Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No Poo!

I've been using the No Shampoo method of washing my hair for over a year now.  It works well.  It has only had two downsides.  The first was that my hair can end up being hard to brush out until it dries some.  The second was the result of weekly swimming in a public pool - hay hair.  And one really, really big positive - the severe dandruff, which has plagued me most of my life, disappeared in the first few months.

It might help to realize that my hair is really long.  It falls to my thighs.  And it's a crazy mix of textures and thicknesses.  And of course, because of its length, the top can sometimes be oily while the bottom is dry and brittle.

So, having said that, letting my hair dry for about 15 minutes or so before I brush it out is really not a big deal.  It does require that I remember to take the towel off of my head once I'm dressed.  And brushing my hair out before I shower helps a lot.

I really couldn't come up with anything to do about the effects of the pool except to wash again thoroughly immediately after getting out of the pool.  And rinsing with a lot of water.  This reduced the effects but didn't necessarily get rid of them.

And the dandruff.  Well if you've never suffered from it at the level that I do, there's no understanding the joy of it being gone.  I could create snow drifts just by scritching at the front of my hairline!  So having that gone has been wonderful.

But the number two problem tempted me to give in and use commercial shampoo & conditioner again when I was given some.  Originally I just put it in the swim bag to use on days we were in the public pool.  And oh what things I learned.  The first was that I had forgotten just how much fragrance was in those things.  Now that I don't use them on a regular basis I was highly sensitive to the fragrance.  The second was how much less I actually used since I had gotten used to not needing lots of suds.  A Lot Less!  And while it weighed my hair down, my hair was smooth and shiny!  And I could brush it wet!

So I used them when we went to public swim.  The fragrance overload was more than enough to outweigh the temptation to switch back.  Then we came to the summer break when we go use a much less chlorinated private pool.  I put the bottle in bathroom to use when we were rushed and I just didn't have time to measure ingredients.  In other words, when I was being lazy.

Well, I found myself making excuses for using the commercial shampoo & conditioner.  And therefore using it more often.  And yes, still on those original bottles because I was using so much less.  And then the dandruff came back.  Yup, less than two months using commercial shampoo & conditioner and my dandruff was back.  And not in small amounts.  I can create snow drifts again.

I knew it was happening so I tried just conditioning the middle and ends.  But it just didn't work.  The dandruff stayed and got worse.

So this past week I smacked my own hands and went back to the "No poo" methods.  And the dandruff is quickly disappearing.  I may explore and see if there are some natural conditioning methods that I can use for the shiny look and tangle issues but for the most part commercial shampoo & conditioner are now regulated to be used only after swimming in highly chlorinated public pools.

For those who want to try the recipe I use is simple:  1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup of water for "shampoo" and 3 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup of water for "conditioner".  If you need more shampoo then make another cup of it don't increase the baking soda amount per cup.  No more than 1 tbsp per cup.  I typically make two cups.  Oh, and most people start out with 2 tbsp of vinegar.  I just find that the increase amount works better for my hair.

Hope you all are having a good summer!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Freshening the Bathroom

Okay I know I already covered that we had shifted to using homemade washable wipes in the bathroom.  (Look here if you have questions:  http://survivingtothrivin.blogspot.com/2012/08/creating.html )  And it actually works really, really well.  And the savings in our budget has truly been appreciated.

But there has been one downside.  The downside is that even the plastic container I use eventually absorbs unpleasant odors that can be smelled in the bathroom.  At first I started putting a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the container.  And changing containers every other month or so.  Since the containers are made from vinegar jars headed for recycling it's not a big deal to make a new one.  But I still didn't like the idea that someone visiting might smell something unpleasant.  So I was really debating buying some of those scent absorber things to deal with it.  And waffling because that was an expense I didn't want to add on and I'm allergic to almost all of those things.

Today someone sent me a link for homemade shower soothers.  While exploring that link I found this:  http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/09/freshen-up-your-home-make-your-own-homemade-deodorizing-disks.html

So there was a big smile on my face because I have plenty of the ingredients on hand here and wouldn't have to go pay for something loaded with stuff that I'm allergic to.  And I'm cheating slightly by setting them in the oven on the lowest setting in order to help set them faster.  I'd use the dehydrator but it's full of cantaloupe right now.

If these work then I've got a couple of other places I want to try them in.  I'm pretty sure they will work since this was "fate" responding to a need I had.  I also really like the idea of tossing them into the laundry with the contents of the container to help with cleaning and freshening.  I'm thinking about experimenting to find a way to hang them in various places.  We'll have to see what happens.  All in all they should be an effective item for us.  I hope that some of you might find them useful as well.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

DIY Spice Mixes

For quite a few years now I've made the spice mix that we use for tacos.  The main reason I started making it was because it was very hard to locate a taco spice mix that was safe for my son.  At one point it was impossible.  So I took a base recipe from an allergy free cookbook and altered it.  A few years later we found a premade mix we could use by Ortega. 

I still use the homemade mix.  Now because of the truth of cost.  For around $10, I can make enough of the mix to get us through 6 months or so.  It breaks down to about $.16 a meal.  That's a great deal less expensive that $1.84 per meal (if I get a good price).  If you find yourself using a mix repeatedly, you may want to seriously consider finding a good recipe and making the mix yourself.  The mark up on store bought spice mixes is really outrageous.  And you can eliminate those things that you really don't need in those amounts (like salt) or that someone doesn't like.  For example, my nephew can't stand cinnamon.  So when I cook for him, I either eliminate it or sub something else.

Right now I'm working on growing all of the ingredients for the taco mix so that I don't have to buy them.  This batch got made using home grown oregano and onions that I dried and powdered.  Just those changes have added a nice flavor kick.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it will taste like with all of the ingredients being home grown fresh.  In the back of my mind is the thought that I may end up decreasing the amount used per meal if the flavor kicks up too much, which will make it even more affordable.

And it's not just the mix that tastes better.  Mom has gotten around to trying the spices I gave her and is amazed at how strong they are.  And her cats are in heaven with the catnip which she is having to keep to tiny amounts.  I watched one of her cats sit there and rub itself all over the tiny section of carpet where a two leaf segment dropped.  It was determined to enjoy every last little bit of that catnip.  The next batch gets split between my brother and I.

For me the amazing part is the difference in flavor even from items that I purchase bulk or at natural food stores.  It seems that no matter how fast they package it and ship it, it can't compete with something picked a week or two ago and dried at home.  I'm looking forward to emptying my spice jars out and refilling them with the home grown herbs this year.  I'm also looking forward to experimenting with making a dried spice & veggie mix to use for our chili.  Do you have any spice mixes that you have made and/or use on a regular basis?  Please share.