Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What's on the coffee table?

Josh and I are undeniable, slightly obsessed with books. We both have a passion to just read everything we can on any subject that peaks our interest. We also, both have the habit of having multiple books on the go at once.

I am sharing my reading list, for a number of reasons - Firstly, because I like to share book's that I am reading, you may find my list helpful and secondly, you can be expecting me to ramble on about any of the below topics over the next few months.

You will probably notice, that several of my books are on the same topic. I like to read the leading books recommended on any one topic in order to round out my education and draw from each book the key points, rather than relying solely on one author's perspective.

Here's what I am reading or planning to read this summer... most I have read at least several chapters of.

Deceptively Delicious, Jessica Seinfield
The Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine
The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace
Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl.
The Nutrition Book, Sears Library
Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health, Susan B. Roberts and Melvin Heyman
The No-cry sleep solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Elizabeth Pantley
Better Basics for the Home, Berthold-Bond
The Coconut Oil Miracle, Bruce Fiff
A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola
For the Childrens Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macauley
A Mother's Heart, Jean Fleming
Teach Me to do it Myself (Montessori activity book)

Here's what I hope to find soon either at Half Price Books or on Amazon!

The Backyard Homestead, Carleen Madigan
The Vaccine Book, Dr Sears
The No-cry sleep solution for Babies, Elizabeth Pantley
Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss
Becoming a Titus 2 Woman; A Bible Study with Martha Peace

Finally, I would like to add - Please, if you have any constructive input on any of the books above, that you have read, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child - A book review.

Growing up, I was exposed to alternative medicine, saw its effectiveness and thus continued to learn more and use it either in addition to or as an alternative to conventional medicine. My interest was even more peaked during my pregnancy, when my wonderful midwives always suggested a more natural remedy before getting into harsher, conventional medicines.

Varicose veins called for butcher's broom, rutin and nettle tea, preparing for labor included evening primrose oil and red raspberry leaf tea. I found these remedies not only worked, but didn't have any negative side effects, unlike many medication that have a list... your bowels may work better, but you have the risk of nausea, vomitting, your little toe might fall off... well, not really, but you get the idea. Why not pick up some Senna tea?

On the other hand, I think conventional medicines can be fantastic and we should not in any way dismiss them - rather, we should look at the options and make an informed decision.

THIS, is why I love this book. I ordered it from Amazon after browsing through it at The Sunflower Shoppe. Written by an MD, a pediatric nurse and a naturopath, it brings together the best of all the options.

Take Eczema, for example. There is first a short introduction, explaining the problem - what it is, how and when it occurs. Next is a thorough explanation of how to treat it with conventional medicine.

Next are dietary guidelines, which point out allergens in your child's diet that could be related to the problem and also foods that can be used to help. For example, in eczema, one example is eating lots of berries because of the bioflavonoids that act as an anti-inflamatory.

This is followed by a comprehensive schedule for Herbal treatment (burdock root, echinacea, red clover and goldenseal used at different points over a 5 week period).

After this is a description of each type of eczema and how a different homeopathic remedy can be used for each, a dry and scaly eczema calls for Urtica Urens gel applied 2-3 times a day.

Finally, there is a reference to Bach Flower Remedies.

Accupressure is also dealt with for example when dealing with headaches and pain.

All the information is delivered objectively. There are no opinions or recommendations that one treatment is better than the other.

It is simply a GREAT reference guide that can be the first thing you pick up when your child is sick or has some other ailment.

As a parent, it is our job to research all the options and make an educated, well thought out and responsible choice.

There are times when I am not going to even think about anything other than conventional medicine - My child needs a Dr right now! But if she has a bump that doesn't need attention from a Dr, I will be pulling out the arnica, if she's bedwetting... I can look up natural alternatives to help.

If my child is being treated with conventional medicine - I can use alternatives to supplement what the pediatrician is doing.

This book has lots of 'When to call the Doctor' 'boxes'.

Its a great reference book. A must have for any parent's library. Even if you do not want to venture into homeopathy and herbal medicine, the nutritional and dietary recommendations are worth having the book for.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Why make my own, you ask? Well, other than the satisfaction and the lovely soapy smell...

Its better for you and your clothes... it does not contain harmful chemicals, brighteners or perfumes that can irritate your skin and it actually makes the clothes really clean rather than coating them with brighteners that merely give the illusion of cleansliness. You'll be surprised at how much dirt will come off and how many suds in your rinse you'll find!

