I admit, this week has been a struggle. Emotions (hormones!?) are running rampant, and physically I’m a tad under the weather. It’s hard to keep motivated and optimistic when you are feeling sluggish, that’s for sure.
Misty and myself have watched far too much television this week, I’ve been lazy with the cooking (surviving on cafe-leftovers…. perks of working in hospitality) and I haven’t washed my hair in I don’t know how long (actually that’s no real change). That’s OK though, as some weeks, you are not on you “A game,” and that’s perfectly fine. These things happen. I use these little stages as an opportunity to practise a little self-love, and to “let-go” of preconceived ideas of what I should be doing/achieving/being. Learning a little more about myself through my healing crisis, I have become a little more tolerant of myself and realise that it is a good thing to admit to having limitations.
Nobody is perfect – if that was the case, life would be so boring.
Anyway, Misty and me have been spending a lot of time at home this week, so we have been experimenting. I spent today chasing him around the house with the scissors, as his hair is slightly out of control (in the mullet-sense) – he was not amused. Anyway, I managed to get the hair cut out of his eyes, which is an achievement – but if anything, the mullet is even more pronounced. Oh well, I’ll take a mullet over a bowl cut any day.
I’ve never been one to use hair-products…. usually they are ridiculously overpriced and so full of toxic crap I won’t go near the things. After Misty’s hair cut today, I thought it would be kind of cool to play around with styling his new “do.” I have heard about people using flax gel for a hair product, but as usual I started to play around with what I had on hand – a never ending jar of xantham gum. This gel results in what I would call a “wet-look,” and it goes a little crunchy when it dries (like a hair-spray) – any way it makes for cute spikes on a little boy’s head, that’s for sure.
DIY Natural Hair Gel
- 1C water
- 1t xantham gum
- This is easiest to prepare in a food processor/blender as otherwise the xantham gum tends to just lump-up.
- Whizz together and store in a little jar/air tight container.
- Use SPARINGLY – you don’t need much at all – 1/2 a tsp rubbed into your palms and then used to style is ample.
What are your ways of finding balance when you have an “off” day (or week)? Yoga and a good nap are my 2 favourites.
Like I said, when I need motivating, I get stuck into some cleaning. It seems like both Viper and I needed some sort of project to keep us sane over the weekend, so while he started painted Misty’s room, I attacked our bench tops.
We have these nice looking but functionally ridiculous wooden benches. Yes, they please the eye, but they are not really suited to one (me) who is constantly cooking, making a mess and spreading liquid around. Let’s just say that these benches get ugly quickly. I am realising mid-type that I am actually writing a post about cleaning and maintaining my kitchen bench tops. Seriously? Who am I? I think I just woke up this morning and am 63 years old. Seriously.
Anyway, I’ve started writing this “Nana-Post”so I will finish. There is even a pretty useful DIY recipe included. I decided to play around with a home made wood-polish that could also act as a barrier (somewhat) for the constant liquid spills that happen in a kitchen. Enter beeswax.
If you don’t have the need for this polish (read: you have functional kitchen bench-tops) then this works a treat on wooden chopping boards, children’s wooden toys – I even tried it on leather boots and it really made them look spiffy.
It really is the most simple thing…..
- 1 part grated beeswax
- 4 parts oil – I use olive
Melt your beeswax (I have an old saucepan that I use specifically for non-food cooking like this) add oil, pour into a jar, and leave it to solidify.
Easy as that.
All you do is rub it onto your wooden surface, and work it in with a cotton rag or similar. If it gets on your skin, then rub it in there too, as it is a lovely (albeit greasy) moisturiser to boot. Perhaps a lovely home made Christmas present for the wooden-product-enthusiast in your family? Ha.
I don’t care if it makes me a fuddy-duddy before my time; I find making my own “Green Home” products quite therapeutic…. plus you KNOW they are safe and are much cheaper in the long run. Particularly for things like children’s wooden toys, you want something that is natural – because we all know EVERYTHING goes in the mouth, right?
