Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Bathroom Recipes

I'm now on day 23 of my experiment - over half way through!  I'm not only getting used to these products, but I actually like them.  I've made the kids their own set of shampoo and body wash and even my husband asked me to make some "manly" smelling body wash for him too.  I'm up to the challenge.

The other day I bought some spray on sunscreen.  I was shocked by the over bearing smell of chemicals as I sprayed down my children before going swimming.  I have never been sensitive to it's smell before.  I think it got to me because I haven't been around a lot of chemicals recently.  On a side note, I would love to find a good sunscreen recipe but I'm too nervous to try.  I just can't justify not knowing if what I make REALLY is protecting my family from the dangerous sun rays.

I'm finally coming to the end of all the recipes I've been using lately.  I've told you about my hair products, shower items, smell-good things like deodorant and toothpaste, my facial regime...  What's left?  I have some odds and ends here to share the recipes for.

Tinted Lip Balm

1 part beeswax, shredded
2 parts coconut oil
a few drops of essential oil if you want scent - I used Grapefruit

This was the basic recipe I started with.  I used a tsp of shredded beeswax and 1.5 tsp of coconut oil.  I found if I used 2 tsp it was a little too soft for my liking.

I went through a lot of experimenting for color.  I wanted a tinted lip balm to replace typical lip gloss I was using.  I was determined to use a natural source.  A lot of websites suggested using an old lip stick to color your lip balm but what is the point of putting my old chemical infused lip stick into my natural lip balm?  So no lip stick.  I tried dehydrating strawberries and then using my mortal and pestle to grind it up.  I could never get it fine enough and my lip balm was gritty.  Next I tried grinding up dried hibiscus flowers.  Even though I was able to get it super fine, my lip balm was still gritty.  So I came up with a method that might sound weird.  I made my own dye.  In a small bottle I mixed rubbing alcohol with my ground dried hibiscus and let it sit for a while.  My thinking was that a lot of extracts are made with alcohol and maybe the alcohol part would eventually evaporate leaving the just the color.

It worked.  I used this "hibiscus extract" in my lip balm mixture and it successfully tinted it.  It did have a funny smell at first that went away.  I'm not sure if the alcohol evaporated or not but it does not dry my lips out and it's just a small hint of color.

Another method I haven't tried is to use natural food coloring.  I just didn't see any at Walmart and didn't want to go to another store with the kids.  If you try it, comment and let me know how it works!

Basic lotion

I liked this recipe because it only has 3 ingredients.  You can find the original recipe HERE.  I used coconut oil, beeswax, and Sleepy Time Tea.  I also used Tea Tree oil for a tingly feeling.  You can use other essential oils for different scents or skip that step all together.  I am going to try olive oil next and see how that works.  The coconut oil seemed to work well but I feel a little greasy sometimes.

Sunless Tanning Lotion

This one sounded crazy to me and I have to be honest, I'm not sure if it works.  Let me explain my purpose for such a product in the first place.  I work at a pool three times a week.  In my bathing suit. (Teaching Aqua Zumba.)  Now I know no one really cares, but for some reason, my upper body gets tan super fast and it takes my legs a while to catch up.  So I cheat by using sunless tanning lotion on my legs.  That is, until the weather turned nice and I started playing the yard with the kids everyday.  Now I'm brown all over and unlike before when I was trying to get tan, now I'm trying not to get too tan!  Ah, the things we do for perceived beauty.

Anyhow, I had found this recipe for a sunless tanning lotion to try.  It's very simple, you just mix your favorite white lotion with cocoa powder to your desired tint and then apply to your skin.  Over several applications you will supposedly see a change in your color.  I only did this once because as I said, I now am plenty tan.  If you use it and it works, comment and let me know!!!  I might be pulling this one out come fall and winter.

Hand Wash

I'm kind of cheating with this one because it's essentially my body wash, diluted.  You can find my body wash recipe HERE.  I tried to put this in a foaming dispenser but due to the glycerin it kept getting clogged.  So I put it in an old sanitizing bottle.  Just use half body wash and half water.  Give it a good shake before use.  We have been using this everyday for the kids.  Works well but does not get overly sudsy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

4 Healthy, Crowd Pleasing Dips

It's that time of year when people get together for bar-b-ques and parties.  Maybe you've been invited to a pot luck or a picnic.  Maybe you are hosting a small group for your church.  Or maybe, you just really feel like dipping some of those fresh fruits and veggies you got from the farmer's market.  Whatever the occasion, a dip is always a great choice to pair with snacks and munchies.

