Thursday, October 30, 2008
Today Hannah and I made banana bread! We've been having a lot of fun cooking together the past few weeks. Here are her favortie things about cooking:
- the fact that we both wear aprons
- holding her own wisk
- dumping ingredients into the bowl
- stirring occasionally
and most of all....
eating what we make!! :o)
If your looking for a good, traditional banana bread recipe (meaning not some kind of healthy version) then I've got a recipe for you!
I got this from a recipe book called, "Secrets of the Mennonite Kitchen" by Neil & Jeanne Liechty (Yes, they are related to Lorne!)
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour (all purpose)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
Beat bananas first and set aside. Cream butter (melted), sugar, eggs, vanilla; then add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and bananas. Mix well. Bake at 350.
Now all it says is "Time depends on size of pan". I used two different sized Pyrex dishes, and just kept checking them until I could poke a knife in the center and it came out clean.
I'm eating a piece right now....mmmm - delicious!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In other news, Hannah has finally discovered that she doesn't have to wait for me to come get her out of her bed. Up until now, she would just sing and play in her bed until I came in and got her in the morning or after a nap. A few weeks ago she came into our room at night, and I really thought that she was sleep walking! Well, the past two nights we've had a little night-time visitor. I do have to say that although I don't enjoy being woken up at 4:30 am, I couldn't help but laugh when I heard our door knob rattle and saw her smiling face burst through the door. She was so excited and proud of herself - it was just too cute! I mean, what kind of parenthood would this be if I didn't get to experience the "kid coming into your room at night" thing? :o)
Saturday, October 25, 2008
This is Hannah's new best friend, Leap! Aren't they so cute together??
Leap is such a cool toy! We've had him for over a month and we love him! He sings songs, tell stories, plays games, etc....kind of like a high tech Teddy Ruxpin!
We did have a bit of a scare when Leap stopped working a few weeks ago, but our electrical engineer Daddy came to the rescue and fixed him! Hooray!
Friday, October 24, 2008
There are conflicting views on the subject.
The main argument is this:
Aluminum-based compounds are used as the active ingredient in antiperspirants. Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like effects. Estrogen has the ability to promote growth of breast cancer cells.
Other research has focused on parabens, which are preservatives used in some deodorants and antiperspirants that have been shown to mimic the activity of estrogen in the body's cells.
Here is an interesting article on the issue.
I know two women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and both of their doctors have told them to stop using deodorants with antiperspirants and parabens.
Personally, I'm ditching conventional deodorants. Why take the risk? And why wait until AFTER you have cancer to switch?
So now we come to the real topic of this post....the deodorant dilemma.
The most common solution for people who are concerned about this link to breast cancer is to go to the local health food store and pick up a natural, paraben-free deodorant that doesn't contain antiperspirants.
Although some people are pleased with their results, the majority of people I've talked to or read about agree that these deodorants do NOT work! So, they are faced with this dilemma...."Do I take the cancer risk, or the major stink risk?"
Well, I did a little research on some natural deodorants that WORK, and I found one that works great for me - coconut oil!
Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but let me tell you why it works...
In short, the odor in your armpits is caused by bacteria. Coconut oil is known to have antibacterial qualities. So, no bacteria = no stink!
Here's what I do:
I wash my armpits as usual in the shower. Then, I pat them dry and rub them down with coconut oil.
To test this method, I went out for a brisk walk on a hot afternoon. I did sweat a little, but I was stink-free! I even had my husband smell my armpits when I came inside, and he said they didn't stink at all!
Keep in mind that we all have different body chemistry, and what works for one person does not keep the stink away for another. So, this suggestion may not be your ticket to being stink-free.
If coconut oil doesn't work for you, but you are interested in a natural deodorant, I encourage you to do some research of your own. There are a lot of different suggestions out there!
Some people swear by splashing their armpits with vodka.
Others use a product called "Funk Butter" that seems to have a high success rate.
So check out the options, I'm sure there's something out there that will work great for you!
And if anyone tries the coconut oil or anything new, I'd love to hear about it!
(image from www.skrewtips.com)
We've established that many personal care products are harmful to our health.
We've discussed a few natural options for hair and facial care.
But what about our children??
Infants and children are very vulnerable to harmful chemicals in personal care products. Children's skin is 30% thinner on average, which means they can absorb more chemicals from the skin's surface. Also, the blood-brain barrier that helps block chemicals from penetrating brain tissue is not fully formed until a baby reaches 6 months of age. (more info)
Phthalates are chemicals that are getting an increased amount of public attention due to potential toxicity.
This is a recent article published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It basically describes a study that found a link to phthalate exposure and the use of infant care products.
This is an article put out by msnbc about the study.
And this is a follow up article where leading pediatricians answer some questions from concerned parents. I'm going to cut and paste two of these questions and answers here and give some of my own comments:
How concerned should parents be?
- Dr. Catherine Karr, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington specializing in environmental health issues, says:
- Dr. Lev Linkner, who practices family medicine in Ann Arbor, Mich., and specializes in holistic primary care, warns:
- Dr. Benjamin Danielson, a pediatrician and clinic chief of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle, agrees:
Ok, I'm not really a "stay tuned" type of gal :o)
I totally understand that we shouldn't make a huge deal about something before we know the facts, but we are talking about our precious children here. I think that these products should be deemed safe BEFORE we use them on our babies, not after! The way I see it, if a product has even the slightest potential to cause harm to my child, why wouldn't I just use something else? It's not like there aren't other perfectly safe options out there...
What’s the alternative to using these baby products?
- Karr: "In terms of bathing your baby, plain water is all that you need. Special soaps and shampoos marketed for your baby are really just a cosmetic choice, so parents can save money and save worry just by using plain water. With the exception of maybe excessively dry skin, most babies don’t need lotions or creams at all."
- Linkner: "Parents should go to health food stores, and read labels the best they can. Buy organic as much as possible. If they’re concerned about diaper rashes, they can look for a non-petroleum, natural product. But natural soap and water is what you can use most of the time. Let’s face it – do babies really care what they smell like?"
- Danielson: "You don’t really need to bathe your baby every day — a couple times a week is enough. Let the natural oils that your baby produces stay on the skin and keep them moisturized. "
On the day we were leaving the hospital to take our sweet little newborn home, I remember the nurse telling me things very similar to the comments above..."You don't need to wash her everyday....you can wash her with plain water...skip the lotion so her skin learns to balance itself....etc"
But I remember thinking..."Of course I'm going to bathe my baby with soap. I want her to be CLEAN, don't I? And I thought all babies use lotion after a bath? Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?"
Well, now I realize how silly my thinking was...
As consumers, we are lead to believe that we are not clean unless we have scrubbed ourselves down with something that is pleasing to the senses...fragrant and bubbly. But the chemicals used to make these products lather and smell nice are anything but healthy!
In the Mothering forum that I've mentioned before, I read this post that inspired me to break free from conventional ways of keeping my child clean:
Hi, my name is Rachelle -
When I was pregnant, Richard and I decided we wanted to be as 'natural' as
possible in EVERY way for our child - extended breastfeeding with me eating
organic food, etc etc.
I also had this aspiration through researching chemicals in toiletries
products that I didn't want her covered head to toe in Johnson and
Johnson cocktails, so I looked into 'green companies' for alternatives and was
shocked at my findings - the loopholes in the laws, the amount of rubbish allowed
into products, the 'mass medication' I suppose that we enforce onto
ourselves and our children through the efforts of being a 'good consumer'.
We finally decided that we would use no products at all - we made up a
combination of distilled witch hazel and grapeseed oil for her nappy
area and that was the sum total of her toiletries. I did an experiment while I was
pregnant because I strongly felt I did not want to wash
stopped washing mine.
For two months, hats and scarves became my closest friends - my hair
looked dreadful; lank and greasy, but interestingly neither smelly or itchy -
from going through dietary changes at various stages in my life I saw this
greasiness as a 'detox' process and just went with it; rinsing my hair with warm
water, brushing it with a natural fiber brush and tying it back.
After a couple of months things changed and my hair started to look
better, *Much* better - the thickest it has ever looked (my hair has always
been impossibly fine), shiny and just in superb quality and condition.
I'll fast forward here, otherwise this will turn out rather long:
Verona (2 1/2) has never had a product anywhere near her - never had shampoo, soap, powders or lotions and strangers still comment on her beautiful hair and skin. She is an active child who loves mud and running food through her hair :-) but everything has come out with water alone. She has not had the natural balance of oils disturbed, so things just wash out easily - even things that you would consider not easily water soluble such as scrambled eggs or butter just come out with a bit of water. It is a wonderful indication of her health too - when she is ill then it is clearly reflected in her hair, so it acts as a kind of 'health signal' for us; as soon as she is getting better, any oiliness or dryness readjusts itself.
