24 Fri, 2011 § 5 Comments
Have you made your own deodorant yet? I am still loving mine…except…occasionally, my under arms became mildly irritated & (unattractively) red, especially when heavy perspiration hits.
I researched & discovered baking soda is a common irritant for many people. Ashley said she initially experienced irritation, but eventually it went away. After a full batch, I still get it from time to time — strange it only happens sometimes. For my second batch, I could have reduced the amount of baking soda, but I decided to leave it out all together. I did not adjust any of the other ratios but simply left it out — no more rashes! I put it to the test in Bikram & climbing over the weekend & pushing high intensity intervals this week: no irritation at all, no odor. It might even smell better this time around…
I like the coconut scent & how the oil feels on my skin. When I’m cooking with it (plain coconut oil, not the deodorant), I don’t even bother rinsing or wiping it (completely) off if it gets on my hands; I just rub it in & let it soften my skin.
I added another skin-nourishing ingredient to this mix of deodorant: remember the cacao butter (also known as cocoa butter) I ordered for making raw chocolate? I added a little for its healing effects on the skin. It adds a nice cocoa scent & feels nourishing.
Also, filling an old deodorant crank container doesn’t work; I think the homemade deodorant is too soft with the coconut oil. If it worked for you, please share; but ours wouldn’t rise & lower after the first time. I filled an old body butter jar with the deodorant & apply it by hand. This works much better.
Milky with an espresso-like finish from the cacao, this looks & smells so good.
Coconut Oil Deodorant with Lavender & Cocoa Butter
perfectly fills a 6.7 oz container
- 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 4 vitamin E capsules
- ~20 drops lavender oil
- ~5 drops tea tree oil
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
- 1 oz cacao/cocoa butter, shaved & melted
Shave & melt cacao butter using a double broiler, or in the oven on a low setting, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, combine & stir coconut oil, vitamin E (squeezed from capsules) & essential oils together. Add arrowroot powder & stir until evenly combined & smooth. Add the melted cacao butter & stir again. Pour into a 6.7 oz jar or container with a wide mouth. Refrigerate to harden.
Due to the heat of summer, we keep ours in the fridge & remove it for a few minutes to soften before applying.
Have you made your own deodorant yet? How did it turn out?
15 Wed, 2011 § 2 Comments
It is more rewarding to make my own anything from scratch, even if it’s just to scrub away germs.
The ingredient list is sort of scary once you start looking more closely at conventional cleaners. The “natural” ones don’t always work as well, aren’t always as natural as they portray & can be on the expensive side. I like how my own cleaners & detergents work, feel safer using them & am reducing our household waste even more by making my own (ie reducing the amount of packaging we consume).
Before we left Utah, my spinning instructor gave me a few recipes, one of them being for dish washing detergent. I have been waiting for ours to run out, so I could finally give it a go.
Most of these ingredients come in large containers & can be used to make multiple batches as well as for other household cleaners, such as laundry detergent which I plan to make soon. At the bottom, I have noted where to find the less familiar ingredients.
Dish Detergent for Machine Washing
~$4.37 = less than $0.10 per load
- 1/2 citric acid
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Super Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
Combine ingredients & store in a sealed container. Use 1 T per load. As a rinse aid, pour distilled vinegar into the aid dispenser.
Notes: After storing it, mine clumped together a little, but that may have been because I forgot the salt when I initially mixed it. Either way, it still dissolved in the wash & cleaned our dishes wonderfully. We washed & save an old, unmarked protein powder container as well as the scoop to store & measure our detergent.
A couple weeks ago, I was distracted searching store after store for the detergent ingredients & suddenly ran out of liquid dish soap. I realized I already had nearly everything I needed on hand, so I decided to throw together this liquid soap as well.
Lavender & Lemon Liquid Dish Soap
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 T liquid castile soap
- 2 tsp vegetable glycerin
- 2 T distilled white vinegar
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- 5 drops tea tree oil
Combine ingredients in a bottle & shake gently. Use about 1 T per sink full.
