November 22, 2010

Celebrating Christmas Advent

I think most religions are misunderstood by those who aren't members of that religion....that's just the way it goes. But why remain ignorant of basic beliefs, especially if you know someone in a religion you don't know or understand?

There is good all around us, and it is important to be tolerant of all that goodness God have given us. Talk to someone you know about their religion. Find out about a tradition or holiday they celebrate. Rejoice in your commonalities and learn to understand one another.

Paul and I have decided to celebrate Advent each Christmas. It's based in Roman Catholic and German Lutheran roots, and as Christians is an excellent way to focus on the Savior during this Christmas Season.

You can read about it on wikipedia (, but basically Advent focuses on Jesus Christ being our Savior and Judge, by remembering both his birth (life, death and ressurection) as well as his second coming (yet to be). A candle is lit each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas, and normally includes scripture readings and a song.

Hence you may recall Advent Calendars to celebrate each day before Christmas. However many of those calendars seem less centered on the Savior.

Here are some helpful resources for celebrating Advent well:
A Description of the Advent Season
An LDS Observance of Advent
Printable Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar: small daily December activities

Find out more...
Official sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon Beliefs 101

Take a Quick 10-Question Quiz on Mormon Beliefs

November 12, 2010

Basic Body Care Info & Recipes

If any one is interested in a good website or book for understanding some of these basic natural ingredients you can use in face washes, lotions, lip balms, hair care stuff, you can check out or read Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles. They're pretty interesting and have made me want to start pampering myself with a few things I already have around the house.

A List of some ingredients and oils purposes: (esp for use in hair conditioners)
Softens skin (emollient)
Oats: calm skin aggravated by environmental influences, support cell rejuvenation, restore moisture balance, and help prevent further UV-related damage
Almonds: an emollient and for bleaching
Strawberries: Have a bleaching effect (great for teeth)
Jojoba oil is similar to sebum, which is secreted by human sebaceous glands to lubricate and protect skin and hair. Jojoba oil conditions hair and prevents it from becoming brittle and dull.
Avocado oil Softens skin, helps skin and hair retain moisture and fights the aging process
Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Coconut oil prevents dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged air and provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair.
Honey is high in vitamins and minerals, and has wonderful benefits for the skin and hair. Honey is a good humectant and emollient, serving as a good moisturizer and conditioner. (also flavor and color)
Basil: Oily hair. Promotes hair growth, eczema, psoriasis
Bay: relieves scalp conditions and to act as a hair tonic
Yogurt: contains healthy probiotic bacteria and is wonderful for cleansing and moisurizing the skin.
Chamomile: Fine to normal hair. Gives golden highlights. Long known for it's calming and sedating effects as well as having anti-inflammatory effects for sensitive skin.
Grapefruit oil: Promotes hair growth, astringent for balancing oily skin and hair
Lavender: Normal to oily hair. Scalp treatment for itchiness, dandruff, and even lice! Controls oil production, reduces itchy/flaky scalp. Also, it is a relaxant, anti-spasmodic. tonic for the nervous system, antibacteral, analsgetic and antiseptic. It's a mood lifter.
Lemon: Oily hair. Gives golden highlights; treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, lice, and underactive sebaceous glands. Provides a cooling, refreshing and uplifting feeling as having bleaching, exfoliating and anti-viral properties.
Myrrh: Dry hair. Treatment for dry scalp, dandruff, lice, and underactive sebaceous glands
Orange Oil: Oily Hair. regulates the production of sebum, the hair’s natural oil
Peppermint: Dry hair. Promotes hair growth. reduces itching and irritation
Roses: antidepressant, astringent, cleansing, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, as well as aphrodisiac.

Basic Foot Scrub: 1/4 c cornmeal, 1/4 c. ground oatmeal, 1 T sea salt, water, few drops of essential oil (if desired: peppermint or lemon)

Strawberry Tooth Brightener: just mash (without green tops) and apply on teeth using toothbrush (as if you were brushing with toothpaste)

Soda and salt toothpaste (similar to the one I use): 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt (finely ground), 1 drop peppermint essential oil (for fresh flavor), few drops water. Mix all to a paste and dip tooth brush in; brush as normal.

Uplifting Cold and Flu Bath: 3 t jojoba oil, 3 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile (And a bunch of others I don't have, so I just use these). Add all these at once to hot bath water while it is running.

Basic Lip Balm: 4-5 T almond or jojoba oil (or castor oil if you want extra shiny), 1 T beeswax, 2 t honey (unless you think you'll lick your lips a lot because of this), 10-20 drops essential oil of choice (opt. for flavoring), and 1/4 tube of your own natural lipstick (opt. for coloring). In a double boiler mix honey, oil and beeswax. Remove from heat and add essential oil and lipstick if desired. Place in shallow ise bath and whisk for 30-60 seconds until honey is incorporated and it all looks like frosting consistency. Then spoon into covered storage container and let cool for 2 hours before use. USe within one year (no need to refrigerate).

Oatmeal/Almond/banana Exfoliant, Cleanser and Mask: 1 T finely ground oatmeal (or 2 t ground almonds, or 1 2 inch chunk of banana), water/milk/cream. Combine oats and liquid to make a paste. Apply and let sit one minute (5 minutes if you use banana), then rinse. (Use water if you have oily skin, milk (or milk powder with water) for normal to slightly dry, and cream for really dry skin (or if you use the banana). If you want, you can keep a container of ground oatmeal with powdered milk in it, in your bathroom....then all you have to do is add water!

