Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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DIY & Natural Teething Solutions for the Natural Family

My little girl is growing up… I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this yet.  But there’s nothing I can do to slow it down so I am bracing myself for all that is to come.  Currently, we are teething.  Honestly, we’ve been pretty lucky so far compared to some of the mamas in my beloved Sugar Plums support group.  When we went to the pediatrician for her 4 month checkup I mentioned that I thought she was teething.  My pediatrician, who is pretty conservative with recommendations (which is one of the reasons we chose him – but sadly he’s not super hip on homeopathic or naturally minded interventions), assured me that all babies drool and chew on things like she had been and that it could be a couple weeks or months before she started “officially” teething.  Well in this case, Mommy was right.  2 weeks later her first tooth was visible.  1 week after that it had already cut through and her second tooth was visible.  She’s currently 5 1/2 months and both teeth are well on their way and I suspect that the top two teeth won’t be too far behind either.  We’ve been lucky to have very little irritability or sleep disturbances, no fever, and none of the diaper rash that is commonly associated with teething babies so far.  But I can tell she is uncomforable and while it was initially okay to let her gnaw on our fingers or hands those new little teefers are sharp! So we’ve been trying to find natural teething solutions to help her out.  Today I thought I would share some of the things we’ve been doing with you!

 

teething oil

1. Homemade Teething Oil – Given my love of essential oils, one of my first strategies to help alleviate some of the discomfort that my little one was having as a result of cutting new teeth was to turn to my go-to resource for essential oils and babies: Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern.  In the book, she suggests using Orange, Frankincense, or Copaiba oil diluted 1:30 with a carrier oil applied directly to the affected area.  I had Frankincense on hand as one of the Everyday Oils collection I got as part of Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit (message me for more information on how to get your new and improved Premium Starter Kit and wholesale membership!) and I had an empty 5 ml amber glass bottle (which holds an estimated 100 drops) so I put 3 drops of Frankincense in the bottle and almost filled the bottle with olive oil as my carrier oil (I figured this was easier than dropping out 33 drops of my carrier oil but feel free to be more exact if you’d like).  Olive oil is a key ingredient in our regular recipes in our home so figured it would be a good oil to get her used to tasting.  Plus, I figured it might taste better than the Frankincense and mask the flavor better than say coconut oil.  But you could use a carrier oil of your choice.  I just rub a little of the Teething Oil on my finger and let her gnaw on me for a min to get the oil to the affected area.  It does seem to provide some relief.  I wish I had Copaiba (now available as part of the new PSK and on my wish list for sure!) to help boost the power of the frankincense and provide added relief.

 

DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant

2. DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant for Wooden Teething Rings and Toys – You’ve probably seen the wooden teething rings and toys that are available online and through local boutiques.  They are really popular among the crunchy granola parenting crowds.  In fact, one of my best friends bought me this great organic wood owl rattle that had been treated with organic jojoba oil/beeswax polish.  It’s beautiful and we love it! (You can buy the same rattle here) But of course I thought to myself, surely I can DIY some sort of similar all natural wood sealant and create my own wooden teething rings and toys.  So I set out to the amazing Google and found a recipe  from The Modern DIY Life blog that worked beautifully!

DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant:

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Olive Oil – We use the Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco
  • Beeswax – I prefer the Beeswax Pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs because they melt really easily, but you could shave off bits from a solid block if that’s what you have on hand
  • Double Boiler
  • Glass Storage Container or Jar with Lid
  • Wooden Teething Rings (or toys) – I bought my untreated wooden teething rings here from Amazon

Directions:

The basic recipe is 1 part beeswax to 3 parts olive oil (although you could use jojoba or another oil if you preferred).  You want to combine your beeswax and olive oil in double boiler, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly melted.  Dip your teething rings or wooden toys into oil/wax mixture and set out on wax paper to dry.  Pour the remainder sealant in your glass container for future usage.  I used a paper towel to wipe off excess sealant and rub the rest into the wood really well.  When it is no longer wet to the touch you are done! Now you can use the toy or make a craft with your finished product.  See the next two teething solutions for ideas of what you can do with natural wooden teething rings! 

Teething Necklace 1 Teething Necklace 2

3. DIY Teething Necklace – This is a necklace that you wear while holding baby, nursing, or even babywearing.  Not only does it give them something to fidget with and help entertain them but it is made using wooden teething rings (sealed using the sealant recipe above) so it is perfect for those new little chompers to gnaw on!  Mine was inspired by these on Etsy! So if you don’t want to DIY it, go on over to Life Circles Necklaces and order you one (she also sells Baltic Amber necklaces – see below for more info)!

DIY Teething Necklace:

Supplies:

  • Wooden Teething Rings, sealed using recipe above
  • Donut gemstone bead – I get mine at Fire Mountain Gems.  Since my Pepperlonely wooden teething rings had an inside opening of 38 mm I purchased a donut bead (I used Labradorite because it’s one of my favorites!) that was 30 mm in diameter to make sure it would fit
  • Organic bamboo, cotton, or hemp cord

Directions:

I cut a length of cord a little longer than I wanted it.  I looped it through itself around the donut and tied a knot around the teething ring.  Tie a knot at the end.  Easy Peasy! Honestly, I wish my cord was a bit thicker.  I expect that it will eventually break.  I may actually try braiding pieces to have a thicker cord.  You can also had wooden or silicone beads to the cord to jazz it up a bit!

Teething Necklace 3 

She had no problem figuring out what this necklace was for! Perfect jewelry for babywearing! 

 

 

wooden teether

4. DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether – I kept seeing these awesome “rabbit ear” wooden teethers on etsy and on the Aden & Anais swaddle b/s/t Facebook groups online (I’m a total A&A junkie!  We especially love the bamboo swaddles!) and thought surely these can’t be that hard to make!  I made mine up as I went, but here is a great step by step tutorial I found on Pinterest.

DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether (with optional Crinkle)

Supplies:

  • Pattern
  • Material for “Rabbit Ears” – I chose a patterned cotton for the front and Minky for the back, both of which were scraps from other projects.  You could use pretty much anything you had on hand. I’d consider using terry or fleece for the back and have seen super cute teethers made out of muslin swaddle scraps! Or if you had wrap scrap materials on hand you could make a teether to match your favorite babywearing wrap!
  • Crinkle material (optional) – I upcycled the packaging from baby wipes.
  • Teething ring, sealed using sealant recipe above
  • Sewing Machine – although I suppose you could sew it by hand… I wouldn’t want to
  • Thread, Pins, Scissors, etc.

Directions:

  1. I started by drawing out a pattern on a paper bag (I always use paper bags to create my patterns on – it’s a great way to upcycle plus it’s tough enough you can draw, erase, and pin to your fabric while cutting without it tearing apart).  My pattern is about 12″ long, about 2.25-2.5″ wide in the middle with the “ears” being about 3″ wide and about 3″ from tip to where it narrows in the middle.  Honestly, in hindsight, I’ll probably lengthen the pattern a bit and make it a bit skinnier in the middle next time I make one.  Feel free to play around with the dimensions.
  2. Cut your fabric and crinkle material using the pattern.  Place your fabric together “right side” to “right side.” Pin it together with the crinkle material behind the “wrong side” of one of your pieces of fabric.  Do NOT put the crinkle material in between your fabric as you want it on the inside when you turn your rabbit ears rightside out.
  3. Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to sew around the edges of your material using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave a section open on one of the ears.  Flip your fabric rightside out through the opening.  You may need a pencil or something to help you get the points of the ears situated right.  Close opening – I chose to sew it up by hand.
  4. Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to stitch around the outside of the fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance, to give it a finished look.
  5. Loop the fabric around the teething ring and pull the ears taught

** If you have a serger you could actually serge the edges of the material together instead of all the sewing and flipping rightside out that I did.  But I don’t have a serger and honestly don’t sew enough to justify the cost.  However, I’ve seen really cute teethers made this way.