Notes: I used unscented castile soap because it’s what I had, but feel free to use your favorite scent. Lavender would be nice. This is thinner & does not sud like traditional soap, but it will still clean dishes. It seems to do a better job at cutting through grease. You can leave out the vegetable glycerin if you can’t find it & don’t want to order it. The lavender, lemon & tea tree not only smell lovely but have antibacterial properties as well.
Citric Acid ~ Natural Food & Supplement Stores (most expensive here; I got it on sale $2.99/4oz), Nutsonline (best price $3.99/lb), Brewing & Wine-Making supply stores (good prices)
Borax ~ Target ~$4.00 for 76 oz (multiple batches)
Super Washing Soda ~ Ace $4.29 for 55 oz (multiple batches)
Vegetable Glycerin ~ Vitacost $3.99 for 4 oz (multiple uses)
Essential Oils ~ Natural Food & Supplement Stores – essential oils can be expensive; but because they are concentrated & you’ll only ever use a few drops at a time, they last a long time. (multiple uses)
Liquid Castile Soap ~ This is becoming easier to find; I’ve seen it at Natural Food Stores as well as Target. Again, it is sort of pricey, but I watch for it to go on sale & buy a large container. I use it to make all of my cleaning products, to clean wounds & for various other uses & have yet to go through my 32-oz container. A small amount goes a long way. (multiple uses)
Do you make any of your own cleaners or detergents?
21 Mon, 2011 § 10 Comments
The bulk food bins & I have bonded deeply the last few years.
You know it’s serious when your husband says,
“I’ll leave you to it – this is like Disneyland for you,”
before he darts off for the meat & cheese counters.
Buying bulk is less expensive & less wasteful, especially if you BYOB [bags]. It offers variety & a chance to try small quantities of something, by buying only what you need; this means your goods are likely fresher. It also seems fresher to pour my grains, seeds, beans, nuts & dried fruit from glass rather than plastic bags or containers.
We keep a lot of our bulk items in our favorite snap containers from World Market. I always have more bulk than I have containers for though, so I also store food in mason jars as well as reuse other food jars, which once held oils, pickles, etc. Food storage does not have to be expensive; in fact, it can be downright cheap.
As long as it stays fresh, I am happy.
Dave is right: the bulk section makes me embarrassingly excited. Whatever my food mood, I can generally fill it here.
Lately, my Spring [fever] mood has been light & distinct, using only a few ingredients to highlight simple flavors.
Five[or six]-ingredient grain salads.
[I have seen variations of these online but can't find the links now. Sorry.]
Lentils & Barley with Cardamom
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup almond or hemp milk
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup coconut, toasted
- 1 tsp cardamom
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup cashews, toasted
Combine & rinse barley & lentils. Combine with water & milk & bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover & simmer 30 – 40 minutes until most of the water is absorbed. Toward the end of cooking, stir in cardamom, salt & raisins. Once water is absorbed & grains are cooked, allow to rest a few minutes. Stir in coconut & garnish individual servings with cashews.
Tarragon Vinaigrette over Quinoa & Roasted Beets
- 3 T champagne vinegar
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 T tarragon [fresh if available; I used ~1 tsp dried]
- ~6 medium beets, roasted
- ~2 cups cooked quinoa
- pumpkin seeds, toasted
- sea salt & fresh pepper
Combine vinaigrette ingredients & toss with quinoa & roasted beets. Sprinkle with salt & pepper & top with roasted pumpkin seeds. Tarragon is my new favorite combination with beets. I can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh.
Do you shop the bulk section? What has been your favorite find?
9 Wed, 2011 § 4 Comments
Taking your own bags to the grocery store is one of the easiest ways to reduce waste & threat to wild animals & birds, yet I still see many people leaving the store with arms loaded with paper & plastic bags. :(
Hundreds of billions of plastic bags end up in our environment each year. Their production process consumes large amounts of non-renewable petroleum & uses toxic chemicals. They are not biodegradable. Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags are recycled. The cost of recycling these is high with end results not all that appealing or profitable for recyclers. Many bags sent to be recycled actually end up being shipped to countries where they can be cheaply incinerated under more lax environmental laws.
