Friday, March 29, 2013

Brush Teeth Without Harsh Chemicals

As you incorporate more natural products into your life, little by little you'll make a real dent in the toxic overload modern life assaults your body with. A number of people have asked for my homemade toothpaste recipe which I've adapted from a recipe  originally by the Wellness Mama. It's an  easy way to eliminate one source of toxins which go directly into your mouth each and every day!  

Note: The original recipe says this is a "remineralizing" paste, (meaning it can actually heal enamel loss) but I can't say from personal experience, yet, whether or not this is true. I do know that my mouth feels great after using it, and I love the fact that I'm not ingesting any toxic chemicals such as flouride.

Homemade Toothpaste

5 Tablespoons Calcium Powder (Calcium carbonate)
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda
3 Tablespoons Stevia Powder or Xylitol
1 Tablespoon liquid castille soap
3-5 Tablespoons coconut oil, depending on the texture you want.
Optional: Flavored essential oil such as orange, mint, etc. 

1. Mix the Calcium powder, baking soda and stevia together until well blended.

2. Add liquid castille soap and mix in.

3. Add coconut oil and mix really well.

I store my toothpaste in a tiny Tupperware container, and use a clean cotton swab to dab a little each night onto my toothbrush. So far, my family has not come on board with using this toothpaste, but I suspect it is simply because it's easier to squeeze a tube than take out a little dab each night. To me,  it's worth the small effort. Simple to make and works great!

And now, because Sunday is Easter.....

Here's an old traditional Christian symbol of the Resurrection: I printed out a small "coloring book" for my youngest daughter to color using the images, below. If you have youngsters in your life, you may want to do the same. [Images courtesy of].


Happy Spring and A Joyous Easter

Let us Rejoice, for He is risen, indeed! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homemade (Safer) Laundry Detergent

As I've gone increasingly natural in my food choices for the family, I've branched out slowly into other areas of the home. Living well in this modern world takes effort and thought.  I'm on my second batch of homemade toothpaste, for instance, and I'm hooked on it, as it's a "remineralizing" concoction, something that commercial toothpastes don't even try to do. (Besides being flouride, additive, and preservative free!)

Three ingredients are all you need for homemade laundry detergent.

Today I thought I'd share the recipe I recently used to make homemade laundry detergent. Perhaps laundry detergent isn't high on your list of products to go natural with, but if you look at what typically is in commercial detergents, you may decide to add it to your list!

If you suffer from chemical allergies, you should certainly give homemade products a try.
We don't have allergy issues in my home, (thankfully) but the very real issue of toxicity was enough to make me interested in trying safer alternatives.

There are two ways to go with homemade laundry detergent: Powder, or liquid. I made the powder. My friend Rachael tells me that the powder may not be ideal for septic systems, but the website I got the recipe from says it's fine. To be safe, I plan on making the liquid version as well, and using it every other load.   

Close-up view of the powder after mixing.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup finely grated Castile Soap (such as Dr. Bronner's), or Fels Naptha, or Ivory

2 cups borax

2 cups washing soda

optional: 6-10 drops essential oil for fragrance, if desired


1. Grate the bar soap into a fine powder. I used a cheese grater, but a food processor would work also. I needed one bar and about 1/4 of a second bar to get one full cup.

2.  Using a large container, mix the grated soap with the borax and the washing soda. Use this container, tightly covered, to store your detergent in, or transfer to another container.  That's it!

One-quarter cup or thereabouts is enough for a large load. 

So far, I've seen no difference in my laundry using this formula, which is exactly what I'd hope for. What I'd like to do next is find a natural substitution for dryer sheets! Anyone out there know of a good way to soften clothes and remove static without using those toxic dryer sheets? Please share it here!

When I make the liquid version of the detergent, I'll share that here as well.

If you store the powder in a kitchen container, as I did (above), be sure to label it!  

Everything you need for this recipe can be found in most supermarkets in the detergent aisle. I never noticed these things before I went looking for them, but they're there, all right. 

What about you? 

What natural versions of commercial products do you favor in your home? Got any good substitutions you'd like to share with us?  

I am itching to give away a three-tin set of English Tea, but I haven't had enough commenters to hold the drawing! 

According to my Google stats, I do get a lot of viewers here, but only a few choose to leave a comment. I'd still like to have a minimum of ten to twelve before doing the drawing, so please, if you would, spread the word! I'll pick one (leave contact info) from among the next ten or more commenters to win this tea.

Warmest Blessings,


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Purposeful Reading

(Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite impressionists)
How do you choose the books you read? Do you have a method, or just happen upon books that appeal to you and dig in? Most people probably do a little of both, but I find that being purposeful about my reading not only helps me read more than I otherwise might, but has great rewards in terms of benefits gained from good books!

As a devoted "planner" I do plan books on a monthly basis, though sometimes I add new books that come to my attention mid-month, and find myself pushing others back.  My goal is a minimum of four per month, which sometimes I surpass and occasionally I don't meet. In general, however, I choose various categories of books to purposefully move my life forward. What do I mean by that?

Specifically, choosing books that aren't just random picks, but which I select according to areas I want or need to grow in. This works out to the following, more or less:

One book on Spiritual Growth/ Spirituality/ Devotions
One on Time Management/ Efficiency/ Organizing
One on craft (for me, that's writing related)
One fiction, or miscellaneous, for reading pleasure
And one or more for novel research,. (But I don't usually read research tomes cover to cover. Usually, I skim and read portions that address the topic I'm researching at the time.)  

