A Re-Examined Life

Canberra girl’s mission to live a more natural, sustainable life.


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Natural skincare – why I’m into it…..

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I could spend many hours talking on this subject, but for today I’m giving you 3 very simple reasons why I am totally into natural skincare.
Toxic-ness: (Or more accurately, the lack thereof): To state the obvious, non-natural skincare products are full of non-natural ingredients (a.k.a toxic chemicals). These toxic chemicals are absorbed through the skin and then head on into your bloodstream and organs. Once these chemicals start to build up, they get in the way of how our bodies naturally work and cause us problems. I’d rather stick to putting wholefoods on my skin 😊
Sustainability-ness: There are a bunch of reasons natural skincare is a more sustainable option, but today I’ll just give you one…..Our skincare products have a way of ending up in nature, whether that’s by way of being washed down the shower drain, or bathroom sink, or when we dispose of the packaging. Now, the idea behind environmental sustainability is that we consume products that support the earth so that it is able to cope (sustain) the billions of people that live here for, well, forever. Nature works in perfect harmony (you know that whole circle of life thing – I KNOW you’ve seen the Lion King), but when we introduce things into nature that don’t belong there (i.e. man-made toxic chemicals), you get in the way of that natural harmony and, instead of supporting the earth you are putting it under strain ☹
Affordability-ness: Now this may not necessarily be the case if you are looking at the high-end natural/organic ranges, but it is definitely the case if you are making them yourself (or, you know, ahem, purchasing them from someone local who hand-makes them and sells them at very reasonable prices :)). Many products on the market today have like a thousand ingredients in them, a lot of which I have never heard of, and I am never quite sure why. In my experience, amazing skincare/beauty products can be made very simply, with minimal ingredients, and often from items you probably already have at home.

And to prove my last point, here are a couple of skin/hair care things I do at home, each using only one ingredient from the pantry 🙂
For your body: Oatmeal bath – An oatmeal bath will leave your skin silky smooth, and is also particularly good if you have any type of skin condition like eczema, psoriasis, sunburn, or even insect bites. For this one you will need about 1 cup of rolled oats, and an old pair of stockings (if you don’t have an old pair of stockings, you could use any kind of thin cloth like a muslin, or a thin tea towel or old pillow case).
Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Cut a piece of stocking (or other material) so that it will be big enough to hold the cup of oats, remembering to leave enough material to tie up the end.
Step 2: Pop in the oats, and tie up the end of your oat-ball.
Step 3: run your bath and pop in the ball of oats. Once you are in the bath, keep giving the ball a squish, you will see the cloudy oat-milk coming out into the bath. You can also use the oat-ball as sponge, and especially use if you have a skin condition, give those areas a good old sponge.
For your hair: Warm oil treatment – You can use any oil you have in your pantry for this one, olive oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, sweet almond oil, or avocado oil will work a treat. Or if you have any oils I your bathroom, you can use them too, like jojoba, castor, or apricot kernel oils.
Here’s what to do:
Step 1: Slowly heat some oil over a very low heat, you don’t want the oil to get hot, you just want to warm it up. The amount of oil you need will depend on how much hair you have, but you don’t need a whole truckload – I have quite a lot of hair and I use about ¼ of a cup.
Step 2: Once the oil is warm, smoosh it all the way through your dry hair. Now this can be pretty messy, so cover your clothes with something, and do it in a place where it doesn’t matter if you get oil on the floor. Once I have all the oil in my hair I use a comb to make sure I have got it on every bit of hair.
Step 3: Bundle your hair up in whatever way you want (I pop it all under a shower cap), then go about your business (or even better, sit down and relax) for half an hour.
Step 4: Wash your hair with shampoo, do this twice. When you add the shampoo the oil it will go ultra-sudsy and delicious. You know you have washed the oil out completely when the sudsy-ness stops. Condition, or don’t condition – I would suggest giving both ways a try and see which option gives you the best hair result. Don’t overdo oil treatments, at a maximum you could do it once a week, but I tend to do it as a monthly treat.
If you would like to learn more about natural skincare products, you can get along a natural workshop (presented by me!) at the Food Coop in Canberra on Saturday, the 26th of August. At the workshop, you will have an opportunity to utilise more ingredients from your pantry to make some of your own skincare products and, partake in the ultimate natural skin care routine. Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite.


