Friday, December 17, 2010

Kitchen Cosmetics: No-Poo Update, Deodorant, and Moisturizer

It's about time I post a little something about how I've been "greening up" my personal hygiene routine. While I enjoy the peace of mind that I'm not exposing myself to unnecessary chemicals, I especially like how economical these methods are.

First, a no-poo update. If you've been following along, you're well aware that I've given up shampoo and conditioner for the "no-poo" method of cleaning my hair. Read more about it here and here. I'm still going strong with that, and have even got a friend on the bandwagon with me. She shared similar frustrations with finding a shampoo/conditioner that didn't grease up and weigh down her hair but also didn't dry her scalp. If you're curious, go to the two links above as they describe how no-poo works. There are 2 things I do differently now: 1) I put a sachet of dried lavender into the bottle of vinegar which scented it and has helped soothe my itchy scalp and 2) I clean with baking soda and vinegar less often - I've got it down to once a week. Once your hair stops overproducing it's natural oil, you don't have to wash nearly as often. I still wash my bangs daily, however since they tend to get oily fast. I use soap for that (Dr. Bronner's Shikaki Soap, if you're really curious), so I guess I cheat a smidge :)

Next, deodorant. In this great less-chemicals-more-naturals lifestyle many of us are trying, deodorant/antiperspirant is one of the big bad guys. I won't go into detail about the chemicals in cosmetics, that's for website articles like this. Many of us have tried natural varieties of deodorant only to be disappointed by the fact that they don't really work. Enter: baking soda. It deodorizes trash cans, refrigerators, smelly shoes and yes, your armpits. It's quite simple, really. I put some baking soda in a small cosmetic jar (that used to hold some kind of facial cream). I put about 10 drops of lavender essential oil, screwed on the lid and shook it to mix in the oil. You can use whatever scent you like, or none at all. I tried applying the powder with a makeup brush, but that made a mess so now I get some powder on the brush, brush it onto my hand, and then apply with my hand to my underarms. Mess-free, keeps me stink-free (at least that's what J has assured me because I asked him a lot in the beginning!!), and best of all chemical-free. I've been going strong for about a month now, so I think this is a habit that is going to stick. (Not stink...hahahahaha)

Finally, moisturizer! I had such a hard time finding a facial moisturizer that worked well. I have combination skin, and I found that commercial products would either end up leaving my skin super oily or not moisturized enough. The better products I found were in the $30 range; not very economical. Then I read about using oil as a moisturizer. I was skeptical at first - oil would leave me oily, right? I bought coconut oil and jojoba oil at my local health food store and fell in love. Coconut oil is wonderful, smells delicious, and while it goes on greasy it absorbs quickly. In the summertime, I used it at night before going to bed but now I use it twice a day as the winter air is more drying. It works well for a facial and body moisturizer. Jojoba (pronounced "ho-hoba") oil is lighter and also absorbs quickly. I used it more often in the summer. Sometimes I'll put a bit on the ends of my hair if I notice they are dry. Coconut oil will become solid below 75 degrees, but have no fear, once you touch it the right amount will melt due to the heat from your finger. The jojoba oil has always stayed liquid. I've heard of people with very dry skin using olive oil as well, but I haven't tried it.

Have any of you tried these methods? What kitchen cosmetics have you found to be useful? This is a topic that really interests me, so I'm curious to know your opinions.



Friday, December 10, 2010

look who decided to join the party!


The parsnips have arrived! Hip Hip Hooray! Now the mini-farm is complete. Hopefully I continue to have a green thumb and each variety makes it to fruition.

Today I did the nasty (albeit necessary) task of thinning. This is what the damage looked like.

That big pile in the front are the turnips. There were so many sprouts!! The stringy ones are leeks, and then there's kale, carrots, and broccoli. It seems like cruel and unusual punishment but if I really want to eat a turnip then I have to make room for growth.

In other news, something munched on this pea plant! Apparently it didn't like it because I didn't see any evidence of munching on any of the other peas. (phew)

A happy row of peas and favas. If all goes well we'll be quite well fed!

Snapped on the way to the garden. Proof that L.A. does have seasonal changes, however subtle. ;P

Happy weekend, all!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

lessons in patience, then joy

I made some "row" markers

I'm learning that this whole growing your own food thing takes a lot of patience. And a lot of trust that what you plant in the ground will actually produce something edible! I've been checking on the mini-farm about every other day, and while there is progress it is slow going.

Pea 11/24
Pea 11/ 29

Pea 12/5
Pea Signage

I'm sure this impatience is a symptom of living in a fast-paced society where anything I want is fairly easily within reach. If I wanted peas I could just go to the store and buy some. Why plant them myself and wait for them to grow? I mean, really; if I wanted soup I could just go to a restaurant and buy some. Why make it myself?

Turnips 11/24
Turnips 11/29

Turnips 12/5

Why? Because the art of caring for oneself, of knowing how to nourish oneself from the ground up is becoming lost and I want to keep it alive. And I know that in learning to tend to the lives of the plants that will sustain us, I am learning how better to sustain myself.

Broccoli 11/24
Broccoli 11/29

Broccoli 12/5
Broccoli Signage

Besides being a place which will contribute to our physical sustenance, I am finding that the mini-farm is a restorative haven. I love visiting. My favorite part is listening to the ground absorb the water. It sort of snap-crackle-pops its way down to the roots of the little baby veggies.

Radish + Beet 11/24
Beet + Radish 11/29

Radish 12/5
Beet 12/5

As a nurse, I work three twelve-hour shifts a week. Sometimes I have to stop by and water on my way to work at about six am. On Friday I did just that, and knowing that I would be taking care of a patient who is dying I took an extra moment to thank the earth for giving life even when life is being lost. That act helped give me the perspective I needed to keep my attitude positive throughout the shift.

Carrot 11/24

Carrot 12/5
Carrots 11/29

Another joy I've discovered is in sharing the garden with others. Today J and I watered the garden after church, and in doing so attracted some of the children. We showed them what plants we were growing, and they giggled with delight when the water "accidentally" squirted them. As we were about to leave, a couple of our friends asked how the garden was growing, and we eagerly led them back to the garden to show off its progress. It is fun to share the joy of new growth, a foretaste of the joy that will come in sharing the harvest.

Leek 11/29
Leek 12/5

Except for the parsnips, everything we have planted has begun to sprout! The chard and kale look a lot like the beets and broccoli, respectively.

Chard 11/24
Chard 11/29

Chard 12/5
Kale 11/24

Kale 12/5

I've saved the best for last; my favorite are the fava beans!

Fava 11/29
Fava 12/5

Waiting for the crops to grow is an exercise in patience, but there is joy to be found within the process.

What are you waiting for? How can you find joy in the space that is created by waiting?



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm glued.

I've recently joined a forum called "Down To Earth Forums." It's a space where do-it-yourself-ers gather and talk about all sorts of things like growing your own food, raising livestock, making your own chemical-free cleaners, making your own soap, crafting, cooking, etc. It's basically home ec for those of us who are too young to have had it in school! It's a great place to ask questions - example: when my radishes didn't seem to be growing, I made a post on the forum and got some much-needed advice. (Namely, thin your radishes even though it seems like cruel punishment and give it time).

Anyway...I've titled this post "I'm glued" because yes, I am glued to Down To Earth Forums, and thanks to a post someone put up I'm glued to this mini-series documentary called Victorian Farm and that's why I haven't blogged about The Minifarm in a week or so even though there is plenty to write about. I've spent every spare moment watching this show on youtube.

Here's the first 10 minutes so you can be hooked too: