Monthly Archives: March 2011

By Request: Home Apothecary

My latest foray into being ‘that kind of girl,’ I have begun making some of my own spa and beauty products. Never a wiz at chemistry, I have worked with some recipes I found online, in books, and in magazines to create my own little cocktails. Some of the ingredients I have discovered are pretty common; some require a trip to the natural food market or some choice websites.

Before you get started:

  • I would advise selecting a set of measuring, mixing, and cooking things that are just for your apothecary. Maybe those measuring spoons that are missing pieces or the pan that got scratched when someone used a metal spatula in it? This stuff does come out and there is no reason you can’t use the pans and spoons for normal cooking; it just makes it easier to have your go-to set.
  • If you are just starting to dabble in making your own stuff, you might just buy a few key ingredients to try out. I would suggest coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, beeswax, shea or cocoa butter, glycerin, and maybe one or two essential oils (one fruity and one flowery). I also just keep tea tree oil in my house as a staple because it is like a miracle cure-all. As with everything, read the labels to make sure they are as natural and unrefined as possible. I’ll post things from least to most complicated so that if you aren’t into going full hippie, you can still try some out.

Here are some of my favorite recipes.

Super Simple Eye Moisturizer

Pour 1/4 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive, jojoba, almost, or apricot kernel oil into the palm of your hand. Dip your ring finger into the oil and gently pat it around your eye beginning with the outer corner and slowly moving beneath your eye toward the inner corner. Then work onto the very upper portion of the lid or brow bone area and back to the outer corner. Repeat several times and then pat off any extra oil.

Face Scrub/Mask

This scrub is really gentle and is great for all skin types for the face, neck, and chest. I use it about 3 times a week.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup powdered milk (doesn’t matter fat content)

1/2 cup ground oatmeal (I just grind mine up in the food processor. Make sure it is plain oatmeal because you don’t want the added chemicals of the flavored kind)

1 tsp cornmeal

Distilled water

Combine all the dry ingredients together by either whisking in a bowl or shaking in a plastic bag. I tripled my recipe and shake them up in an old clean drink mix container. These dry ingredients are good for 1 year.

When you are ready to use it, add water to 1 TBS scrub until you have a paste. Massage over your face and rinse with warm water.

For mask: Apply the same paste you would use for the scrub over your face and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Apply moisturizer directly after either type of application.

Bubble Bath

This is super easy to make and can be customized to your needs.

Ingredients

1 bar soap, grated (I like to do a moisturizer bar. These work better than the clear type of soaps.)

2 cups distilled water

4 oz. liquid glycerin

1 oz. Coconut oil, optional(Almond oil also works; I just like coconut oil better. This works to soften skin, but it is not essential to the recipe.)

Essential oil, whatever scent blows your hair back (I usually do lavender because I keep it on hand and it’s relaxing. But you can do whatever or mix different things to get your own scent.)

Empty Plastic container

  1. Put all the soap gratings into a large bowl and add 2 cups warm or hot water. Stir until all the soap has dissolved.
  2. Add the liquid glycerin and continue stirring. If using the coconut or almond oil, include those now. Continue stirring until everything is evenly mixed.
  3. Add in about 1 ounce of essential oils. Go for more or less, depending on how strong you like your scent.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool, and then pour it into the plastic container.

Notes:

  • Avoid contact with eyes, especially in children. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it won’t burn.
  • Some people opt to add dye to make the bubble bath prettier in the bottle. I don’t really see the point because it’s just chemicals that don’t make the bubbles any different.

Hand and Foot Butter

This cream is fantastic for hands and feet. It is a bit more greasy than processed types right after application, but it soaks into the skin in about 20 minutes. It’s really great at night.

Ingredients:

1 TBS cocoa butter

2 TBS Beeswax

1/4 cup coconut oil (unrefined)

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond or apricot kernel oil (depending on the scent you prefer)

40 drops of the essential oil scent of your choice (I like grapefruit or lemon)
Using a double boiler*, warm the cocoa butter, beeswax, coconut oil, and almond/apricot oil until melted. The beeswax will be the last to melt.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for five minutes, and then add the essential oils. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes opaque but can still be poured. Pour it into a storage container and lightly cover the container with a paper towel to allow the mixture to cool before capping. Leave the product at room temperature overnight. This recipe makes about one cup of hand cream.