I don’t know – maybe it’s just a sign of “growing up,” or “maturing,” (notice the inverted commas here) but I seem to get a lot of satisfaction from things I used to deem BORING a few years ago. Gardening, craft, cooking, reading a thick novel – even cleaning and home maintenance for Pete’s sake. All-night partying and mischief doesn’t have quite the allure any more.
What do you think? Are there things you have so much more appreciation for now than say a few years back?
Having a few days with a very sick child, an ill husband off-work and feeling rather average myself really showed how much it takes to keep a healthy-household functioning (or NOT functioning as the case may be).
I know in the “Healthy-Living-Realm” the consensus is that a healthy lifestyle is extremely easy and so, everybody should be doing it. I would like to chip in that yes, everybody should be trying to live a healthier, more sustainable life – but it’s not that easy. It takes quite a bit of forethought, organisation and dedication to upkeep – particularly in this day in age of convenience.
Having a few days “off” – ie either lying on the couch groaning, comforting Misty, cleaning up vomit or a sitting in the hospital emergency room – really put into perspective how much of my time is dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example – I usually shop for produce every few days, just so we have fresh stuff on hand…. plus pick up any bits and pieces we made need from the health food store or supermarket. Basically we had no proper food in the house until this morning, when I felt just human enough to go on a mission. Viper had no cereal (I make it), there is no bread (I usually make it, so Viper went and bought some), there is no nut milk/nut butters (I make them), there are no baked goods like snack bars/crackers etc (I make them) Boosty has no food (I make her Doggie-Mix), there is no hummus/cooked or soaked beans/legumes (buy dry, soak and cook myself) – you get the picture. When you are not well enough to function, it’s really hard to keep up the old routine.
I do all of these tasks happily, mind you – I really love to be busy and productive. It’s also a cost-thing for us…. convenience food is expensive – especially when you want the healthy, organic convenient option. A single income and all the financial-joys of life mean we are on a tight budget, and the more you can DIY, the better in my opinion. I’m not saying that buying a loaf of bread or can of chick peas from the store is a bad thing – I’ve just gone and done that this morning, as it is easy and I am in no shape to be be tackling too many domestic duties right now…. I’m just musing on the amount of energy I dedicate to keeping my household working the way I like it. A purely personal choice, and one I love.
In whatever way you strive to make your lifestyle a little healthier/more sustainable – whether it be making your own muesli or turning to more natural based cleaners in your house – you should be applauded. It’s so tempting to just go for the easy option in this crazy, fast paced world we live in, but I reckon a few too many easy options have created a LOT of problems (think fast food/preservatives/additives/toxic cleaning substances). Quick and easy is not always better – a little bit of dedication and investment of your time is a small price to pay for great results.
In saying all this – I have been living off nature’s “convenience foods” – fruit – for the past few days. No, this is not in line with an Anti-Candida Diet I know, but when your belly is not happy, you have to listen to what your body is telling you. Fresh fruit is what I want, and fresh fruit is what I shall eat… quick, easy, cheap and healthy. Plus, it is staying in my belly where it should, which makes for a happy Lou.
What do you DO to maintain your sort of “healthy” lifestyle (whatever that means to YOU)? I mean, some people think I’m nuts for cooking a lot of our food from scratch: Why bother? It’s so cheap to just BUY it! – however others may be disturbed that I buy UHT soy milk (albeit organic) and non organic fruit and veggies. Again, I think it’s all about that pesky little thing called balance that is always taunting me.
And yes, that is food on my face. DIY home facials not only save you a buck, but are so much better for you and the environment. Viper thinks I’m a freak.
It’s no secret I’m not really into chemicals. Viper loves bleach, and it drives me nuts – he thinks nothing else compares, sigh. Having Misty around, I am so much more aware of not only what goes into our bodies in the way of food, but what we use on our skin, face, hair, and how we clean our house.
It’s no secret that these days I do a LOT of washing. A grubby Misty, a hard working man, a Boosty and cloth nappies keep me rather busy in the washing sense. Thank goodness we live in the “Sunshine State” – there is no need for a tumble dryer – and most loads dry within the hour of being pegged out. Hooray for sunshine.