Reusing seems to be the only viable option.
I am really happy with my bags from Love For Earth & always get a lot of compliments when I am filling these lovely, mesh bags with fruit & veggies at the store or farmers’ market. They come in various sizes & colors & secure easily with a drawstring closure [I think you might have to specify if you want the drawstring]. Easy to clean with soap & warm water, I simply hang them over the sink to dry quickly. The mesh bags even store most produce in the fridge until you are ready to use it up.
My mom uses the mesh produce bags now. She seems to be a fan too.
Kara is wonderful to work with, & her bags are beautiful, high quality & some of the most reasonably priced I have found.
She was even kind — & creative — enough to make a bunch of durable bags for my bulk grain & legume shopping.
The only thing these are missing is a drawstring.
They will certainly last — & be well used — for a long, long time.
Have you found any wonderful, reusable bags you recommend?
9 Wed, 2011 § 7 Comments
We like the taste of almond milk & the convenience of buying it – heck, we like the fact we have the option of buying this. What I am not enjoying is throwing the packaging out every week.
So…we started making our own again, which is actually more delicious. It lives in a cute, glass carafe in the fridge & will keep ~5 – 7 days. I like the taste of the stuff from the store just fine, but it still tastes a little processed. Fresh tastes, well, fresh — & the foam –
oh the foam!
- 1 C almonds, soaked overnight to germinate
- 3 C water
Rinse & strain almonds & combine with water in a blender & blend. Pour through a cheese cloth into a container & squeeze all excess liquid from the almond pulp using the cheese cloth. You can leave it at that or combine pulp & liquid & blend again for thicker, creamier almond milk. I make ours with a small magic bullet, so it is triple & quadruple blended! :D
Save the pulp to sprinkle over salads, stir into cereal or morning porridge or try Dave’s favorite: bread chicken [or tofu or seitan I’m sure] with the shredded almond meal & pan fry. Keep almond pulp in the fridge for ~5 days; it also freezes well if you are not going to use it within 5 days.
You can also add vanilla or cinnamon or cocoa, a sweetener, etc for more flavor, though I usually keep it plain.
I won’t lie. Though worth it once made, Dave & I are both guilty of catching the lazy bug when it comes to grabbing soaked nuts from the fridge to whip up milk. Some days it takes a couple lonely cookies to finally coax me into making a new batch. I promise the thick & foamy result is worth the “hard work”.
What kind of milk do you drink?
30 Sun, 2011 § 1 Comment
A few years ago, Dave heard how many times we could circle the earth with the amount of plastic to-go utensils thrown away in the U.S. alone; so he immediately gifted us each with a set of To-Go Ware.
Made from durable, sustainable & naturally antibacterial bamboo, we loved these utensils right away. They hold up & are lightweight, which comes in handy for biking. Our set included a fork, knife, spoon & chop sticks wrapped up in some type of sustainable woven cloth; now the holders are made completely of recycled plastic. Unfortunately I think I threw my fork away! :( Dave let me borrow his, but I need to get a replacement.
Over the years, the rest of our lunch-packing components have followed suit, becoming less wasteful. Usually we pack our food in our smaller, glass containers. These can get heavy though, so I found cute, little stack-able tins — or tiffins — at World Market. They are perfect! A bit small though for someone who eats every couple hours, so I still need a mini glass container some days.
Another thing I have started stuffing in my lunch I grabbed when I bought microfiber cloths for the kitchen: a bright, coral microfiber cloth. A set of two small [about the size of a regular wash cloth] cloths were only $1 & are the perfect substitute for using napkins or paper towels to clean up. I should probably pick up another set to swap out between washes.
We also need to get more of these great little zip-up sandwich & snack bags from LoveForEarth. She was nice enough to send me a complimentary one when I referred my mom to her for produce bags. [More to come on this later.] A large sandwich fits snugly, & it is ideal for holding energy bites of nuts, dried fruit, crisps, etc. throughout the day or while hiking or bouldering.
