July 15, 2012

Oil Cleansing Method

I wanted to share my experience with something many of us struggle to find the perfect solution for time after time after stinkin' time...face issues. Too oily, too dry, too red, too itchy, not balanced, stressed, tired, overworked (by way of make-up) -- all these describe my face at some point or another over the past few years. I was on a hunt to find the perfect cleanser and moisturizer. I didn't want to spend a fortune. I didn't want it to contain chemicals that were ultimately harmful. I wanted it to be simple and I wanted it to last. Finally! I came across the one thing that has worked for me better than anything: the oil cleansing method.

Oil? Seriously!? Was I really going to "wash" my face with oil?! It seems quite counter-intuitive to wash your face with what you are trying to remove. Well, the fact of the matter is that oil dissolves oil, meaning, the bad oils that are settled in your pores and filled with dirt are removed when they are replaced with clean oils via the oil cleansing method.

I searched site after site and read hundreds of comments on which oil was right for which skin type. After about the 986th site...(ok, not really, but close) I decided that my mixture would be for younger, more sensitive and combination skin. I highly suggest you do sufficient research on your skin type. My favorite sites were: http://www.crunchybetty.com/nitty-gritty-on-the-oil-cleansing-method and http://daisyjd.com/index.php/2011/02/oil-cleansing-method/.
I have been using this method for about 2 months now and have been very pleased with my skin. The redness has totally disappeared and my skin has a much more balanced look about it. I believe the redness was due in part to the chemicals that completely stripped the oils from my face and didn't replace them in the process. I will say that if you have hormonal acne, there isn't a topical method that will help as the problem is (obviously) a deeper issue. I still deal with a few bumps here and there at certain times during each month, but it is much more manageable than it has ever been because of how balanced my skin has become using this method.
There is not a "best part" to the oil-cleansing method (OCM). It, in itself, is the best part! It removes make-up (even stubborn water-proof mascara)! It costs pennies to make, because you use so very little of the product and you may very already have the oils for your recipe in your home. I had all but one of my oils already in use in my home. It is all-natural; no nasty chemicals to worry with, and the process is like a mini-spa each night when you cleanse! It's just amazing how the solution was just at my fingertips and I never knew it! I only use a daily sunscreen to protect my face, no moisturizers needed! One step is the way to go for this busy mama!

Most recipes call for a person to mix their chosen oils in thirds. It may take a few attempts to figure out what oil is best for your skin type and there may be a "purging" period where the "good" oils are cleaning out all the "evil" oils and where your face is balancing oil-production because it has been over producing oils for so long because of the chemical washes that have stripped the oils from you face for so long, but there are very few people that have tried the oil-cleansing method and walked away unhappy. If you decide to give this a shot, you will know whether the mixture is for you or not within two weeks. If you are willing to give yourself a 2-week trial period, I think you'll like what you find in the end. If after the first 2-weeks you aren't pleased with results, research further. It only took a week for me to see the difference, but 2 weeks should be the max amount of time allowed before you begin re-thinking your process.

Now, on to the recipe and process itself:

As I said, my mixture is for very sensitive, breakout-prone and combination skin. My recipe calls for:

1/3 sunflower seed oil (as my carrier oil) - This can be found in the cooking oil section of any grocery store.

1/3 castor oil (this oil works as an anti-fungal and anti-reddening agent) - This can be found at any drugstore or grocery store.

1/3 jojoba oil (this oil works as the moisturizing agent) - This can be found at Trader Joe's and Earth Fare.

I also add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil (also at Trader Joe's and Earth Fare) to the full mixture to work as an acne fighting agent. This stuff is potent so only use 2-3 drops.

I added these oils to an old soap bottle that had been thoroughly cleansed. The method is simple.

1. Wet face with warm water
2. Place a quarter-sized amount of the mixture in the palm of your hand and rub in circular upward motions on face and neck for a minute or two.
3. Get a washcloth soaked with very warm (not too hot) water and place over skin and hold until the washcloth cools (15-30 seconds) and repeat over face.
4. Finally, take the  rinsed washcloth and rub off excess oil gently. You don't want to remove every bit of the oil as leaving some moisturizes the skin to a healthy conditioned glow.

This method is especially easy and beneficial if done while you are in the shower as the added steam helps to open the pores and release all the "yucky bad guys", replacing it with the good oils and making for a simple, inexpensive and healthy way to keep your face clean and glowing.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!!