These are my favorite dip recipes.  Enjoy!


1 can organic garbanzo beans drained or 2 cups soaked and cooked garbanzo beans
4 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
olive oil to drizzle
pinch of paprika

Using a blender or food processor, mix together all but the olive oil and paprika.  I reserve some of the juice from the can in case the mixture gets too thick so you can thin it to your desired consistency   Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of some paprika.  You can put all sorts of spices in your hummus but garlic is my fav!  Serve with veggies, crackers, or bread.

Veggie Dip

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
4 oz or 1/2 cup of cream cheese
2 tsp fresh cut chives
1/2 tsp dry parsley or 1 tsp fresh finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients well.  I like it best chilled for a few hours.  The thick consistency is perfect for dipping with crunchy veggies.  I am in LOVE with this stuff!

Fruit Yogurt Dip

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
handful of berries

Pour the heavy whipping cream into an electric mixer.  Beat on high until soft peaks start to form.  Add in the honey.  Continue beating until firm peaks appear.  In a separate dish or using a mortal and pestle  mash the berries as small as possible.  Gently blend the berries and the yogurt together.  If you just blend it together it will get soupy.  Finally, add the yogurt mixture to the whipping cream and gently fold it all together.  Serve with fresh fruit.

*You can also save time by using a flavored Greek yogurt instead but make sure to decrease the honey as the flavored yogurt already has sugar in it.

Roasted Salsa

Who doesn't like chips and salsa right?  Sure to be a crowd-pleaser.  Check out this post for the recipe for Kristin's Roasted Salsa.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gardening for the Body, Mind, and Spirit

This year for Mother's Day I had the privilege of working in the garden almost all day.  I guess it's a known fact here in Colorado that you shouldn't plant anything until Mother's Day.  This is the first year we have ever had a vegetable garden.  I always thought there was just too much work involved and didn't want to put in the effort.  That has all changed for me now.  My garden brings me so much unexpected joy.

The thing about gardening is that it's not just about the food that's harvested although that part really excites me and I hope at least something grows for us!  It's as much a spiritual thing as it is a physical thing as well.  I believe that gardening, growing my own food, is a whole body experience.


I have found that gardening is a total relaxer for me.  I like to go outside when the kids are asleep for nap time and listen to music while I piddle.  It helps to clear my mind and puts me in a great mood.  The smell of the soil and plants, the breeze rustling the spring leaves, the warm sun on my face...


Growing a garden takes physical, consistent work.  My husband and I hand tilled our 15ft x 10ft patch of soil.  Do you know how many calories that burned?  I didn't either so I looked it up on  It turns out that 1 hour of tilling the garden by hand is about 340 calories!  But it's not just that, we have several potted plants and I have to move them from time to time.  Plus, I'm always weed pulling and removing debris from the trees.


God has given me all the things I need... earth/soil, sun, rain, even the seeds.  It's all there for me.  His creation.    All I have to do is put in the work.  I find myself lost in thoughts about His provisions for me.  I've heard all my life that all I have belongs to God.  I believe that, I do, but sometimes I don't act that way.  I mean, my car... my money... my stuff... my time?  But when I'm in the garden I feel like it really does belong to Him.  I am excited to see the fruits of my labor because I can't wait to share them with people.  I feel like there is so much God wants to teach me through this simple act.

Yup, I pretty much am in love with my vegetable garden.  Have you planted one yet?  Maybe you should consider it.  If you have one and are looking to donate some surplus veggies, check this site out.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kristin's Roasted Salsa

I love the fresh salsas where you just cut up a bunch of veggies and call it good.  But can I make a confession though?  I miss my Pace Picante Sauce. Yikes!  I just said it.  It's not really that specific brand but just the texture and consistency of it as well as how long it keeps in the fridge.  (Yeah, I know, some of that is due to preservatives.) So I set out to figure out how to make such a salsa.  I spent lots of time looking at other people's recipes and never found one that I liked.

