Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm washing my hair.

Have you ever seen in a movie, read in a book or said yourself that you could not go out on a date because you were washing your hair?  I never understood that comment since it takes me no time at all to wash and dry my hair.  That is until last night.  Before I tell you about last night lets go back a few months.

In part of my becoming a better steward of the environment in April I decided to try the "no poo" hair cleansing method.  When using this method you don't use regular store brought shampoo you cleanse your hair with baking soda & water.  For a conditioner I used apple cider vinegar & water.  I did this for about a week and my hair did not feel clean or look good.  So I broke down and used some good old shampoo--it was the Saturday before Easter so I wanted my hair to be nice for Easter Sunday.  You can look up "no poo" online to get more details.  Some people have great luck with this method.  I believe it didn't work for me because of our hard water.  I may try it again and boil the water first or used distilled water.

About three weeks ago I ran out of shampoo so I decided to make some.  The recipe follows.

Herbal Shampoo Recipe for Every Hair Type
1 cup distilled water ( I used tap)
3 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp lemongrass
2 tsp tea tree oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Castile liquid soap

Heat the water in a pot and bring to a boil. If you have a strainer, place the rosemary and lemongrass in it. Place the herbs in a container that can hold boiling water. Pour the water over the herbs, and mix the herbs around a bit. Cover the pot, with the herbs inside, and let the mixture seep for 20 to 30 minutes.

When the time has elapsed, take the cover from container, and mix the herbs around a little more. Then remove the herbs from the container. If needed, strain the water to remove any floating bits. Mix the tea tree oil and vanilla into the water.

Mix the soap into the infused water, and make sure the soap dissolves completely. Because you're mixing oil, water and soap it's important that you mix very well, spreading the oil out as much as possible.

Pour the mixture into your container, and you have homemade herbal shampoo. Let the shampoo cool, and then place the top on tightly. This recipe makes about 12 ounces of shampoo.

For the first week it was great.  My hair felt clean, health, and had a little more shine.  Week two and three were not so great.  My hair began to feel heavy and very rough. 

Last Night:

I did some research and found that castile soap drys out your hair.  Thus, I decided that my hair needed some deep conditioning.  I looked up homemade conditioners online and decide to put homemade mayo in my hair and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Afterwards, I showered and washed my hair with my homemade herbal shampoo.  My hair felt great!  I was so excited!  Josh and I then sit down to watch a movie--a nice date night in.  The two hour movie took much longer because two little boys did not want to stay in bed.  Once, we finally finished the movie I realized my hair was still really wet, which is not normal it should have air dried by then.  I went to dry it.  After several minutes I realized it was not wet, but oily.  I then tried putting corn starch in my hair.  I had read that people with oily hair can used this dry cleansing method to cleanse their hair.  It did not work.  I then boiled some water, let is cool, mix in some baking soda to try the "no poo" method.  It did not work.  It was around 11:45pm at this point.  I told Josh I had to go buy some shampoo.  So, I drove to CVS when I pulled in the parking lot I noticed a sign that read "open til midnight"  it was 11:53pm.  I rushed in forgetting my shopping bag, brought some kwiklime V05 shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles and paid with  my debt card (it was less then $2--I really don't like using my debt card for small amounts).  Not environmental at all, but my hair felt so GREAT after I once again shampooed it.  It is now soft, smooth, shiny and smells good too.
I am not giving up on making my own shampoo and conditioner.  The lesson learned is to always have some store brought shampoo on hand until you find the homemade one that works for you. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cracker Recipes

One way we have cut down on our trash is making food from scratch.  The boys and I love to try new recipes and have a lot of good quality time in the kitchen together.  I love to be in the kitchen it is a stress release for me.  There is just something about taking simple ingredients and mixing them together and creating something yummy it calms me and helps me find balance in this fast paced world.

Homemade Saltine Crackers
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Combine the dry ingredients, cut in the butter, then stir in the milk. Round into a ball and knead for few strokes. Divide dough into several pieces and roll out very thin on a floured surface. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Lay on ungreased cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Graham Crackers
12 T unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (aka graham flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top

Beat butter, honey and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs and mix.  Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix to combine.  refrigerate dough for one hour (or longer).  Heat over to 350.  On a well floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 thickness (If you go any thicker, your crackers will seem more like cookies after they bake).  Cut out crackers with cookie cutters or cut into squares with pizza cutter.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Using a pastry brush dipped in water, lightly bush the tops of the crackers.  Using a fork, poke holes in the crackers.  Sprinkle cinnamon & sugar over the top of the crackers.  Bake for 10 mins.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  The longer these sit, the more cracker-like they become, so they're best eaten after about 30 minutes, if you can wait that long.

Homemade Wheat Thins

Recipe from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Cookbook

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 T sugar
1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 tsp. paprika
4 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup water ( you might need to add a little more)
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease.  Set aside.

Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Using a pastry blender (I use a fork), mix the butter into the dry ingredients thoroughly.  Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup or bowl.  Add to the butter/flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.  If the dough is still dry add a little more water.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel so they don't dry out.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle.  Lift the dough and turn it as you roll to ensure it's not sticking.  You want to roll the dough as thin as possible, try to make sure it's 1/16 inch thick at most.  If you want all of your crackers to be perfect, trim the edges of the dough so you have a rectangle with even sides.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

Transfer to prepared baking sheets.  You can place them close together because they will not spread.  Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough. 

Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye they can burn quickly.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.  Store in an airtight container.


Recently gifts have been on my mind a lot.  We have had attended several birthday parties and the boys' birthdays are coming up soon.  My thoughts have been: how can we give gifts that are good for the environment, what items will truly be a treasure to the child and not just thrown in the toy box to be donated next spring cleaning, can a gift not come in a package, and what about giving one's old stuff or buying at a resale shop?  I read about one family that doesn't buy new items for themselves or others if possible--for environmental reasons.  I don't know if I could buy a gift from a resale shop for just anyone--close friends and some family won't mind.  I also don't want others to think I am cheap.  If you know me well you are most likely laughing now, because I am cheap, ha ha ha ha!  I guess the bottom line is about your motive and heart.  Tomorrow the boys and I are taking a friend of theirs to the children's museum for his birthday gift.  This came about one day when I asked Jackson what kind of gift he would like to buy for his friend.  He did not have any ideals and all my suggestions were things that the friend already had.  Isn't that the case with most of our children.  Thus we came up with the ideal of an outing.  The boys first said the zoo, but that is just to hot for summer.  I am excited about this birthday gift outing.  It will make memories that last a lot longer than a colorful noisy plastic toy.  Note: if you are every thinking of giving Josh, me or the boys a gift we would be just fine with gently used items.  It would be great for the environment and the boys think it is fun that some one else played with the toy first and that when they are done they get to donated it to other kids.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Do you have a saving account, 401K, IRA, college funds for your kids?  Many of you have at least one of these accounts and some have all of them.  A friend and I were discussing yesterday how much money is enough.  Once your savings or 401K or which ever account reaches a certain point should you stop saving?  Does our saving hinder our giving?  Should we save more than we give or give more than we save?  We did not come up with any firm answers.  I then brought the topic up with Josh last night and he said, "when you make a choice to save money for yourself instead of helping someone in need that's to much."  Here is an example: say you get a bonus at work.  You decide to take your family out to dinner and save the rest even though you know there is a need you could meet with that bonus then that is not right.  So it is not really about a number, but about your heart.  If I can give to those in need and still provide for my family everything they need not want but need than I will give. 

Since we are on the topic of saving I am currently reading Debt-Free U by Zac Bissonnette.  This book is written to students in high school and college and their parents.  It discusses how one can graduate with a 4 year degree debt free.  I haven't read much, but it is good.  I recommend you check it out at your public library (that is more eco-friendly that buying a copy).

I would love to hear your thoughts and tips on saving for retirement and college so leave a comment. :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cleaning House

Tuesday was house cleaning day for me this week.  With the boys at my parents' I thought it would go faster, but it didn't, but at least it is done. 

Over the past few months I have changed the way I clean to be more environmental and to be a better steward of our money.  The following are the products I used to clean the whole house.

Homemade soft scrub

3/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup castile soap (I found my bottle in the health food area of HEB)

1 Tablespoon water

1 Tablespoon vinegar

In a bowl, combine the baking soda and castile soap. Add the water and stir.  Lastly, stir in the vinegar. The mixture will fizz a little. Stir to make a nice soft, paste-like, consistency. (This is important – the vinegar must go in last or else the scrub will be like sludge instead of a creamy paste.)  Scoop out the scrub with a sponge and start cleaning.

I am sure you can half or double depending on what you need to clean.  The above recipe cleaned five bathroom sinks, three toilets, one stand alone shower, one tub, one tub/shower, one kitchen sink and there was a tiny bit left over.  I did try and save some the other week.  It dried out a lot, but I just added water and it worked fine. 

Note: if you plan to use this scrub to clean the toilet get a new toilet brush.  I read that is best not to mix the leftover chemical cleaners on your old brush with this scrub.

Citrus Floor Cleaner

1 gallon hot water

2 tablespoons liquid castile soap

15-20 drops sweet orange essential oil

8-10 drops lemon essential oil

Pour soap and essential oils into a large container (I use the kitchen sink.).  Fill with hot water and stir.  Pour some into a spray bottle to keep for cleaning the counter tops.  This cleaner does not need to be rinsed off.

This cleaner smells great!!  I really don't like to mop, but this makes it almost pleasant.  I also use this for counter tops in the bathroom and kitchen.  I basically use it like 409.  The essential oils are a disinfectant. 

I haven't finished my can of pledge yet so I did use it to dust.  I do have a furniture polish recipe to try.  I will let you know if it works once I run out of pledge.  It is like the nearer ending can. 