Cornmeal and Honey Scrub: 1 1/2 t cornmeal, 1 t honey, 1/2 t water. Combine all, allowing cornmeal to dissolve, and then apply on face. Let sit 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. (Be sure to wear a shower cap, because this is sticky and can get in your hair...yuck). Do not try and store this mixture. And don't use this if you have acne or facial irritations.

Go ahead and try one and let us know what you think.... I haven't tried them all

November 10, 2010

No 'Poo Experiment

So...I've been slowly trying approaches to homemde hygiene--the latest being no shampoo. Well, I use baking soda with a vinegar rinse.

Why? You may ask.... Because there's a lot of stuff in shampoo nowadays that I'm not sure of and many contain harmful ingredients. The big hype is SLS being in shampoo. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is an inexpensive cleansing agent used in many skincare and home cleaning products for the removal of oil, dirt and residues--and is responsible for the suds and bubbles you see in cleaning products. Because SLS is a charged particle that attracts dirt, removing it from the pores and the surface of the skin, it causes irritation. So, for this reason, SLS is now being avoided in many professional skincare products. Whenever we use shampoo, we need to remember that what we are using gets rubbed onto and into our scalp, and therefore into our body.

I like to think of myself as not being a high-maintenance girl, but we live in a high-maintenance society...when it comes to commercialization and need for all these unecessary ingredients.

So...I decided I wanted something simple and effective for my shampoo, so I spent a few days googling and reading all sorts of blogs and posts, etc. about what others have done in their quest for no 'poo hair (there's even a wiki page under "no 'poo." (I didn't make that phrase up).

So far... It's been three weeks. There was a slight transition time for my hair to adjust, but it wasn't very bad. Basically you want to use 1 cup water with 1 T baking powder and scrub it into your hair. Followed by a 1 T apple cider vinegar in 1-2 cups of water as a rinse afterwards. With the goal being to only wash your hair about 2/wk.

I use a plastic cup and keep a jar of baking soda on my counter and a bottle of vinegar in the shower. That way I can put a T of soda in the cup right before I hop in. I add the water during the shower and mix and apply and then rinse. Then after the wash, I can pour some vinegar into the cup and add water; apply then rinse with cold water (this help close your pores and blanace out the pH levels of your hair).

However, if you do this, you just have to realize that your hair needs to adjust and will feel and possibly look slightly different. No one has noticed or said anything to me, but mine just feels a little different and it actually styles a little easier I think. I admit that sometimes it seems a little greasy, but I think that's when I don't do the vinegar rinse.

ADDED NOTE (since Megan's Comment):
here are some of my dilemnas I forgot to mention:
1. When I only used baking soda wash my hair was a little greasy and clumpy/heavy and there was either dandruff or soda residue like powder. I wasn't sure.
2. When I used too much vinegar, there was also greasy hair, though it was a more shiny and light grease than the baking soda.
3. Then I tried putting a little sugar in the soda wash to add a mild srubbing effect that wasn't too harsh (unlike salt) to help with the white stuff. Right now I'm trying to decide if that's what's helped the grease calm down, or if it's just because I reduced the amount of vinegar.

I've also read a lot about other things you can use in your hair, so that is what I'm currently experimenting with.I'll keep you updated...but here's a glimpse of some of the things: coconut oil, banana or honey ingredients in a some other interesting ones I can't recall right now. Or lemon instead of vinegar in the post-shampoo rinse.

**updated 12/10/2010
So far I've done this for 2 months and I just stopped. So, like I said in my post, if you do this, you have to realize that your hair will have a different feel and consistency than when you used typical commercial shampoo. This is because your hairs natural oils aren't being stripped away anymore. Due to this, my hair always felt a little greasy underneath. You couldn't always see it, but I could tell. And, since I recently cut myself some bangs, I noticed you could tell more with those. So it won't work for me right now. For now, I'm still experimenting, but no firm conclusions. I tried Dr. Bronner's soap for two days, but that didn't work. That may require another adjustment period...I'm not sure. I also spent a month or two trying redmond clay, but it dried out my scalp (during winter). But, I'd be up for hearing anyone else's experiences. I also tried coconut oil for conditioner, but it was was too oily and I couldn't get it out very easily.

So alas...back to square one. One day I've love to figure this out!

November 3, 2010

Weight-Loss Tip

It was about 2 1/2 years ago that I tried this and lost 20 pounds and have kept it off...because I actually changed my lifestyle forever. Don't give up though. Find a buddy to help do it with you and even when you feel like it's too hard, wait until your sweet day and you'll find yourself not wanting as many sweet treats at all! I had a withdrawal a couple times, but persevered and am glad I did...

So, this is what you do. Try eating healthy fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and NOTHING with added REFINED SUGAR Monday-Friday... only Saturdays and Sundays are your sweet/junk food days! A salad a day is what I did to cut back a little on the breads and it will help you to achieve your goal weight. If you do get cravings (which you will if you are like me), substitute a fruit like a banana to satisfy your craving. When you shop, go AROUND the store, not through all the aisles... and cook from SCRATCH, simple meals!

NO DIET will be 100% guaranteed, but I know that if you change your lifestyle one step at a will succeed. Try this helpful tip and you won't be sorry you did!

*written by Charise