Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lets Get Chemically Clean!

UPDATE 4/18/2017
After trying all of these things for several weeks, months, and years, the only one I have kept is the All Purpose Cleaner. It works GREAT on my granite and keeps it streak free!

The face cleaning with oil worked for a little while, then I suppose my face, or hormones changing due to pregnancy, did not like it anymore. I have since switched to just using my Norwex face cloth and then every-other day using the charcoal bar soap by BeautyCounter. I've been doing this over a year now and LOVE it. Followed up with Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15.

Hair care with ACV and pure soap. That one's a no-go for us. I have changed up our shampoo though and use a natural, SLS free shampoo: Nature's Gate Herbal Daily Cleanse Shampoo. We do not use any conditioner in our house, either. If the girls are having some tangle issues, I will use a small amount of Dr. Bronners Lavendar Leave-In Conditioner and Styling Crème. But only on the ends of their hair and never on the scalp!

Lastly, the laundry detergent. After further research, the "detergent" I had been using for over a year was simply just a laundry booster. So, over a three day period I had to strip away all the buildup that had happened on our clothes over that time. Let's just say the color of water the soaked clothes were in was not something you would want to put on your body. Yuck! We have switched to BioKleen Free and Clear and we are very happy with the result!

A resource that has proven very beneficial in education is the EWG Skin Deep Database ( This organization rates thousands and thousands of products for their safety and protecting you from unwanted and harmful chemicals. Each of the products that it rates gets a score from 1, safest, to 10, run and hide from it. There's also an app you can use in the store and scan a barcode to see if it is rated and all the details on every single ingredient and it's rating as well. SO VERY HELPFUL!

This process of finding products that put less chemicals into our home and bodies is an adventure in trial an error. Hopefully some of my mis-steps will save you time and energy in your process!


Chemicals. Toxic. Harmful. Who wants these things in their house, much less on their skin and their children’s skin? This is my chronicles of my journey to keep my family and our home as healthy and chemically-pure as possible. I also needed anything that I wanted to try to be economical and of course effective. These are ways that I can serve my family and help them be the healthiest that they can be. If nothing else this is where I can keep up with my recipes! Here we go!

All Purpose Cleaner
In 2013 we moved into a new house and the counter tops were granite. I had not had this material in my previous kitchens, and my regular cleaner was leaving streaks on this new, beautiful surface! I had to figure out something else and I didn't want to have to buy the specific “granite cleaners”. Enter, alcohol. Yep, isopropyl alcohol is what I use to clean not only my granite counter tops, but my stainless steel appliances, my bathrooms, mirrors, windows, etc. It disinfects as I clean and there isn't any lingering smell. It’s simple and inexpensive and it TOTALLY works.
1 cup isopropyl alcohol
1 cup water
10ish drops of dish soap
10ish drops of tea tree oil
Mix in a spray bottle and get cleaning. I use cloth to wipe down everything in my house. I find it works better than paper towels or a sponge. The cleaner will look a bit streaky as it dries, but once the alcohol evaporates, you have a streak-free shine!

Face Cleaning with Oil
It all started with the Oil Cleansing method. Strange, yes. Effective, most definitely. It seems a little counter-intuitive to wash your face with oil, but basic chemistry to the rescue! Like dissolves like, therefore, oil will clean away oil. I want to use the good, moisturizing oils to take away the dirty oils produced from my pores that have pollutants from the environment and makeup on them all day long. I also want to kill bacteria so that I don’t have to deal with those pesky breakouts or blackheads, etc. You get the picture. Oh, and this needs to be a quick and inexpensive thing to do, too.
There are many different articles and opinions on the oil cleansing method. From what types of oil you should use to what type of astringent you should use to what types of essential oils to include. Since everyone’s skin type is a little different, there is no hard and fast rule which gives one magic formula for all. You have to test out different things and find out what works best for your skin. I have a combination skin type; oily in the summer months and dryer in the winter months. Here’s what I do:
4 parts cold-pressed virgin sunflower oil
1 part castor oil
10 drops tea tree oil
Mix together and store in glass bottle. Massage on your face about a quarter size amount every-other day. Put a HOT washcloth over your face to open the pores and draw out the nastiness. Rinse the towel and repeat putting two more HOT washcloths over your face. No need to wipe or scrub. The hot water will take care of the oil. Your face will feel soft as a baby bum and not oily at all. No need to moisturize. I do this at night just before bed so my skin has some time to “breath” without anything on it. Just splash warm water on in the morning and you are good to go. On the off nights, I just wipe my face gently with hot water.