September 22, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Granola

In an attempt to know what exactly was going into the granola we were eating, I set out to find a simple and tasty recipe for peanut butter granola. My husband is a peanut butter fanatic, so I knew I had to find a good one. Success! After combining and condensing two particular recipes, I came up with a super simple recipe that is 5 minutes prep and 15 minutes bake time! I make two batches at a time because it perfectly fills the glass jar we have in our kitchen. This recipe is so very flexible; you can substitute sweeteners as you wish and add nuts, dried berries, etc to suit your taste. We simply mix ours into our Homemade Vanilla Yogurt and eat it up! So, if you're looking for something tasty and simple, give this a try!

Peanut Butter Granola

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup light agave nectar (you can substitute honey or pure maple syrup here if you like)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats (be sure to buy Old Fashioned and not Quick Oats)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Melt butter/margarine and peanut butter over medium heat in saucepan. Do not let this boil.
3. Mix in vanilla, salt and agave and stir on medium heat until well blended.
4. Remove from stovetop and thoroughly mix in 3 cups of oats. Mixture will be sticky.
5. Pack granola mixture evenly into a 9x13 baking dish.
6. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes. The granola will be a bit golden on the top.
7. Remove from oven and let this cool completely, as it will harden beautifully as it cools. Break apart from dish and store in a glass container. You may store it in a plastic, air tight container as well, but glass keeps granola fresh for up to two weeks!

Enjoy it in yogurt, a bowl of fruit, ice cream or simply as an easy, in-hand snack!

August 11, 2011

A Thrilling Amendment to Our Dishwashing Detergent Recipe

(I want to amend the recipe below as, by trial and error, I have found a MUCH better and MUCH cheaper method of washing my dishes...I found the citric acid in the previous recipe was causing the detergent to not just "clump" but harden completely, making it useless. So I found a recipe for only half, yes, half the ingredients and it worked beautifully---and the best part...it costs a penny a load!! That means you could wash dishes once a day for a full year at $3.65!! Who wouldn't be thrilled with that!?) 

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent
I wanted take a few days to share some of the changes we are attempting to make in 2011 before Baby Ella gets here. These changes for our family are in order to become more frugal, more eco-friendly, and  become less dependent on sales/coupons as we are slowly starting to see more and more policies in place that do not help the honest couponing person. Coupons are wonderful and have been such a help to my family, however, I wanted to begin incorporating ways of life that wouldn’t be solely dependent upon a good sale, perfect timing, rain checks, etc. I wanted to begin incorporating ways of the past, if you will, that have stood the test of time and won’t pass away with this fad and that.
Below are some of the things my husband and I have tested and are slowly making a way of life. I encourage you to check them out over the next few days if all things homemade interest you. Of course, for my husband, he is thankful mostly for the frugality of it all. I will provide a cost analysis for each of the homemade ideas that will show you how you can’t get a better deal, even with coupons! Hopefully some of these ideas will empower you to become more frugal and self-sufficient as it has my family!
Homemade dishwasher detergent (soap) recipe
  • 1 cup Twenty Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer is the preferred/easiest-to-find brand)
Fill rinse agent compartment with 1 Tbsp white vinegar.

Find detailed instructions, cost breakdown, and sources for ingredients below…
  • 1 – 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda = $2.19 - local grocery store
  • 1 – 76 ounce box of Twenty Mule Team Borax = $4.29 - local grocery store
  • 1 – gallon of White Vinegar = $1.79  Yet another excellent use for a nearly universal cleaning agent.
Prior to making our own, we used Finish Quantum Power Ball Tabs that we got a great deal on using coupons. However, we still get a better deal by using the homemade. Here is the breakdown in cost analysis:
  • borax - 76oz = 4.29 | 8oz=.45/batch
  • washing soda -55oz = 2.19 | 8oz=.32/batch
  • total for 24 oz (yields 48 loads) = $.77/batch (UNBEATABLE!!!)
  • white vinegar (as rinse agent) | 1gal = 1.79 | 4oz=.06/fill
(**note** you only need to use 1 rounded tablespoon of this homemade detergent per load.  If you feel it necessary… you may use a heaping tablespoon, but I do not.)
  • Finish Quantum Tabs Can be purchased w/ coupons at $1.75 for 10ct = $.18 per load. (So you see, even with coupons, the homemade method cannot be beat.)
  • Our homemade powder – $0.77 – 48 loads = $0.01 per load
Here are the cost savings for a homemade rinse agent that goes along with this recipe. We are satisfied with the result of the cleaner alone and do not feel the need for a rinse agent, however I have posted a cost analysis below in the event that you prefer a rinse agent:
  • FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
  • White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill
If you choose to use a rinse agent, that is a savings of 6650% on an effective rinse agent! 
Give it a try! You just may be surprised how much money you’ll save by incorporating small changes here and there. I store my detergent in a small plastic container and keep a tbsp scoop inside for perfect portions every time. These are just items I had already lying around. There is no need in going out to buy a special container for this. Happy Homemaking!!

