Friday, June 27, 2008

Fun Health and Beauty Concoctions

I wanted to share something else I've made recently. I've been "no poo" (which means no shampoo) for over a year and a half now (maybe I'll talk about that another time), and have quit using the body washes that I loved for so many years (eliminating things with ALS and SLS in them). I was reading on my fave forum about bathing babies "naturally" and there were some really neat ideas and "recipes". I decided I wanted to try them on me!

I also got my annual beginning-of-summer miserable cold about then, and made my own chest rub, GOOT: Garlic Oil Ointment.

So here are my ingredients:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Dead Sea Salts, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, and garlic. (not pictured: baking soda)

I won't post the recipe for GOOT here, since I have the link above. EDIT:  equal parts coconut oil, olive oil, and minced garlic.  I put it in a plastic cup and have it in the refrigerator door. I get a nice whiff of garlic every time I open the fridge! I rubbed it all over my chest a couple times a day, especially at bedtime, and also on the soles of my feet with socks over it so my sheets wouldn't get smelly. I also had the beginnings of a bad canker sore in the back of my mouth and put it on that; by the next morning it didn't hurt anymore! My glands were swollen and sore just under my jaw, so I made sure to apply it there as well, and they healed up quickly, too. It's two weeks later and I still have some drainage down my throat and will get coughing fits when I lay down, but I'm sure it's partly from stopping the GOOT as well as because I had pneumonia 13 years ago, and the chest crud takes the longest to go away.

The next thing I made was bath salts:
  • 1 cup Dead Sea Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Baking Soda (a drawing agent)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (you could also use almond oil)
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
I decided to crush the salt a bit first. I mixed the dry ingredients together before adding the oils and blended thoroughly. I put it in an empty marshmallow creme jar. I know--NOT healthy! But I got a box of 12 for only $1, and you can't get 12 pint jars with nice lids for anywhere close to $1! (I also use the jars for drinking glasses or storing leftovers.)

I got to take a long, wonderful bath in a friend's big garden tub, and my skin felt so soft! (No soap!) I also had my pumice stone with me, and scrubbed all the dead skin off my body while I was at it. Usually a bath with oil in it will leave the tub kind of gross, and this was no exception, BUT I had my container of baking soda with me, so as the water drained, I simply used a bit if that on a washrag and gave the tub a bath, too.

My last concoction was lotion:
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/8 cup Olive Oil (you could also use almond oil)
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil (anti-fungal and anti-bacterial)
I made this small amount so it would fit in the little squeeze bottle I bought for $0.50, and also so I didn't have too much of it if I didn't like it.

I melted the coconut oil before adding the other oils. At first I put it in the fridge, but then it was too hard to squeeze out when I wanted it. Now I keep it out, and it's liquid, but hasn't been a problem. (I might use less olive oil for another "summer" batch, so it would be a bit thicker.) It soaks quickly into the skin, and doesn't feel greasy at all. Makes a good massage oil, too, though I think I will try some other scents later for that purpose.

None of these were very expensive, though of course the initial outlay is more than you would spend on these items. But there's plenty left to make more! Here's a picture of the final products:
GOOT, Bath Salts, and Lotion

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Making Kombucha

I thought I'd post on one of my latest "experiments", making kombucha. I've been keeping records on an Excel spreadsheet. There are many, many websites with information about it, so I won't bother posting a bunch all know how to "google"!I did learn about it from my friends at WTM, though, and there's a bunch of great threads over there! Kombucha is a fermented beverage (though not considered alcoholic) and is healthy for you. To make it, you need a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacterium and yeast), or what is sometimes called a "mother" or "mushroom", though it resembles neither of those! Here's a picture of one of my SCOBYs, the underside of which developed a bubble, which is perfectly normal:

To make kombucha, you start by brewing some tea. The basic recipe is to use black tea. You need the caffeine in it for the SCOBYs benefit, so don't worry about it making you a caffeine addict. You also add regular white sugar, which is what the SCOBY "eats". Again, this is not a sugary drink, and in fact is more like sparkling apple cider if prepared correctly, and will eventually turn vinegary if left long enough. It must be "brewed" and bottled in glass containers! Each batch is finished when you like the flavor, and when the "mother" has "reproduced" a "baby" on the top of the liquid. There will be bubbles underneath it, too, which is a good indicator it's ready.

What follows is how I've made our 'bucha, and how/when I've switched from "regular" to flavored, which we prefer.

