Sunday, June 22, 2014

Natural Alternatives to Deodorant

Ok, people have been asking me what I use for deodorant. Well deodorant is one of those products that I feel strongly about being all natural. Like anything that comes in contact with (and especially gets rubbed into) your skin, all of the ingredients of deodorant are absorbed into your body. And deodorant is applied to your armpits, right where you have axillary lymph nodes. This is important because the lymphatic system travels all over the body and plays a huge role in your immune system. I don't know about you, but I don't want to introduce potentially hazardous chemicals directly into my lymphatic system and possibly damage my immune system. Usually antiperspirants contain aluminum to clog up the sweat glands in your armpit. Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that can build up in your system. Some studies have linked it with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Anyway, you know I like to keep it natural when possible. So here are some natural alternatives to store bought deodorant/antipersperspirants.

Rose Water

Rose water is a byproduct of the production of rose essential oil. It has amazing moisturizing, toning, and antioxidant properties. Some people have had great success using only rose water as a deodorant spray. I haven't tried it yet, but I definitely plan to! If you order rose water from Spark Naturals using the above link, you can get 10% off with coupon code "Quinn."

Spray Deodorant Recipe

This is a base recipe for those of you who like a spray on form of deodorant. Use this base and add 10 drops of your favorite pure essential oil. Emphasis on pure! Again, I use Spark Naturals and you can always use coupon code "Quinn" for 10% off making them some of the best priced pure oils around!

1/2 cup alcohol free witch hazel
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix the witch hazel, baking soda, and EOs in a spray bottle. shake before each use.

Stick Deodorant Recipe

Same thing, base recipe for a solid deodorant that you can put in a stick. Add 10-30 drops of your favorite EOs for scent.

3 TBS coconut oil
3 TBS beeswax pellets
2 TBS shea butter
2 TBS arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 TBS baking soda

Melt the coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter in a double boiler (or glass jar in a pan of boiling water)
Mix with baking soda and arrowroot powder. When mixed well, add EOs. Poor or scoop into deodorant tube. Let cool completely (you can put it in the fridge to speed it up) before use.

My personal favorite deodorant scent is lemongrass with lavender being a close second. One thing I noticed when I started using natural deodorant instead of store bought was that, after maybe a week of using it, I needed much less deodorant! A lot of days I don't need any! I'm not sure why this is, but some have suggested that your pits "detox" all of the crap clogged in their glands and begin to function properly again. I don't know, but I like it! Also, no more pit stains in my clothes! So many shirts saved!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grain Free Nut Granola

I have had a lot of autoimmune problems growing up (rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome) and because of that, and because the paleo/primal diet just makes sense to us, we try to use very few grains when we cook at home. One thing I have such a hard time giving up is cereal and granola. So when I saw a couple of my favorite blogs mention nut-only granola, I was so excited! So I looked up a bunch of different recipes and took what I liked, left what I didn't and made up my own granola recipe.

Just the chopped up nuts.

Let me tell you, it is DELICIOUS!! I could seriously eat it all in one sitting. I made 2 different types; dried cranberry, and coconut. You can use the basic recipe and add in whatever you want. I'm looking forward to trying more variations, including chocolate chip. Mmmmm.

Grain Free Nut Granola
1 cup chopped walnuts (raw, unsalted)
1 cup chopped almonds (raw, unsalted)
1 cup chopped cashews (raw, unsalted)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbs butter or coconut oil (melted)
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Optional: dried cranberries or coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chop the nuts in your food processor or blender.
Mix the nuts, salt, cinnamon in a large bowl (also optional mix-ins if using them).
Melt the butter or oil and mix with syrup and vanilla.
Add butter mixture to nut mixture and mix well.
Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the granola evenly on the paper.
Put in the oven for 15-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until toasted and slightly brown.

It's so easy, a 2 year old can (help) make it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

Why yes, this delicious chocolate pudding is made of fruit and full of healthy fats!

Avocados bring some healthy fiber, protein and unsaturated fats to this healthed-up (correct English) version of a kiddo favorite. This is especially good if you are avoiding dairy.