 

teething biscuits

5. Homemade Teething Biscuits – They aren’t super pretty but they are super healthy and avoid all the junk in store-bought teething biscuits – like enriched flour (which means they have to add back in nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc), sugar, or preservatives like tocopherols.  I found lots of teething biscuit recipes on Pinterest (my go-to resource for all things DIY) but really liked the recipes I found on Mama Natural’s blog.  To see the original recipes, check out her blog post How To Make Healthy Teething Biscuits.

Basic Teething Biscuit Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. steel cut oats (grind oats in blender till they’re a flour consistency)
  • 1 c. organic apple sauce – I made my own (see my DIY Baby Food Recipes blog post for directions and other recipe ideas!)
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional – I left this out)

Substitutions:

Use 1 cup mashed bananas or pumpkin puree instead of apple sauce

Directions: 

Mix dry ingredients. Add in applesauce (or banana or pumpkin puree), vanilla extract, syrup, and melted oil. Mix well with spoon. I formed shapes I liked – the original author suggests “date-like” shapes but I preferred to make little rectangles, onto a greased baking sheet.  I greased with coconut oil but you could also use parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure to flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of the biscuits. The original author suggests that you store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them further. You can also put in freezer and serve cold for extra teething relief!

**The little one LOVES the teething biscuits! And honestly, they taste good enough for me to eat like a cookie! Feel free to modify the recipe to make healthy cookies for the whole family! 🙂

 

amber necklace

6. Baltic Amber Necklaces (or Bracelets) – I’ve left the Baltic Amber necklaces for last because there will inevitably be some skeptic who yells at me about them stating that not only do they not work but they are dangerous.  So I’ll share what I know, including the pros and cons that I’ve researched and trust that you will do your own research and make the decision that best fits with your family’s beliefs and needs.  So here goes!

First off, lets address a common misconception: Baltic Amber teething necklaces are NOT for the baby to chew on.  If they can chew on the necklace, it’s too long!

Proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you that Baltic Amber has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, is electromagnetic and produces natural organic energy, is anti-microbial, contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals, has a slight sedative effect, and activates the solar plexus and root chakras.  Now you may immediately write it off as hippy propaganda and while the science is debatable there is some truth to these statements. First off, the Baltic Amber teething necklaces are thought to work on one of two mechanisms:

1) Baltic Amber contains succinic acid (true) which is suggested to have the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects (some evidence – mostly anecdotal but there are a few, and far between, empirical studies researching this claim).  Succinic acid is a natural ingredient in many fruits and vegetables (true) and an additive in many vitamin supplements and food products (true).  Also known as Succinate, succinic acid can often be found as an ingredient in OTC supplements used to treat arthritis and joint pain (true).

  • Proponents of the Baltic Amber teething necklaces suggest that when the amber is worn against the skin the body heat activates the succinic acid which is then absorbed by the skin and has an analgesic effect.  There is no doubt that amber does indeed contain succinic acid but the question arises as to whether body heat is sufficient to release the succinic acid and/or whether or not the succinic acid can be absorbed through the skin to have the same affect as taken internally as a dietary supplement.

2) Baltic Amber has an electromagnetic charge (true) which reduces pain and inflammation (debatable). There are a great deal of products on the market that claim to use electromagnetic energy to reduce pain (true).  But some studies claim that there is no significant reduction in pain using electromagnetic pulses and may, in fact, contribute to electro-sensitivity (true).

  • When amber is rubbed it does tend to produce an electromagnetic charge which will attract light bodies and magnetic iron ore.  Ancient Greeks suggested that when rubbed long enough amber would even produce an electric spark.  The question becomes, however, whether or not the rubbing of amber against the skin produces enough electromagnetic energy to be comparable to electromagnetic pulse therapy.

But the anecdotal evidence is strong. Baltic Amber specifically is a resin from pine trees that grew in Northern Europe around the Baltic sea as many as 300 million years ago.  It is harvested from the Baltic Sea floor by scraping the floor with nets and collecting the resin from tangles in seaweed and sand at ebb-tide. Baltic Amber has been used throughout history for pain management.  It is highly prized among the Nordic people, Celts, Mediterranean peoples, Arabs, Egyptians, Chinese  and Greeks for it’s beauty as well as healing properties. Those who subscribe to the idea of Chakras claim that it helps balance the Chakras by filling the body with vitality, alleviating stress, and drawing disease out of the body.  Because it is non-toxic, mother’s have been using Baltic Amber to treat teething pain for many years.

Risks with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces: I would be remiss if I did not address the risks involved with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces.  These are definite concerns and the biggest argument against using teething necklaces on babies and children.  As a result of the risks below Canada and Australia now require warnings on amber teething necklaces and France and Switzerland have even outlawed their sales in pharmacies.

  • Strangulation – the most common cited example of strangulation hazards and teething necklaces comes out of Australia where a young mom let her daughter sleep in her amber necklace and went to wake her from a nap to find that the toddler had gotten her arm twisted up in her necklace and cut her airway off.  Thankfully the mother found her daughter in time and she did not suffer any lasting consequences of the very scary event.
    • Some proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you their child sleeps in their necklace nightly and not to worry.  You can find blogs and forums all over the internet with similar stories of no harm done.  They argue that teething pain is still painful while their child is sleeping and that they want their child to benefit from the jewelry 24/7. But realistically, it only takes once and those who are proponents but advocate for safe use of Baltic Amber jewelry will suggest removing necklaces at night and during nap time, as well as any time your child is not directly supervised.  They suggest if you want your child to wear the necklace 24/7 to remove it from the neck and place it wrapped around your child’s ankle under a sock or in footed pajamas during nap and night time.
    • However, a correctly fitted Baltic Amber teething necklace would not allow enough room for a child to get their arm up under the necklace.  Find out how to get the proper fit here.
    • Some retailers also offer bracelets and anklets as suitable alternatives.
  • Choking hazard – amber teething necklaces do contain lots of small beads, this is true.  Therefor it is a logical conclusion that small parts = choking hazard.  If a child were to swallow several small amber beads all at once there is a definite risk of choking.
    • However, a well designed genuine Baltic Amber teething necklace from a reputable retailer is knotted in between each bead.  The idea being that the string would break if pulled hard enough, thus reducing the risk of strangulation, and if so only a single bead would fall from the necklace leaving the remainder knotted on the string, thus reducing the risk of choking hazard.

For what it’s worth: In my investigating the pros and cons, risks and benefits of Baltic Amber teething necklaces, I could not find a single documented death from either strangulation or choking related to wearing an amber necklace. That doesn’t mean the risks are worth considering when making the best, informed choice for your family but it is food for thought.

My little one has worn her Baltic Amber teething necklace every day since she was 12 weeks old.  She is now 24 weeks old, has cut both of the lower two front teeth and is working on cutting one, or both, of her two front upper teeth as we speak.  Compared to some of the other mothers I’ve met, my daughter seems to suffer much less from teething symptoms than other children her age.  She does drool some but not as much as others, is sometimes a little fussy (who wouldn’t be?) but is easily consoled with one of the above mentioned methods, never turns away the boob or solid foods, doesn’t tug on her ear as is common with teething pain, has had very little sleep disruption, and doesn’t have the often associated symptoms of diarrhea or diaper rash.  Overall, we love our Baltic Amber necklace (I actually have an adult sized amber necklace that I love as well) and I recommend any parent of a teething infant or toddler to do the research on them as a viable, natural alternative to medications like Tylenol for teething pain management.