In addition, I always have going my Bible reading, as well as one or more daily devotionals. Since I homeschool, I give myself and my girls the luxury of not starting school at the crack of dawn, which gives me time to do all my daily readings! They get to sleep in while mom reads and prays. I sometimes get them started on their school tasks first, if I'm running late, say, but I love the quiet in the house when I let them sleep. (I have a few older ones who follow their own work and school schedules, but generally, mornings are pretty quiet.)

To do my non-devotional fiction and non-fiction reading, I go to bed about an hour or more earlier than I want to turn out the lights, and read then. Of course, I love to read!

My picks for this month are:

1. In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Believe in Creation (Spirituality; Apologetics) (Really interesting; but a carryover unfinished from last month)
2. A Praying Life (Christian Growth)
3. The Story Template (Craft)
4. Austenland, by Shannon Hale (Fiction.)
5. The Enchanted April (A 2nd fiction selection since I finished Austenland. Trying to read more old classics.) 
5. A non-fiction book that was an add-in
6. A manuscript of a completed novel by a friend (the name of which I can't give since it isn't published, yet. And I hope it will be published, since it was a page-turner! I read it practically non-stop.)
7. An Ebook on organizing

I also quickly read a daily selection from A Jane Austen Devotional, and  The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar. 

However, if I'm reading a pick that is boring or in any way inferior, I'm quick to ditch it. Life is too short to waste on poorly written books! Do you fall into the trap of, "I started it, I gotta finish it?" Once upon a time, that was me. NOT ANY MORE.

What about you? Do you plan your reading? Do you need to? I keep a list of each month's books in my day-timer on a page at the beginning of each month, and this way nothing falls through the cracks.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

How to do Paleo Eating

Paleo Style Dinner. Meat, vegetables, and fruit.
Lots of people ask me about the so-called "Paleo" Diet, which I've been following for about 18 months or so.  First off, I don't consider it a diet in the sense of Weight-Watchers or Weigh-Down, or any other diet you can think of. It's not about controlling portions or quantity of food. Instead, the focus is on choosing healthful foods over processed, meaning the closer to raw or lightly processed you can get, the better.

Why "Paleo"?
The moniker "Paleo" is because some proponents of this lifestyle like to say it is how our ancestors ate. Not your grandmother or great-grandmother, but ancestors like pre-historic, or paleolithic man. In my opinion, there is no such thing as truly "pre-historic" man since the Bible gives us a history of the very FIRST people on earth! However, there is no doubt that previous generations did not subsist on the packaged, factory-formulated boxed and canned stuff we call food. They also didn't suffer from many of our modern maladies, at least not in huge numbers. Diabetes used to be a rarity. Heart disease and cancer happened, but not like the epidemic we see nowadays.

(Now, even if you eat a completely organic and natural food diet, there are still modern sources of chemicals and pollutants that abound, but eating well is a way to eliminate much of the unnecessary exposure we subject ourselves to.)

So--call it what you will, Paleo, or Cave-Man or Cave-Girl Eating, or whatever. It's all about returning to eating food the way God made it. This is not to be confused with a completely raw diet, either, since Paleo is most definitely about eating cooked food as well. (Fire, after all, is as old as Adam, and after the Fall there was certainly the use of fire for cooking raw meat. It was God, after all, who instituted the first burnt offerings.)

Essentially, to follow this eating lifestyle, you need to be committed to cutting three things from your diet:
White Flour
Almost All Other Grains
(White) Sugar
Some people give up most dairy as well, but I am assuredly not among such as they.
In some respects, you might think this is simply a repackaged lo-carb diet, but it isn't, and here's why:
On a lo-carb diet you can't eat lots of great, nutritious vegetables and fruits because they have higher carbohydrate contents. Things like sweet potato, butternut squash, maybe even carrots; fruits like bananas,
mangos, some melons. They're off limits on those diets. But not so on the Paleo regimen. You can eat basically any plant food except for what modern agriculture has tinkered with, such as wheat and other grains. Paleo purports to follow the pre-agricultural eating style of mankind. But any fruit and any vegetable is okay.
A family favorite (before baking): Zucchini Chips

As I said at the start, it's not about controlling portions but if you want to stay lean, you'll have to use some common sense, which you should be doing anyway, no matter how you eat. Personally, I've found that weight has slipped off without any effort on my part other than cutting things out of my diet! I still eat as much as I want, and it's been a joy to eat the kinds of food that were previously thought to be real no-nos, such as nuts and seeds and coconut oil.

If anything, I may eat more than I used to, but I eat differently than I used to, and I'm now 27 pounds lighter than I was before I embraced this way of eating.

To get a real handle on the Paleo lifestyle, I recommend the following resources:

And my favorite website for great do-it-yourself recipes (not just for food but for lots of household products. I make my own toothpaste, for instance, from a recipe I got here.) is the Wellness Mama. The Wellness Mama also has links to articles that will tell you all you want to know about the Paleo lifestyle and tips on how to follow it.

Are you ready for a change? Ready for healthier eating? What's your biggest block to eating right? Share it with us, and if I get enough responses I'll do a post on this topic (Stumbling Blocks to Eating Well).
 I also still have a three-tin set of English Teas to give away, because I did not get 12 unique commenters on my last post. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!