Monday, November 24, 2014

Baby's Ella's First Gift

This sweet little knit is the first homemade goodie I've made for my baby girl.  It's so small and adorable, just about the size of my hand.  I can't wait to meet her and see her in this teeny tiny hat!  Only about 3 months more to go!

The free pattern, Tiffany Lace Knit Newborn Hat Pattern, was very easy to knit and the directions were easy to follow.  I did the newborn size with Baby Bee Sweet Delight yarn in the grape jelly color.  I purchased the yarn from Hobby Lobby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flower Girl Pillowcase Dresses

I'm so in love with these toddler pillowcase dresses I made for my friend's wedding!  The fabric really makes the dress.  It is such a beautiful lace fabric.  The lighting in these pictures doesn't do justice to the real color, which is a beautiful and rich brown.  I followed this wonderful tutorial, Baby Rabies Pillowcase Dress Tutorial.  I made an under-dress out of speckled cotton so the dress wouldn't be see through, which is sewn to the lace overlay at the neck and arms.  I sewed on the bottom hem's lace before sewing the body into a tube.  I also made my own bias tape out of the lace to line the arm and serged the inside seams for a finished look.

Size 2 T (left) & size 4 T (right)

My wonderful and talented husband made the mirror many, many years ago :)

Awww...such beautiful girls :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

My No (Sham)poo Summer Routine

All was going fantastically with my hair after discovering and trying the no poo method...

But then summer happened and swimming in a heavily chlorinated public pool made my hair go from amazing to nasty in just one swim.  The chlorine was definitely stripping my hair of its natural oils and thus undoing all my previous work.  Plus, the baking soda and vinegar just weren't getting all the chlorine out.  After some trial and error, here is the routine that is working for me to combat a summer at the pool and helping me re-find my happy hair.
1 Before swimming I wet my hair and skin. 

     Our skin and hair are very porous and it helps to soak them with regular water to reduce the amount of chlorine getting in.

2 Then I coat my hair with coconut oil.  

     This adds extra protection.  When I get out of the pool, most of the coconut oil has come off.

After swimming I spray with vitamin C spray to neutralize the chlorine on my hair and skin.  I let it stay on my hair until I can get home to properly wash it. 

     Here's the Recipe for Vitamin C Spray from Holistic Squid.  I just boiled some filtered water and mixed at the ratio mentioned: 1 tsp of Vitamin C crystals to 2 cups of water.  I keep it mixed up and in my swim bag.

4 I wash my hair with my coconut milk shampoo and rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar.

      Here is the wonderful Homemade Natural Shampoo Recipe by Wellness Mama.  I LOVE using this shampoo!  It is so refreshing and luxurious after almost 2 months of exclusively using baking soda to wash my hair.  It smells wonderful and has a surprisingly beautiful lather.  Extra bonus, it feels a little tingly from the peppermint and it leaves a nice peppermint fragrance that overwhelms the vinegar smell from the conditioning apple cider vinegar rinse.  It is more effective and way easier than the baking soda mixture to wash the remaining coconut oil and chlorine out!  This shampoo recipe will not strip your natural oils, so it is safe for a no poo regime. 

     To make it, I use the canned coconut milk brand recommended (and froze the extra coconut milk into 1/4 cup amounts for future recipes), Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap, 10 drops of rosemary essential oils (I've heard rosemary is good for your hair), and I did add the vitamin E and almond oil since I have dry hair.  I follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse (2 Tbsp ACV & 1 cup water) because I read that you should if you've used Dr. Bronner's.

     Seventh Generation body wash bottles are great for reusing. It was super easy to fill with a funnel for this recipe.  Just pry the top off and fill!  I added the label :)

5 Out of the shower I spray on my aloe leave-in conditioner. 

     I  pre-mix a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio of aloe gel and water (boiled & cooled) in a spray bottle, and apply to damp hair.   I do about 4 sprays or it ends up looking greasy.  It makes a fantastic leave-in conditioner and hair gel!!!  It leaves my hair light with more defined waves.  My hair is not crunchy or greasy and the waves are not weighed down.  The first time I tried it I only applied to half my hair to compare, and the half with the mixture was way better:  more defined curls, less flyaways, and just generally better looking!  I will continue doing the aloe spray even after swim season is over and I'm back to the traditional no-poo regime.  I love it!