For more information on Amber Teething Necklaces visit Amber Artisan’s website.  I did not buy our teething necklace from them, it was a gift, but they do have a beautiful selection of different genuine Baltic Amber necklaces, bracelets, anklets and other jewelry.  There are also tons of websites that give anecdotal evidence of the pain relief provided by Baltic Amber.

For a skeptic’s perspective visit Science Based Medicine.

 

7. Other Not-So-Natural Teething products we love:

  • Terry Cloth Teethers – Ask any grandmother or mother over the age of about 50 what they used when their children were teething and almost unanimously they will tell you they put a damp washcloth in the freezer and pulled it out for their children to chew on.  But we were gifted a Sassy Terry Teether that is shaped like a bunch of grapes.  It is designed to be wet and put in the freezer just like grandma’s remedy.  It is also available in a watermelon shape but we prefer the grapes because the little grape knobs are easy to chew on.

sassy grapes

  • Baby Banana Teethers, available as a banana or a corn cob (we have the corn cob) – this was one of those things that one of my Sugar Plum mamas, from my internet support group, said “go buy” and nearly all 120 members rushed out to buy right away, it’s that awesome! Seriously, they should give us compensation! This is a BPA-free, silicone teether toothbrush that is not only great to chew on but helps remove plaque and tarter from those little chompers to help promote good oral hygiene even before they can say “toothbrush!”  You can buy them as a set or separately.  Here they are together on Amazon: Baby-Banana-Brush-Bundle-Cornelius

banana corn cob teethers

So that’s that! What are some of your favorite teething home remedies, natural or not-so? Share below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.

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Poopsplosions! (and a DIY Stain Remover that actually works!)

As you all know I have an amazing, beautiful, well-behaved 5 month old that I just adore! What this also means is that I often find myself up to my elbows in baby poop! The first 3 months or so it seemed like she had a diaper blowout (which we lovingly call Poopsplosions!) at least once a day and I found myself wondering if I should buy stock in Spray’N Wash I was using it so frequently.  Because I don’t have a real laundry room (my washing machine and dryer are in the garage and there’s no real horizontal or hanging space to speak of out there – definitely on my list of things to add when we finally get around to remodeling the house!) my bathroom was taken over by piles of dirty laundry, Spray’N Wash spray bottles, and old toothbrushes.  I could literally have two outfits at a time draped over the side of my bathtub soaking in a chemical concoction in a desperate attempt to not ruin yet another outfit with a yellow/brown poop stain… I spent way too long in the detergent aisle trying to find the strongest stain remover money could buy and tried, in vain, to ignore the fact that if I took the time to actually review the ingredient list I would cringe.

When I started my blog and did the week long series on natural cleaning products I noticed that my beloved Resolve Spray’N Wash MAX Laundry Stain Remover Spray was running low and I could no longer ignore the impulse to find out just how toxic this product was. So off to EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning I went to investigate and this is what I found on the ingredient list (Read at your own risk if you love your Spray’N Wash routine):

  • Sulfuric Acid – Sulfuric Acid is a known carcinogen that (in mist form) has been linked to cancer in humans. It is a skin irritant that can cause contact dermatitis and severe skin corrosion, burns and eye damage as well as a respiratory irritant that can trigger asthma attacks and even cause pulmonary edema.
  • Artificial Fragrance – Artificial fragrances can cause skin and lung irritation and in severe cases even nervous system damage, especially in small children.  In addition, it is not anaerobically biodegradable and can cause water toxicity.
  • Alcohol Ethoxylates (C12-16, 7EO) – There is limited data on the effects of Alcohol Ethoxylates specifically but what is known from the impurities this ingredient may contain (e.g., Ethylene Oxide and 1 4-Dioxane) is that there is some concern for asthma and respiratory irritation as well as skin irritation.  More severe reactions such as pulmonary edema, nervous system impairment, liver damage, and reproductive effects are also possible.  In addition, Alcohol Ethoxylates can be toxic to aquatic life.
  • Benzenesulfonic Acid, C10-16-Alkyl Derivative – While there is almost no data and limited cause for concern for health risks, Benzenesulfonic Acid is known to be toxic to aquatic life and is not anaerobically biodegradable.
  • Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate – There is almost no data for Tetrasodium Iminodisuccinate but some to suggest that it is toxic to aquatic life.
  • Sodium Cumenesulfonate – Again there is limited data on Sodium Cumenesulfonate but it is suggested that it could be a skin irritant and toxic to aquatic life.
  • Surfactants – Surfactants are chemical compounds that are often used as detergents, to loosen dirt and grime, in cleaning products and could be a variety of different chemicals.  This is primarily a concern on ingredient labels due to nondisclosure of specific surfactants and some are safer than others…

The concern for health risk is obvious but why the concern for aquatic life? Doesn’t my washing machine just drain into the sewer or my septic tank? How does that affect the rivers and ecosystems that rely on them?

When you are done washing your load of laundry, that dirty, soapy water is drained out of your machine through the pipes and into whatever waste collection system you have in your home.  If you are particularly eco-conscious this may be a grey water collection system (but I’m guessing if that’s you then you aren’t using Spray’N Wash or other toxic laundry detergents already) but most likely it is a city sewer system or a septic tank if you live in a rural area.  In a sewer system the water is run through progressively larger and larger system of pipes until it reaches the treatment plant where the raw sewage (this includes waste water from your toilet as well as any grey water from your sink, bathtub, washer, etc.) is processed.  This is typically a three stage process.  The first stage, or primary treatment, is similar to what a septic tank does in that it allows the solids in the waste to settle to the bottom and the scum to rise to the surface.  The solids are then collected where they are either deposited into a landfill or incinerated.   In a septic tank the water in between the solids and scum layer is filtered out through an outflow pipe and is sent to a drain field where it is absorbed by the surrounding soil and becomes part of the groundwater. The primary treatment generally removes about half the solids before the sewage either moves on to secondary treatment or is chlorinated to kill the remaining bacteria.  The secondary treatment removes organic materials and nutrients from the water with the help of bacteria. After the bacteria have eaten the organic waste the water is then funneled to a pool where the bacteria then settle out.  The bacteria in the secondary treatment may remove up to 90 percent of solids and organic materials. The third and final process, or tertiary treatment, usually adds chemicals to remove the nitrogen and phosphorous from the sewer water and chlorine is added to help kill any remaining bacteria.  The remaining water, or effluent, is typically dumped into a nearby creek or river, although in some cases it may be recycled to be used in irrigation (again back into the ground water) or for industrial purposes.  In some cases, treated sewer water may even be recycled into drinking water.

But this waste water is not benign and can have a detrimental effect on the aquatic life and ecosystems that depend on the running water from these creeks and rivers.  The treated sewage water may still have trace chemicals that can suppress the immune systems of fish and other marine organisms which may allow for the onset of diseases.  Heavy metals, pesticides, persistent organochlorines, plastics, surfactants and aromatic hydrocarbons may even disrupt the endocrine systems of aquatic life resulting in malfunction of sexual and bone development.  While this may not result in immediate damage visible to the public, like the three-eyed fish in the Simpsons or a sea of dead floating fish, over time it can cause a disruption in typical fish behavior including normal swimming, schooling, and migration patterns that may have a detrimental effect on their survival. Larger fish and other organisms may eat vast quantities of smaller contaminated fish resulting in bioaccumulation that may be thousands of times larger than the original level of toxins absorbed.  In addition, organic materials leftover from the treatment process will be consumed by natural bacteria in the waterways which consume greater amounts of oxygen and can suffocate fish and other sea creatures as the water travels towards and into the ocean. This leftover organic material, in extreme cases, may even block out sunlight preventing growth of aquatic plants that are food for fish and other animals that are part of the aquatic ecosystem.