Anyway – this recipe HAS been my go-to for anything washing related for quite some time. I decided to play around with the mix a bit, to see I could come up with a “powder’ that makes life a little easier.
DIY Green Washing Powder – Over 1 Month supply
(Feel free to half or even quarter this recipe)
- 4C washing soda (available at most supermarkets – it will be in the cleaning isle – usually around $3 a bag)
- 125ml Dr Broner’s Castille Soap
- 50 drops essential oil (I usually do 25 drops tea tree and 25 drops lavender – this is the pure oil – I use a lot here as I am washing Misty’s nappies. If you are just doing general washing I would do 15 drops of each).
- Washing soda generally comes in large crystals – this works better if you crush them into a fine powder first – the food processor makes quick work of this, but a mortar & pestle will work as well.
- Combine washing soda in a large mixing bowl.
- Add essential oils and Dr Broner’s – mix until you have a clumpy/clay-like sort of powder – this is fun to get the kids involved with!
- Store in an airtight container.
Do you really know what’s in your food? I mean, really? If you read Fridge Scrapings, then you probably have a bit of an interest in including healthful whole foods in your diet, but do you scrutinise every single ingredient list of every single packet that you purchase on your weekly shop?
I know I don’t. Yes, I am aware of most preservative/additive free products…. so I admit, I have grown a tad relaxed about examining labels. Plus of course, I’m a bit of a cheap-skate, and can easily be lured into a purchase on the premise of saving a few bucks. Is saving a few bucks really worth the potential detriment of your/your families health though?
Let me explain. Last night I went to a talk by the passionate (extremely knowledgeable) Tanya Winfield, (above) the go-to girl for anything additive related. This woman knows her stuff. Mother of 3, she began cutting out additives from her pantry after her middle son was diagnosed with asthma….. and her youngest was having a few behavioral outbursts after eating certain foods. A few years down the track (and a LOT of research!) Tanya and her family are fully additive free, and enjoying the benefits of eating purely unadulterated foods. She founded the Additive-Free Pantry, and is now a Mama on a mission to spread the word on all the hidden nasties in our food, cleaning products and cosmetics.
“Additive-Free Pantry is dedicated in helping families, canteens and childcare centres rid their pantries of all harmful food additives. Additive Free Pantry, Inspiring change……..because our children are worth it!” – Tanya Winfield.
Honestly, the talk was scary – the way food products are marketed to us, and the sneaky tricks producers use to hide away what is REALLY in the food – if you are not aware, then you are easy prey for sure. Basically, chemicals are added to a product to make it look/taste better/last longer, which means the product is crap to begin with, right? This is just a handful of the goodies that may be sculking around in your packaged foods….
- Anti-caking agents – stop ingredients from becoming lumpy.
- Antioxidants – prevent foods from oxidising, or going rancid.
- Artificial sweeteners – increase the sweetness.
- Emulsifiers – stop fats from clotting together.
- Food acids – maintain the right acid level.
- Colours – enhance or add colour.
- Humectants – keep foods moist.
- Flavours – add flavour.
- Flavour enhancers – increase the power of a flavour.
- Foaming agents – maintain uniform aeration of gases in foods.
- Mineral salts – enhance texture and flavour.
- Preservatives – stop microbes from multiplying and spoiling the food.
- Thickeners and vegetable gums – enhance texture and consistency.
- Stabilisers and firming agents – maintain even food dispersion.
- Flour treatment – improves baking quality.
- Glazing agent – improves appearance and can protect food.
- Gelling agents – alter the texture of foods through gel formation.
- Propellants – help propel food from a container.
- Raising agents – increase the volume of food through the use of gases.
- Bulking agents – increase the volume of food without major changes to its available energy.
Just a few of the symptoms that can occur as a reaction to food additives (scary):
Hyper-activity, digestive issues, asthma, eczema, itchy rash, poor behaviour, irritability, fatigue, depression, mood swings, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, acne, flu-like symptoms, excessive sweating, flushing, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, joint aches, weakness, numbness, palpitations…. the list goes ON and ON.