So after some research and inspiration, we decided to cut down on our product use on Hannah. Her baths are so easy now! All I do is rinse her hair and body with warm water, and use a little soap on her diaper area. Her hair looks just as beautiful as it always did - she gets compliments on it all the time! If her skin needs a little extra moisture, I rub coconut oil on it.
Now let's be realistic here...I'm sure if Hannah were to roll around in the mud one day, I'd probably use some soap to clean her up. But for basic everyday care, all she needs is water to keep her clean and smelling great!
Ok, after reading the title, you’re probably a little hesitant to read this post. Well let me assure you, it has nothing to do with the toilet :o)
Today I’m going to tell you about how I wash my hair….without shampoo!
In earlier posts I’ve discussed the fact that many beauty products contain chemicals that can harm your health. You can find more information about those chemicals at the Skin Deep website that I've mentioned before.
So, in my search for healthier, more natural alternatives to shampoo, I stumbled upon the idea of “no pooing”!
If you stop using shampoo constantly, your hair will begin to produce less oil and balance itself out.
So, this is where the idea of "no-pooing" comes in. There are so many ways to do it, depending on your hair type. I chose the simplest method, but you could do your own research and find many different recipes!
I have thin, straight-as-a-board hair that has to be washed everyday or it gets greasy. After reading some of the "cold turkey" methods of no-pooing, I decided to take a more conservative approach in order to avoid a major detox phase. I'm not a big fan of feeling like a grease ball :o)
So here's how I started...
I continued to wash my hair everyday, except instead of shampoo, I used the no-poo method:
To wash hair:
While in the shower, rinse hair with hot water, then squeeze off excess water. Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda into a glass of HOT water, and let it dissolve. Slowly pour the baking soda mixture over your head, making sure to massage it into your scalp as you go. After you've poured the whole glass on your hair, take some more time to massage it into your scalp using your fingertips, not your nails. I let that sit while wash my body, then rinse thoroughly.
Some people prefer to put the baking soda in their hands and let a little water run over it to make a paste. They find this easier to work with. Also, some people find it more effective to put the baking soda wash on dry hair instead of wet hair. If you're a scent person, adding a few drops of an essential oil that you like (for example, lavender) will leave your hair smelling nice.
If you don't like the idea of having to mix everything up each time you wash, you might want to try this recipe for making "no-poo balls":
Take about 1 TB of baking soda, add just enough water to make a paste, add a few drops of honey and a few drops of essential oils (if you want), roll it into about 1/2"- 1" balls and let them dry for a few days. You can keep a dish of them in your bathroom and just bring one into the shower, cup it in your hand, let some water mist over it, and work it into your hair.
To condition hair:
Many people use apple cider vinegar, but I chose to use lemon juice instead just as a personal preference. Both work great. I add one tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass of cool or luke warm water. I pour it on the ends of my hair (from the ears down) and then rinse. Sometimes I even just take my hair and dunk the ends in the glass.
Then I blow dry like I normally do, or sometimes I put it back wet if I don't have time to dry it.
I did this for a week. Then, I gradually started weaning my hair, washing every other day instead of everyday. On the days that I didn't "wash" I still rinsed my hair with hot water in the shower, which is actually enough to get rid of most of the dirt and grime that it is exposed to throughout the day.
Now, I can go 2 days between washings and my hair still looks nice! Some people have gotten to where they only have to do the baking soda wash once a week, and hot water the rest of the time. Considering my hair type, I'm not sure if I'll get that far, but that would be cool!
Keep in mind that you hair will still be overproducing oil and there will be a lot of oil until your body reaches balance again. You might also have to play with the measurements a bit before you find what works. I did have to go through some greasy days while my hair adjusted, but it was nothing compared to what it would have been like if I had chosen the cold-turkey method :o) The transition period can be weeks or months. If you can outlast this period, you'll be rewarded with a low-maintenance, non toxic, and cheap hair routine, and beautiful hair!
Here are some troubleshooting ideas:
- If your hair becomes frizzy, try using less baking soda or leaving it on for a shorter period of time. Adding honey may also help.
- If your hair becomes greasy, try using less apple cider vinegar, switching to lemon or lime juice, leaving out the honey, and/or using a comb instead of a brush. Make sure you’re applying the apple cider vinegar just to the ends of your hair. Also, this might just be adjustment.