So, now that you know more than you wanted to about sewage treatment and the effect the chemicals in our grey water has on aquatic life are you ready to start researching the ingredients on the backs of all your cleaning, dishwashing, and laundry products? Are you ready to throw them all out and start fresh with natural, chemical-free, and non-toxic products? Great! Join me on my journey!

Once I was aware of how toxic the Spray’N Wash I had been using was and the risks to not only my family’s health but also to the local aquatic ecosystems I naturally wanted to find an alternative that was less harmful.  I had talked with several other moms in my wonderful Sugar Plums online support group and found that a few of them did use less toxic methods of stain removal.  One mama in particular shared her recipe with me (so i can’t take credit for this but I’m not sure she’d want me calling out her name in a public forum) and I have been more than pleased with the results!

The one ingredient that the recipe called for that I didn’t have on hand is Dawn.  I don’t know why all these DIY recipes call for Dawn in particular, often “blue Dawn” specifically.  Maybe because it is such a popular brand of dishwashing liquid?  But we have been using Kirkland Signature’s Environmentally Responsible Dishwashing Liquid (which in hindsight actually scores lower than blue Dawn on EWG, mostly due to poor ingredient disclosure, but does avoid SLS, phosphates, dyes, and artificial fragrance and claims to be a biodegradable cleaning agent made from plant-derived ingredients so I choose to continue to use it for these reasons, but do your research).

Also, don’t be fooled like I was into thinking that since this is a stain remover that it will be a spray… I don’t know what I was thinking (I guess I really wasn’t because a quick glance at the ingredient list should’ve told me that this would not spray) but I originally added all the ingredients to a recycled Spray’N Wash bottle which then proceeded to bloat and gave me a moment’s pause and concern that it might actually explode! I assume the bloat was a reaction between the hydrogen peroxide and the baking soda and thankfully it didn’t explode! lol But this is a GEL formula and once I switched over to a glass bottle I had much better luck.  Also, the baking soda may settle to the bottom if you go too long between uses and you may need to occasionally stir your mixture.

DIY Stain Removing Gel

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid (or your preferred brand – I iused Kirkalnd Signature Environmentally Responsible Dishwashing Liquid and I may even try Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap during future batches but I can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness yet)
  • 1/2 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide

Directions:

Combine ingredients into glass storage container.  Allow ingredients to combine and settle for a moment before placing lid on container.  Will create a gel.

Directions For Use: Spoon out a bit of gel and scrub onto stain using an old toothbrush.  Allow gel mixture to sit on stain for at least 1 hour (or I’ve let sit for up to a day or two until I got around to doing laundry).  Wash  (We use Ecos Natural Laundry Detergent) and dry as normal.

I was super impressed with the results.  Here is a picture so you can see just how well this stain remover worked on one of our Poopsplosions:

DIY Stain Remover Gel (2)

 

I admit I had some concern that the hydrogen peroxide would cause my colors to fade but I’ve used it with success on a variety of bright colors and even black with no fading or bleaching at all.  In fact, this recipe works way better than my old Spray’N Wash MAX ever did.  I had the opportunity over the weekend after a massive Poopsplosion to use this on one of my daughter’s Aden & Anais swaddle blankets (I almost cried when I saw the aftermath) and it got out ALL of the stain! I was thrilled!

Do you have a favorite DIY Stain Remover? I’d love to hear about it! Share the recipe below to keep the conversation going!


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Why We Are Skipping Rice Cereal: Plus A Homemade Organic Quinoa Baby Cereal Recipe!

My little one is 5 months old now (Wow! How time flies!), has cut her first teeth, and is really interested in the food we eat! I had always said I would exclusively breast feed (EBF) until 6 months but I started to feel guilty that I wasn’t letting her have any solids when she was so obviously ready to start trying them. My mom’s favorite quote is:

“With the pitter patter of little feet come a thousand words you have to eat!”

So I ate my words and decided to start introducing her to food at 4 1/2 months old. Breast milk is still her primary sustenance and food is really just for her to start to get a taste of different foods that we eat in our home and start to learn about different textures so hopefully she will be as adventuresome an eater as me and her Daddy are! We’ve known since before we conceived that we really wanted to feed our children as wholesome, nutritious, and varied a diet as possible and really wanted to explore making our own food.

We have a Vitamix, which we love (well worth the investment) and we had always planned on making purees.  But as I’ve done more research I’m leaning more towards a modified Baby Led Weaning (BLW) plan.  I know so many adults that complain about not liking food because of the texture that when I read the concept of BLW and their observation that pureed foods may lead to texture aversion it just really resonated with me.  If you follow BLW concepts strictly you pretty much throw all traditional weaning suggestions out the window and provide your child with small pieces of the food you eat so they can feed themselves.  I say we follow a modified BLW plan because we still mash a lot of our foods up small and feed with a spoon a lot of the time, but we leave good size chunks so it’s not such a fine consistency as store-bought baby food.  But we also let her eat other foods on her own, like eggs, so she learns to chew rather than just swallow.

Traditional weaning programs always suggest you start with rice cereal.  Brands like Gerber would have you believe that starting your child on fortified cereals is necessary to ensure that your child gets the nutrients they need beginning at about 4 months of age.  But lets examine this myth.

  • Breastfed babies get all the nutrients they really need from their mother’s breast milk up until about 1 year of age.  You will often hear the phrase “Food before 1 is just for fun” for this reason. Advocates of EBF often wait until 6 months of age or later before beginning to introduce their children to solids and do so slowly, relying on breast milk as the primary source of sustenance until 1 year old.  Some will continue to breast feed to supplement their children’s diet until 2 years or older.  I believe that we have to listen to our hearts and our children to make the best decision for our family about when to introduce solids and how long to continue breastfeeding.
  • Not all mothers are fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed or feel that formula feeding is the best decision for their family for other reasons.  I don’t believe there is anything wrong with this if that is what they choose.  Formula is already created with the necessary nutrients and is more filling than breastmilk, adding fortified rice cereal is largely unnecessary.
  • Rice cereal is often recommended to be added to baby bottles prior to 4 months old to help fill them up or sleep better.  But the research doesn’t back up these claims.  Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic studied the effect of cereal on sleep and found that adding the cereal did nothing at all to speed up the age of sleeping through the night. That first uninterrupted 6-hour stretch of sleep came no earlier in those who took cereal early.
  • In fact, starting rice cereal early may increase the likelihood of childhood obesity. Babies know how much they need to drink to feel full. By adding rice cereal to their bottles we are preventing them from learning how to self-regulate and may be contributing to the tendency to overeat in order to feel satiated.
  • Rice cereal is empty calories. Rice is low in protein and high in carbohydrates with very little nutritional value.  Therefor, feeding your baby rice cereal is like feeding your baby a spoonful of sugar.
  • “Fortified” means they had to add nutrients back into the food because they were stripped out during processing.  It’s pretty much just white rice with iron added.  Current research suggests that unless your pediatrician has suggested that your baby needs extra iron in his/her diet, fortified cereal is unnecessary. Why not let healthy babies get their iron from real foods like green vegetables?
  • Rice cereal and arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally in the soil but people have contributed to the problem by using pesticides that contain arsenic or using manure from poultry that has been treated with arsenic compounds thus increasing the arsenic contamination in the soil in many areas. Arsenic can be present in many foods, including grains, fruits, and vegetables as a result. But rice seems to be especially susceptible and much attention has been given to arsenic contamination in rice in recent years.  White and brown rice, especially those grown in the US, seem to be especially susceptible.  Basmati rice and rice grown outside the US seem to be less likely to contain high levels of contamination.