Enter experimentation.  This salsa turned out well and is very similar in texture to your average picante sauce.  However, it has a nice, rich, roasted flavor.  I'm not sure how long it will last in the fridge but I figure "cooking" my salsa will help it last longer than just using raw veggies.  Here is my recipe:

6 roma Tomatoes, cut in half and squeezed to rid them of seeds
3 jalapenos seeded and coarsely chopped
1 onion cut into large chunks
1 bell pepper of your choice (I like red), cut into large chunks
2 tbsp minced garlic
3-4 sprigs of cilantro for roasting
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 6 oz can of organic tomato paste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for an extra kick)
olive oil
sea salt


1)  Spread olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan or cookie sheet.  Place the tomatoes, jalapenos  onion, cilantro sprigs, minced garlic, and bell pepper on the the pan.  Drizzle with more olive oil and top with sea salt to your liking.  Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  About half way through, stir the veggies up and replace in the oven.

2)  The veggies should be soft.  If you like, you can pull off the tomato skins though I just left mine on.  Next, blend the veggies up.  I used my magic bullet in batches for this but you can use a food processor or even a blender.  I left mine a little chunky instead of pureeing to a smooth pulp.

3)  Transfer your veggie mix to a sauce pan.  Stir in lime juice, tomato paste, chopped cilantro, and cayenne pepper until well blended over medium heat.  Let simmer for a few minutes and then you are done!

I used these old salsa bottles to store my salsa.  As you can see, I got two jars from one batch.  If you are like me and like your salsa chilled, just stick it in the fridge and enjoy later.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Do you smell something?

I don't know about you, but I am paranoid about what I smell like.  Heaven forbid someone think I stink right?!  Come on, you know it makes you uncomfortable when someone near you has bad breath or even worse, B.O.  It seems I've been programmed, like many other people, that we should cover up our natural human smell.  I mean, what do humans even smell like anyway?  With all the body sprays, perfumes, deodorants, lotions, and powders we wear, it's no wonder we are conditioned to smell so ... unnatural.

Well I know what I smell like after a Zumba class or what my breath smells like in the morning and it is NOT pretty.  So I'm not quite ready to find out what this human smells like without any help!  So to honor my attempt to use only natural DIY products over 30 days, I have found some recipes to help out with my, ahem, problem.

Body Spray

This recipe was so easy.  I used distilled water instead of filtered water, mostly because I don't have filtered water!  It smells fantastic but the downfall is it doesn't last long.  I like having a spray for after workouts though.


The recipe I used is one I kept seeing over and over again on all kinds of natural living blogs.  It is easy, uses only 3 or 4 ingredients and is very cost effective.  You can use an old deodorant container to store it in or just use a jar.  I chose to use an old container.  Here's how you do it:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch
6 tbsp organic coconut oil
a few drops of tea tree oil or other essential oil for fragrance if you prefer

Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well until the mixture comes together and all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Transfer the mix to your jar or deodorant container.  I actually put it in a zip lock bag and squeezed it in so that there would be less mess.  Let harden by placing it in the fridge for a few minutes.

I can't say I'm "in love" with this method but it gets the job done.  The pros are that it's very easy to make and it does keep me smelling good.  I don't end up feeling too wet so it does keep me dry.  You will still sweat but not as much if you are using tea tree oil because of it's anti-fungal/antibacterial properties.  The downside?  It melts very fast.  Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees so if you are accustomed to throwing it in your gym bag which sits in your warm car...  or you don't have air conditioner and your house sits above 76 degrees during the day...  it will melt.  I find this very annoying which is why I can't say I love it.  I usually end up keeping it in the fridge which works well enough.

In an effort to remedy this problem I decided to try Tom's all natural deodorant.  I hate it!  It leaves me feeling wet and sticky and never drys up.  So it's back to the homemade stuff for me.  I will just have to change my deo routine and keep it in the fridge.

Baking Soda Toothpaste

Brace yourself...  this recipe takes some getting used to.  The first time I brushed my teeth with it I was shocked by how salty it tasted.  It grossed me out if I am being totally honest.  I have since gotten more used to it and it doesn't bother me quite as bad anymore.  The baking soda acts a neutralizer and helps to fight bad breath (and bacteria) while the peppermint leaves a nice after taste.  Well, an after, after taste.  You know, after you get over the salt shock.

 It's hard to put in a tube or bottle.  I've tried several kinds but in the end I just put it in a small jar and dip my toothbrush in it.  You can also make a mouthwash by mixing a small amount of baking soda and diluting it with water.  Rinse and spit...  yummy...