     Now I have pretty happy hair despite the evil chlorine stripping my hair of its good oil!

Here is my original post about my normal no poo regime.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My New Laundry Routine

I have completely redone my laundry routine.  It is working really well, saving tons of money, reducing packaging waste, and reducing harmful toxins touching our skin!

For the last 12 years I've used Dreft or All Free & Clear laundry detergent and Bounce Free & Sensitive dryer sheets due to my oldest son with eczema.  I feel very accomplished replacing all these products in my home with homemade recipes.  The laundry recipe has worked at least as good as All Free & Clear, but I really think it works better! It got some severe grass stains out with no stain treatment.  I was shocked!  I've tested out a few other kinds of stains, but found most still need stain treatment to come out.  I haven't had anything not come out though.  Bonus, for the laundry detergent, it costs about $1.78 for 128 loads!  I haven't done a price breakdown for the fabric softening, but it's cheap!

My Routine:

I scoop 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent and 1 teaspoon of lavender rock salt into the washing machine with the clothes.  If I have towels from the pool with chlorine or oily towels from my new hair care and face care methods, then I also add a Downey Ball half filled with vinegar to the wash load to strip the excess oils.  I keep 6 wool dryer balls in the dryer to prevent static and to add fabric softening.  That's it!  Nothing comes out smelling like vinegar or lavender at all.  Everything comes out unscented, fresh, clean, and soft!

Recipes & Tips:

Laundry Detergent

Here is the laundry detergent recipe I've been using Mom's Super Laundry Sauce Recipe!

Tips for making it: I cut the Fels Naptha into chunks and then used a food processor to get it finely chopped. When adding the dry ingredients, I had to keep the mixture on the heat to completely dissolve the dry ingredients.  Before blending, stick the handle of a wooden spoon in to break through the solid parts and to let the air through.

Here's a helpful video of making it.

I store the detergent in a 10.8 cup snapware container with a flip lid. It's super convenient and I scoop it into the laundry with a tablespoon cookie scoop.

Fabric Softening  

For fabric softening, I mix rock salt with a few drops of lavender essential oils in a small container.  That's it!  I love the burst of fragrance when I'm loading the washer.  The scent washes out completely in the clothes.  There are a lot of tutorials and recipes online.  My research indicates that the salt softens the water, thus softening your clothes.  Many online recipes suggest using Epson Salt, but many other sites say that Epson Salt actually hardens your water, so stick to rock or ice cream salt.

My wool dryer balls make everything comes out static free and almost as soft as it was with dryer sheets.  I had a couple synthetic fabrics come out with a bit of static, but it shook right out and didn't cling.  I do still use a fragrance free dryer sheet for big blankets and my bath floor mats with rubber backing.  I prefer blankets fully soft and the rubber/plastic made too much static.

I made 6 balls from 3 skeins of 100% wool yarn.  I made them the size of a tennis ball. I just rolled the yarn into tight balls and then felted them in the legs of pantyhose.  I tied a knot in the pantyhose on either side of the ball, so the ball was very tightly secure in the pantyhose.  Then I ran them through the washer and dryer on the hottest settings.  Mine unraveled a bit even after that, so I boiled them a bit in water on the stove. That did the trick! No pantyhose needed for boiling.  I am not using essential oils in the dryer on the dryer balls.  Here is a helpful tutorial Wool Dryer Ball Tutorial.

Another option is to buy wool dryer balls: Woolzies on Amazon

I'd love to hear your thoughts or experiences with these recipes :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

My "No (Sham)poo" Experiment

I recently tried the "no poo" method and wanted to compile my results and information in one place.  This method is supposed to rebalance your scalp's oils yielding healthier, fuller, shinier, less frizzy hair.

I've been doing it for over a month now and I love the results! I finally like my hair again for the first time since I've lived in Texas!  That's the first time in 3 years!  I'm convinced that this works well for hair care and I will continue doing it. It stays clean and soft. It has much better body and movement with less frizz.  I absolutely love how light and bouncy my hair feels!  I'm hoping the frizz/fly-aways continue to reduce even more, but I'm happy with where it's at now.  I even have more shine and better color.