Without further ado, here is the (simplest ever) recipe:

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

2 very ripe avocados (you know, the ones you forgot to use?)
1/4-1/2 cup cocoa powder (depending on how chocolately you want it)
1/4-1/2 cup honey or other sweetener (depending on how sweet you want it, I prefer 1/4)
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Throw everything in the blender and blend until it has a pudding type texture.
We like to put chocolate chips, raspberries, and/or whip cream on top.

Kid approved!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sun Exposure and Natural Sunscreen

We usually don't use sunscreen.
There, I said it.
If you haven't died from shock or immediately gone in search of links to the CDC website to post in the comments showing me how evil the sun is, I will explain. We live in Ohio. Not exactly on the equator or known for copious amounts of sunshine. We Ohioans (O-H!) often have low levels of vitamin D. This is because, in the winter, there is not enough sun here for our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D. Then, in the summer, when we should be stocking up on D, we have been so severely warned about wrinkles and cancer, that we stay out of the sun or slather ourselves with sunscreen every time a ray might touch us.

Vitamin D is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and more. And getting sunlight itself can help with insomnia, immune problems, and depression.

Plus, there are tons of chemicals in sunscreens. You are slathering them onto your skin (and the skin of your children), where they will be absorbed into your body. I'm not really down with this.

But, of course, we all know that going out in the sun all day and getting burned is NOT good for you. So, here are some non-sunscreen tips for avoiding too much love from the sun. Then read on for a natural UV blocking alternative.

Instead of Sunscreen
Find some shade at height of the day.
Wear a hat at the height of the day or if you have been in the sun for awhile.
Wear swim shirts when spending a lot of time in the water.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. UV rays can burn them too.
Eat fresh, antioxidant rich foods for natural sun protection from the inside out.

For those times when you can't or don't want to avoid the sun, here is a quick, easy recipe for natural sunscreen.

Natural Sunscreen Recipe
1/4 cup Organic Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Organic Beeswax
20 drops Lavender Essential Oil **
20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil **
10 drops Vitamin E Oil

** Please use pure, high quality essential oils. I use Spark Naturals oils. You are always welcome to use coupon code "Quinn" to get 10% off of anything on their site.

*Melt the organic coconut oil and organic beeswax in a double boiler or glass jar in a pan of water.
*In a separate glass jar, put the drops of all 3 oils.
*When the coconut oil and beeswax are entirely melted, poor it into the jar containing the oils.
*2 options here: Keep in glass jar to store or put them in these mini deodorant tubes for super easy application.

*Let cool. Store in refrigerator when not in use to help it last longer.

The sunscreen may melt into a liquid if it gets really warm (like in your beach bag), but that's ok. You may want to put it in a plastic zip bag to travel in case it leaks.
Apply as needed. Just don't get it too close to your eyes.

About the Ingredients
Coconut Oil has natural SPF properties of about 4-6 and is very nourishing to skin.
Beeswax acts as a stabilizer to keep the sunscreen from getting liquidy and helps make it waterproof.
Lavender reduces inflammation and has restorative properties for the skin.
Peppermint is very cooling on the skin. Amazing on a hot day!
Vitamin E Oil also restores skin and acts as a natural preservative to help the shelf life of the sunscreen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DIY Toothpaste

I've had this DIY on the agenda for a long time, but it has been on hold because we had a few tubes of toothpaste in the cupboard and I couldn't stand to not use those up first. I hate waste. So I finally used up my last tube and whipped up this batch of natural peppermint oil toothpaste. And I do mean whipped up. It was super east and I already had all but one ingredient.

Here is the recipe:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
5 TBS xylitol
20-30 drops peppermint oil **

** It is really important to use pure, high grade essential oils, especially since these are going into your mouth. I use Spark Naturals essential oils. You are always welcome to use coupon code "Quinn" to save 10% off of anything on their site.

A little bit about the ingredients:

Xylitol is a sugar substitute derived from plants. It is natural, is not known to have any toxic properties, and, best of all, has been shown to help prevent tooth decay! You can omit this ingredient, but it really helps balance out the bitter/salty taste of the baking soda.

Peppermint Oil not only makes your breath and mouth feel and smell fresh, it has antiseptic and astringent properties to kill bacteria in your mouth.

Baking Soda is a mild abrasive that can help remove stains from teeth.

