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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Road to Shampoo-less-ness

I have been trying to remove the chemicals from my house for the last year. The next step is Shampoo and conditioning products. I have been scouring the Internet for shampoo replacement ideas (an ongoing process). I started making my husband’s “shampoo” about six months ago with oil, water, tea tree oil and castile soap. It works great on his hair, but didn't really cut it on my thick, long and curly locks. I used the same mixture for about 10 days before I gave up on it. I understand that there is a hair detox period, but my hair just got dryer and dryer.

I dreaded the idea of using baking soda.

I started entertaining the idea of a shampoo bar, like the one on Frugally Sustainable. I am not quite ready to make it, though. Then, I found a soap that just might be what I was looking for. I thought I would give it a chance.

African Black Soap is made with coconut oil and/or palm oil, Shea butter, oats, aloe leaf juice, plantain extract, vitamin E, vegetable glycerin, and essential oils. It has a reputation for fighting acne, detoxifying and healing skin conditions. I also read that it works miracles on curly hair… let’s see!

Although I was going to buy a bar from, but decided to order the Nubian-Heritage bar from Vitacost since I was making an order anyway. I even read all the reviews; most of them mentioned how soft their skin was and a couple did say that they used it on their hair. I’ll take that as a good sign.

I decided that taking out shampoo chemicals should coincide with taking out conditioner too. I took a small spray bottle and filled it with ½ Apple Cider Vinegar and a couple drops of lavender oil. After washing I sprayed my hair with the ACV and left it in while I dried before I wrapped my hair in the towel and let it sit a little longer before combing it out.

My log:

Wash #1 – So glad the vinegar smell goes away fast. My hair feels dry but combed out easily enough.
My skin feels awesomely soft from the lather!
Day 2: The next day the hair in the back of my head, close to my scalp was really oily.

Wash #2 – Soap seemed to lather more in my hair than before. Still felt dry when I combed it.
Day 3: The next day I could tell there was some improvement. It wasn't as oily, but still feels a little thick and sticky.
Day 4: (usually wash my hair every other day) I woke up with a head of nappy hair. There is no other word for it. It was nasty and sticky dread-lock like; though it didn't look bad when brushed out. And was not frizzy either, like it normally would be if I brushed my hair when dry.

Wash #3 — I was thinking that the stickiness of my hair could be because I have not been rinsing the vinegar out. So this time I let it sit, combed through it with a wide-tooth comb and then rinsed before getting out of the shower. It seems less sticky. We shall see.
Day 5: Every day seems to get a little easier. My hair is still stiff/sticky (which really is a bummer!). BUT the hair by my scalp is soft and easier to run my fingers through. So that makes me think that I need to stick it out until my hair grows out.

Day 6: Wash #4 – This time I used barely any vinegar and caved in a little by using some stay-in conditioner spray. I don’t really think it helped though. I might go back to the chemically-rick Suave if my hair doesn't improve soon!
Day 7: Blah.

Wash #5 – I think and hope that my hair is getting better. I would hate to quit and go back to Suave.
Day 8: I went through the whole day with my hair up again.

Wash #6 – My hair felt a little oily at the roots. Funny how light and normal my hair feels when it’s wet…

Day 9: Wash #7 – I know I shouldn't wash my hair 2 days in a row. But I have a meeting tomorrow and I can’t look like this! So I decided to switch it up (couldn't look worse than it does…) I used Baking Soda mixed with water in a squirt bottle first. Then added a little bit of the African Black Soap before rinsing.  This made my hair dry! But the ACV made it easy to comb through. Wow! I can feel a difference, but since it was still a little dry so I put a little coconut oil on my fingers to comb through my hair when I got out of the shower.
Day 10: I might just stick to last night’s routine! My hair feels much better today and looks better too. Not perfect, mind, but getting there and I feel encouraged.

Day 11: Wash #8 – I did the same thing, minus the coconut oil. Next time I buy the Black Soap, I will buy the kind without the oatmeal, which feels great on my skin but my hair tends to stick to it.
Wet hair. It does dry much faster!
Day 12: My hair is less dreadlock-thick feeling. Still a little sticky but getting better

Day 13: Wash #9 – After letting my hair down it feels dry on the end and oily by my head before I washed. Same wash as #8.
Day 14: At least my hair looks a little better than it did a week ago. But I am still unsatisfied. I hope this continues to get better or I might have to start testing more methods. Blah.
Day 15: I woke up looking like I was balancing a nest on my head. This seems to be the norm lately. I had to comb my hair which made it look like a frizz ball (typically I can only comb it when it is wet so the curls stay intact). Luckily it looks great when it is up and hidden from site.

