• Cloth Baby Wipes System

    I decided early in my pregnancy that I wanted to do cloth diapering.  Chief was very supportive of my plan, even though a few others looked at me like I was crazy.  That made me nervous, but after speaking to a few mommas that were cloth diapering and reading various blogs, the most common sentiment that I heard was that it was a lot easier than most people think.  Most moms who began cloth diapering after the first child or when their child was older only wish they would have started earlier.  I have been loving it thus far.  It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to do cloth diapering and then have wipes that need disposing of though, so here I have a recipe for cloth wipes that can just be thrown in the wet bag and washed with the diapers.

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    Even if you don’t cloth diaper, these wipes could also be used to wipe up a child’s face or body.  And, let’s be honest…I admit that sometimes a quick scrub to myself with these in the morning is the closest I get to a shower before I head out of the house!  I also like using these wipes to get in to the little rolls of chub that milk likes to get stuck in.

    I watched a number of YouTube videos and read a number of blogs and then did some trial and error to come up with my favorite method and recipe for these wipes.  I made my own video here.  As with all these kitchen beautician recipes, don’t become hung up on acquiring exactly what is listed but just jump in and do a few tests with whatever you have on hand and I promise you it will quickly become second nature and you’ll find your own tweaks that you’re happy with.

    Cloth wipes

    First of all, you will need wipes.  I ended up buying some unbleached organic cotton ones from OsoCozy.  A number of other moms just used cut up old t-shirts or receiving blankets so you could do that if you want to save money or if you are handier with a sewing machine than I am.  I usually fill the wipes warmer with about 30 wipes but you could do less depending on how often you need them.

    Solution

    There are a lot of recipes out there but my favorite mixture is below:

    • Boiled then cooled water (or distilled water)
    • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
    • 1 Tbsp. castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented)
    • 1 Tbsp. witch hazel
    • 1 Tbsp. aloe vera gel
    • 10 drops essential oils.  My favorite is a mixture of tea tree, lavender, and vanilla essential oils.  Other good options are chamomile or tangerine.  You could also make a big batch of chamomile tea with the boiled water to incorporate it that way.

    I think the water and oil are the two most crucial ingredients because they are what really clean and soften the skin, respectively.  Coconut oil could always be substituted with almond oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil, or whatever else you have on hand.  Go ahead and try a batch with just these two things if you need time to acquire the other items listed in the recipe.  The witch hazel adds astringent properties and the aloe vera gel soothes skin.  The essential oils provide a nice scent, allow for the incorporation of aromatherapy and many have antibacterial and antifungal properties.  Baby shampoo could be substituted for the castile soap.

    Method

    You could also use distilled water but I usually just boil a full teapot of water when making my tea or coffee in the morning and then set the unused water aside.  Boiling it will ensure you have killed any bacteria that could foster mold growth, etc.

    In a large bowl or casserole dish, I put in the oil, castile soap, witch hazel and aloe vera gel and then pour the warm water over it.  I then drop in the essential oils.

    On other blogs or videos I watched, moms rolled up their little cloth wipes.  Bless them but I really don’t have the time to spare.  I just fold mine in half and it takes about 1 extra minute for every load of laundry.

    I take the stacks of folded wipes and dip them in to the solution until they are saturated but then squeeze them out so they are wet but not dripping.  You generally don’t want them too wet or baby’s bottom will stay wet after wiping and could result in yeast, etc.

    I then place mine in a special wipes warmer made for cloth wipes and I really love it.  It is by Prince Lionheart*.  I know that wipes warmers aren’t really necessary but it’s kind of a nice treat and my little one loves having her diaper changed.  I like the way it opens up fully and the wipe doesn’t need to be pulled through an opening.  It’s very easy to do one handed.  I have heard of some other ones that work well for cloth wipes including the OXO brand, but haven’t tried it so I can’t speak to it.

    For travel, I place about 5 wipes in to a Buti-pod that I really like.  Again, as a mom it’s nice to have little emergency showers in your handbag!

    If there is any extra solution left in the dish you dunked the wipes in, you can set it aside and add it to the next bath.  Another option is to put it in to one of the perineal irrigation bottles you might have leftover from your delivery.  These things are the best for a number or purposes.  I sometimes use it to soak cotton balls that I use to clean in crevices or you can squirt the solution on to a dry cloth wipe and wipe baby up that way.

    That’s it!  It sounds like a lot but, as you can see from my video, each batch takes about three minutes to make once you get the hang of it.  It’s so nice not having to buy wipes and not even needing a rubbish bin in the nursery.

