February 27, 2013

Throwing Out This Week: Laundry Detergent

We are continuing our quest for a toxic chemical-free home this week.  The deodorant that we made last week continues to do a fabulous job for all of us. If you have not tried making your own, I recommend the recipe here. However, if that one doesn't work for you, there are several more out there on the internet that you could use.

This weekend, I mixed up the following recipe. Because I am always a skeptic, I only made a half-batch. After several loads of successful laundering, I will be mixing up a DOUBLE-batch in the next few days.  It has worked very well for us.

2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
1 bar unscented castile soap, grated

I still cannot find washing soda, so I used regular baking soda.  It's working fine.
Instead of grating the whole bar of soap, you could chop it up into small pieces and pulse it in your food processor.  I put all the ingredients in a storage container with a lid and gave it a good shake.  I have been using 2 tablespoons for large loads, and that seems to be enough.

If you are trying to eliminate harmful chemicals from your home, I suggest that you give this a try.  Everyone in your family wears clothes next to their skin or sleeps in sheets washed in laundry detergent every day. So, what you use does matter. 

I recommend checking out this post at oursimplefarm.com  and this post   at theselfsufficienthomeacre.com  for great ideas and inspiration.

February 21, 2013

Throwing Out This Week: Destructive Deodorant

I've decided to do a series of post on items we are eliminating from our home due to the toxic ingredients they contain.  
I'm starting with deodorant.  Three of the four of us in our house use the same one. Boy #2 isn't old enough to need it yet.  I cut out antiperspirant several years ago, because my husband and I both have cases of Alzheimer's Disease in our families and there is a possible linkage there.  I thought it would be better to play it safe.
Here's the one we all use now:
propylene glycol, among other things...
I just watched a show a couple of nights ago that said propylene glycol has been linked to increased rate of tumor growth!  As my husband said, "if we're all so worried about breast cancer, why would that stuff be in the very thing you put right next to them every day?"  Good question.
I had previously decided after attending a sustainability conference to try making our deodorant at home. And, thankfully, the ingredients that ordered arrived yesterday.  After two days of using odor-control powder, I was so happy to see that box on the porch!

Here's the recipe I used:
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch (It was mentioned at the conference that arrowroot powder might work, too.)
1 TB coconut oil (solid form)
7-10 drops favorite essential oil (I used lavender)
You combine all the ingredients and mix together.  It's sort of dry. You may need to sprinkle a little bit of water on it before applying a pea-sized amount.  

Today, we'll find out how effective it is.  I'm a little nervous about it.

I was looking at the containers of deodorant that we have and got an idea. I am going to take out the original product and see if I can put my homemade deodorant in it's place for easier application.  I'll have to figure out how to make it more solid though.  The first thing I'm going to try is adding more coconut oil.  If you have any experience with this or any other ideas on how to make the deodorant more solid, please leave a comment.  

I'll update on how bad good we smell at the end of the day!

Quick update: As I was typing this, my husband called and said that it's working. Of course, that after only 3.5 hours, but it's a good sign!

Friday morning update:  Yesterday was a complete success!  The recipe above worked perfectly.

February 19, 2013

Treating Psoriasis

You wouldn't know it to look at this sweet face, but Boy #2 has psoriasis.  Thankfully, it is only a minor case. However, after looking at some pictures of some children and adults with severe psoriasis, I decided to look into treatments.
We've taken Boy #2 to two different dermatologists in our town.  The first one, after three expensive visits and 3 different topical prescriptions, could never diagnose the problem. The second one took a quick look at him and said, "This is psoriasis."  Once I had a name to go with the problem, I looked it up, and that seems to me to be exactly what we're dealing with.  She also wrote at least two prescriptions and also recommended Vanicream.  It says on the container that it is "formulated without dyes, lanolin, fragrance, masking fragrance, parabens, formaldehyde."
Although, the prescriptions the second doctor gave us eliminated most of the redness and irritability of the affected skin patches, most of them have not gone away after almost a year of usage.  
With Spring quickly approaching, Boy #2 will be outside with more skin showing. Many people say that sunlight helps the condition. He says he will be "suntanning naked" as soon as it is warm enough.  Of course, I'll monitor the time he is out to make sure he doesn't get too much sun. And, we have no neighbors nearby, so no indecent exposure citations should be in our future.
Yesterday, during my internet-surfing, I read that many people used oats to help their psoriasis. Some even said that it went away...  When I mentioned this to Boy #2, he said he wanted to take a bath. So, I put a cup of oats into a piece of cheesecloth and tied off the top.  I held it under the running warm (not too hot) water. He soaked for about 20 minutes and even rubbed the oats (in the cheesecloth) over his dry patches.  We then coated him with Vanicream. We're going to do this two or three times a week and see if anything happens. BTW, after I read the ingredients in the Vanicream, I realized that this is not something I want to continue to use on our skin. But, until I can replace it with an all-natural product, we'll keep using it.  
I'll post soon about any results that we see.

February 13, 2013

My Boys' Toxic Lunches

Since attending the South Georgia Sustainable and Local Growers Conference in Reidsville, Georgia, last month, my husband and I have been paying more attention to the ingredients in our food.  Yesterday, I was reading posts from Food Babe,  100 Days of Real Food, and stopkillingmykids.com.
This morning, I started looking at foods from my pantry that we regularly eat.  I did not know until yesterday that we were eating such horrible things:  MSG, also known as yeast extract;  Partially or Fully Hydrogenated Oils, also known as trans fats; High Fructose Corn Syrup;  Soybean Oil; ...