Alternatives to rice cereal for Baby’s first foods: 

  1. Whole grains – Oatmeal, barley or quinoa are good alternatives to rice to make baby cereal from scratch because they contain more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than rice.  Quinoa is good gluten free alternative if your family has a history of Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  2. Avocados – Healthy fats are necessary for brain development.  Plus avocados are really yummy and easy to digest.  For little babies just smash them up with a fork.  As they get bigger you can just cut the avocado slices into small chunks and let your baby feed themselves!
  3. Cooked Vegetables – Veggies contain iron and other important nutrients and minerals that are part of a healthy diet. Try cooking them in homemade bone broth, which contains natural gelatin that helps aid digestion and calcium for healthy tooth and bone development!
  4. Raw Fruits – Fruits contain lots of healthy nutrients and help teach your kiddo about natural sugar fixes rather than sugary sweets or candy!  Bananas are an especially good first fruit to try because they are easy to eat, just like avocados, and also contain an enzyme called amylase, which helps aid digestion.  Some recommend waiting to introduce fruits until after veggies because your child may prefer fruits since they are naturally sweeter.  We’ve been introducing both at the same time with pretty good luck so far.
  5. Yogurt – Yogurt contains healthy probiotics which can help your baby build up healthy bacteria in his/her gut and aid in digestion of other solids as you begin to introduce them.
  6. Eggs – You will see many, many people that recommend waiting until 1 or even 2 years old before giving your children eggs.  While a common recommendation its actually based on a misconception that feeding your children eggs too early may lead to egg allergies.  In fact, the current evidence suggests that exposure to foods like eggs, milk, and peanuts while young may reduce the risk of developing allergies.  Some also suggest that egg whites contain a protein that can be difficult for babies to digest.  But Dr. Greene says there is no reason to avoid egg whites either. That stated, if you have a family history of egg allergies, it may be best to wait.  Always discuss with your pediatrician first.  And if you give your little one the complete egg and it seems to upset their tummy, try just the yolk.  The yolk contains vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol which are good for mental development.

 

In my quest for the right baby foods to introduce to our little one as we began solids I turned to Pinterest to find recipe ideas.  I stumbled upon a video for how to make a homemade quinoa baby cereal.  I tried it out this weekend and was really impressed.  I’ll share the steps below.  For the original YouTube video, click here.

Quinoa Cereal

Homemade Organic Quinoa Baby Cereal:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup organic Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Breastmilk or formula, to thin cereal for smaller babies (optional)
  • pinch of spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
  • Bananas or homemade applesauce (optional)

Directions:

  1. Use food processor or spice grinder (we used our Vitamix dry blade attachment) and pulse to grind Quinoa to a flour like consistency.  Usually about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  I did 1 cup of quinoa so I had some already prepared for future use.
  2. Bring 1/2 cup water to boil.
  3. Add 1/4 cup quinoa to water and stir constantly until a gummy consistency.
  4. For younger babies, thin with breastmilk or formula until a consistency that you are satisfied with.
  5. Optional: add pinch of spices for flavor, such as cinnamon or nutmeg.
  6. Optional serving suggestion: add mashed up banana or homemade applesauce to sweeten the mixture.  My little was undecided about quinoa when we tried it plain the first time.  I added some mashed up nanners and she loved it!

Have you tried to make your own baby cereal? How did it turn out? Share your story below to keep the conversation going!

 

I was greatly influenced by pediatrician and author Dr. Greene’s perspective on starting solids and healthy nutrition. Check out his White Out Campaign to learn more about his thoughts on why to avoid starting your child off with white rice as their first food. For more information about weaning your baby, check out his book Feeding Baby Green.

Check out the Baby Led Weaning website for more information about this specific approach.


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The Tekhni Arche Peacock Woven Wrap – The Perfect Wrap for the Eco-Conscious Babywearing Noob!

When I was pregnant with my little one I went to a local Green Expo and met a girl who was manning a cloth diaper table and wearing her babies wrapped up on her back and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I vowed then and there to learn everything I could about babywearing!  She informed me that she was a member of a local babywearing swap group and invited me to join their Facebook page and attend a Babywearing 101 meeting to learn all about it.  I then proceeded to seek out a variety of Babywearing apparatuses and by the time my baby was born I had a Moby stretchy wrap, a Maya ring sling, a K’Tan Breeze, and an Ergobaby soft-structured carrier (SSC) – as you can see, I don’t do anything half-assed, I was all in!

After my daughter was born I was super excited to start trying out all my new carriers.  My Maya ring sling was the first I used and it was wonderful for keeping my newborn up close to me during our bi-weekly Costco trips and to keep strangers hands out of my baby’s face (I still to this day do not understand what it is about being pregnant and having a baby that means you no longer have any right to personal space).  Once I learned to adjust the rails and get a good seat I loved it and I still keep it in my car for quick, unexpected trips to the grocery store, etc. because who really wants to lug that infant car seat around the store!?!

The next one I tried was my Moby stretchy wrap and this one quickly became my favorite way to carry.  Took a little bit to learn how to adjust the rails so that my baby was tight enough but after a few tries around the house we were ready for big adventures into the great outdoors! But my baby was over 9 lbs at birth and I knew she would quickly outgrow a stretchy wrap and while I love my Ergobaby for quick planned trips or errands that have multiple stops it just really wasn’t as comfortable to me as wrapping.  (And I’ll be honest, I don’t love my K’Tan, not really sure why, just not my preferred way to babywear). So I began my quest for the perfect woven wrap.

I had previously done a bit of browsing in the woven wrap arena and quickly learned that for the most part they were out of my price range, at least until I learned how to wrap well and felt I could justify the expense. After getting pretty comfortable with using the Moby and the Front-Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) I knew I wanted to invest in a woven wrap to learn new carries and eventually to get my baby on my back.  So back to the online babywearing swap groups I went.  I searched and searched and cried a little every time I fell in love with a $300-400 woven wrap.  Until one day on the Babywearing on a Budget Facebook group I saw the perfect wrap, in my ideal color scheme, for a price I could afford!!! I was so excited… until I read the comments and learned that it had already been sold…. I shed more than one tear that day.  But not to be thwarted I set out with a new DISO (desperately in search of) wrap: the Tekhni Arche Peacock.

At the time I didn’t even realize how perfect this wrap was for me but after a little research, this is what I learned:

Tekhni is a relatively new brand of woven wraps that was started by Alisa DeMarco, a mom and textile designer, in 2013.  Her mission was to share her love of babywearing and bring woven wraps to babywearing enthusiasts at affordable prices.

The Arche line of woven wraps are an introductory line geared towards babywearing beginners and smaller babies.  It is woven out of thin, flexible, lightweight material.  Arche blends are 35% cotton and 65% repreve.  Now you may be wondering what in the world repreve is… I know I was.  And honestly, this is what sold me on the Arche line.  Repreve is a recycled fiber made out of post-consumer waste and plastic bottles.  In fact, a size M wrap is made of approximately 25 recycled water bottles!