My last trick before leaving the house is to throw a tea bag into my thermos cup. I fill it with hot water at work & enjoy it as I start my day. I think it is really important to have a cute or nice coffee/tea mug or thermos; this way you will want to actually use it rather than throw-away paper cups. Mine isn’t super cute, but it is special; it’s Dave’s from Yellowstone. I have seen these really cute “non paper” cups all over the place…they might be a bit heavy for biking though.
Tonight I prepped snacks & lunches, & it seems we are definitely set for the week. I will share these with you tomorrow & hopefully get more ideas from you.
Do you pack your lunches? How do you pack?
27 Thu, 2011 § 4 Comments
Convenient. Gets the job done. Disposes of the messy evidence.
No wonder we have a hard time letting go of paper towels. We are trying though. They are probably one of the biggest waste contributors & likely the easiest to give up –
because the alternatives work even better.
Inexpensive microfiber cloths are easy to find — I found a pack of 5 for $5 at Family Dollar — these stay in the kitchen, readily available when the moment hits. They have worked great & obviously absorb even better than a paper towel.
Something that is not as seamless to get rid of are garbage bags/liners for the trash can. It means we will be hauling the container out, but we have yet to make a trip out there since becoming more mindful of our waste…though we forgot to put it in the closed closet & even if you have a perfect little pup…if you leave the garbage out, she is going to
string it all over the house get in it…
Not having a liner means wiping out the garbage can more often, but I don’t mind having a cleaner, more sanitary pail anyway.
Speaking of sanitary, I have never been a fan of sponges or replaceable scrub-brushes. They sort of gross me out. I have always used 100% cotton-yarn, handmade dishcloths.
My mom crocheted some for me when I first moved out & taught me to make them myself; I have also learned to knit them. This cute flower-shaped one was actually crocheted by my grandma. I love the way they work & the fact I just throw them in the wash to clean them.
I recently grabbed a set of Twist sponge blossoms for a little extra scrubbage, which gross me out less than typical sponges; though honestly I have only used it once. You can wash it in the top rack of your dish washer.
Hand-washing dishes has changed quite a bit for me. I realized we
used wasted a lot of water with our usual method, so now I do what I have always had a hard time doing: fill the sink — even the rinse side which is something I learned from my father-in-law — I have always dreaded reaching into “dirty” dish water. Oh well, I got over it. I also almost always keep the stopper in to catch water when we wash our hands, rinse pots, pans, etc. & just place dishes in to soak [before adding it to the dishwasher] rather than constantly running the faucet to rinse. I have even been holding onto a recipe for our own dishwasher detergent, which I will share as soon as I run out of our current.
Something I will share now to make up for all the dirty talk:
If you are unaware, I love chickpea flour. When Ashley made Chickpea Bake, I had to try it. I love the texture; it’s dense & most. I left the curry out & did not really care for the garlicky flavor though, so I tried it again with my own twist & loved how it toyed between sweet & savory.
Here is my Cinnamon Basil variation, but check out her original recipe too.
- 1 1/4 C chickpea flour
- 1 C unsweetened almond milk
unsweetened applesaucemaple syrup
safflower oilcoconut oil [I melted the oil in my ~9x9 baking dish then poured it into the rest of the ingredients to mix. I had my oil; the pan was greased!]
- 1 tsp cinnamon
1t curry 1/2t garlic
- 1/4 tsp ginger
few shakes of garam masala
- 1 – 2 tsp basil [1 for subtle & sweeter; 2 for a stronger savory flavor]
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
Combine dry ingredients; combine wet ingredients.
Mix together until just combined.
Bake at 375* for 30 minutes. [Ashley's baked for 40 minutes but mine didn't need that long, so check at 30.]
Have you ever baked with chickpea flour?
What are your favorite cleaning/waste reduction methods in the kitchen?
26 Wed, 2011 § 5 Comments
Our kitchen does not look bare but is defined by its restraint according to Dave. This statement quickly became clear as he noted the obvious enthusiasm I exude when stepping into a kitchen supply store. It does take much restraint to not leave with arms full of fun & ingenious goods.