    * As far as cleaning your Prince Lionheart warmer, I wipe it out every time I change out the wipes.  I remove the Everfresh replacement pillow, rinse it and wring it out.  While it is removed, I spray the inside of the warmer with a vinegar and water solution and wipe it out.  The replacement pillow needs to be replaced once every three months.

  • The Oil Cleansing Method For Clear, Radiant Skin

    Oil cleansing is a way to cleanse your face with oil.

    Wait…what?

    Yep, that’s right…problem skin can be combated with oil whether the problem is acne, sensitivity, or dryness.  I have been wanting to write a post about the oil cleansing method for facial cleansing for a long time.  I was determined to make it work because I love how natural, minimalist and organic it is.  Plus, I had heard amazing things about how it left skin clear, radiant, and dewy and got rid of acne.  I tried this method for a few weeks a couple years ago and it didn’t work very well during that first attempt, so I gave up.  I was really excited about it though, so I knew I needed to try it again and troubleshoot because I felt confident this was the best method/product out there.

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    Why?

    My favorite thing about this method is how simplified the routine is – it eliminates the need for eye makeup remover, toner, moisturizer, and cleanser.  That translates to a lot of dollars saved and a lot of steps eliminated.

    My skin has always been pretty normal.  I have gone through some periods where I was really prone to spots, generally during times I was under a lot of stress or my hormones were haywire.  I blogged about that in this post.  I finally used Accutane (isotretinoin) to clear it up because I was so fed up but if you’ve read any of my blog, you know important natural methods are to me.  I kind of wish I would have tried the oil cleansing method as a last-ditch effort before doing Accutane.

    How does it work?

    So the premise behind using straight oil to cleanse your face is pretty simple.  The idea is that by using harsh and artificial cleansers to clean out your pores, you basically just end up stripping the skin, making it produce more oil to compensate, setting up a negative feedback loop. A person then tends to wash even more and be more harsh on spots or conditions that result from these methods.  The abrasiveness of some of these usual facial cleansing products (whether chemical or physical) can also aggravate skin.

    The oil cleansing method is based on the simple chemical phenomena that oil dissolves oil.  For that reason, oil is the constituent used to dissolve excess oil in pores and and loosen it along with impurities from the skin in this method.  There are different combinations of oils that can be used depending on your skin type and I like the added benefit that it’s very easy to find organic oils at affordable prices.  Trying to find organic cleansers to buy is extremely expensive.

    The oil that is most often touted as the base oil for this method is castor oil because it has somewhat toning and anti-inflammatory properties.  I generally avoid this oil because it cannot be produced without workers involved in its refinement being exposed to some level of toxicity.  It also requires  chemical extraction from solvents, deodorization, stabilizers etc., which concerns me (and is the same reason I avoid canola or corn oil in my food).  I prefer something than can be processed with a simple cold-press process.

    Instead, I recommend finding an oil or mixture of oils (below) that works for your skin and is easy enough for you to obtain.  Here are generally the oils that are used for different skin types (from the Crunchy Betty blog):

    • Hazelnut or sunflower oil (for typically acneic skin)
    • Sunflower, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil (for oily to normal skin)
    • Jojoba, grapeseed, or apricot kernel oil (for normal to dry skin)
    • Avocado or apricot kernel oil (for dry skin)

    Olive oil and coconut oil are also mentioned a lot when referring to this method.  I have not carefully tested them myself but I have heard anecdotal evidence that they can be somewhat comedogenic (pore-clogging) so I have generally avoided them unless I’m in a pinch.  I would definitely recommend trying this method with some of the other oils first and then doing a more of a scientific test with these more common oils to see if changing the oil changed the outcome.  I’d hate for you to give up too soon because you started with the wrong oils like I did.

    When I first tried this method, it didn’t really work for me and left my skin prone to breakouts.  I think there are a couple reasons for this and I’m glad I went back and gave it another try.  The first was that I was using a cleansing oil I bought online – Deep Cleansing Oil by DHC.  It seemed to be good from the reviews but was an olive oil base and also had some ingredients in it that I didn’t know what they were (preservatives, etc.).  I think the other reason it didn’t work was because of the way in which I was doing it.  I was basically just using the oil to wash my face and then wiping it off.  As I later came to find out, giving the face a little steam is the best way to loosen anything from the pores after cleansing.

    So, all this background – now how is it done?  First decide which oils you are going to use.  Some people like to make a mixture in a small bottle and add a couple drops of essential oil.  I have sort of normal/combination skin so I just use whichever oil I have on hand, usually almond or grapeseed and then I add in apricot kernel or argan oil if it’s during a time of the year my skin is prone to dryness.  I also really like Jason’s Vitamin E Oil (5000 i.u.), which can be found online if you’re an Amazon junkie like me or at a natural grocers.  It is a pre-made mixture of safflower, sunflower, rice bran, avocado, wheat germ, apricot kernel, and almond oils.  It can be used straight out of the bottle for this method and travels really well.  Most people do oil cleansing as part of a bedtime routine.  I do it every night.