The Arche line is an affordable line of woven wraps available brand new for $99 regardless of which size you purchase.  It is available in three sizes: Small (4.2 meters), Medium (4.7 meters), and Large (5.2 meters) and available in three colors: Peacock (pictured below), Storm (blue hues), and Sunset (multi-colored with reds and blues).

So firmly set on my mission to find a Tekhni Arche Peacock I scoured the interwebz.  I checked every online babywearing swap group and was so disappointed that I couldn’t find one in my base size wrap (my base size is a size 6 – typically around 4.7 meters long) and wasn’t ready to try a shortie wrap yet.  I had perused Tekhni’s etsy page and at the time she only had a size S in stock (I’m kind of a “fluffy” mom and in hindsight probably could’ve worn a S, which is the equivalent of a size 5 wrap but I was scared it would be too short at the time).  So I took a chance and sent a message to Alisa through the etsy page and asked her if the line had been discontinued.   Alisa responded quickly and said she would check her inventory to see if she had any in stock and to my surprise she later sent me a message saying she had ONE size M and that she would list it on her etsy page for me to purchase.  I had hoped to ask for a wrap for Mother’s Day and this was late April.  But knowing that I couldn’t afford to wait I jumped at the opportunity and purchased it as my early Mother’s Day present to myself!

new tekhni

My Tekhni Arche Peacock fresh out of the package! 

When my new wrap came in the mail I was so excited I could barely wait to start wearing my baby! But like a good little consumer I read the instructions and washed my wrap as suggested before wrapping. After the first wash my wrap was already super soft and flexible (you will often hear this referred to as “floppy” and many woven wraps have to be broken in first before they are easily mold-able).  I was pleased to learn that it was an easy transition from my stretchy Moby wrap to my Arche Peacock and I was easily able to wrap my little one up using the FWCC carry that I was familiar with.  The wrap was nice and comfortable and didn’t cut into me even when wearing my daughter on long walks around the neighborhood.  In addition, the material is very breathable and we are comfortable wrapped up together even in the warm, Alabama climate (it’s been in the 90’s the last week or so) even though my little one is a furnace just like her daddy!

I’ve now had my Tekhni Arche Peacock for about a month and a half and have been pleased with how easy my wrap has been to work with while learning new carries.  I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through the 30 Day Wrap Challenge list, although its going to take me more like 6 months than 30 days to complete it (see pic below), and my Arche Peacock has done beautifully with all the base carries (just gotta get on making my DIY Osnaburg shortie wrap to go back and learn the shortie carries).  I haven’t braved the back carry yet but my little one is only just starting to sit up unassisted so it’s only a matter of time before I beg the hubby to be a spotter and start practicing my superman throw to get her back there!  I’m confident that my Arche Peacock is up for the task!

30DayWrapChallenge

30 Day Wrap Challenge

kangaroo carry

Kangaroo carry with the Tekhni Arche Peacock

As I mentioned previously, my daughter is not so little.  Born at 9 lbs 4 oz she has maintained her growth trajectory at the 90th percentile and was 16 lbs at her 4 month check up.  So sadly, we will be outgrowing the Arche Peacock before too long.  But currently it is still up for the challenge and it is easy to wrap her up and feel like she is well supported despite not being a “smaller baby” like the wrap is geared towards.

My ONLY constructive criticism of the Arche line is the thread shifting (pictured below) but Tekhni was up front about this tendency on their etsy page so it was no big surprise.  It is due to this particular fabric weave and not common with their other lines of woven wraps. I followed their washing instructions to help lock the threads into place and prevent excessive thread shifting but still notice it in a few places, mostly where I tend to grab in order to tighten my rails.  It looks like this:

arche pulls

thread shifting

But I can actually shift the threads back into place for the most part, it just takes a little time and TLC to do so.  Overall, this is something I can live with.

In summary, the pros and cons of the Tekhni Arche Peacock with Repreve are:

Pros:

  • cost, any size for $99 brand new
  • repreve blend for the eco-conscious
  • lightweight and breathable – excellent choice for warmer climates
  • good beginner wrap
  • beautiful colors!
  • great customer service!
  • supports a work-at-home-mom (WAHM)

Cons:

  • designed for smaller babies so you would have to upgrade when baby gets above 20 lbs
  • tendency towards thread shifting

Overall I’m in love with my Tekhni Arche Peacock wrap and will be sad when my baby grows out of it but am thankful to have discovered such a wonderful company and will likely buy another Tekhni when I’m ready to upgrade and invest more in my next woven!

Want to know more? Check out Tekhni’s website for more information about the Arche line of woven wraps or to learn about their other wrap designs!

More pics and info of the Arche Peacock on Tekhni’s Facebook page.

More information on Repreve here: What is Repreve? 

Check out the feature article on Tekhni in Babywearing Magazine’s Budget Issue.


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Father’s Day Gift Ideas: DIY and Naturally Minded Gifts for the Men in Your Life

Father’s Day is right around the corner on June 21, 2015.  Do you know what you are getting for the men in your life? Here are a few DIY and naturally minded gift ideas for the men in your life, some tried and true and some that just intrigued me!

1. For the hard working men in your life, make them homemade Lotion Bars:

orange-honey-lotion-bars

My husband is far from crunchy granola but the one product that I’ve made that he loves is my Lotion bars! They have a very subtle fragrance, although you could add other fragrances to make them smell more “manly” if your man prefers a stronger smell.  These are great for dry, cracked skin on the knuckles and all around dry hands from all the hard work our men do for us!

 The recipe I used is from Thank Your Body: http://www.thankyourbody.com/orange-honey-lotion-bars/ 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Tablespoons of raw honey

2 ounces organic beeswax

2 ounces organic shea butter

2 ounces organic coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

6 drops of organic orange essential oil

Directions:

1. In a double boiler, melt together the beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil until they become a smooth, uniform liquid.

2. Turn the heat off and add the olive oil, honey, and essential oil drops.

3. In a muffin tin lined with five cupcake liners (reusable silicone works great!), ladle the mixture evenly between the lined cupcake wells.

4. Allow to set (or harden) on the counter for 7 to 8 hours, or pop in the fridge to speed up the process.

(this recipe makes 5 bars)

2. For the bearded men in your life, why not make them a Beard Balm:

beard-balm-1

I’m intrigued by this recipe by Transient Expression: http://transientexpression.com/diy-gift-beard-balm/ 

Ingredients:

Beard Balm Base:

2 Tbsp beeswax, coarsely chopped

2 Tbsp shea butter

1 Tbsp cocoa butter

3 tsp jojoba oil

2 tsp sweet almond oil

Scent:

1/8 tsp bourbon oil – this was a fragrance oil the original author ordered off Amazon. Check out her site for her thoughts on this.

4-8 drops cedar essential oil

1 drop rosemary essential oil

Directions: Add the beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil to a small jar or tin, and place in a saucepan. A tin can is a good choice, but you should avoid glass, since it can crack from direct heat. Add water to an inch or two below the top of the jar, and heat over a stovetop until everything melts and liquifies. Stir with a disposable popsicle stick or wooden chopstick.  Add essential oils just a few drops at a time to scent your balm, and stir to combine. When you’ve achieved the scent you want, pour your balm into a mini mason jar, and allow to cool.