Secondly... its significantly cheaper. I think it can be as cheap as 3c per load compared to over 20c per load for Tide.

Although slightly labor intensive, if like me you do not have a food processor, I believe this is a simple, thrifty and natural alternative to store bought clothes detergent. This is also safe for washing cloth diapers although if you have hard water or are using microfiber, I suggest using Kirk's Castille over Fels Naptha.

The most reliable place to find all the ingredients you need is Kroger. I have however seen Kirk's Castille in liquid form at Albertsons if you prefer to make your detergent in liquid over powder form.

The main reason I chose powder, was because it takes up less storage space which is very important in student housing.

What you need...

Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (Not Baking Soda!)
20 Mule Team Borax
A bar of soap - Popular ones are Kirk's Castille, Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap

There are many variants but I use 2 cups of Washing Soda, 2 cups of Borax and 1 Bar of soap.

The soap will need to be ground up very fine. I grate it on the parmesan side of the grater, you can use a food processor its faster... believe me!

If you want to make it in liquid form... try here...


Also... you can change your recipe as you want, as with the no-shampoo, its about finding a good balance for you! Experiment. Have fun. I sure do!

The no shampoo experiment.

Quite frankly, my hair has always been difficult. I have 'frizz-eased', curled, hot ironed, done hair masks, tried different styles all to the same end.. my hair is dry, not curly or not straight. It lies in a bizzare not-so-wonderful land in between.

Whenever I go and have a haircut, the 'stylist' comes out wielding an assortment of fantastical products in shiny, brightly colored bottles. I walk out the salon, my soft, flowing locks looking lush. I then spend several days avoiding washing, wishing I had the time and money to spend to keep it like this.

But, alas... reality hits and I am a busy mom with two mini princesses, a husband with a book fetish and only 5 minutes a day to quoff... well throw on clothes and make myself presentable at least in mommy circles!

I was desperate, well, at least willing to try anything. So when I stumbled across 'No-Pooing' on www.diaperswappers.com forums, I quickly pulled out the baking soda and bought some apple cider vinegar.

So... Why 'No-Poo'?

1. It offers the opportunity for wondrous shiny and healthy hair.
2. Its so very very cheap.
3. Your skin absorbs anything you put on it, including your scalp. Shampoo's often include chemicals that are linking with various health issues.
4. Shampoo's strip away the natural oils that your body produces to condition you hair. In response, your hair then overproduces. The chemicals in the shampoo throw off your hairs 'ph'

The Bad Bits...

1. Your hair will be nasty for at least a few weeks, perhaps a month or more. For me it was 5 weeks.
2. You may really miss washing your hair everytime you jump in the shower. On the brightside, it makes it even more of a treat when your weekly no-poo comes around.

What you will need:

Baking Sofa
Apple Cider Vinegar
Something to store the above in your bathroom.

How it works...

A good ratio is 1 tbsp of baking soda to one cup of water, prepare this ahead of time (although I tend to pour the baking soda into my hand and make a paste). Apply this to your scalp and roots, giving a good massage and gradually working through your hair. Rinse off thoroughly.

To Condition -

Prepare ahead of time - 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and a cup of water. Optionally, you can add your favorite essential oil, honey or lemon. Apply this to THE ENDS OF YOUR HAIR ONLY. Leave in for about 3 minutes and rinse off well.

You can repeat this process weekly at first. The eventual aim is to let you natural oils take care of your hair. So you can slowly reduce the quantities until you are no longer using anything on your hair.

You can 'water' wash your hair as much as you want between 'no-poo'ing' washes.

When my hair is feeling a little dry, I like to rub in a little coconut oil, works wonders.

I will be adding a troubleshooting section later on!

Here below is my hair, 6 weeks since using conventional shampoo, airdried and unstyled.

The birth of a new blog to explore old ideas.

Many a hours have my husband, friends and family listened to my rambling thoughts. Recalling of experiments, things I have read, crazy and brilliant idea's alike, new and old. Many times do I find myself explaining things that I have become passionate about to friend, family and strangers.

I decided it was time to blog.

Here I will record this journey. Blog's will be eclectic. Some will be well thought out, other's short and sweet. Some not so sweet. Some, like this, done with a baby crawling around my toes and a the dinner cooking on the stove.

Be on the look out for these articles...

Uses of coconut oil
Making your own detergent
Making your own non-toxic housecleaning kit
Various articles on alternative medicines
Using Baking Soda
Cloth Diapering 101
Book Reviews