Living Simply

 
Continuing on with ridding chemicals from my family's life, I tackled lip balm and was pleasantly surprised with the results!  I think this recipe is sooo much better than Chapstix or Burts Bees and since it is petroleum-free my wonderful husband can even kiss me without dealing with his reaction to petroleum products!

I use my "improvised double boiler method" to make lip balm, lotion bars, lotion, deodorant so that I don't have to do extra dishes!
- Place all ingredients in a glass jar and place the jar in a pan of hot water on the stove.  You can easily keep the water hot (and melt your ingredients without dirtying a pan or worrying about burning your ingredients.  This is especially helpful since I have little ones and can't keep a constant eye on my projects :-)  When you are done, just cool the jar and leftover ingredients in the jar, put the lid on the jar, label the jar and save until next time.  Dump the hot water out of your pan and place in dish drainer to dry -- no dishes!

Natural Lip Balm
3 Tbsp Bees Wax
2 Tbsp Palm Oil or Coconut Oil
2-3 Tbsp Shea Butter
1 Tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

Melt everything together in your jar.  Use a small dropper or syringe to fill empty lip balm tubes.  Cool filled tubes and use!  Makes about 25-30 tubes.

I'm still trying to figure out how to add beet powder to make a tinted lip balm...so far my beet powder has not really mixed in and not really tinted enough to


 
 
Eliminating chemicals is a bit tough to do, so we started with one thing at a time and once we "mastered" one thing, This was our first change.  Thanks to Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking for her great recipie that actually works!  Click Here for Lindsay's Recipie.  We've tweaked it a bit and really like it!  Here is our version:

2 parts coconut oil (softened/slightly melted)
1 part bees wax (melted)
1 part baking soda
1 part cornstarch (100% pure, now that I've used up all my cornstarch, I'll be buying arrowroot powder)
Mix together, spoon into an empty deoderant container, let cool to harden and use!

I usually make more than one container full and just save it in a glass jar to refill the deoderant container when needed.
 
 
As I've tried to make my lifestyle more healthy I've come to realize that in addition to changing our eating and cooking habits, I needed to change our personal hygine products to eliminate chemicals.  I also discovered that these "natural" and "green" products available at our local stores are often not "natural" or "green" and are expensive!  I've done some research, stumbled upon great ideas and experimented.  I'll be sharing what I've discovered and what is "cooking" in my kitchen for body care products. 
 
 
In your local supermarket you can find many, many cleaning supply choices.  Many are even made for a specific task (toilets, tile, kitchen, etc.).  Some even claim to be "green" or "all natural".  I'm convinced that you don't need all these products and you especially don't need to devote an entire cupboard of space to cleaning supplies! 
Here is a list of what I keep in my home and use on a regular basis:

Vinegar -- a great all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant
Baking Soda -- great at getting "scum" off stuff
Bleach -- I only use this in the toilet bowl, I haven't found anything else that gets the toilet smelling really clean
UPDATE -- I've started to use oxygen bleach powder in the toilet bowl with great results -- no more chlorine bleach!

Rags
Scrub Brush -- for the tub/shower and tile grout
Scrub Brush -- for the toilet

Fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar and use it as an all-purpose cleaner.  Vinegar is a great disinfectant also, it just needs time to work.  So, I spray down my bathroom (toilet, sink, shower), close the door, go and do something else for 10 minutes -- fold a load of laundry, feed the baby, wash dishes -- then back to the bathroom to wipe it all down!  It also works great on mirrors (no streaks) and on disolving soap scum and hard water scum. 

I also use vinegar as a produce "rinse" -- put produce in a collander, spray, let sit, rinse, eat!

I sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of my bathtub and use the scrub brush to scrub away the soap and hard water scum ring around my tub.  Then I follow this up with a vinegar spray.

I'm just starting to become familiar with essential oils, so at some point I'll probably start adding essential oils to my vinegar -- this will also help with the "vinegar" smell!

What frugal and natural cleaning supplies do you use?
 
 
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm not Irish but I do love green -- the color (especially the natural ones outside), and all the "green" things we can do to improve our lives and to be good stewards of God's earth.  So...I'm joining HeavenlyHomemakers.com in their Little Green Project.  Here are some of the ways we are "going green" or "saving green" in our home:

1. Cloth diapers -- we've been using cloth diaper for our little girl since she was about 4 months old.  Using them has greatly helped out monthly budget and is really not difficult, time consuming or messy.  We do still use disposable diapers for at night and when we are out and about but we still go through so many less diapers than if we were only using disposables (we spend about $15/month on disposable diapers).  We're hoping our little girl will soon learn to use the potty, but by then baby #2 will be here and we'll still be using diapers.  Check out the Simple Store for a great cloth diapering resource!

2. Cooking from scratch -- I began cooking from scratch about a year ago and have slowly been getting rid of all processed and "convenience" foods from our home (the only things I still buy are condiments, pretzels, chocolate chips and one box of cereal a week).  Cooking from scratch has greatly improved our health and it is sooo much less expensive to cook from scratch!  I spend $50-$70 each week on groceries -- this is for my husband (he eats lots), me (pregnant) and a 2 year old (she eats like her father).  And don't think that I spend all day in the kitchen either.  In about an hour per day I can feed my family healthy, home-made food!

3. Riding our bikes -- Since it has been warming up here in Central Minnesota I'm beginning looking forward to riding our bikes more.  My husband is the youth pastor at our church and we live only 2.5 miles from church.  During warm weather (spring, summer and fall) he rides his bike to work.  We all also ride bikes to church most Sundays.  It is great exercise and saves on gas!

4. We live in a rural community -- we drive 25+ miles to go grocery shopping or to Walmart.  Thereofore, we plan our trips to town and try to get everything done in one trip, once a week. 

5. We also enjoy shopping at thrift stores, consignement stores and garage sales.  We've gotten some great clothes shopping this way.

6. We're planning on doing some container gardening this year -- tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, spinach and lettuce.  With baby #2 due at the end of July we are hoping the container gardening method will be easier than a traditional garden while also providing us with plenty of fresh veggies.

7. House plants -- house plants improve indooor air quality, which is especially important in Minnesota where we spend so much time indoors because of the long winters.  Philodendrons are my favorite -- easy to care for and one of the best at improving air quality.  But be careful -- they are posionous if eaten so keep them up high out of the reach of little ones.

8. Toys without batteries -- we have a very modest amount of toys compared to many families with young children and most of these don't require batteries!  Our little girl gets to use her imagination and we save money and the planet by not buying batteries!

What other easy ways have you "gone green"?