Hair Care with Soap & Apple Cider Vinegar
I am very attached to my hair. Very. Like crying after haircuts which took off 0.7 inches because all of my hair was gone! Yes, it’s bad. So, ditching my shampoo and conditioner had me a bit hesitant. I have read countless articles about people going “no-poo” and loving it. And other who hated it. The part of the shampoo that people are referring to as “poo” is the part that makes it foam. Without going into it too much, the “poo” comes from sulfates. These are chemicals that studies have shown will leave a residue in your heart, kidneys, liver and brain just from simple skin contact. Some of it never leaves your body, so yep, you’re just storing up those chemicals in your body. Yuck. The sulfates (most common ones are sodium laurel & laureth sulfate) are a cheap detergent that makes the shampoo have lather. The lather does nothing to actually clean your hair, even though cosmetic companies would want us to believe that the more lather, the cleaner your hair. Simply not true. And with so many other chemicals in shampoo and conditioners that strip your hair of natural oils to just cover them up with other chemicals, including silicon in our conditioners. But, I didn't want to give up my lathering shampoo and soft shiny hair altogether. Baby steps here! So, enter “sorta-poo”.  This recipe includes coconut milk which naturally has very gentle surfactants that will create a great foam when mixed with pure soap. The pure soap I use is castile soap. It is an olive oil based soap and has seemingly endless usage possibilities. Even though it is pricey, you can use it all over the house as a cleaner, and it is very concentrated so you only have to use a tiny amount for each use. After I did the “sorta-poo”, I rinsed my hair with an apple cider vinegar mixture to help with the shine and flyways. THIS WAS FABULOUS! My hair dried in about 20 minutes, which, for me is the nearest thing to a hair miracle. My hair didn't have all of those extra chemicals from the conventional condition coating each strand, so the air was allowed to do it’s thang and dry my hair! I have very, very thick, long, wavy hair. I typically straighten my hair with a ceramic flat iron once every 4-5 days, which is how long I could go between shampoos with conventional product. With the “sorta-poo” method, I  can go 7-9 days without a wash, and I am embracing my waves because they aren't as frizzy and “call-of-the-wild” looking as they use to be!
For a single use “sorta-poo”:
1 teaspoon coconut milk
1 tablespoon castile soap (I use the gentle baby one)
Shake shake shake and you get tons of foam! Just work it all into your hair and rinse.
For a single use apple cider vinegar rinse:
½ cup water (distilled is preferred, but regular tap is fine)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Pour over clean hair. Let it sit for a minute or two and then rinse. It smells really strong when you first put it on your hair, but the smell decreases as the vinegar evaporates.

Laundry Soap
This is one I had intended to try out a long, long time ago, but never actually got around to it. My mom gave me her food processor that she never used and I was itching to use it for something, anything! I had the bar of soap and all of the ingredients I needed to make the laundry detergent, so I decided to give it a whirl! The food processor makes this process take up literally 5 minutes of my day and I have detergent for over a month. I shouldn't even have to start with how many chemicals and dye’s and fragrances are in laundry detergent. All of these ingredients in some form and amount stay with your clothes and therefore get onto your skin, your largest organ, and eventually absorb into your skin. There are a plethora of recipes out there for laundry detergent: liquid or powder, pro-borax, anti-borax, etc. Do your research and come to your own conviction regarding borax, but for me, since there is such a controversy around the product, I am going to avoid it for the time being.
I have had great success with this detergent. The kids clothes are very clean the husbands shirts have no stinky deodorant smell, the towels are absorbent again and there’s no musty smells in anything. Clothes also dry faster because there is no chemical residue on them from the wash.
½ c. baking soda
1 cup washing soda
½ cup citric acid (this acts as a preservatives. It draws the moisture out of the detergent, so it gets rock hard. You have to use the back of a spoon to loosen it up, but then it stays loose afterwards. If you don’t want to have to do this, you can put a packet of silica beads in the container and it stays loose)
¼ cup coarse sea salt
1 bar pure castile soap (I use tea tree scented one and the tea tree oil is also anti-bacterial)
Shred the soap, and mix all other ingredients together in the food processor. Store in an air tight container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry.