There are special devices for slicing each type of fruit, a utensil for every conceivable dish & numerous other clever tools that could surely be put to use in nearly any kitchen.
I could easily fill our kitchen with gadgets & various odds & ends but have decided all I really need to get the job done is quality cookware, a few basic tools & a good set of knives. My weakness is dishware & photo props, but the few I have acquired or generously been gifted by my sister have been second-hand. Re.Used.
I have found new uses for items, like this cute little tart tin I had once turned into a magnet. Now it holds freshly ground sea salt on the stove for accessible pinching while cooking — & because of the magnet, it does not budge! Ok, so this was Dave’s idea — how crafty is he?!
I also recently went through every drawer & cabinet, analyzing its contents, searching for items we truly did not use. The only thing I came out with were replaceable rims to our Magic Bullet cups.
I guess I will donate these, though I cannot imagine anyone would want just the rims. Perhaps they are recyclable?
As we are trying to reduce waste & live simply, it is difficult for me to grasp the 80-20 notion. I have heard the average household only uses 20% of the stuff filling their home; so in theory you could get rid of 80% of your belongings. I cannot imagine this is accurate as it does not ring true for us; but perhaps this is because we purged much of our belongings during the big move & do not buy a lot of extra things.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on the 80-20 concept!
25 Tue, 2011 § 9 Comments
We are pretty mindful consumers. We eat seasonally, locally when possible, we do not have a lot of extra stuff & try to recycle — even in SLC, which did not make it easy. Recycling drop-offs were not convenient — & glass drop-offs nearly non-existence — so some weeks were better than others. Recycling is amazing in Flagstaff though. Our complex even has two dumpsters reserved just for recycling.
As we have been able to separate our garbage & utilize recycling more, we have realized most of our trash is compost able. It seems a waste to let it just sit in a landfill.
I have been inspired by a recent article in Sunset & am striving to create a zero waste home. Obviously zero is not possible, but I am really throwing myself into reducing the amount of waste we transfer. This means analyzing our day-to-day & being much more critical of our purchases.
I am tackling this room by room, starting with the kitchen. Rather than inundating you with a lot of details at once — plus I am still initiating changes — I am going to be sharing a few of these at a time.
Our garbage can has become our recycling bin [with the stickers] & our true garbage can for waste is the little guy on top, which sits in the spare bathroom just off of the kitchen.
Making our garbage can so small is forcing us to be incredibly mindful of what goes in it. No one likes taking the garbage out: the more slowly we fill it = the less often we take it out = the less waste we contribute.
Recycling is great but still creates waste. If there is a feasible change we can make that means zero waste over recycling, I don’t see why we shouldn’t make it. If you have recycling, keep a list of what you can & can not recycle near your bin [our list hangs above it in the closet]. This is more efficient because you do not have to guess & you are constantly being reminded of what is waste & what can be reused. You can obtain this list from the agency responsible for collecting & processing your recycled items. We cannot recycle glass in our dumpsters; so under the recycle-able list, I keep the page of glass drop-off locations.
Decreasing our waste was not the only inspiration I found in January’s Sunset.
I was also inspired to finally try a green I have wanted to cook with for a couple years now:
Dandelion greens are “super cleansers, rich in purifying chlorophyll, & helpful for reestablishing healthy intestinal flora.” [Terry Walter, Clean Food] They also boast several medicinal properties.
Dave commented how good this smelled when I was sauteing the vegetables. Once a hater of mushrooms, he has come around & even craves them occasionally. I made sure to go light on the greens in his portion; because dandelion greens are naturally bitter, I did not want to over-whelm him. This dish is composed of one of my favorite combinations: leek, mushrooms, garlic, truffle oil [which I drizzled on top in place of olive oil] — you just can’t go wrong! We also replaced the ricotta with mozzarella Daiya. I did not find the greens too bitter & loved what they added to this dish. Rice spaghetti varied the texture perfectly.
If you have not tried dandelion greens yet, this dish is a great introduction, granted you like mushrooms, leek, etc.
Are there recycling services available in your town?
Ever cooked weeds? ;)