Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bikini Line and Blemish Serum


Summer is such a beautiful time of year... a season that is all about showing off some skin.  So this week I am sharing a recipe that will keep you beautiful, too. For the ladies, our yards aren't the only things we have to keep landscaped, and like weeds, those in-grown hairs are quite unsightly.

The serum recipe below is adapted from the book Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles. The essential oils are highly anti-inflammatory and also anti-bacterial. Not only does this serum make a great treatment for blemishes and in-growns but it is also a great preventative measure if applied before the wax or shave.

People who battle blemishes can use this as a daily serum to help zap surface bacteria and bring down redness. This is not an acne cure-all, though. Acne is an internal disorder and nothing topical will ever be a permanent fix. However, with proper diet, stress control and exercise this serum is great to have in your skin-care arsenal.

All of the essential oils were purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs. Essential oils can have a pretty big sticker shock if you are new to them but they are an investment and are worth it. Remember that in one ounce of essential oil there is about 600 drops- they do last a long time. Jojoba oil is the closest to our own natural sebum (oil our pores produce) and will not clog pores or leave a greasy film on the skin.

You will need a 2 oz dropper bottle (also at Mountain Rose Herbs), 2 oz jojoba oil, 4 drops of tea tree essential oil, 2 drops each of clove, German chamomile, and green myrtle essential oils.

Add all ingredients to the dropper bottle and briskly roll the bottle between your palms. If you are like me and do everything last minute then you can wait 24 hours for all the oils to synergize.  However, 4 days in a dark cabinet is best. Essential oils deteriorate in light so still keep it in that dark cabinet for storage. Use within 6 months for full potency.

For waxing and shaving, apply once a day for 3 days before and after treatment. As a spot treatment, apply with a Q-tip up to three times per day.

Serums at beauty salons and even in stores are very expensive but you can make this one for a fraction of the cost. Give it a try and see how beach-ready your skin can be!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Veggie Scraps Bone Broth

So you took the plunge and made the investment in your health and the planet's by purchasing organic produce. Good for you! However, if you are anything like me, you are now hearing "cha-ching!" every time a carrot peel or bell pepper top hits the garbage bag or compost bucket. Suddenly the tops of the green onions have presidents faces on them and how in the world do you throw out perfectly good money? Never mind that you don't actually eat parsley stems- you still paid a pretty penny for them. So as of right now, stop throwing out your veggie scraps and start freezing them! Once the freezer bag is full you have the means to make a pretty wicked bone broth.

Bone broth is as simple as simmering bones in water with some veggies. The bones can be from any animal you typically eat: fish, beef, poultry, game, or lamb. The bone marrow makes the broth beneficial for healthy blood cells and also strengthens the immune system. (Think homemade chicken noodle soup when you are sick- and I'm not talking about Campbell's, blah!) Bone broth is also incredibly anti-inflammatory, especially for joints and digestive disorders. Consider these benefits null and void, however, if you use conventional meat bones or farmed fish. Toxins accumulate in the fat of animals and in the bone marrow. That will not be wicked bone broth. That will just be nasty.

You can find safe bones at Whole Foods, local co-ops and natural farms (check out Local Harvest for places like these in your area). If the bones are just not in your budget, don't worry, this is still a pretty wicked veggie broth.

I do this in the crock pot because, well, the number of things that could go wrong in my house with leaving the stove on for 24 hours is too numerous to list. You can also forget about it until the next day without stirring it or worrying that it will boil over.

In a 7 quart slow cooker I add in my bag of frozen veggie scraps (must be organic due to pesticides residing mostly in the skins and peels of produce), bones, filtered water to cover, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon or two of salt. The acidity of the vinegar helps draw out the minerals from the bones into the stock. Let this sit for about an hour without turning on the crock pot.

If your slow cooker has a timed shut-off mechanism make sure to set an alarm for when you need to reprogram it. It does need to cook for 18 to 24 hours. I always do the full day.

After 24 hours you have a pot of interesting slop but once you get all the crap out of the broth, it is quite tasty.

To drain the stock, I place a cheesecloth-lined colander in a stock pot in the sink. Pour the stock, veggies and bones into the colander and then twist the ends of the cheesecloth together, lift it up to let the last of the broth drip into the stock pot. (Do I need to mention that this will be hot?) Discard/compost the slop and let the stock cool for thirty minutes to an hour in the pot. Ladle into mason jars and store in the freezer if not using within the week. And yes, it really is this easy.

I realize it is like 80-something degrees outside and I am sharing a broth recipe but it really is versatile. I like to store it in different sized jars for different purposes. It is great in stir-fry sauces, cool summer cucumber soups, cooking rice and quinoa instead of plain water, and even drinking warm to help with digestive issues. This last batch yielded 12 cups. The beef bones I used were from Whole Foods and cost $4 and some change. The veggie scraps would have gone into the heap anyway so you are looking at about $5 for 12 cups of stock. And not just any stock but bone broth with added health benefits you won't find in your grocery store and certainly not at this price.

So stop throwing money out and start saving those veggies scraps to make your own wicked batch of bone broth. Wishing you safe, cheap and happy cooking!

Monday, June 16, 2014

2,4-D Herbicide & GE Crops | Environmental Working Group

Now is your time to act! Does watching your neighbors spray countless bottles of herbicides and pesticides on their lawn make you shudder? Do you live near a conventional farm? Dow is now coming out with a new weed killer that has been linked to hormone disruption, Parkinson's and cancer. This does not belong in our food, water supply and especially where our children play. Please click on the link below to sign the petition from Environmental Working Group to stop Dow's Enlist Duo from ever hitting our store shelves.

Its amazing what one vote can do.  Wishing everyone a happy and safe summer!

2,4-D Herbicide & GE Crops | Environmental Working Group

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ditch the Toxic Cleaners

Hello! It has been awhile since my last post. I had the brilliant idea to start a blog in the same month that we moved. You can see how well that went. Anyway, I'm back, baby, and ready to start sharing some crunchy ways to save like with the recipe below.

If we are to believe all the TV ads depicting cleaning products then it’s a wonder that the human race has survived thus far. These commercials make it seem like we are living in a cesspool of filth 24/7. The only way to protect our families being to arm ourselves with some heavy duty, most likely industrial flowery smelling, concoction that will rid our surfaces, air and general life from harm. Ironically, the chemicals in most of these cleaners will kill you faster than the so-called germs bombarding our spaces.

The Environmental Working Group is an organization that conducts third party research on everything from water quality to consumer products like cleaners. Their Guide to Healthy Cleaning is the only reference Americans have right now to protect themselves from harmful and even dangerous cleaning products. This is because there are no governmental laws in place that regulate harmful and toxic chemicals that are used in many common household cleaners. Such toxins like the nonylphenol ethoxylates and 2-butoxyethanol- which are known carcinogens and already banned in Europe. What is really scary is that you won't know if your cleaners have these carcinogens in them because the manufacturers of cleaning products do not have to list their ingredients on any of their packaging. The government also doesn't require any testing or safety review before the product is put on our store shelves.  I don't know about you but I would rather my family and I not be guinea pigs for big business.

It's not all hype though- we do have times where disinfecting is necessary and family life can get kind of messy (or colossally messy). So where do we go from here? How do we kill the bad germs but not poison ourselves in the process? 

First, I highly recommend checking out EWG's website and going to their Guide to Healthy Cleaning. You can look up the cleaners you currently have at your home and see how they rate safety-wise. There actually are quite a few safe and effective cleaners out there right now, however, you will be paying for that safety. It's important to note that synthetic cleaners are so much cheaper because their lab-concocted chemicals are very cost-effective to make in comparison to something like essential oils that need hundreds if not thousands of plant material to make an ounce of oil.

Next- let's get reacquainted with good 'ole vinegar and baking soda. The cleaners of yesteryear, if you will. Used together or separately these two "cleaners" can make up a dozen safe and effective household cleaners.  Vinegar is a mild disinfectant that is effective against most mold, bacteria and other germs.  Baking soda is a mild abrasive. With the addition a few essential oils and castile soap you have the means to make almost any cleaning product you now have under your sink. Effective. Safe. Cheap!

Below is a multi-purpose cleaner with tea tree oil. It is quick to make and easy to use- my two favorite things when it comes to DIYs. Tea tree oil comes from the melaleuca alternifolia tree in Australia. Its properties include: anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, anti-viral and deodorizing to just name a few. As cool as it is that this comes from nature, remember nature can still harm- do not ingest tea tree oil and please, as with all cleaners, keep this out of reach from children and pets. has organic tea tree oil for $8.49 for an ounce and organic lemon essential oil for $5.99 for .5oz. Considering that there is about 600 drops in an ounce these tiny bottles will last a good long while.

Lemony Multi-Purpose Spray
From Living Life Granola
16oz spray bottle
1 cup distilled water
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 tsp. tea tree oil
20 drops lemon essential oil
Pour water and vinegar in spray bottle. Add in essential oils. Shake before use. To use as a disinfectant: spray and leave for 10 to 15 minutes then wipe clean. (Not for use on granite counter tops.)

Look for more DIY cleaners in future posts. Until then, happy, safe cleaning!