3. For the clean shaven men in your life, why not help them reduce their carbon footprint while getting a closer shave! 

Straight Razor Gift Set:

straight razor gift set 2

buy it here from Amazon: Gold Dollar Straight Razor Shaving Set

Don’t think your man is ready for the Straight Razor just yet? Why not try a Safety Razor Gift Set:

straight razor gift set

I actually ditched my Venus razor for a safety razor about a year ago because I wanted to decrease my own carbon footprint and those plastic razor blades not only contribute a great deal of unnecessary waste they are also stupid expensive! I bought a pack of the Astra razor blades like in the picture above and it was only like $10 for 100 blades!!! No brainer!

buy the gift set pictured above here from Amazon: Samurai Men Premium Shaving Set

4. You could make them a DIY Shaving Cream to go with their new shaving set! 

Homemade-natural-shaving-options-for-men-get-a-better-shave-without-the-chemicals

Check out one of my favorite bloggers, Wellness Mama, for her homemade shaving options for men: http://wellnessmama.com/5289/homemade-shaving-options-for-men/ 

Shave Cream Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive, almond or coconut oil
  • 2-3 TBSP Shea or Cocoa Butter
  • 1/4 cup Aloe Gel or Honey
  • 1 TBSP Kaolin clay or white cosmetic clay (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Liquid Castille Soap
  • Vitamin E or GSE (to preserve)

Shave Cream Instructions

  1. Melt the oil and shea/cocoa butter in a double boiler until just melted
  2. Remove from heat and add other ingredients
  3. Whisk or blend well for several minutes
  4. Transfer to jar or container to store
  5. Check while it is cooling to make sure it doesn’t start to separate. If it does, shake or mix well to re-incorporate.
  6. Lasts up to two months (not sure about longer)

5. Of course after they’ve shaved they need a Bay Rum Aftershave:

bayrumlabel

Check out this one I found from another one of my favorite bloggers, Crunchy Betty: http://www.crunchybetty.com/40-hot-homemade-gift-ideas-for-the-men-in-your-life

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ounces Vodka
  • 2 Tablespoons Jamaican Rum
  • 2 Dried Bay Leaves (Don’t use the bay leaf they sell at the grocery store. While it’s good for soups,  it’s not good for bay rum. Make sure to use Pimenta racemosa, sometimes available at natural food stores)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 Stick of Cinnamon, broken in pieces
  • Fresh Zest from a Small Orange

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a container such as a bottle or mason jar with a tightly fitting lid. Put the closed container in a dark, cool place (not in the refrigerator) for two weeks. This allows the alcohol to extract the essential oils from the bay leaves. After two weeks, strain the mixture through several layers of coffee filters. If necessary, repeat until no residue remains. Put in a nice bottle and splash on face after shaving.

6. Freshen his breath or help him quit smoking with Assorted Flavored “Tooth Twigs”:

670px-Make-Cinnamon-Toothpicks-Step-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Cinnamon Bark essential oil (other oils you could use are peppermint, anise, or lemon – all of which would help freshen breath!)
  • 500 toothpicks
  • small, airtight container with lid

Directions: Pour 2 oz Cinnamon Bark eo into the bottom of your small, airtight container and place toothpicks inside.  Place lid on container and let sit overnight.  (Even though the oil is only at the bottom of the jar, the flavor will be strong through the entire toothpick. As the toothpicks sit, the cinnamon bark oil is absorbed into the wood and will travel up the sticks. The entire toothpick will be wet after sitting overnight.) Remove toothpicks and spread them out to dry on nonporous surface (a plastic cutting board would work).  Do not let the toothpicks dry in direct sunlight. Toothpicks are ready to be used when they are dry to the touch. Store in airtight container.

This recipe is also from Crunchy Betty.  Check out her other ideas here:  http://www.crunchybetty.com/40-hot-homemade-gift-ideas-for-the-men-in-your-life

7. For the GrillMeisters in your life make them some DIY Spice Rub Mixes:

spices

I made these for the men in our family for Christmas last year and they were a BIG hit!!! These are the recipes I chose, but you can choose others that might suit your fancy!

Moo (great for brisket):

  • 1/2 cup/120 mL paprika
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL kosher salt, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL sugar
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL chili powder
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons/30 mL cayenne

“Magic Dust” Seasoning Recipe from: http://bbq.about.com/od/rubrecipes/r/bl50617d.htm 

Oink (for all things pork):

  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Rib Seasoning  Recipe from: https://biz319.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/beautiful-day-4/ 

Cluck (for finger lickin’ chicken):

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

Chicken Seasoning Blend from AllRecipes: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-seasoning-blend/detail.aspx 

8. And last but not least, try these “Dude Approved” essential oils and blends: 

  • Deep Relief or PanAway – massage into affected area to relieve discomfort from sore muscles or aching joints after a hard day at work!
  • Lavender and/or Cedarwood – help your man get a good night’s sleep by diffusing lavender and/or cedarwood in the bedroom at night!
  • Valor – does your man snore? Give him a nice foot massage before bed and rub in a little Valor with some coconut oil so you can get a good night’s sleep too!
  • Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon – does your man have seasonal discomfort? Make up some vegetable capsules with 5 drops each and fill with carrier oil to add as a dietary supplement.  You could also make a rollerball recipe using 10 drops each of these oils in a 10 ml rollerball filled with carrier oil to rub across the bridge of the nose for severe discomfort.  (be mindful that peppermint oil is a “hot” oil and may have a tingly sensation when rubbed across the skin – always do a test patch before using anywhere near your face!)
  • Stress Away – help your man face the day with a Stress Away roll on.  It has a nice woodsy aroma and helps keep you calm when dealing with daily stressors!  Also try diffusing Frankincense or Cedarwood to promote a calm environment!
  • En-R-Gee – does your man need a little extra pep in his step? Help him fight fatigue throughout the day by applying En-R-Gee to wrists and/or behind the ears.  Also try diffusing Citrus Fresh in the office for extra productivity!

** Adapted from Lemondropper’s marketing materials: Essential Oils for Dudes

Do you have other good DIY and naturally minded gift ideas for Father’s Day? Share them below to keep the conversation going!

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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An All Natural Cleaner Experiment: Do My DIY Cleaners Measure up?

Part 6 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series: An All Natural Cleaner Experiment

So I’ve been using my DIY Theives Cleaner for everything around the house lately! (Find my recipe here) So far it has worked beautifully for cleaning bathroom counters, the walls and outside of the toilet, kitchen counter tops, glass top stove, mirrors, and even glass.  Seriously, there isn’t much that this won’t clean! But after a recent online essential oils class I learned that Lemon essential oil is supposed to be able to remove crayon from walls.  While I have a child, she is only 4 1/2 months old as of the writing of this post and as of yet has not created artwork on any walls.  However, I do have one small wall next to the dog beds in the living room that has turned an unsightly shade of brown due to the amount of dirt that the dogs rub up against it daily. It’s in a dark corner and I generally just try my hardest to ignore it, which means it goes entirely too long between cleanings.  What this has afforded me, however, is an opportunity to really put my cleaners to the test.  After learning about the cleaning power of Lemon eo I wanted to see if it would tackle things other than crayon and figured dirty dog stains would be a good test.  But I also figured since this was a big enough surface area this would allow me to do a direct comparison of some of my other natural cleaning products.  Naturally I wanted to compare my DIY Thieves Cleaner and had a bit of Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner left that I hadn’t thrown out yet so thought I’d throw that in too.  I had also recently made an All Natural Dust Repellent that included vinegar and Lemon eo and thought “what the hell?” and decided to include that as well just out of curiosity.  The picture below (while embarrassing to show just how dirty this wall had become) provides you will a good visual of the before and after.

cleaner experiment 1

And the results are:

  • Lemon eo – By itself I was less than impressed with Lemon eo as a cleaner for dirty walls (it does a great job removing sticky gunk and I’m sure crayon) but was not as effective as I’d hoped.  It did clean a bit of the dirt off but it took 2 tries with 5-6 drops each on a microfiber cloth to even get it as clean as you see pictured above.  It did remove some dirt but really isn’t a cost effective solution.
  • DIY Dust Repellent – I was most surprised by how well this recipe cleaned the dirt off the wall since it was designed as a dust repellent and not a cleaner.  Especially because I didn’t remember until after I had used it to clean that it also contains a bit of olive oil (to shine your surfaces and help repel dust)… Bonus: Not only did it actually clean the dirt off the wall, it smelled great!!! This one was my favorite considering it was just as effective as the DIY Thieves Cleaner and the Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner.
  • DIY Thieves Cleaner – Cleaned every bit as well as, if not a bit better than, the Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner with none of the chemicals! I expected no less! This really is my go to all purpose cleaner now.  Seriously, this stuff cleans everything!!!
  • Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner – This cleaned the dirt and grime off pretty well but honestly seemed to struggle some with some of the harder to clean stains when compared to my DIY Thieves Cleaner

For the final part of my experiment I wanted to see how well the natural cleaners tackled old dried blood spots on my painted wall.  As any dog owner knows, dogs get injured from rough housing with one another and when they’ve got a spot on their ears or tail they love to shake which results in splattered blood spots all over your walls and furniture until the wound heals.  Since I have a pack the other dogs often “help” by cleaning the wound which can reopen the scabs and the process starts all over again.  Above my dirty wall was some remaining old dried blood splatter so I thought I’d give it a whirl!  I knew my DIY Thieves Cleaner was up for the challenge but wanted to really give the Natural Dust Repellent a go to see how the lemon and vinegar would work at cleaning this challenging task.

cleaner experiment 2

As you can see from the above picture, the results were every bit as good as I hoped for!!! The Dust Repellent removed all the old dried blood stains with only a little bit of scrubbing for some of the harder to remove spots.  I’m super pleased with how well this recipe worked for a task it wasn’t really designed for!  My hubby hates the smell of vinegar but the Lemon eo is way better at masking the scent than my Thieves it’s nice to have another cleaning recipe on hand. But honestly I’ll probably just add Lemon eo to my Thieves cleaner in future batches to get the most bang for my buck.  This also avoids the olive oil in the Natural Dust Repellent, which I will reserve for dusting!

 

Have you done any all natural cleaning experiments in your home? Share the results below to keep the conversation going!!!

 

Did you miss Parts 1-5 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Part 3: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally

Part 4: How To Keep The Dust Away: A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent 

Part 5: How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!


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How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!

Part 5 of my Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) series – How To Deodorize Your Carpet Naturally + BONUS DIY Spot Cleaning Recipe!

I’ve mentioned before that I have 5 dogs… 5 mostly inside, spoiled, rotten dogs. In addition to breeding mutant size dust bunnies, having this many dogs in the house means my area rug gets dirty… really, really dirty.  And quite frankly, it smells like dog. Not only is there enough dog hair shed that I could stitch together a sixth dog, but dogs are gross and eat things they shouldn’t which frequently results in upset tummies and try as I might I cannot convince them to hoark it up on the hardwood where it would be much, much easier to clean.  Hence the inspiration for today’s post.

Several years ago I spent my tax return on a Dyson DC25 Animal Upright Vacuum Cleaner (that’s when I knew I was officially an “adult” spending my tax return on responsible things) because I knew that I would always be accompanied by a dog pack (back then it was only 3).  And I absolutely LOVE my vacuum cleaner.  But as anyone with a lot of dogs knows that even with the best vacuum cleaner starts to smell like dog eventually.  So when I was researching all natural cleaning tricks and recipes and stumbled upon Life As Mom’s All Natural Carpet Deodorizer I knew I had to give it a shot!  I was quite pleased with the results.  Not only did it freshen my carpet but made the house smell good while I cleaned and my vacuum smells much better too!   (For another bonus recipe head on over to Life As Mom’s original blog, linked below, to get an air freshener variation!)

carpet 2

All Natural Carpet Deodorizer

Ingredients:  

  • Glass jar with lid
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 10-20 drops of Lemon essential oil

Directions:

Combine Baking Soda and essential oil in glass jar.  Screw lid on and shake well to evenly distribute the oils.  Gently shake, liberally covering your carpet or area rug.  Let sit for 30 minutes or more before vacuuming up.

* The original recipe called for 1/2 cup Baking Soda and she said it would cover a 5×8′ area rug.  I doubled the recipe and honestly could have added a bit more to better cover my 8×12′ rug.

Source: http://lifeasmom.com/2013/09/all-natural-home-air-freshener-and-carpet-deodorizer.html

 

Shortly after I got my rug all cleaned and I was sitting back enjoying my hard work, one of my lovely dogs decided that they would hoark up the grass they had eaten earlier that day… Yummy! Historically we had just used Woolite Carpet Stain and Odor Remover, Pet + Oxygen (which I’m sad to say scored an F on EWG for containing surfactants, hexoxyethanol, acrylates copolymer, and artificial fragrance – yuck!) but since I had been keep with an all natural cleaning routine I figured I could find a better way to clean this spot up without the toxic chemicals.  After a brief search I stumbled upon The Prairie Homestead’s blog and recipe for an all natural carpet cleaner.  The author also had dogs with similarly disgusting behaviors so I thought it would be the best place to start.  It worked surprisingly well.  What I can tell you is though, make sure to start with LESS baking soda than I picture below.  I used way too much and it took several tries of spraying the vinegar:water solution to get it all out.  If you use too much, you’ll know because it will make a white spot on your carpet (which by all accounts is better than dog vomit but still irritating).

DIY Spot Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon essential oil (optional)
  • Distilled White Vinegar (DWV)
  • Water
  • Towel or rag

Directions:

  1. Combine Baking Soda and a couple drops of your Lemon essential oil (you can use some of what you mixed up for the carpet deodorizer) and shake well to distribute the oils.
  2. Sprinkle* Baking Soda mixture on spot and let sit for at least 1 hour to overnight.                                                                                                                          spot cleaner 1 *Sprinkle being the operative word – I used WAY too much in this pic! (you want just enough to absorb any liquid)
  3. Mix a 1:1 ratio of DWV to Water in a spray bottle.
  4. Generously spray Vinegar:Water mixture on Baking Soda allowing it to fizz                                                                                                                                     spot cleaner 2
  5. Cover the spot with your towel or rag and press to absorb moisture.   As the original author points out it is not advised that you scrub the carpet as this could damage the fibers.  I’ll be honest, I scrubbed it… a lot! It didn’t seem to damage my carpet. But proceed with caution.
  6. Repeat if necessary (or if you didn’t heed my wisdom and used too much Baking Soda, repeat the spray mixture until it stops fizzing.  I promise you will eventually get all the Baking Soda out!)

Source: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2010/10/frugal-natural-carpet-cleaner.html

 

Have you tried either of the above recipes or do you have another preferred all natural method of cleaning your carpet? I’d love to hear it! Comment below to keep the conversation going!

 

Did you miss Parts 1-4 of my Clean Your Home Naturally Series? Find them below:

Intro: Clean Your Home Naturally (without Toxic Chemicals) this Summer!

Part 1: How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally

Part 2: How To Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances Naturally

Part 3: How To Clean Your Toilet Naturally

Part 4: How To Keep The Dust Away: A DIY All Natural Dust Repellent