Wash #10  - Baking Soda. Soap. Vinegar.

I am going to stop there and post an update again in a month or so since I don’t have much else to report in the encouraging department. I am just hoping that this whole icky hair business goes away and I get my silky feeling back (without resorting back to the chemical stuff). We shall see.

Any words of encouragement from people out there who have taken shampoo out of their routine?

Shared at Tip Tuesday, Cheerios and Lattes and Frugally Sustainable.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freezing in Portions

One of my goals the last couple months was to start freezing in portions when I put food in the freezer. It’s all well and good to have a HUGE batch of soup in there, but if I want some soup, the entire family gets some and it takes too long to thaw for a quick meal.

I was seeing other bloggers freeze soup or pasta in cupcake tins. But I think it would be difficult to take the food out once it was frozen. Maybe silicone would be great to freeze in and easy to pop out – but I wasn’t able to find any! So I came up with the idea of using plastic wrap.

Very simple. Just take a strip of wrap and pour soup/stew/whatever into the cupcake portion. 

Cover. Repeat.
Stick it in the freezer.

Then the next day (when it’s frozen) pull out pieces and put into a ziplock. I just left them in the plastic wrap. It isn’t difficult to unwrap them but I figure it is a little more protection from freezer burn.

These pictures were from a batch of stew in my slow cooker. We ate it for dinner and I was still able to freeze another meal on top of the 12 servings. I think my chili would work for dips or if I want a little flavor in another dish, I can toss a serving in. I like the flexibility and this will help my family eat from scratch rather than eat from a can.

I also did the same thing today with some cupcakes. When my sweet tooth needs satisfaction I need something quick and yummy.

What else do you freeze in single servings?

Shared at Shine on Friday, Frugally Sustainable and Cheerios and Lattes

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chocolate Sauce from Scratch

This is the second time I have made this recipe and once again it turned out perfect. I know you can make chocolate powder for chocolate milk from cocoa and sugar, but I decided that by making syrup it was a little more versatile because it can be used on ice cream too.

My kids didn’t mind the switch to homemade and I feel a little better about making their milk extra chocolaty. The original recipe did not have vanilla in it, but I think vanilla should be in every recipe. =)
I really like it too… and I have always been more partial to Nestle Quik than Hershey’s.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
Dash salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan mix the cocoa and water with a whisk. Heat, stirring occasionally, when it begins to boil, add the sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
Bring mixture to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove syrup from heat. Add the salt and vanilla. Stir to blend. Let cool, and then pour syrup into a container. Store in the fridge.

When we ran out my husband chucked the Hershey’s bottle but luckily I had another container I could reuse. I think I like the fact that it’s clear. Note: this chocolate syrup is not as thick as store bought stuff so it actually mixes into milk really well. This should keep for a couple months in the refrigerator, I haven’t had problems with it crystalizing.


Shared at Make it Pretty Monday, Frugally Sustainable, Lil Luna, Shine on Friday and Little House Recipe Exchange.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making Disinfecting Wipes

I finally used up all of my Clorox and WannaBe-Clorox wipes. I love these things! But I have been waiting to go through my supply so I could implement a greener wiping method in my house. There are two reasons for making my own wipes: (1) to make my house a less wasteful place and (2) because I hate spending money on items that are meant to be thrown away. Are you with me on this one?

I have seen other's replace their wipes with a soap solution and paper towels. But, instead of wasting the paper, I have decided that instead I am going to cut up some fabric from old T-shirts. I have to do the laundry anyway... I decided to keep the solution simple rather than use a bunch of essential oils:

2 tbsp. Liquid Castile Soap
1 ½ cups Hot Water
½ cup Vinegar

I had some lemon-marinated vinegar on hand, so that’s what I used to get a light citrus smell.

But I regress…
First I cut up the fabric into rectangles.
I folded to stagger the rectangles.
(It will pull the next rectangle up the hole of the container like store-bought wipes. And it works! Which makes the minutes it took to fold these worth it.)
Stick the wipes in the container.
Mix the solution and pour it into the container.

So I have used them and they work just fine. Even better, they smell like soap. I added a bag under my sink for the used wipes. When it's full, I will wash them.

Shared at Frugally Sustainable, One Creative WeekendCheerios & LattesMake it Pretty, Tip TuesdaysPositively Splendid and Living Green.

Featured on One Creative Weekend