That’s all that I've tried for now! I just made some homemade baby wipe solution, so I’m going to test it out and see how I like it. Also up for experimentation is deodorant and homemade “paper” towels.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Week- Day 3

Every girl needs some flowers for Valentine's, right?! I saw a simple tutorial on Pinterest for these flowers made from coffee filters. Super, super simple, but not the "wow" I had hoped for. Oh well, they still are cute and Amelia keeps running around saying she made flowers grow!

Making it nice and "smooooooth".

"smoosh it right here"

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Week- Day 2

Today we put together Valentine's for friends! This was so inexpensive and easy to pull together. The cello bags were in the Target dollar spot! A 20 piece pack, too! And the M&M's were about $3 and the paper I had on hand already. So, just a quick design in Word and the labels were printed. Amelia ate her fair share on the candy's, but hey, that's part of the fun, right?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Week- Day 1

It’s Valentine’s week and I’ve set a personal goal to do one valentine themed project with Amelia Jane each day this week, until the 14th! I know, it’s 4 projects, so not a huge commitment. But hey, you have to start somewhere!

Today, Monday, was getting the Valentines cards ready to mail to family members! (family, act surprised when you get these!) We did a photo session in our kitchen not once, but twice last week. My lovely camera decided to earase all of the original pictures, so we had to re-shoot, which meant we had to do it on a whole other day to get the grumpy’s away and the faces clean again! Two baths in one day would have been just way too much, right?! Anyways, we used those photos for cards and put puffy, pink ladybug stickers inside! I’m pretty sure the the most enjoyed part for Amelia was peeling the paper off of the backs of the stickers. Strange kiddo! Then we made a heart potato stamp and added some love to the envelopes!

"can we be done with pictures now so I can stamp some more!"

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Introducing Claire Elizabeth

Well, it's about time! I feel like this has been a self-imposed hanging-over-my-head thing for months now! Here's the story of how Claire entered the world!