    This is generally the method I follow:

    1. There is no need to remove eye-make up first but if you have a lot on, you may try putting some coconut oil on a cotton ball and removing it so it doesn’t smear all over your face.
    2. Get warm water running from the faucet.
    3. Splash some warm water over the face.
    4. Thoroughly wet and mostly wring a washcloth (nothing too abrasive).
    5. Put the washcloth in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
    6. While the washcloth is in the microwave, begin massaging about one tablespoon of oil (or a quarter size amount) in upward, circular motions in to damp skin.  There is no reason to avoid the eyes like with other cleansers.
    7. While you are massaging, really take the time to envision the best skin you can imagine.  This massaging motion helps bring blood to the surface and will result in a nice glow, like after a facial.  Pay special attention to problem areas.  Use this same oil to remove any eye make-up (assuming you haven’t put in any irritating essential oils).  Try using affirmations during this part, e.g. “I deserve beautiful skin.”  “I take gentle, loving care of myself.”
    8. Remove the washcloth from the microwave and drape it over the face at the temperature at which it’s just cool enough that it can be tolerated without burning your skin.  The steam will loosen any impurities and oil from your skin.
    9. Lie down with the washcloth on your face for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  For many of you, you may find this is the first time during the day you have had one minute to yourself so use it as a minute long meditation and a chance to get off your feet and begin preparing yourself for winding down for bedtime.
    10. Once the washcloth has cooled off, gently wipe down the skin.
    11. Rinse the washcloth and repeat steaming the face (microwave again).

    You can skip the microwave step, but I find I like the washcloth really hot and can’t get it to the temperature I want without burning my hands when I wring the cloth.  I really like this video from Mommypotamus that describes the method.  I don’t use the two cloths likes she does just because I don’t have enough washcloths or do laundry frequently enough to warrant it (though I suspect this will change when my infant arrives in a couple months).  I just rinse and re-use the original washcloth, trying to use the opposite side if I remember.

    Your skin may go through an adjustment period when you start this method though mine didn’t.  You may be unblocking some clogged pores the first few days so if it starts with a bit of a breakout, just stick with it and see how it is working after a week or so.  Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to return to a regular cleanser during this adjustment period.

    You might be surprised when I tell you that your skin may feel dry as a result of cleansing with oil.  If so, add a good nighttime moisturizer (or just a bit of oil) or do whatever other skincare routine you follow at night.  You may not need any extra moisturizer, or can adjust to one of the less drying oils if you do.  I like to dot some organic argan oil around my eyes after cleansing as an eye cream but find I don’t need any moisturizer.

    Your face will probably be neither dry nor oily in the morning with this method so there is no need to wash it when you wake up.  Usually I just rinse my face with water and/or wipe it with the Aveda shammy cloth.

    Other resources
    http://www.theoilcleansingmethod.com/
    http://www.crunchybetty.com/nitty-gritty-on-the-oil-cleansing-method
    http://wellnessmama.com/7569/oil-cleansing-for-naturally-perfect-skin/

     

  • Organization of Magazine Clippings Using Binders

    This is a post about what to do with all the recipes or ideas that you may have collected from magazines over the years.  People talk about how magazines have gone by the wayside with the advent of e-readers, etc. but magazines will never go away for me.  I love them for when I just want to completely shut my brain down, turn away from electricity, and relax on the couch, at the beach, or in the bath.  There are times it’s just not practical to hold an electronic device or when you want to give your eyes a break from glowing rectangles.  Seeing magazines arrive at my house in the mail amid the junk mail and bills is really exciting and the tactile sensation of turning the pages satisfies me.

    I can’t stand when old magazines pile up though because I can’t stand clutter and love organization, so this post is an idea about what I do with all the goodies like recipes, decorating, make-up or hair looks, fashion, etc. found inside them.  I never could quite figure out what to do with all these tidbits, but then I got the idea from my sister to put everything in to 3-ring binders.  She does this with her recipes.

    To organize everything, I created four different binders and divided them in to the following categories: 1) Recipes, 2) Beauty 3) Exercise and Spiritual  (e.g. meditation ideas and peace of mind ideas) and 4) Decorating and Fashion.  I insert each magazine item in to a document protector sleeve. Then I file it in its appropriate binder.  I group like things together and put a file divider in between the main categories.  For example, in my Recipes binder I have a section for entrees, breakfast, appetizers, desserts, drinks, party planning, etc.  In my Beauty binder, I have sections for kitchen beautician, hair, make-up and nail art, etc.

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    Now that I have a place for them, when I flip through catalogs, I earmark the pages of interest.  When I’ve gone through the entire magazine, I put the magazine in to a holder in the same closet that has all my filing stuff.  When the holder fills up, I spend an hour or two to go through them.  I tear each page out that I’ve earmarked and file them in to the binders. I usually do this when Chief selects a movie with lots of guns and car chases and I’m not particularly interested in watching but am trying to be social. When I’m finished tearing out the relevant pages, I either recycle the magazines or bring them with me to my nail salon, gym, or car wash or somewhere else that is happy to accept reading material.

    The reason I like this system is that it keeps the house free of clutter and has all of the stuff I found interesting quickly available.  I also really like the books for inspiration.  If I can’t think of anything to cook, or ideas on how to dress once the seasons change, or a hair or make-up look to try, I can pull out my binder and flip through it.  It’s kind of a soothing activity.  I also really like retaining all the things I read about for doing stuff like my Kitchen Beautician recipes.  It reminds me of what works well together and if I have something in the kitchen or harvested from the garden that I need to use up, I can get ideas about what to concoct with it in my binders.

    As I said, this is a really simple little life hack but one that brings me a lot of peace and happiness!

  • Revitalizing Epsom Salt and Ginger Lime Body Scrub

    This is an amazing scrub to do when you have tired or achy muscles.  Sore muscles could be from over-exertion in physical activities or because of flu-like sicknesses.  The magnesium helps to soothe the aches and the ginger warms muscles and relieves muscle pain.  The vitamin C from the lime will help act as a mild fruit acid to smooth the skin.

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    In a microwave-proof container, combine the following:

    • 1/3 cup Epsom salt
    • 1 Tablespoon very finely chopped ginger
    • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil (jojoba, almond, or olive oil would work too)
    • Juice of half a lime
    • 2 drops each of lime and ginger essential oil (optional)

    Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, heat the mixture in the microwave at 15-second intervals until it becomes very warm but not hot.

    Take the mixture in to the shower and apply to wet or dry skin in a gentle circular motion or with exfoliating gloves.  Applying to dry skin will result in a more intense exfoliation.  Rinse and pat skin dry.

    If you don’t have any Epsom salt on hand, sea salt could be a good substitute.

  • Rose Petal Bath

    If you want to feel luxurious or create a romantic feeling, try making a rejuvenating rose bath.  Go ahead and have your own little American Beauty moment 😉 You will need the following ingredients:

    Rose essential oil: 10-20 drops
    1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
    1/4 cup rose water
    1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
    1 large handful of rose petals (the more petals, the more lovely the bath is)

    To make the bath, fill the tub and then drizzle the rose and almond oils in to the water.  Most rose essential oil is sold blended with jojoba oil, so put in about 20 drops to fragrance the water appropriately.  I’ve also discovered palmarosa oil which can be obtained from Mountain Rose Herbs pretty inexpensively and has a similar rose scent.   Then add the rose water and vinegar and gently drop in the rose petals.

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  • The 1 Cent Baking Soda Facial

    I have an interest in baking soda that kind of borders on obsession.  I guarantee this isn’t the last time you’ll see it appear in my blog!  It has so many practical purposes for cleaning up around the house and for beauty.  It’s a fantastic all-natural and inexpensive solution to a host of problems.  Regarding beauty, I recently discovered that baking soda makes a great gentle exfoliant, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin that don’t want to use other harsh products.  Alisa at Spalon in Houston gives the the most amazing microdermabrasions but times I can’t get in to see her or need a little pick me up in between visits, I make a scrub with baking soda.  This is also a fantastic scrub to do when your bank account is feeling a little deflated as all of us are probably feeling with the holiday season having just passed us by.

    To make the scrub, all you do is simply make a paste by mixing baking soda (about 1 tablespoon) with a little bit of water.   A ratio of three parts baking soda to one part water seems to work pretty well.  The more watery the paste is, the less abrasive the scrub will be.  Then rub it on your face and neck in gentle circular motions.  Do this with a light hand until you’re more familiar with how your skin will respond.  This is a great way to give yourself similar results to a facial and nearly everyone has baking soda on hand.  The same scrub can also be used on the body.  Baking soda can also help remove built up styling products from your hair so I will often just bring the box in to the shower with me and add a little bit to the shampoo in my palm (1 teaspoon) on the days I do the scrub.  Have a glowing new year!