Anyway, I was so stoked to have been present for Tanya’s chat – I have clearly been inspired, and now I have a copy of her Additive-Free Shopping Guide (goes through all the additive-free products available at Coles, Woolworths and Aldi - over 800 of them – for all my Aussie readers who might be interested) in my hot little hands I am armed and ready to rid my household of any nasties I was unaware of.
On the subject of good, wholesome, additive free fare – here comes today’s recipe. Now this isn’t Anti-Candida friendly due to the sweetener, but I’m sure stevia (especially vanilla stevia liquid) would be a delicious substitution. There have been whispers that cashews aren’t the best for those trying to rid themselves of a Candida overgrowth either (cashews have a tendency to contain more mould than other nuts). The reason I made this was for a little “swapsie” – delicious vegan treats for a yoga book – good deal, good deal. Anyway, Viper was my taste tester, and he very much approved. This is not quite a nut-butter….not quite fudge – somewhere in between. A spreadable fudge shall we say.
Coconut Carob Cashew Fudge Spread
(Vegan, gluten/wheat/refined sugar/grain/soy free – HIGH RAW)
- 1 + 1/2C raw cashews (make sure you know your source and they are pesticide free)
- 2T carob powder (or cacao)
- 1/2t pure vanilla extract
- 2T coconut syrup (you can use any liquid sweetener here…. agave, rice syrup, maple….. feel free to increase the sweetness if you like)
- 1/2t sea salt
- 1/4C coconut oil
- Using a food processor, whizz cashews until they become a “butter” – this will take about 10-15 minutes of whizzing, depending on the power of your machine. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
- Once the cashews have made butter, then add all other ingredients and whizz to combine.
- Scoop into an air tight jar…. store in the cupboard so it remains nice and fudgey.
Spread on bread, crackers, fruit slices, use as a “frosting” – or just eat straight out of the jar. If you want a runnier texture (for topping some sort of delicious vegan ice cream, maybe?) simply warm up a little. Add a scoop to a smoothie for some rich, creamy, good-for-you decadence.
REAL food tastes good without the nasty additives, am I right?
Where are YOU at with knowing what is in your food?
**(All the opinions and thoughts in this post are mine, and mine alone. I was in no way compensated for writing this post, and I paid my own merry way to hearing Tanya’s talk. I just think she’s pretty awesome, and want to spread the additive-free love).
I thought I would fill you in on my latest discovery with “healing with herbs.” A magical ingredient that had taken a back corner of my pantry has stepped up to take my herbal treatments to the next level: Guar Gum. If you do a lot of gluten-free baking, you will probably be familiar with this gum (or it’s friend, xantham). Anyway, guar gum is a super thickening agent – basically it’s “thickening” qualities are about 8 times stronger than that of cornstarch, so a little goes a long way. I didn’t realise this, but it is actually used quite a lot in cosmetics. I stumbled across the idea of using it, when I was brewing up a herbal infusion, but wanted it to stick to my skin. It really does work a treat…. Guar gum is usually available at health food stores, or in gluten free sections – just ask.
There are no set rules with making a herbal infusion (well, I’m sure there are, but I’m not one to follow rules). I usually steep 1/4Cish herbs in 1C water that has been boiled, but left to cool slightly before pouring over herbs. Leave to step for anywhere from 1-10 hours.
- 1C herbal infusion*
- Essential oils of choice (about 5 drops)
- 1 + 1/2t (or up to 2t, depending on the thickness you desire)guar gum
- The easiest way to do this is actually in a food processor/blender. You can just use a whisk, but you are more likely to get lumps.
- Place infusion and essential oil in the food processor (or a large bowl if you are whisking) turn it on to get the liquid moving (or start whisking really fast!).
- Little by little, sprinkle in the guar gum (similarly to if you were adding oil while making mayonaise) until you reach your desired consistency.
- Store gel in the fridge and use within a few days of making it (there is no preservative in it, so it will probably go off pretty quickly) This makes 1C gel.
Yes, this particular blend (licorice root, calendula and lavender looks like snot).