I'm saving lotions for last so stay tuned as they can be used to smell nice and pretty too!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Natural Facial Skin Care

The next installment of my 30 day body care challenge is facial care.  Before I started this experiment I was using Proactive.  I have nothing bad to say about Proactive as I LOVE how it cleans my face.  However, a quick search on the ingredients reveals a very long list of ingredients I cannot pronounce. So what would happen if I used another method?  The ideas below are what I have been successfully using for the last 13 days.

Oil Cleansing Method

Would you ever dream of washing your face with oil?  I certainly didn't.  I thought surely my face would break out with zits all over the place as my pores soaked up the oils.  The link above is for a site that I found very interesting and informative about the method.  It suggests to wash your face with just oil.  The premise of the method is stated like this:

"Getting right down to basics, when cleansing and moisturizing your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil dissolves oil."

Sounds good. But do I believe it? Through my research, I would agree that many of the skin care products on the market today strip your skin of their natural oils. This in turn makes your skin produce even more oil to compensate. I always wondered why I had such oily skin. That being said, since I do have oily skin, I was a little nervous to try this. I have been very pleased with the results. Even my hubby uses it now. Our faces are soft, healthy looking, and best of all, NOT full of pimples.

There are several ways you can mix up some oils for your own skin type. Some popular oils to use are castor, olive, hazelnut, tea tree, sunflower, jojoba, almond, avocado and several more. Be mindful of allergies when researching what is best for your skin. Here is what works for me:

3 tsp Castor Oil
1 tsp Olive Oil
Several drops of Tea Tree Oil

How to use it:

Place all 3 oils in a small container. Shake to mix well before each use. Pour a small amount onto your fingertips and apply in circular motion to your dry face. Give yourself a nice facial massage. Next up, place a warm washcloth on your face for about a minute. Enjoy the mini facial! Gently use the washcloth to scrub the oil off your face. I love using the Tea Tree Oil. It not only has healing properties that help with breakouts but it leaves your face feeling cool and refreshed.

Baking soda wonders

Not ready to jump into the oil cleaning method?  That's OK, there are other ways to take care of your face naturally.  I love baking soda because of the hundreds of used for it!  There are two ways I like to use baking soda on my face.

1)  Mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice (or water if you prefer) in a bottle and give it a shake.  Use this to wash your face with.  I love how soft my skin feels after using this.  It also seems to brighten it up.  Maybe it's from the lemon juice.  The grit gives just enough texture to really exfoliate your skin.

2)  Mix a small amount of baking soda and even smaller amount of water in your palm to create a paste.  You can apply this to pimples that you want to get rid of.  Wait about 10 minutes until it's completely dry and then rinse away.  You can do this 2 - 3 times per day.  It worked really well for me.  Especially in the beginning of my experiment when my face freaked out due to all the changes of switching to natural products.

Apple cider vinegar as toner

Just as you can use apple cider vinegar in your hair, you can also use it on your face as a toner.  Just place a 2:1 diluted ratio in a spray bottle and spritz your face after you wash it.  I only use this method when I use the baking soda method as the oil cleansing method is an all-in-one type of treatment.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dirt Cheap Yard Work

Another stop on my quest for a chemical free house.  Ok, I have to be honest - it also had a lot to do with money.  It turns out that DIY natural options tend to be much cheaper than the chemicals anyway!

A little background first.  We are currently renting so aside from not having a lot of extra cash right now, we don't really want to pour a bunch of money into someone else's yard.  There are two areas that are supposed to be rock and dirt but the weeds have taken over and it's looking kind of trashy.  Also, while the dandelions aren't horrible, there are more than I would like poking through our grass.

So here's the recipe:

Weed Spray

Vinegar - Enough to fill a spray bottle.  I used plain white vinegar but I'm told that pickling vinegar works even better.
Salt - 1/2 cup for a spray bottle  
Dish soap - just a squeeze

I used this spray bottle first but it was a lot of work for the size of area I needed to cover.  So I went to Ace to find a bigger jug. **Beware - if you spray this on dandelions in the yard, no matter how carefully, you will create brown spots in your grass!!**

At Ace they had a 2 gallon lawn sprayer on sale for 10 bucks.  Score!  A gallon of vinegar from Walmart was $2.48.  I had the salt and dish soap.  The area I needed to cover in the front and back took 3 gallons of vinegar.  My total weed killer cost: $17.48.  Zero toxic chemicals.  