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Purity Products

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Well it has been quite some time between posts and that is because I have been a very busy person.  There is my going full-time job, there is taking care of my lovely family (also a full-time job), taking care of my lovely home and garden (also a full-time job), and then there is that minor other thing I have been doing over the past 6 months….. starting my own business!!

Here is how it happened……Over the last couple of years of writing the blog I have found there are generally 3 types of people who read my blog:  there are those who jump straight onboard the “make-it-myself” train, there are those who are super keen to make their own products but would like a bit of assistance to get them going,  and then there and those who don’t have time, or maybe just aren’t into making their own stuff at all.

So here is what I decided…..

For those of you already on the train, yay!  I will keep posting on the blog 🙂

For those of you who would like some assistance, I have designed some workshops to provide said assistance 🙂

And for those of you in the last group, I have decided to make the products for you🙂

And hence the birth of Purity Products!

Purity products (as I am sure you would expect!) are about trying to live a more pure, natural, and sustainable life.

Purity Products are handmade from 100% natural ingredients that are, where possible, organic, and sourced from local business who are environmentally and socially responsible.

At the moment I am selling 3 products, all 3 of which I have posted the recipes on here before, they are my favourite.  I also have some other products in the pipeline which are going through the “testing” stages, so keep an eye out for those 🙂

So please go and check out my new web and  Facebook page and, of course, feel free to put in an order 🙂


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Yeah… baby

I am pretty excited that I have found some time to write a blog.

Last week, one of my gorgeous friends held a this-is-not-a-baby-shower-baby-shower, (she called it a pre-baby lunch), she also requested that no one bring her presents.  But, as if that was every going to happen!

So I decided to get busy making some baby products,  I had so much fun making these, and I am pretty chuffed with the end result.  I just wish I had been into making this stuff when my little ones were younger.  My Google search returned plenty of easy, Steph-proof baby products you can make.

Speaking of being Steph-proof, I thought that, given how fabulous these baby products I made are, that you might start to think that I that this whole “I am not naturally good at all this “making natural stuff from scratch” business is made up.  So I want to take a moment to show you what didn’t make it into the this-is-not-a-baby-shower, baby-shower-gift-bag.  I decided to put some sweet treats into the bag, but the “it doesn’t get more simple than these 3 ingredient” cookies, (that I have actually made before mind you), didn’t make it into the bag.

“They” didn’t make it into the bag, mainly because I didn’t end up with cookies.  I ended up with a cookie.  A half burnt, half raw cookie.

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Yep, she’s a beauty.

But let’s now leave that behind me, and get on with the good stuff that did make it into the bag.

I did manage to get some delicious chocolate fudge into the bag.  I made my favourite, simple-as chocolate fudge recipe, that I use from the gourmande in the kitchen website.

 

 

 

 

What also did make it into the bag were these little beauties

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For the little baby I made nappy cream, and baby oil, and for the mummy-to-be, some bath salts (hopefully she will manage to find some time to use them!).

They are all in recycled jars, the baby oil and the bath salts are in maple syrup jars, and the nappy cream is in a pesto jar.

The nappy cream uses coconut oil as the base, (and actually, if you haven’t got time to make this cream, you can just use plain coconut oil as your nappy cream).  Coconut oil has (look out, I’m about to get clinical) antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, or for those who are not as clinically minded as I am, it basically means, that when it comes to healing skin, coconut oil is the business.

The baby oil uses olive oil as the base, olive oil is the king of skin moisturizing, and it also contains antioxidants which, which help keep skin young.  (now most people only start to consider how to keep their skin looking young once they already have old-looking skin, this kid is going to be way ahead of the game).

The bath salts use magnesium (epsom salts) as the base.  Magnesium deficiency is a serious issue in our society today, (statistics say 68%, or 2 out of 3 people suffer from magnesium deficiency).  One of the best ways to replenish magnesium in your body is through your skin, either using magnesium oil, or soaking yourself in it in a bath.   Magnesium baths can provide a bunch of health benefits including reducing inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps, managing headaches, and improved circulation.

All the products contain:

Calendula – anti-inflammatory and antiseptic super powers, assisting tissue regeneration.

Chamomile – antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic super powers.  It is also considered to be hypoallergenic, which basically means it can help neutralise skin irritants.

Lavender – is pretty much good for everything, but to narrow it down to a few things, it has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal, pain relieving, calming, and relaxing super powers.

If i was selling this stuff, it would be my “Mum’s and Bub’s Super Hero” range…..

Here’s how to make them:

Nappy Cream

3/4 cup of organic coconut oil

1 tablespoon of calendula tea

1 tablespoon of chamomile tea

1 tablespoon (or more) of organic corn flour

20 drops of  Lavender essential oil

I put the coconut oil into a glass jar and sat it in a saucepan of water over a low heat, once the coconut oil had melted I added in all the tea leaves and left it on a very low heat for about 3 hours.  Don’t let the water in the saucepan boil, and keep an eye on it, you will need to top it up.   When the time is up, remove from the heat and strain the oil through a colander to remove all the tea.  Set aside the coconut oil to harden (you can put it in the fridge speed up the process).  Once the coconut oil has solidified, add in the essential oil and corn flour combine.  Then get out your stick blender and whip it up so its nice and creamy.  Stick in the jar –  you’re done.

Baby Oil

1 cup of organic olive oil

1 tablespoon of calendula tea

1 tablespoon of chamomile tea

1 tablespoon of dried lavender

Pretty much the same as above, chuck all the ingredients into a glass jar and pop it into a saucepan of water, over a low heat, for about 3 hours.  When the time is up, strain it, stick it in the jar and yep, you are done.  (A note on this one, as olive oil has such a strong scent, dont waste your lavender essential oil trying to get this one to smell like lavender, it wont work).

Bath salts

Epsom Salts

1 tablespoon of calendula tea

1 tablespoon of chamomile tea

1 tablespoon of dried lavender

Lavender essential oil

Stick all the dry ingredients into the bottle, filling it up to about 3/4 full, and give it a good shake.  Put in about 20 drops of essential oil, and give it another good shake.  Then fill the bottle to the top with dry ingredients, and shake it some more.  That is it.

Here is a picture of the back of the bottles with my cute labels listing out all the ingredients.

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What baby products are you making?


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101 uses for garlic

Last time I talked to you about my cold sores and this week I am going to talk about my warts. Yes, cold sores AND warts, I am a picture of loveliness. Well actually I don’t have any cold sores or warts at the moment, and that is because I have found genius ways of getting rid of them.

I have had my fair share of warts over the years and have tried many unsuccessful ways to get rid of them. They always grow back, even the ones I had “burnt” off at the doctor’s surgery grew back. I found the only thing that seemed to get rid of them was time, but warts sure do take their time about leaving, and mine would usually last for at least a year or two.

But that was before I discovered just how cool garlic is.  In the last couple of years I have used garlic to encourage a couple of warts to make a quicker exit. And when I say quicker, I mean in under a week.

My suggestion would be to do this at night, in the privacy of your own home, where it is perfectly acceptable for you to stink like garlic.  All you have to do is get a lovely little garlic clove and take cut yourself a slice. Place this slice over the wart and give the wart a really good rub and get all that lovely wart killing garlic juice all over it, and then cover it with a band-aid.  Leave it on when you sleep and repeat for as many nights as it takes for the little wart to depart. That’s it. Goodbye wart.

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Whilst on the subject of garlic I feel I must pay homage to some of the other things garlic could do for you. In addition to helping food be even more delicious, reducing the frequency of colds and providing many therapeutic benefits including reducing the risk of brain, prostate and lung cancer, garlic may (or may not) be able to do the following:

  • Garden bug repellent – I am sure we have all had our own experience of being repelled by the smell of garlic and a number of little pests are affected in the same way. White flies, aphids, cabbage loopers, squash bugs, are repelled by garlic. You can make a garlic spray and apply to your plants.

Blood sucking pests (Mosquitos and vampires) – as above, but spray on your body in place of your plants.
 Acne – in the same way I have successfully removed my warts, you can remove your pimples. Although, depending on the extent of your pimples, it might prove difficult to try and band-aid garlic slices all over face. The suggested treatment here is to cut open the garlic and apply the garlic juice directly on the pimple/s.

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Glass repair – no really. There are plenty of resources on the internet that swear this is true, so therefore it must be.  Apparently garlic juice is a natural adhesive, super glue it isn’t, but people suggest that it can be used to fill in a hairline crack in glass and hold it together.

splinter Splinter removal – you may recall that I have used bicarb for this process, well apparently garlic will do the trick too.

Fish__Bait_1_preview Fish bait – it seems that fish would prefer a bit of seasoning to go with their food. Word on the street is that catfish, carp and any bottom feeding fish will jump at your garlic worms.

maiden_with_long_hair_clip_art_22283  Hair loss help – some people swear that massaging your head with garlic oil can help to bring back previously lost hair. Worth a try?

lover-clipart-lovers130113   Aphrodisiac – Gone are the days of limiting your garlic intake for fear of offending your partner. The “science” behind this one is that garlic increases circulation to your extremities. I’ll leave that there.


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Make it From Scratch – Perfume Recipe

Perfume Recipe

I know I keep saying how crazy simple all my “recipes” are, but that’s because they are…..  Your involvement time in this perfume recipe is around 3 minutes, and you only need 2 ingredients (well unless you consider the bottle you put it in as an ingredient, in that case, it requires 3 ingredients).

But before jumping into the recipe, I want to let you know that when I started down the path of trying to go all things natural, there were two things in particular that took some convincing to get to.  The first was ending my long-term obsession with bleaching my hair, and the other was ending my life-long love of perfumes.  I couldn’t even deal with the idea of doing both at the same time, so I took a staged approach, first tackling the bleach, and then moving to the perfumes.  (Luckily I have decided that I really like my natural dark blonde/soon-to-be-grey hair, so much in fact that I have decided to try to follow through with the natural hair theme and let it do it’s grey thing.  I am currently very much at ease with the 5 or so grey hairs that I have, but I reserve the right to completely backflip on this one, depending on how I feel once there are 100 of them 🙂 ).

I managed to continue my use of perfumes for some time, mainly because I chose to stay away from any information that would make me want to stop using them (kind of like purposely not reading the calorie content on the back of that whole block of chocolate you just ate).  The thing that finally pushed me to stop was other people.  It seemed that, increasingly, my perfumes were having an adverse effect on people around me.  One time in particular I was in a car with a women who had to get out and eat something because the smell made her feel so ill.  I felt pretty awful.  (Interestingly, since I have stopped using perfumes I have developed quite a sensitivity to other people’s perfumes. I often feel nauseous and/or get a headache from other people’s strong perfumes.  Serves me right I guess 🙂 ).  So I decided I should do some reading about perfumes and, among the information I read, there was quite a lot about perfumes/fragrances being triggers for people with allergies, and in particular asthma and eczema.  My youngest son has asthma and my eldest son has eczema.

Perfume recipe

American Beaver

The ingredients used in perfume/fragrances are shifty.  You may recall in my recent post about organic foods , I made reference to castoreum, an ingredient which is sometimes used in food but most often used in fragrances.  That is the kind of ingredient they put into perfume.  I did a bit more reading about castoreum, and the North American Fur Auctions website describes that the beaver castors are used in the perfume industry, and that they are in high demand.  Another thing I learned, is that, in order for the castoreum to be extracted from the beaver, the beaver has to die.  Poor beavers.  I also found it interesting how the perfume industry “sells” this stuff, a website called  “Fragrantica” which is a “fragrance encyclopedia” has a page totally dedicated to castoreum, and here is what they have to say about a product that is extracted from a sac which is located in the pelvis of a beaver “…The scent of castoreum is wild and bodily, lustful and passionate, bestowing the one who wears it a delicate aura of sensuality. This typical warm, carnal, and leather-like scent…” Hmmmmm….

Castoreum is only one of many questionable ingredients that is put into perfume, but it is unlikely you will ever know which, or how many of the questionable ingredients there are in the perfume you are wearing.  This is because the laws that control what goes into cosmetics does not apply to “fragrances”.  Companies can put any number of unlabeled chemicals into a product,  if they are used to make the “fragrance” part.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), who are an American non-profit environmental research group, did a study back in 2010 where they tested a bunch of popular perfumes, cologne and body sprays.  Within the  17 brands they tested, they found 38 unlabeled chemicals.  The winners/losers (depending on how you look at it) were American Eagle “Seventy Seven” with 24 chemicals found, Chanel “Coco” with 18, and Britney Spears “Curious “and Giorgio Armani “Acqua Di Gio” with 17.   But on average, they found that perfumes contained 14 unlabeled chemicals.  Particularly scary too, is that the EWG estimates that only 34% of these unlabeled chemicals have had safety assessments published.  And in August this year, EWG published another article confirming that one of these unlabeled ingredients, “styrene”,  has been confirmed to have the potential to cause cancer.  But you won’t know if it is your fragrance, because, as perviously mentioned,  it won’t be on the label 😦   This applies to any product you from the shop with “fragrance” in it, so not just perfume, but cleaning products, room deodorizers, other cosmetics etc.

Perfume recipe

So whilst I am trying to avoid anything with “fragrance” in it,  I still love nice smelly fragrant things.  So I have made the switch to essential oils. Now, I am a complete novice when it comes to essential oils, I have no idea how to properly blend them, nor to I have any idea about the “properties” and uses of them. I just know what smells nice to me 🙂

Luckily for novices like me,  you can buy essential oil blends, and these are what I have used to make my perfume.

I first started out making a solid perfume from coconut oil and essential oils, and it was OK.  But the coconut oil melts as soon as it gets hot, (although you could counteract this by adding some beeswax), and it will obviously have to have the coconut scent which I didn’t want every time.  And aside from these things, I actually really love a perfume spray.

So I looked online for a perfume spray recipe, but they were all a bit too complicated for me.  But then I was looking up recipes for facial toners and was reading about witch hazel and the article mentioned how witch hazel can be used with essential oils as it doesn’t have any scent.  So I figured that surely it could work as a perfume spray, and it does 🙂

So here is how I have made my own spray perfume

Essential Oil Perfume Recipe

Ingredients:

spray bottle

Witch hazel

Essential oil blend

What to do:

Fill your spray bottle, whatever size it is, almost to the top with witch hazel and then add drops of your essential oils/essential oil blends until it smells nice and perfumy.  (My bottles must be about 50 mls and I put in around 20 – 30 drops of essential oil).  Shake up the bottle and then leave it for a couple of days.  When you first put the oils in, you will see them separate from the witch hazel into little beads, but after the 2 – 3 days, it will all be combined.

So far I have made two, in one I used a blend called “spirit of woman” which is all floral-ly, and the other is a blend called “Buddhist Temple” which is all vanilla-ry.  Both very nice.   You need to be aware that the smell won’t hang around the same way perfume does,  so I give a good spray to my clothes my hair, and then I take the little bottle with me for a respray during the day.

Notes:

I haven’t had any luck finding second hand spray bottles, not in any size.  So I found some cute little 50ml bottles in the $2 shop, I think I got 3 for $2 or something like that, super cheap.

I have bought a bunch of other essential oils, mostly citrus-y ones, and as mentioned, have no idea how to blend them.  I  would love to hear your ideas for making my own blends.  So please post them for me in the comments below 🙂