*If you don’t have a double boiler (or don’t know what one is), take two pots that are about the same size. Place one on the burner and fill with water. Bring to a boil and place the other pot on top of that. Put contents into the top pot to combine.

These are just some of the basics. I make a mean lip balm and facial steams, as well as some other recipes I am working on. What would you like to learn to make? What recipes do you have to share? Send them my way.

XO

A

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Spring Green

Spring has arrived, but living in West Texas, it’s not that dramatic because Winter barely dropped by. It was like the friend whom you haven’t seen in years who drops by to ask you to buy something and stands in the door talking, never actually coming in. We basically had Summer, lite-Fall, and an awkward conversation about how separate our lives are with Winter.

Spring means many things to me–Lent, Spring Break, Easter, our annual family vacation in May, and the segue into Summer that means working from home, many birthdays, and trying to think up activities to keep my daughter from burning the house down. But before I jump that gun, I am trying to bask in the current season, even if that is just a state of mind (it’s been 90 several days this week).

Liliana has been hard at work cultivating her first garden with the expert guidance of her Papa. We’re working on Spring cleaning projects. Easter and Earth Day are lurking round the corner and I am brainstorming ideas for those.

If you have read my blog at all, you know I am working to become kinder to the plant and its inhabitants. With Easter being so late this year, I am taking advantage of that to make my first green Easter. Here are some ideas I’ve had to help with that goal.

  • Sidewalk Chalk Easter Eggs– Every year we are asked to send filled eggs to my daughter’s school for them to hide for the Easter party. If the most recent Valentines Party is any indication, that’s going to mean candy like there is no tomorrow. (Of which Lili ate none–she just left it lying around.) At Target the other day I saw 4-packs of sidewalk chalk shaped like Easter eggs. At 4 for a $1, I think this is a great alternative to candy. I am going to reuse Liliana’s old Easter eggs and fill them with these colorful eggs. If you can’t find the ready-made ones, making your own sidewalk chalk is pretty fun and easy. I can include instructions in a future blog.
  • Alternative Grass– I hate plastic Easter grass. It gets everywhere and to my knowledge is not easily recyclable. I have thought of a few ideas to replace it but still haven’t settled on one yet. One option is to use shredded paper or newspaper which can be recycled (although will still get everywhere). Yarn or fabric scraps might be fun. Wheat grass grows pretty quickly and would look amazing (although I’m pretty sure my son will eat it). My favorite idea is green tulle. We have some green sparkle tulle leftover from who knows what. Lili loves playing dress up and I think this would add a fun element to her Easter basket.
  • Easter Baskets– We are the kind of people who reuse Easter baskets. However, ours all seem to have fallen into disrepair. I have two current thoughts on the matter: galvanized buckets that can then be reused to store toys, or baskets woven from old t-shirts. I am still looking for suggestions.

What are your ideas for a kinder, gentler Easter?

XO

A

Categories: The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: | Leave a comment

Still

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”

Hermann Hesse

I live in a world fraught with noise.

The noise of normalcy: sneezes, inhales, footfalls, jangles, barks, meows, twitters, exhales, coughs, sniffs, ticks, snuffles, whispers, tocks, clinks.

The noise of routine: alarms, engines, brakes, keypads, keyboards, excuses, papers, phones, pads, pods, dog food in a metal bowl.

The noise of chaos: crying, laughing, whining, screaming, singing, swearing, giggling, loving, destroying, sighing, breaking, rebuking, forgiving.

The noise of judgment: better, worse, rude, bratty, stupid, smart, rich, poor, trashy, annoying, pathetic, hateful.

The noise of doubt: not good enough, not smart enough, not fast enough, too loud, too absent, too present, too detached, too attached, spacey, ditzy, cold, nerdy, needy, weak, failure . . . failure.