Coconut Oil also has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties to promote healthy gums.

Just mix all ingredients in a bowl until it forms a paste-like consistency. You can melt the coconut oil if you want and it will make mixing a little bit easier, but you can also "cream" the ingredients with room temperature coconut oil almost as easily. Don't be tempted to to add more oil or water, just do a lot of mixing! Then transfer it to a container you can keep in your bathroom. Glass is best, as EOs can leach chemicals out of plastics. This recipe fits perfectly in these 4oz jars:

When you're ready to brush, just scoop out the desired amount and brush as usual. Ahhhh!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fun With Bleach!

Ok so bleach isn't exactly natural, but I'm not putting it on our bodies. This post goes more under the category of recycling and being frugal. This is a great way to make boring, stained, and cheap shirts into pieces of fashion awesomeness. So save those shirts you don't wear or that get a little stain on them. If you've already thrown them all out, hit up a thrift store or garage sale and pick up some plain shirts for cheap. Darker colors work the best, but all colors work to some extent.


The first thing I tried was bleach tie dying. I bought a sturdy 100% cotton table cloth that I was going to turn into a ring sling. The color was pretty, but not exciting.

So I decided to spice it up with some bleach tie dye. I had it folded in half, then I started at one corner and twisted it, adding rubber bands every once in awhile. Then I twisted it back onto itself and rubber banded some more. Then I put it on a baking rack over a bowl and put the bleach into a squirt bottle. I squirted the bleach around the rubber bands.

At first nothing seemed to be happening so I kept adding more bleach. Then, all of a sudden, it was turning really white! I was afraid all of the color was going to be gone. I let it sit in the sun for about an hour. Then I cut the rubber bands off and rinsed with cold water for a long time. Then I opened it up and...

It was beautiful!! It was amazing! It was... worthless :( As I was unfolding it, my finger went straight through the fabric in a couple of the very white places. I think I added too much bleach (and later realized it was concentrated bleach) and it ate away the fabric. I pouted about this the rest of the day. Oh well, I have a cute picnic table cloth.

You can also try bleach tie dying on shirts, receiving blankets, towels, whatever you can find! You won't make the same mistakes with yours, will you?

Bleach Pen Drawing 

The next bleach project went a lot better. I got some plain tshirts of my sons' and a bleach pen.

Make sure you get the bleach pen that is for whites. Then you think of anything that you want on the shirt; name, picture, slogan, whatever. You can even have older kids do their own shirts (I wouldn't let younger kids because they might get it on their skin). Here is what mine looked like with the bleach gel on the shirt:

Let the bleach sit for a couple of hours if you want the drawings to be really bleached out. If you want them to just be a lighter shade of the shirt color, or not as noticeable, wash them off sooner. Then rinse the bleach gel off in cold water. Then wash and dry thoroughly before wearing. I LOVE how mine turned out and can't wait to do more. Here they are:

The gel does spread a little, but not much. One gel pen did 3 shirts and I paid about $2.50 for the pen. So this is a really cheap and easy project.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Clary Sage to the Rescue!

I keep hearing more and more about women using clary sage oil for all of those "monthly" problems so I decided that this is news that needs to be spread! From the time you hit puberty until you get through menopause, women have to suffer through a myriad of symptoms stemming from hormones. Well many women have found relief in clary sage!

Possible ailments that can be helped by clary sage are:

*Heavy or irregular periods
*Menstrual cramps
*Mood swings
*Hot flashes

Clary sage has been known to regulate cycles, easy bloating and cramping, calm mood swings and tame hot flashes. Here are some ways you can use it:

* Apply clary sage to bottoms of feet during menstruation to balance mood swings.
* Mix clary sage with lotion or a carrier oil and massage into abdomen to ease cramps.
*Mix clary sage and peppermint with water in a spray bottle and spray on neck/chest when hot flashes hit.
* Diffuse clary sage to lighten mood and ease symptoms.
* Take clary sage in a capsule daily to keep menopause symptoms and irregular cycles in check (do your research and only take essential oils internally if you are comfortable doing so and PLEASE only use pure, high quality oils like Spark Naturals oils!)

If you want to try clary sage you are welcome to use coupon code "Quinn" at Spark Naturals for 10% off of anything on their site!