Interview with Mark Chanski--Author of "Manly Dominion" and "Womanly Dominion"

Here is a great interview worth posting in regards to the roles of Christian men and women. I've read "Womanly Dominion" twice over and think it's due time to pick it up again. I'm not a huge reader, yet I flew through this book because it was such an encouragement. I encourage any woman looking for biblical wisdom to find her proper role in the home to check this book out. Below is the interview with Mark Chanski to give you an idea of what the books entail.


August 9, 2011

Post-Ella Freezer Project Complete!

(.......sigh of relief.......)

I am thrilled to say that I am finally done with the "Freezer Cooking Project" for Ella. Though I will probably toss in a meal here and there as the mood strikes, I am thrilled that I have the number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners hoped for in the freezer for those many days that cooking won't be happenin'. I wanted to share with you what worked for us in the process of testing and freezing. I have shared some in the past, but wanted this to be a help to anyone who had any major life changes (be it new children, surgeries with long recoveries, etc) on the way and wanted to put dinners back so more focus could be put on the other necessities of life. I will post a link to each recipe as I could not have done it without the smart blogging women who have shared such wonderful recipes with many families worldwide!

We have been able to put back 60 muffins and 24 breakfast burritos and 8 mixed berry smoothie packets for breakfasts, 24 beef and bean burritos and 15 bbq sandwiches for lunches---these will be most helpful when Danny goes back to work, and finally, we put up 42 supper meals.


Double Chocolate Oatmeal Muffins: http://annejisca.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/double-chocolate-oatmeal-muffins/ - These are fabulous! When baking, I baked 2 dozen, a dozen for now and a dozen for freezing! Yum-o!

Fresh Blueberry Yogurt Muffins: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/blueberry_muffins/ - Thanks to some very sweet friends giving us a bunch of blueberries, I made 4 dozen of these. They are fantastic for those mornings where coffee is a MUST and muffins are a nice add-on. :)

Breakfast Burritos: The ones I like to make are simply sausage, egg and cheese burritos. Per 12, I use a dozen scrambled eggs, 2 cups of shredded cheese of choice, and 1 lb of cooked mild sausage. I mix all ingredients together and spice until satisfied. I simply wrap these guys in a flour tortilla, then in a paper towel, then in aluminum foil, then finally place several in a gallon freezer bag. When it's time to heat them, you simply leave the paper towel wrapped around the burrito and heat. The paper towel will hold in moisture.  This is a recipe you can tweak with different spices to get the heat you like. You can replace the sausage with bacon and also add peppers and onions. We've found that we like the simplicity of sausage, egg and mexican blend cheese with a bit of seasoning salt. These are perfect for having the baby in one hand and breakfast in the other! Very filling and full of protein!

Mixed Berry Smoothie Mixes: These are the Yoplait Smoothie mixes you can get on a deep discount at Publix if you hit the sales right. Ya can't beat 'em; strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with frozen yogurt and you simply add milk or juice (I love to add cranberry juice) and blend for a anti-oxidant packed smoothie on the cheap!


BBQ Sandwiches: My sweet daddy smoked a yummy boston butt for us and I shredded the meat and it made 15 sandwiches worth. We'll simply warm and toss on a bun with sauce and chips for a quick lunch!

Brown Bag Burritos: http://amysfinerthings.com/brown-bag-burritos - Delicious and packed full of protein! Filling for hubby's hard days at work! You can also alter this to your liking, but it's a great base recipe.


Mom's Chicken Pot Pie: This is a comfy and cozy family recipe that is perfect for those evenings in with family! One of those meals that refreshes the memory of how wonderful the blessing of family is!

Spinach Cheese (and Chicken) Casserole: http://www.tammysrecipes.com/spinach_rice_casserole I modified this recipe by adding 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken to make it a one-dish meal. It is so very yummy and filling!

Chicken Spaghetti: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/chicken_spaghet/ - This is by far one of our favorites to eat and reheat! It reheats beautifully! We preferred to leave the peppers and pimentos out, but it is such a creamy comforting meal!

Cheeseburger Pie: http://besteverrecipecollection.blogspot.com/search/label/cheeseburger - Some sweet friends of ours baked this meal for us one night for a get together and it was a total hit with us both, but Danny requested it again from me only two days later, so I just knew I had to learn to make it. Thanks, Jill for opening your home and for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us!