*Note: all my batches are approximately 1 gallon size*
*Note: Most are bottled in 1 quart jars; I have also used empty Sobe, wine cooler, and wine bottles with the metal screw-on lids. The smaller containers get fizzier than the jars.*

Batch 1, 3/20/08:
6 black tea bags
1.5 cups sugar
unknown qty of starter+3Tbl ACV
brewed 9 days
pretty good, like sparkling cider, esp. after sitting bottled for over a week.

Batch 2, 3/29:
same ingredients, except 1cup starter
only brewed 6 days
still tart like cider

*now have 2 containers*

Batch 3&4, 4/4:
still 6 blk tea bags
one batch 1 cup starter+2 cups sugar
other batch .5 cup starter+ 1.5 cups sugar
brewed 8 days, both very fizzy when bottled!

*note: have stuck with 1.5 cups sugar for all subsequent batches*
*note: 1 cup starter*

Decided to branch out into flavors...

Batches 5&7, 4/12 4/27:
4 black+2 Stash wild raspberry
made 2 batches this way, brewed one for 8 days, and the second got left for 19 days! We like this flavor, was very "zesty" and bubbly right from the start.

Batch 6, 4/12:
5 black tea bags + fresh ginger
brewed 8 days
I liked this flavor, was less "tart" than plain

*now have 3 containers*

Batch 8 & 9, 4/27:
another "regular" one w/ 6 black (was out of ginger)
brewed 19 days
was very fizzy with big babies!

1 black, 5 green
16 days
pretty mild, I liked it

*note: at this time I've cut back to .5 cup starter for all subsequent batches*

Batch 10, 5/21:
2 black + 4 CS wild berry zinger
8 days, was fizzy!

Batch 11 & 12, 5/21:
6 blk + ginger
2 blk + 4 CS country peach passion
brewed 14 days

Batch 13, 5/30:
4 black + 4 CS blueberry ice
brewed 15 days

Batches 14 & 15, 6/4:
2 black + 4 wild berry zinger
2 black + 4 country peach passion
brewed 13 days

Batch 16, 6/14:
2 black + 3 raspberry
I decided since it's so zippy, I'd try less of the flavor to see what results I get. Still brewing, so results are unknown today...

Batches 17 & 18, 6/17:
1 black + 4 peach
1 black + 4 blueberry
I decided to try less black since these flavors are good, but not as zippy as the raspberry and wild berry. Just started today...

The first half (?) of my batches, the jars were inside a cupboard so it was dark. I now have 3 batches going at the same time, no more room in the cupboard, so they're out in the light on top of it. It hasn't seemed to affect anything. Here's what they look like today:
(l-r: blueberry, peach, raspberry) I didn't separate the "mother" and "baby" this time, but tossed them back in together. The middle one has too much liquid for them to float on top, so it looks kind of like a giant pancake in there. Sometimes my SCOBYs sink to the bottom, but that's perfectly normal, too.

I've been brewing for longer lately, but I don't know if that's from laziness &/or forgetfulness. I have taste-tested these longer batches earlier on and dh and I decided to leave them longer.
We've decided we prefer the fruity flavors, though once I get into the bigger apt I will probably get more containers and do some green and ginger again. Sometimes I mix one of these flavors with half of one of the fruity ones. I haven't tried mixing any with juice yet.

I keep the jars in a box for now, with post-it labels on top, so I don't forget which flavor each jar is. I don't bother refrigerating them, but it's okay if you do. They keep getting fizzier if left out of the fridge. We simply put ice in a glass and then strain the 'bucha into the cup. (it will start growing new "babies" while bottled, but they pretty much look like boogers, so not very appetizing to see plop into your glass...or to have slide down your throat!

(l-r: green tea, raspberry, ginger, peach, blueberry) Don't they look pretty?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The evolution of DH's hair

This isn't going to be typical of my posts (maybe), but figured I'd start with something kind of silly. My DH (dear husband) is pretty conservative, and prefers his hair and beard to be short and trimmed neatly. This is an example, taken in late September 2007:

His last haircut was in early August 2007. He's kept his beard trimmed, occasionally, but hasn't had a haircut since. I think it's some sort of rebellious phase, but harmless and kind of fun. What follows is the evolution of his hair from then until now, June 2008, 10 months of hair growth.

December 28, 2007

February 3, 2008--lots of curls! His mom was surprised at how much curl is in his hair, since she'd never seen it that long!

Feb. 15--cornrows just for fun!

About this time he decided to lighten his hair with peroxide. It's turned kind of dry, but w-a-y lighter! It's about time to shave off the beard (for summer, you know), and then the color contrast won't be so obvious!

March 27, 2008

May 11, 2008

June 9, 2008

I love making the curls show up, but he has this obsession with the hairbrush. One last photo, just for fun.
May 15, 2008