Today, in my kids' lunches, I sent sandwiches made with
Hydrogenated oils, Mono- and Diglycerides
Corn syrup, HFCS, maybe Sodium Citrate is bad and
I just haven't figured that out yet!

They also have this for a snack

Animal Crackers - Soybean oil, HFCS, Soy Lecithin,
Natural flavor - I'm suspicious of that not, too.

 Furthermore, I looked at the bottle of ketchup.  I love ketchup, and this is my favorite.
HFCS, Corn syrup. I suppose I'll be learning to make
my own ketchup this summer!

I am so mad right now.

February 10, 2013

First Taste of Freedom!

Tomorrow our 14 chickens will be nine weeks old. They are growing so fast. Today, we opened the coop door and let them out. They aren't sure what to think of it.  Most of them are too afraid to go more than a few feet from the door.  With time, I'm sure they will learn to love roaming around the yard.

January 31, 2013


One of our family's favorite pastimes is birdwatching.  Birds, no matter their size, color, or type, are fascinating creatures to me.  Over the years, we've become quite familiar with the personalites of several species and have made favorites. 
Goldfinches are one of those favorites. They are beautiful, friendly, and easy to please.  This is a picture I took of a male in my garden in Virginia. Unfortunately, we only have goldfinches in South Georgia in the wintertime when they are not nearly as colorful. Their personalities are the same though, and I've enjoyed keeping an eye on them the past several weeks.We try to get out to state and local parks as often as we can with the boys. Here they are on a Birding Trail in Smokemont Park in Cherokee, North Carolina, last June.

And, here they are at the lodge in Amicolola Falls State Park near my parents' house.  We happened to go there for lunch on the day of an owl exhibit.

I never knew about killdeers until I moved into my house in South Georgia.  They are in the gull family and lay their clutch of eggs on the ground. They have a fascinating way of protecting them. If a perceived predator gets too close, they will pretend to be wounded and lure it away from the nest.  Here's a picture of a nest in my front yard.
Of course, we have a bluebird box.  They love it, but have had horrible luck hatching out babies. Maybe they'll do a better job this year. This morning, I saw a pair taking nesting materials into the box. Here's a picture of four beautiful, but doomed, eggs from last spring.  Our cat killed the male, and the female's new mate threw out these eggs and started over.
I wish I had a better picture of our hummingbirds, but they are just too fast for me.
This is a pine warbler that stunned itself when it flew into one of our large windows. He eventually made a complete recovery.

January 20, 2013


I hope that anyone, especially back in our old Commonwealth of Virginia, that was snowed in or without electricity last week has gotten back to normal. All the talk of "Winter Storm Iago" (when did we start naming winter storms, anyway?) had me thinking about the fact that it will probably be another fifteen years before I see any snow here in South Georgia.  

For some of my Christmas decorations, the boys and I cut out paper snowflakes. We put them up with fishing line in the foyer.  We've never done this before, and we LOVED it.  I'm saving the ones we made this year and will add more next year. When I took the Christmas decorations down (yesterday), I decided to leave up the snowflakes because I love them so much and it is still winter.  They're probably the only snow we'll see this year.

January 7, 2013

Chicken Coop, Lettuce, and an Outfit

That's a random post title! 

I feel like I have a split personality. I have a farmgirl side that wants to be able to grow and raise everything we eat and become as close to completely self-sufficient as possible.  We are slowly working towards that goal - very slowly.  I also have a girly-girl side that loves clothes, shopping, cocktails, monograms, and Pinterest.  I used to believe the two could not mix, but I am now determined that they can.

Here goes:

We've been working on a chicken coop for the past few months.  It's almost finished. The only think left to do before the chicks can move in is to paint it white and to build and hang the door.  There is an old shed on our property that is falling down. Yesterday, we discovered three very nice hinges and some perfectly good boards in the rubble that we can use.  We've used as much of the leftover materials from our house as possible, but were running low. I like that something very old is going to be used. Here's a picture of what's been done so far:

Behind the coop, we'll build a completely enclosed yard for the chickens. We have a lot of hawks and other predators, so keeping the chickens safe is going to take some work.  I think some honeysuckle growing on the front and over the door will be nice.

On to the lettuce.  I get so sick of paying for lettuce at the grocery store.  And, I refuse to plant any more in the garden until we install a fence. The deer and rabbits eat it as soon as it comes up.  So, a few days ago, I decided to see if it would grow in the kitchen window.  This morning I saw that several seeds have sprouted!  If this works, I'm going to bring more pots inside and sow more - maybe arugula next time.

monday's homestead barn hop
Check this out for great homesteading posts!

Finally,  I follow some other bloggers that, in my opinion, have very good taste. I enjoy seeing what they are wearing each day.  I have wondered though, how the OOTD (outfit of the day) trend got started.  It occurred to me this morning that it would be a great way to keep track of what I've worn to make sure I don't repeat too often.  This wouldn't matter to me much if I didn't teach high school students for three hours each day. They will definitely mention it if I wear the same thing too often.  Aren't they sweet???  I've also wondered about the angle of the OOTD pictures I see like the one below.  Well, if you don't have a decent full length mirror, and if your hair and makeup have not been done for the day, this is what you get.  

Cheers for a wonderful Monday!