A few other things I've put away for suppers are quart bags of homemade marinara made from tons of grape tomatoes given to us by some of our church family, several packages of marinated pork chops and chicken for easy thawing and grilling and chicken and beef cut up for adding to stir-fry veggies and rice.

Our sweet moms will also be providing us with their delicious vegetable soup and chili recipes, as I'll never be able to make it quite like they can. This will make several hearty portions! So thankful for them! 

I hope these recipes will be a help to you if you are on a mission to create and put away some healthy (some not-so-much) meals for a busy time in life, whatever it may be!

I'm thankful for all the women, near and far, who were willing to share their recipes with me and make the transition to Mommyhood just a little bit easier. What a blessing!

June 21, 2011

A Mix Up of Uses for Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

I’ve been hearing of all the wonderful uses of Dr. Bronner’s over the years and finally decided it was time to give it a shot myself.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is a “combination of organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils, creates a unique soap that cleans effectively without being aggressive and produces a velvety-lather that leaves the skin silky-smooth and refreshed.” This soap is all-natural and not harsh like most soaps that contain detergents instead of oils and natural fats.  
Now, Dr. Bronner’s claims 18+ uses for their “all-in-one” bottled castile soap. I chose to try only five of the uses as the others seemed a bit too sketchy to try after reading several reviews. I’ll share the 18+ uses quickly below, then, I will share how I have put Dr. Bronner’s to use in our home.
Below is Dr. Bronner’s Claim:
Dr. Bronner recorded the "18 in 1 uses" on his label, which we have left mostly intact since his passing in 1997; however, people have told us many, many more uses for it than that. Here is his version. A more paraphrased one follows.
Dr. Bronner's version:
  1. Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath!
  2. Peppermint is nature's own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant!
  3. A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean!
  4. A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash!
  5. Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach!
  6. Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, Douche.
  7. Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart.
  8. Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe - keeps cool!
  9. 3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables!
  10. 1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!
  • For everyday body-washing: Get wet and pour soap full-strength onto hands-washcloth-loofah. Lather up, scrub down, rinse off, and tingle fresh & clean.
  • For other uses, dilute from one part soap into 40 parts water for light cleaning, to cutting it in half or using it full strength for heavy-duty grease-cutting jobs.
  • For shampoo, though we now recommend our new Shikakai soaps for this, many people are fond of using it as such. The method of application is to wet hair and scalp very thoroughly, squirt some soap into hands and work into a lather. Wash hair, then rinse well. Afterwards use our new citrus hair rinse and leave-in conditioners as directed.
  • For the laundry, use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load; adjust as needed depending on hardness of water. I've been told that adding a dash of baking soda makes it even better.
  • For toothbrushing, apply a drop or two of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap to a wet toothbrush. Brush as you normally would, rinsing accordingly. Be careful about using more than a couple drops of soap, as you might start foaming at the mouth. Many people with sensitive or softer teeth like to use our soap as a toothpaste because it lacks abrasives.
(NOTE: Please review all uses and decide for yourself what you will attempt and always remember to dilute it to the proper solution!)
Okay, I will now share what I’ve found to be helpful in my home. This is a product that really helps you to simplify your shower products, “under-the-sink” products, and much, much more!
The five uses that I have tested and loved so much to put into practice are:
·         Body wash – This stuff lathers like you wouldn’t believe, so it only takes 2-4 drops onto a wet loofah and it lathers so very well! It cleans well without over drying! I am pleased with it as a body wash.
·         All Purpose Cleaner – This is something I use to clean everything from kitchen counters, stoves and refrigerators to bathtubs and bathroom sinks! So it is a very inexpensive and eco-friendly way to keep things clean and also know you and your loved ones aren’t taking in harsh chemicals with each room you clean. The all-purpose cleaner requires 2/3 cup water to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar. By adding 2-4 drop of Dr. Bronner’s, you take away a bit of that vinegar smell and replace it with one of their many smell-a-riffic scents!
·         Pet Wash – This works very well on pets, especially if you have a sensitive puppy like I do. The oils in the soap will moisturize all while getting them clean as clean can be!
·         Shave Cream – 2 drops of this on wet skin lathers so well, it makes for a smooth, clean shave and doesn’t irritate skin. It actually leaves it moisturized and fresh!
·         Foaming Hand Soap – This requires the small purchase of a foam soap hand pump. I purchased the Method brand soap and once it ran out, I mixed the Dr. Bronner’s mixture in it and it works wonderfully. This saves SO much money as it’s 40 parts water to 1 part soap!  Simply fill the hand pump almost full with water, then add 1 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s, shake well and use as your hand cleanser for kitchen, bathrooms, etc. The estimates I’ve found are that this costs about $.20 a bottle! On top of all the other uses you will get out of Dr. Bronner’s, this is a major cost-cutter for your home and to top that, it’s a healthier form of cleansing!
Dr. Bronner’s can be found in many different scents at Trader Joe’s, Amazon.com, local health stores, Soap.com, Drugstore.com, etc. I love the Citrus scent for everything. It’s such an invigorating scent! The 16oz bottle ranges from $12-$15 depending on where you purchase it from and that $15.00 has already paid itself off in the above things I’ve used it for. I have had my bottle for over a month and have seriously only made a small dent in it. It could easily last me two years at this rate! So you see, this is a huge money saver, and it is a much less stressful way to keep up with the everyday household cleanings. One bottle takes care of it all!