It must just be something about dinner time that makes my body ready to give birth! We had just been to the chiropractor for our every-other-week adjustment. Our regular Dr. Karen was out of the office that night, and for the life of me, I cannot remember the “substitutes” name. I knew I had had her adjust me previously, and I wasn’t so fond of her style, but I felt like I really needed an adjustment, so I just went with it. She adjustment my stomach in a way I had never had done before, but I didn’t really think anything of it. Nothing hurt or felt “off”, so we gathered up our things and headed home to our frozen pizza. It’s 6:30pm. We sit down to take our first bite and there it was, an unusual contraction. I’m thinking to myself, “No way, I have 10 more days. No one has a baby 10 days early.” We keep eating, I don’t mention a thing. Then, 7 minutes later, there it was again. I knew these were not regular Braxton-Hicks, but surely this was false labor, right? I asked Neal to get out his contraction timing app and start timing these for me. 7 minutes later, there was another one. We finished dinner and kept talking on and off about how this I probably just false labor and I should just rest and they will go away. Oh no, I was not going to rest one bit. Should this actually be true labor, there were bags to pack, laundry to wash, fold and put away, bathrooms to clean, floors to sweep and vacuum and a refrigerator that needed to be cleaned out…just in case. As I scurry around doing these oh-so-necessary tasks, Neal and I were continuing to monitor my now 5-6 minute apart contractions. We decided to go ahead and put Amelia to bed and called my mom to put her on standby…just in case. Neal had a very big deadline at work the next day, Friday, so he was frantically working to make sure that everything was in place…just in case. My contractions are 4-5 minutes apart now and lasting about 1-2 minutes. So, every few minutes I just pause folding the laundry and rock back and forth until it passes. It’s now 10:30pm and we decided that we should just go to the hospital and let them check and tell me it’s false labor so that we can get back home and get some sleep. We get all the bags and Amelia in the car and head over out…just in case. I called my OB and told him what was going on. He said, “Well, I suppose you should come in and get checked and I’ll be there shortly”. No sense of urgency whatsoever! I call my mother and tell her we are going to head to the hospital and get things checked out, and without a moment’s hesitation, “Ok, see you soon, bye” as if her house was on fire! During the 20ish minute car ride to Woodstock to drop off Amelia, I had maybe 2 contractions, maybe. And they weren’t bad at all. So, we get to my parent’s house in Woodstock, I get out of the car, bam, super contraction in the driveway. Neal gets Amelia upstairs and back in bed, and I think I finally made it into the house. As long as I was standing, MAJOR contraction about every 4-5 minutes returned. But, heaven forbid I sit down, because then there were no contractions at all. So, we decided to walk around at their house for a little bit to make sure that the contractions were still happening with some sort of frequency. I just remember them being incredibly intense and everyone just staring at me through each one as if I was some sort of attraction they paid good money to see! We decided about midnight to head the remaining 30 minutes to the hospital. During those 30 minutes, the contractions were nearly constant. A stark contrast to the peaceful, non-painful car ride just a bit ago! All I can really recall saying was “I think I want the drugs this time. I can’t do it again”! We were 2 miles from the hospital at this point and Neal said, well, honey, I don’t think you’ll have time if you’re already asking for them… then he ran all the red lights! Once again, I was fiercely determined to walk into the hospital on my own, so we pulled under the drop off and out of the car we walked up to Labor and Delivery. I walked right up to the nurses’ station and had a major contraction. So, as I stand there with my head leaning on the desk waiting for it to pass, the dear nurse kept asking me, are you alright, what can I do for you. “Just a minute ma’am, I’m having a baby”. Once the contraction passes I tell her what’s going on and before I can finish, I’m having another contraction, telling her I’m about to pass out, and asking for the bathroom because I’VE GOTTA PEE!! A flock of nurses come from who-knows where with a wheelchair, and seriously, it was like we were in the Indy 500 trying to get back to labor and delivery! It felt like I asked 45 times for the bathroom because well, I HAD TO PEE! The dear, sweet nurse wheels me to one, and as soon as we get there I have another contraction. When I have contractions like that, I don’t talk, I don’t look at you, I don’t move. My head is down, I’m focused, and nothing is going to distract me, not even the final arrival to the long awaited bathroom. So, I don’t respond immediately to her, so apparently that meant I didn’t need it anymore and she took me away. Well, the contraction passes and I asked again for the bathroom. Somehow we got to the bathroom and as soon as I stood up out of the wheelchair, my water broke, seriously broke. Then, every nurse in the entirety of the hospital, or so it seemed, was in that bathroom. I was in a recovery unit in .02 seconds, the curtains were pulled, because, well, I couldn’t disturb the ladies on either side of me that had just come out of C-sections, and I was pushing. Everyone and their mother was walking in and out of labor and delivery that night, right past where this was all going down, and since we weren’t in a room, they all partook in our happy occasion! I informed the doctor (not my doctor, but whoever was on-call that night, again!) that we didn’t know the sex and that I wanted Neal to tell me what the baby’s gender was. She was happy to oblige and told me to push again because the baby’s heart rate was dropping. 3 pushes later the baby was born. Neal told me, with great excitement, It’s a girl! I asked him to check again to make sure, because I was convinced the whole 9 months that it was going to be a boy! They placed her on my chest and all I remember saying was that she was so little! 5 pounds 14 ounces of pure bliss! They had to take her down to NICU to clean her up since we didn’t have a L&D room and the hospital was insanely busy that night. Neal went with her leaving me to go at the stitches and cleanup solo. I was ready to head to my overnight room, and when I went to put my feet on the floor, I had the worse Charlie horse of my life! The nurse grabbed my leg and straightened it out and rubbed it so hard I thought she was going to pull my calf clean off my leg! We tried again, and bam, it happened again! Cue insanely tough leg muscle massage! Finally, on the third try, I made it to my feet and then into my room. It felt like eternity, but about an hour later, Neal, Claire and I were all together in our room!

With Amelia, we had 14 minutes in the hospital before she was born. We had about 20 minutes in the hospital this time before Claire made her entrance. It is perfect for me, because I do desire to have natural labors not in the hospital, but I want to deliver in the hospital in case of emergency. It was a source of some anxiety this pregnancy just not knowing if this labor would be faster and how it would be different. I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible again, but with the added time to drop of Amelia, how would we know to time it just right? Thankfully, the Lord’s timing is always perfect, even during labor! I've done a 10 hour labor and 7 hour labor, so next go around, we should probably leave at the third contraction…just in case!

Sisters much?!