One last cleaner that I use daily is vinegar and water mix together with a 1:1 ratio.  I keep this in a spray bottle in the kitchen.  It is great for all the mess the boys make, I use it as a fruit and veggie cleaner, to clean the microwave, etc.  I use this one also like I used to use 409 (I never used 409 on food!).

It feels so nice to use only a few cleaners and they are all safe for your health and environmentally friendly.  As you run out of your normal cleaners I hope you will try these.  And since there are no chemicals you can feel good about putting the kids to work with these.  Happy cleaning!!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


What is stewardship? Webster defines a steward as a person who manages another’s property or finances. For a Christian stewardship is accountable to God. Are you a good steward of what God has given you? How do you spend your time, money and talents? Do you use your time wisely or is it wasted playing Free Cell on the computer? Where do you spend your money—helping others or getting more stuff for yourself? What about those talents and gifts God has so graciously given each of us do you share them with others for His glory? These are some very hard questions I ask myself. And I don’t like the answers to most. My goal is to simplify my life and be a good steward of all God has given me. I plan to blog about the changes I am making and hope you will join me in this endeavor.
One area that I have been working on for a few months now is living waste free as in less trash. Here are so things that have allowed our family to take the trash out less.
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Recycling everything, not just cans and paper. Check with you city or county and see exactly what you can and cannot recycling.  
  • Paperless billing: I am still working on this one. I had all bills paperless expect one and then I started getting the paper copy again. 
  • Reusing instead of buy more: gift wrapping, bags and tissue, cleaned out food containers for food storage, kid’s art project and games, etc
  • No more paper: cloth napkins, rags instead of paper towels for clean up, real dishes –no paper plates. We do get the Sunday paper, but I reuse it for cleaning glass and windows and then recycle it.
  • We get tones of junk mail so I use it to print on the back side for things like coupons. I just signed up online to opt-out of junk mail. You can go to these sites  Not sure how well it works since I just signed up.
  • No more sonic every week. This one has been easier than I thought. There was a time where we went to sonic at least once a week if not more for a cherry limeade or slush. One day it hit me how wasteful we were being—trash, gas, money, time. We now make our own special drinks and the boys choose each month were to donate this money we have saved. 
  • Now for the biggie. I make homemade products and food from scratch. This has cut our trash the most. I will share recipes in the future.
  •  Compost—fun and surprisingly easy more to come on this one as well.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hearing God

Do you long to hear from God?  Do you need guidance in your life?  Do you feel like God has just forgotten about you and your family? 
We all have a God shaped whole in our hearts.  We all need help and guidance at some point in our lives.  God has not forgotten you.  He created you and loves you dearly.  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;"  Jeremiah 1:5.  "But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Romans 5:8

A few days ago I was reading in Daniel chapter 9 and this verse stuck out to me.  "Now I (Daniel) was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin. . . and presenting my supplication before the Lord. . ."  Daniel 9:20.  This made me think of John and Nehemiah.

I (Nehemiah) was fasting and praying before the God of heaven."  Nehemiah 1:4

I (John) was in the spirit on the Lord's Day. . ."  Rev. 1:9

These three men heard from God.  Why?  Because they were spending time with Him.  If you want to hear from God spend time praying and reading His word and don't forgot to be still and listen. 

If Your Happy and You Know It

"For thus says the Lord God: 'Because you clapped your hands, stamped your feet, and rejoiced in heart with all your disdain  for the land of Israel, indeed, therefore, I will stretch out My hand against you , and give you as plunder to the nations, I will cut you off from the peoples, and I will cause you to perish from the countries, I will destroy you, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'"     Ezekiel 25:6-7

I read these verse just a little bit ago and couldn't help, but laugh.  Do you see the humor or is it just me?  In my mind I was picturing grown men sing your happy and you know it and dancing.  In this passage God speaks through Ezekiel to the Ammonites basically saying your done.  Not really a laughing matter, but I'm still laughing.  

What can we learn from this?  If you are dancing and rejoice make sure it is for the Lord. 

Side note:  Notice the time this was published.  Yes, I had my morning bible reading around 11am.  Thank you Grammie and Granddad!!!  The boys are at my parents and I slept in :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blessed Day

Yesterday, was such a blessing to me.  I visited a friend (I hesitate to type friend because I have only spoken with this wonderful lady a handful of times, but she prays for me and I for her so we are friends and sisters in Christ) who has cancer.  She is at home now enjoying family and friends.  The doctors have done all they can.  It is amazing to me to visit someone going through such a hard time and leave feeling encouraged and blessed.  I can't wait to visit again soon. 

After my visit I went to the farmer's market and learn how to pick out a mango:)  I then headed to HEB and the checker was so nice and friendly she made me smile and isn't that great when you have just paid to much for food, ha ha ha.  Have y'all noticed the prices going up?

Look for the blessing today that God has for you and maybe bless someone else as well.