June 20, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Now for something homemade AND yummy! This is another favorite of mine. I stumbled upon homemade yogurt while looking for jams and jellies for the season. My wheels starting turning and I decided that I wanted to give this whole yogurt thing a shot. The benefits of making your own yogurt are:
·         Cost effective – By using the 7th jar of yogurt as your “starter”, you end up using 42oz of the gallon of milk you buy for you family each week anyway, so it’s drops your yogurt cost exponentially!
·         You know what’s in it! – You choose all the ingredients that go into it and know that there are no preservatives in it.
·         Eco-friendly – No more throwing away container after plastic container!
 I researched different methods and recipes and decided on purchasing a yogurt maker and sticking with a simple vanilla recipe that can be made as sweet or as tart as you like. There are several methods to making homemade yogurt, but I chose the yogurt maker, because in the end it is most cost efficient (especially if your wonderful parents give it to you as an anniversary gift) and it is actually the easiest method. You can also make yogurt in a crock-pot or using an old glass bowl/towel method that requires the light of your oven.
The yogurt maker I chose to use was the Euro Cuisine YM80. It can be found on Amazon for around $30.00. The yogurt maker comes with 7 – 6oz glass jars with lids that can be used time and time again. You can also purchase the next step up, YM100. It has an automatic shut off on it so you don’t have to keep up with what time you started the yogurt. I chose to simply use my oven timer.

Okay, here’s the yogurt recipe I modified to mine and Hubby’s liking!
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
42oz milk – this can be whole milk or 2%
1 – 6oz cup of plain organic yogurt – to get you started. Make sure you get the yogurt with active cultures.
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup honey (be mindful of this ingredient if you have children under a year old)

1. Set 6oz of yogurt starter out to come to room temperature.
2. Bring the milk to a boil, do not stir as the bottom will scorch and you don’t want the scorched milk mixing in with the good milk. Bring it to a boil (as it starts climbing up the side of the pot). Pull the pot off the eye and let the milk temperature drop to 95-100F. Letting it get to this temperature is very important. I use a candy thermometer to test the temperature. To speed up the process, you may drop the pot in an ice water bath. Otherwise, it will take about 30 minutes for the temperature to drop to proper 95-100F.
2. Mix your agave, honey, and vanilla extract together and pour into the heated milk. Whisk this together well.
3. Add in your 6oz jar of yogurt and whisk well.
4. Pour this mixture into a pitcher (for easy pouring into jars.)
5. Pour the mixture into each of the seven glass jars and place jars (without lids) into the yogurt maker.
6. Place lid on yogurt maker and turn on for 12 hours. 12 hours is the perfect time to bring the yogurt to the thickness that most yogurts we in America are used to. You may let it “incubate” for only 10 hours if you prefer the thinner, Kefir-style yogurt. Also, for a thicker “greek-style” yogurt, you can leave the yogurt in the incubator for 14 hours.
7. Once the timer goes off, lift lid slowly off the yogurt maker (being sure not to let the condensation drip into the yogurt from the lid.) Twist the white lids onto the glass jars and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before eating.
Note: The longer the yogurt remains in the incubator, the more tart it will become, as yogurt is a sour milk product.
There are a number of things you can mix with the yogurt to make it a great and filling breakfast:
·         Fresh fruits
·         Jams and jellies
·         Granola (we enjoy this the most!)
·         Blackstrap molasses
·         Finely chopped nuts and veggies
·         Cinnamon or nutmeg
So go out there and try your very own homemade yogurt! I’d love to hear what you come up with!