is so simple I feel guilty even calling it a recipe.

I stopped buying “hand soap” and body / baby wash ages ago when I discovered Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap, and NEVER looked back! So much plastic waste is created when buying those individual plastic bottles for liquid hand soap and body wash (it seems you just can’t avoid that if you are buying the pre-made product)! Instead I refill my Dr. Bronner’s bottles at The Soap Dispensary, (they also refill the vegetable glycerin) and use this simple recipe for both my hand soap AND body wash:

In a pump dispenser or squeeze bottle, add & mix:

2 parts liquid castille soap
1 part vegetable glycerin
12 parts water

These ratios are approximate – I just eyeball it when filling up my soap containers. You can even add this recipe to one of those “foam soap dispensers” that foams your soap for you, and it will froth up nicely. If you use a regular dispenser, don’t be discouraged by the “wateriness” of this recipe – it still foams up really well when you rub your hands together, AND you don’t have to wet your hands before applying it! Plus, the glycerin makes this soap non-drying. None of our family members (a few of whom have sensitive skin) have ever had a problem with this soap being too harsh on the skin – I even used it on my son when he was an infant as his “baby wash” (using the baby mild unscented version).

I use the lavender or tea tree infused castille soap for my hands, and the “baby mild” unscented version for body wash / baby wash. I actually prefer this recipe to regular storebought hand soap or body wash, as it rinses off super easily and cleanly. Especially for those of you with soft water – it can be a pain washing some of those commercial soaps off, especially from squirmy toddler hands!!

With the essential oil infused soaps, your hands can have a lovely scent without the harsh fragrances from many popular brands of hand soap. And one of the big Dr. Bronner’s bottles goes a LONG way when you are using such a small amount for each of your soap dispensers, so you will save money too!

Hope you enjoy this quick trick!

Aloe vera for burns!

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Do you have an aloe vera plant kicking around the house? If not, maybe you should! They are SUPER easy to take care for, cheap to initially purchase, and they grow quickly. They are nice looking, and don’t require a ton of light. And best of all, they have some amazing therapeutic qualities! I’m going to focus in on one particular quick use today: burns. Yeeooowch!

If you find yourself scalded, simply cut off some of your plant (they are very resilient), open it up with a knife so the gelatinous inside is exposed, and apply it to the burn. It is amazingly soothing, pretty much instant relief. Keep it there for a few hours if necessary – you can keep it in place with medical tape. If you follow along with my info graphic, you can make your very own aloe band-aid in minutes! If it’s not staying in with the elastic, wrap an actual band-aid around it ;).

You can also treat sunburns this way – again, cut open a leaf, but this time just rub the gel from the inside all over the affected area and let dry. It is a bit sticky, but will speed up your recovery and soothe the area. Reapply as often as you need!

And there you have it! Stay tuned for more quick tips like this one 🙂

Got stank? Baking soda!

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So everyone has odour issues in their home from time to time. Whether it’s pets, sports equipment, work boots, or anything else – say goodbye to that oh so toxic Febreze, and say hello to benign baking soda! Today I will share with you a few non toxic odour busting tips.

1). LITTER BOX STANK – Oh kitties, how we love you. Yet a stinky litterbox often comes along with your cute furry self. A quick solution to an unusually stinky box (I’m not promising your cat’s poops will smell like roses, here), is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda in with their litter. I find this to be extremely helpful, when I remember to do it! Keep a leftover spice shaker filled with baking soda near your cat’s box so you have it handy!

2). STINKY SHOE STANK – Oh husbands, how you work so hard on the construction site, (insert sweaty job here), all day, and how we love you for it. Oh children, how we love watching you score those goals at your soccer game. But how we do not love your stinky shoes! Sprinkle some baking soda in those puppies and let them sit. I guarantee that smell will be greatly reduced! Shake the leftovers out when ready to wear them again. If some is leftover inside, no biggie, it will keep on doing the trick on those sweaty feet and socks that are shoved inside 😉

3). STINKY UPHOLSTERY – Oh comfy couch, how we enjoy spending time relaxing with you. Yet you often hold an unpleasant taint from the traffic of many many bottoms and footsies. Sprinkle baking soda generously on the sitting surface and let sit for an hour or so. Vacuum me up and your relaxation zone should smell much more fresh! If you find you are needing some sort of scent, simply fill a spray bottle with water, and add about 10 drops of your essential oil of choice (I prefer lavender) to each cup or so of water. Spray away – don’t go too crazy, it IS water, so it WILL make your couch a bit damp for a short time. Make sure you do this AFTER you vacuum up your baking soda, or else you will have a squelchy mess on there that you will have to allow to dry out. Spray this anywhere you would like to add a refreshing scent!

#3 works for your car, too!

And there you have it! Three odour busting tips that should hopefully have you putting down that febreze bottle for good. Did you know you can also fight BODY stank with baking soda? Check out my odour busting deodorant recipe HERE. If you have any other odour dilemmas you need help with, please feel free to ask me in a comment. Don’t forget to share with your friends, and like me on Facebook for more quick tips and non toxic solutions!