As we enter the Lenton season each year, my religious leader sends out a list of suggested ways to observe Lent. There is of course the fasting and abstaining, the latter of which is usually my only real Lent commitment. But this year I looked over the list and considered another suggestion, aside from giving up diet sodas: personal reflection and meditation.

Meditation, centering, focusing–however you elect to label it–has never been something I’m good at. On occasion I can quiet my mind and relax into it, but it is not something that comes easily to me. I realize now that this is because of the noise. Not just physical noise, but the mental noise as well. All of those doubts and judgments that seem to flow through me steady as a river, they remain in the background as my own white noise.

The problem, I believe, is that I try to do as I mentioned: I try to quiet my mind. But that is not the true task. Instead, I must not just be quiet; I must be still.

I recall my first yoga teacher telling us during a guided meditation once that rather than banish thoughts and judgments, we should acknowledge them and let them go. So this morning I sat in my living room, before my world woke up, and tried not to be still, but to allow my mind to acknowledge those doubts as they appeared before letting them go, sending them off like dandelion pods blown into a warm summer wind.

For a moment, a very brief moment, I managed not to shut out the noise, but to let it go. There is wonder in the noise and chaos that fills my life.

My hope to find the wonder in stillness as well.

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That Kind Of Girl

We knew it was coming . . . or at least I did. Dropping Liliana off at school today I found myself face to face with Judy Judgson from last week. I smiled at her as I signed my daughter in, wondering if she even remembered who I was. She did. Once again I was given the up and down. (Today’s outfit was capri pants, TOMS, and a Boy Meets Girl T-shirt.)

“I like your shirt.”

“Thanks.” I tried to smile and thought for a second that perhaps she was going to apologize for her comment last week.

“It really is refreshing to see someone who’s in to all that earth stuff who still cares about their appearance.”

Guess not.

I had a million come backs on the tip of my tongue. Those who know me in private life know I can have quite the saber wit when I want to. But something stopped me. I thought about my daughter, watching me from the classroom. I thought about the son of this woman, still holding her hand. I thought about why I recycle and use organic foods and read to my daughter and teach her tolerance. And I thought about one of my resolutions this year: Teach Better.

“I actually care about a lot of things–the earth, food, my students, my kids, and the Lakers making the playoffs. I figure if I can look nice while doing it, why not? Obviously nobody wants to see a sloppy Earthsaver. Isn’t it great how easy it is to make the world a better place?”

She looked confused, to say the least. I just smiled, took my cloth diaper, organic onesie wearing son, and left. When I walked out the front door she still hadn’t moved but instead was watching me walk away. Wonder what she’ll have to say next week? I can’t wait to find out.

(I also can’t wait to see how she reacts to my hippie Easter Party Earthsaving.)

XO

A

 

Categories: The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: | 2 Comments

By Request: Plantable Valentines

Yowza! Last week’s post garnered me the most views and feedback to date. I will be posting again later this week, hopefully, but in the meantime I will answer the number one question I’ve gotten via PM, Comment, and Email: What exactly are plantable Valentines and where can I get them?

When I refer to plantable Valentines, I am specifically speaking about cards made from paper that is embedded with seeds and can therefore be planted in the ground. I first heard of the idea when one of my magazines for ‘those kind of people’ talked about plantable baby shower invitations. Even though I didn’t need the invitations, I filed the idea away for future reference. When it came time for Liliana’s Valentines this year, I thought I’d check it out as an alternative. After some searching, I finally found some great ones on Etsy from Girl*in*Gear Studio.

I liked these because they came with envelopes (100% recycled) and directions on what to do with the actual cards.

Although these are not currently available (cause V-day is over), you could probably convo her about specialty stuff. She also does compostable cards as well.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/girlingearstudio?ref=seller_info

Etsy is full of plantable paper options–invitations, notecards, etc. Just search it.

I also found instructions on how to make your own. I haven’t tried these yet, but I am thinking I will over spring break. I love the idea and am thinking of trying it with some native Texas bluebonnet seeds.

http://tryittuesdays.wordpress.com/2006/05/30/technique-week-3-easy-plantable-seed-paper/

Another option might be to write the names on seed packets.

Enjoy!

 

 

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