I used this particular blend on my irritated skin…. stored in the fridge it was so cooling on my scratchy, sore skin…. plus created a “film” over the affected area which gave me some relief.
Next up, I wanted to try this method a a hair conditioning mask. Orange/lemon peel, rosemary and ginger. Infused for about 4 hours.
Still looks like snot, but anyway.
I used this on my hair, after washing with Dr Broner’s. I basically slopped about half of the recipe on my head (my hair is pretty long) and left it on for about 10 minutes while me and Misty bathed. Rinse and done. Now, this does NOT help with tangles… be ready to get out your comb. Otherwise I was left with silky soft, shiny hair. Success. It also works really well as a shaving gel (much less razor-clogging than my usual coconut oil). Another win.
***I am not a herbalist/professional and these are my own personal experiments, use this info at your own risk***
It’s been over a year since my last big eczema break out. Since changing my diet to being purely vegan, my skin has been nothing but awesome. Until now. It’s really weird; I’ve broken out all down my sides and across my chest… places that have never been really effected during skin troubles in the past.
I can’t put my finger on what may have caused it (you never really can) – I haven’t done anything dramatically different diet wise, nor have I changed any washing/body product. The only thing I can think of (besides seasonal/environmental allergies) is that Misty and myself used eye drops (antibiotics) last week to cure a case (or 2 cases) of the sticky eye, ick (thanks for that, Misty Man).
I know I’m playing Lou- “self-diagnosing”- MD here, but Misty has a few weird spots over his back which is unusual. Viper, of course, is fine. (Shakes fist at Viper and his ability to never get sick/have any strange medical issues). Basically, I’ve been really uncomfortable, sore and ITCHY…. not fun. However, there is no way I’m going to revert back to using steroid creams, so I have been experimenting with a few herbal remedies along with a homeopathic nettle-based topical cream.
Making a fenugreek paste with some native Lemon Myrtle from the garden (so I didn’t smell 100% like curry).
I’ve actually come up with a way to make a herbal “gel” – which works really well as it actually STICKS to your skin as opposed to say, soaking in a herbal bath or consuming a herbal infusion. It’s really cooling when you apply it on itchy, irritated skin (like how aloe vera gel feels). Recipe is in progress…. I’m trying out a licorice root and lavender variation today.
Gooey. I’m quite happy with this discovery though – I think it could also work as a shaving gel, and possibly even a hair conditioning mask. Will continue experimenting, and get back to you.
On another “Skin Deep” issue – I have discovered that the only thing my head/hair likes as a shampoo is Dr Broner’s in LAVENDER…. even just switching the type of Dr Broner’s I use mucks up my scalp – yes, I’m a pretty sensitive soul. Even though I love the peppermint variety, it leaves my hair really flat, and almost filmy. The lavender, however makes it soft and shiny. Just goes to show how unique we all are… even down to what we use to wash our hair. Regular shampoo, “NO-poo,” herbal rinses (like what Allie has been creating) – experiment and find what works for YOU.
Anyway, wish me luck on my quest to heal my skin “herbally” – if you have sensitive skin too, start guzzling red clover and chamomile tea as I am, and hopefully we’ll resolve uncomfortable skin issues.
* I am not a herbalist or anything close to that. I make weird stuff in my kitchen. Use this information at your own risk.
Some days, things just don’t turn out as expected.
Looks? = very average. Texture? = really average. Taste? = quite good, actually.
Much improved with topping of latest obsession (sweet black bean spread)… recipe? Yeah, not bothering with that – unless you like gummy banana cake? Yeah, thought not. I always eat my mistakes though… unless they are REALLY bad… then Boosty gets them.
I’m trying to use up my over-stocked kitchen. I have problems with food hoarding and jar-filling. I have sworn myself to using up what we have before I purchase more… mainly for economical reasons…. and space issues. Lack of appropriate ingredients sometimes results in gummy cakes for breakfast. Oh well.
I am getting through a lot of stuff though… the top shelf of my jar-army has been defeated.