All that green is supposed to be rock!  Also - the best part of chemical free is that the kids get to help!  My 2 an 3 year old thought the weed sprayer was awesome.

Try to do it on a day that the weeds will get lots of warm sunshine.  The hotter the better.  I saw results the very next day.  

Weed Prevention

Next I needed to make sure the weeds wouldn't come back.  This is only for areas where you do not want anything to grow.  Do not get it on your grass or near plants you want to keep.  It's simple.  Just spread baking soda over the area.  The salt is supposed to neutralize the ground so that nothing will grow there.  Time will tell if this works!  The kids had a blast helping me spread it around.

Pesky Dandelions

So far, the best cure for dandelions without chemicals... you might not like this... is to pull them.  Yup.  Super simple and I just take care of it while I'm outside watching the kids play.  There may be other options, but I don't want brown spots!

What are your favorite cheap yard tricks?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Natural Shower Recipes

Shower time!  So what do you normally use in the shower?  Shampoo, Conditioner, body wash, shaving cream...  did I miss anything?  My situation is a little different from the norm.  I teach Zumba and Aqua Zumba about 6 times a week.  This week I am teaching 7 times!  So I tend to shower at the gym more than at my own home.  It is important to me to not only find recipes to use at home but will also be portable to take them with me in my trusty gym bag.  These are the recipes I am using right now.  So far it seems to be working well.  (Deodorant and Body spray in a post to come.)

There is a learning curve I've learned when switching to natural products.  You almost have to change the way you perceive "clean."  If you are a bar soap person, you are probably used to the sticky, squeaky feeling you feel on your skin after you wash it.  I am personally a body wash person so it took some getting used to at first as most products I've made leave that squeaky clean feeling on my skin.


Coconut Milk & Castile Soap - This recipe smells great and seems to work well on my hair.  It also gets really sudsy which I like.  However, it does not work as a stand alone product.  I really need a conditioner to go with it.  The squeaky clean feeling is a little rough for my thick hair.  I found that once I started using apple cider vinegar as a rinse afterwards, it really works well.  (And by the way, I LOVE this lady's blog - I will be adding it to my resources on the side.)

Baking Soda and Water - The recipe is simple.  It's just equal parts baking soda and water and shake well.  That's it.  Again, I have to use this in conjunction with the apple cider vinegar but it works about as well as the Coconut Milk & Castile soap though it does not sud at all.  The bonus is that you can also wash your face with it while in the shower.


I am still working on this a little.  I have tried two different types and by far the apple cider vinegar is the best.  I know it sounds crazy but it works fantastically as a detangler and it softens my hair.

Coconut Oil and Honey - This was one of three recipes on this website.  It was a total bust for me.  My hair was so disgusting!  Even after it dried, it still looked wet.  Gross.  I would not recommed it.  BUT maybe another recipe on that site might work better.  I'll try it out in the coming weeks.

This was after it dried... not good.  I took another shower to wash it out later.

Apple Cider Vinegar - Another simple recipe.  Equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.  Look for one with the "mother" in it.  I LOVE this.  It works very well for me.  It smells a little funny at first but it goes away after my hair drys.  The only downfall...  when I sweat (which is a LOT in my Zumba classes) I can smell it.  It's a little weird but John assures me that I don't smell any worse than normal after a Zumba class. : )
 I used an old Soy Sauce bottle

Body Wash

I used this recipe.  I might not ever need to buy body wash again!  I ended up using Dr. Bronner's Citrus scented castile soap bar and grapefruit essential oil to make it a fresh scet.  One tip I have is be careful how much vegetable glycerin you add.  If you put too much in you will get a very thick goo once it's all cooled.  I usually have to dip my bottle in warm water for a while to loosen it up and then shake it well.  This makes a huge batch and I think it will last for a long time.  I use my loofa and it suds up great.  So it's sort of the best of both worlds, body wash type but leaves skin feeling like bar soap.

Shaving Cream

This is AWESOME!  I will never buy shaving cream again for sure.  This is the same recipe as the shampoo above except you add equal parts distilled water and put it in a foaming dispenser.  I used an old Dial foaming hand wash container.  The foam feels luxurious.  I'm not kidding.  It leaves my skin feeling smooth and nourished.

My old products and the new ones.  Or at least my 30 day experiment ones.