- If your scalp itches, tea tree, lavender, or rosemary essential oils are said to help.
- If your hair becomes dry, try a *tiny* bit of oil (any oil, like coconut) smoothed on bottom of hair.No-pooing is not for everyone. Some people love it, and some people say that it doesn't work for them. There are some good, natural shampoos and conditioners out there that are great options to use. But buyers beware, "natural" does not always mean non-toxic! Make sure you check out the ingredients before you buy.
If you have naturally curly or wavy hair, I recommend going to this site! It is based on the book by Lorraine Massey and Deborah Chiel:
Curly Girl ~ The Handbook
A Celebration of Curls: How to cut them, care for them, love them, and set them free
This is a really great article that will give you ingredients to avoid and safer suggestions for shampoos, conditioners, and hair dyes.
Yesterday I talked about what I use as an alternative to commercial facial cleansers - honey!
So maybe the honey thing is a little too extreme for you, but you don't want to use products that are filled with harmful chemicals either. Are you stuck? No!
Like I've said before, what works for one person may not work for another. Don't worry, you have options :o)
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit public-interest research group known for making connections between chemical exposure and adverse health conditions. Their #1 goal is: "To protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population—children, babies, and infants in the womb—from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants."
This organization has made it easy to calculate your risk of exposure to potentially harmful substances through the personal care products you use. Simply go to the Skin Deep website and type in the brand name of your shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, and whatever else you put on your body.
EWG uses a complex formula to assign a health-risk rating to each of the personal-care products:
You'll see a dual rating system that includes both a hazard rating and a data gap rating.
- The hazard score represents a synthesis of known and suspected hazards from more than 50 definitive databases. The hazard rating of a product can be higher than for its individual ingredients — it adds up the hazards of all ingredients, and is scaled higher if the product has penetration enhancers or other ingredients that increase skin absorption. This score accounts for more safety references and we show it on a 0-10 scale (with no decimals, 10 corresponding to highest concern).
- The "data gap" rating is a measure of how much is unknown about an ingredient. Not all ingredients have the same amount of safety data. For example, some ingredients may appear to have low hazards, but this may be due to the fact that they have not have been studied or assessed completely. Other ingredients may appear to have low hazards and have been thoroughly studied or assessed. This score helps differentiate between ingredients and products that have been studied to different degrees.
This site is awesome, I have used it so much! I really like how it lists all of the ingredients in each product so that I know EXACTLY what I am putting on my body and on my child!
If you find that your personal care products have a hazard score that you are not comfortable with, search this site and find something that is better for you!
It's important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve cosmetics and personal care products before they go on the market.
From the FDA website:
"The regulatory requirements governing the sale of cosmetics are not as stringent as those that apply to other FDA-regulated products. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act, cosmetics and their ingredients are not required to undergo approval before they are sold to the public. Generally, FDA regulates these products after they have been released to the marketplace. This means that manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, to market a product without a government review or approval."
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has great info on this subject.
One rule of thumb that I always go by is: the less ingredients, the better! Products that contain a long list of ingredients (many of which have long names that I can't even pronounce) tend to be filled with harmful stuff. I like it when I actually know what all of the ingredients are when I read the label! Let's keep it simple!
If you use a safe product that you love, please share!
Today I thought I’d talk about my newest adventure in facial care!
But first, let me tell you why I think this is important…
As you may know, so many of the products that line the shelves today contain ingredients that are harmful to your health, even some “natural” products! These ingredients can cause cancer, trigger allergic reactions, interfere with the endocrine system, impair reproduction, damage a developing fetus, the list goes on...
Did you know that the skin is our body's largest absorption organ? Tests have shown that absorption through the skin (which can go straight to your blood stream) is almost always greater than ingestion through the mouth. It is far more toxic to take a 15 minute shower in chlorinated water than to drink a glass of it! That’s crazy! So then, why would I want to put something on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my mouth? I know what you’re thinking…..and yes, there might be some exceptions to this, but probably not as many as you would think! All I’m saying is, if I have the choice to use something that is natural (and even edible!) rather than a chemical laden product, why would I choose the latter?
So now on to the fun part!