Here's the basics:

My routine:
I premix my baking soda solution in a sriracha bottle.  It has a nice rounded tip that makes application very easy.  I use a ratio of 1 Tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of water.  I can get 2 batches in my sriracha bottle and it lasts for 3-4 weeks with my husband and I both using it. 

I brush my hair before showering.  In the shower, I shake my baking soda mixture, apply to my scalp, massage for a minute, and then rinse well.  I pour my Bragg's apple cider vinegar to the first line in my cup (2 Tablespoons of ACV) and fill to the second line with water (1 cup of water).  I pour that all over my scalp and lengths of hair. It does not burn my scalp at all. I put my hair in a bun and let the vinegar soak until I'm done with the rest of my shower. Then I rinse well. I brush after my shower and let my hair air dry. I haven't needed any product since doing this routine.

I wash this way about every 4-6 days. If I shower after a work out before then, I just rinse well with water and condition with apple cider vinegar.

The first few washes felt too squeaky clean, dry, gross, tangly, and weird without regular shampoo and conditioner, although it looked and felt amazing once dry.  Now it feels much better while washing. There must be enough natural oils doing their thing. I think I didn't have much of a transition period because I'm a dry person and because I already went awhile between washes. My hair seems to take about 4-6 days to barely start looking greasy. Before, if my hair got oily, it looked flat and gross. Now my hair looks much better, even if it starts getting a little oily. I've heard lots of recommendations for natural dry shampoo to deal with extra oil in the transition phase. My friend uses white rice flour because it goes translucent after it soaks up your excess oil.

My boar hairbrush has made a huge difference in the look and feel of my hair. It helps spread your good oil over the lengths of your hair.

I was really skeptical that vinegar would condition, but it really does. My hair doesn't smell like vinegar once it dries completely, but I have noticed that if I rewet my hair or am in a lot of humidity, a faint vinegar smell reappears.  It doesn't really bother me though.  Most of the time it is completely dry and I pass the smell test.

I took a few pictures during my first month.  They are very poor quality phone pics, but better than nothing.

 Day 1 - 4/30/2014
Week 1
So far my hair is laying better, has less frizz, and is softer on the upper half. I'm getting really excited about how my hair will improve after a few more weeks! I love my new boar bristle brush. It seems to help my hair a lot. I'm getting a haircut today to get rid of dead ends.
 End of week 2
So far loving it and seeing continual improvement in increased body, increased softness, reduced frizz/flyaways, and better curls/waves. Even my hair dresser agreed that my hair is very soft, which is a huge improvement. Texas had really dried my hair out.

End of week 3
I love my hair!  I'm really happy with results and knowing I'm saving money and reducing harmful chemicals touching my body.

6/2014 A summer at the pool disrupted the effectiveness of my no poo routine.  Here is my post about my adjusted summer routine.
6/2014 I tried a deep conditioning oil treatment and a new natural shampoo recipe to combat the very dry hair I was experiencing from chlorine exposure.  For the deep conditioning, I gently melted 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of honey on the stove until just melted.  I applied to my dry hair and let that sit for a couple hours.  The honey made it really hard to apply.  I may try all coconut oil or this Nourishing Hair Oil Recipe by Wellness Mama next time and see what I prefer.  Then I washed with this Homemade Natural Shampoo Recipe by Wellness Mama.  It took 3 washes until I didn't feel the oil anymore.  This shampoo recipe will not strip your natural oils, so it is safe for a no poo regime.  I LOVED using this shampoo!  It was so refreshing and luxurious after almost 2 months of exclusively using baking soda to wash my hair.  It smelled wonderful and I was surprised by the beautiful lather.  It was more effective and way easier than the baking soda mixture to wash all that oil out!  To make it, I used the canned coconut milk brand recommended (and froze the extra coconut milk into 1/4 cup amounts for future recipes), Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap, 10 drops of rosemary essential oils (I've heard rosemary is good for your hair), and I did add the vitamin E and almond oil since I have dry hair.  I followed with an apple cider vinegar rinse because I read that you should if you've used Dr. Bronner's.  My hair feels restored and happy again!  I'm very happy having some tools to combat the drying effect of the chlorine on my no poo hair!