I’m off food-cooking now. Time for some non-food related creativity. Today I’m having a play with essential oils… I find that most store-bought perfumes effect my skin (not in a good way). Solid perfumes are the way to go for sensitive skin, particularly those that are vegetable oil/beeswax based. The fact that you can create whatever scents you like and get way more bang for your buck is also a bonus. Experimenting with scent is quite similar to cooking actually, different combinations coming together to create a sensory experience. I’m a big fan of those musky, woody smells (Read: Hippie Smells; Viper always teases me about my fondness for patchouli)… I do however like the freshness that citrus brings to such scents… a little lift for those “heavier” woody tones. Anyway, you can use whatever essential oils YOU like… or just use one, up to you.
DIY Solid Perfume:
- 2T grated beeswax
- 1T coconut oil (measurement taken while oil was in a solid form… see picture below) If you don’t like the smell of unrefined coconut oil, use the refined, odourless variety.
- Essential oils of choice*
- Small container – re use old make up containers/lip balm tins/tiny jars etc
- In a double boiler, gently melt beeswax and coconut oil.
- Take off heat.
- Add in your essential oils… you need to work kind of quickly here as the mix will start to go solid as it cools.
- Pour carefully into your chosen container. It will solidify once at room temperature.
Great for chucking in your bag for little “boosts” of scent throughout the day.. rub on your wrists/neck/whatever.
I’m sure we need to add a bit of visual art to our “sensory” theme here today.
Artwork courtesy of Misty.
Critique by Boosty. I think she likes it? Or maybe she just wants to escape out the gate from her small tormentor.
I am only mentally and physically capable of writing this post in bullet points, tonight. Lack of sleep, a few tantrums, food being thrown around, the refusal to do anything but play in the car park with other people’s parked cars……
- Teething toddlers are hard work. I don’t know how people cope with more than one…. I salute those of you that do. He’s lucky he’s so cute.
- Cannot stop eating this stuff. Misty bought me a jar for Mother’s Day, and I ate the whole thing in 5 minutes with a fork. I currently have a batch of my own fermenting. Delish.
- I tried making one of those chocolate-avocado pudding numbers ages ago… it was disgusting and I didn’t understand what the hoo ha was all about. I tried again this past weekend as avocados are ridiculously cheap and there’s only so much guacamole one girl can eat (a lot). I think you need the right avocados at the right stage of ripeness to succeed with an avocado based pudding. I used the Hass variety, and I must say it is rather Yummo… really smooth, creamy and seemingly decadent but actually ridiculously good for you. I used it as a “butter cream” type thing on top of one of my sweet flat breads. And yes, those extra sprinkles on top is MORE sea salt. I know, I know I have issues. Awesome.
Raw Cacao and Avocado Pudding:
(Vegan, nut, seed, corn, soy, grain, refined sugar free and RAW) A great baby food/dessert for toddlers.
- 1 large avocado
- 2/3C pitted medjool dates soaked in 1/2C water (prunes would work here too)… use the soaking water in the recipe too.
- 1/4t sea salt
- 1/2t vanilla extract
- 2T raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 1t raw lucuma powder (optional)
- 1t lime juice
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor/magic bullet/high speed blender until silky and smooth.
- Store in the fridge.
- Misty refuses to eat anything solid…..
Misty enjoyed this as a smoothie – I simply blended 1/3C of the pudding mix with 1+ 1/2c raw milk… he loved it. Thick and chocolatey.
- This may be the most delicious smelling version of my Naturally Awesome Multi Purpose Spray ever… we have a passion fruit vine that is dropping fruit everywhere. Misty enjoys throwing them at Boosty. I can’t say I love eating passion fruit… yes the pulp is delicious but those pesky seeds do my head in. Ick.
- 3 fresh passion fruit
- 1 lemon
- Cover with pure distilled white vinegar
Mix everything together in a jar and let the vinegar infuse for 1-2 weeks. Then add:
- 15 drops ylang ylang essential oil
- 10 drops lemon oil
- 1C fresh vinegar
- 1C water (boiled and cooled)
I’m really excited about sleeping.