I recently found a thread on the Mothering website (which I love!) where ladies were raving about their experiences with washing their faces with honey! Yes, HONEY! But this isn't a new idea. Cleopatra's legendary milk and honey baths are just one of many historical examples of people using honey to pamper their complexions. I read through the entire thread (all 33 pages of it!) and it took me 3 days to sort through all the great info! So, I thought I’d compile a little summary here about what I’ve learned.
There are lots of different options and ways to do this. Since no one routine will work for everyone, you have to tailor it to your skin type. And, this is not just for women! It works just as well for men too!
So let’s get started! First, you need some raw honey. The main reason to get raw honey is because regular honey brands can sometimes be just “honey flavored” syrup, not real honey.
First Step: Wash your face with raw honey!
(If you wear make-up, you can use cotton cosmetic pads soaked in olive oil to remove it.)
Here’s what I do:
In the morning I wash my face in the shower. I plan on buying a little squirt bottle to keep some honey in the bathroom so it will be more readily available. I put a little glob in my hand, then rub it all over my face using circular motions. I let it sit there while I wash my hair and body, then rinse with warm water. Voila! My face feels clean and sooo soft! You'd think that the honey would feel sticky and gross, but it doesn’t at all! I wash my face again before bed using the same method, but at the sink.
Now here’s why it works:
Honey has glycolic acid, which helps skin get back to its naturally acidic pH. Honey also has antibacterial properties, which help with acne.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Exfoliating can help unclog pores which trap acne bacteria and other gunk, and rid your face of dead skin cells.
As for how often to exfoliate, it depends on your skin and sensitivity. In general, it’s recommended to exfoliate no more than every 3 days. Some people can gently exfoliate twice a day, some people can only stand it once a week or once a month. It's up to you and your skin type. The problem with over-exfoliating is that you risk drying out skin and stripping off the top layer. Your skin responds as if it were injured and produces more oil, resulting in acne.
If you want to exfoliate, you can add a little bit of baking soda to your honey when you wash your face. Baking soda exfoliates and can dry out acne. If this is too harsh for you, try brown sugar, sea salt, or ground up oatmeal. Another option is to use a wash cloth when rinsing off the honey. Gently rubbing your skin can help exfoliate, but don’t rub too hard or your skin might end up irritated.
Step 3: Tone your skin
I personally don’t use a toner because I have very sensitive skin, but toning can be very beneficial if you are dealing with acne or if you wear make-up. Also, it might be a good idea to tone your face after using baking soda (very alkaline) to exfoliate, to restore your skin’s pH.
For a great non-toxic option, just dilute some apple cider vinegar in water and use that like you would a normal toner. I would start off using 25% ACV 75% water to see how it works with your skin type. If you need more, bump it up to a 50/50 solution.
Step 4: Moisturize!
This is such an important step! Even if you skip the toner, you should definitely moisturize your skin after you wash it.
Great options for moisturizing:
- Coconut oil
- Shea butter
- Jojoba oil
- Rosehip oil
- Sweet almond oil
Remember, a little bit goes a long way!
If you have oily skin, you;re probably cringing at the thought of puttin goil on your face. Once you wash your face, the oil is no longer there as a barrier to keep the skin's own natural water content inside. If you don’t moisturize, your skin over-reacts and produces way too much oil in an attempt to balance itself out, and the result is oily skin! The reason skin gets so oily is because it needs more moisture than it is getting, so if you do use a light moisturizer, it may calm down the excess oil production.
Moisturizing also gives the skin a glow, helps makeup go on better, and improves the texture of skin!
Random Tip: Make sure you wash your pillowcases often. Oils from your hair or face can aggravate acne and it builds up on your pillowcases.
Random Tip: Make sure you wash your pillowcases often. Oils from your hair or face can aggravate acne and it builds up on your pillowcases.
If you decide to try this honey thing out, keep in mind that your skin may go through a “detox” period before you begin to see results. Your skin is used to commercial cleansers, and may need time to get used to your new routine. Some people say they have breakouts or oily skin at first. This can last days or weeks for some people. But stick with it and be patient! Once you find the right balance and routine for your skin, you’ll never want to go back to commercial cleansers!
Feel free to comment! I'll try to answer any questions the best I can.
Thanks for reading :o)
I was getting bored with our Multiply site, so we (ok, I ) decided it was time to start something new!
Of course most of our posts will still be about our little sweeties, Hannah and Mary Kate, but I'm hoping to throw a few new things into to the mix :o) Maybe some deep thoughts, recipes, craft ideas, etc. We'll see!