Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homemade Shampoo Update

So it's been about a month since beginning our foray into the land of castile soap, homemade shampoo and conscious avoidance of all things containing SLS (Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate). When I first decided on this venture Mike threatened a psychiatric eval for yours truly but he eventually (reluctantly) agreed to give it a go for a few weeks. I love that he can be so patient (yes, tolerant) with my projects and schemes! :) And the verdict is: we LOVE it!!!

We are using Tom's of Maine SLS-free toothpaste that still does a great job (in my opinion, a much better job) of cleaning our teeth and although not as "foamy" as regular toothpaste has a great fresh taste/aftertaste to it. Mike's already gone through an entire tube- and has only had one time where he thought he was getting a canker sore but it never came to fruition. Success! I order it online for about half the price of what it costs at our local health food store.

Next up on my list of purchases was a gallon-sized container of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap- I bought the Tea Tree version since I wanted to try it out for cleaning and other purposes as well. I got a few cheap ebay "foamer" hand pumps for each of our bathrooms, placed a small amount (maybe 2-4 Tblsp) of soap in the bottom of the containers and filled them the rest of the way with water- voila! Cheap, great smelling handwash! Plus it's instant bubbles- Eileigh is a big fan to say the least.

My shampoo journey has been a bit more involved. Mike had great results from the get-go (hair and scalp) but my hair went through detox for a couple weeks. I rotated the homemade shampoo with a baking soda rinse (to cut oiliness) and then did an herb and vinegar rinse about twice a week for conditioning. While my first shampoo recipe was great for Mike, I upped the shampoo content of the next batch for myself and seemed to have a lot better results as far as oiliness is concerned. Since I've never thought of my hair as oily I'm not sure if my hair might still be detoxing or if pregnancy is causing some changes but whatever the case, my hair has responded well to a higher shampoo-to-water ratio. Now that I'm figuring it out I love having ONE bottle in the shower (yes, ONE- my entire life I've maintained an average of 5-10 pairs of shampoos/conditioners in the shower to rotate through) and it smells great, works wonderfully and is definitely cost-effective! I use the shampoo for a body wash as well although I did just buy a few of Dr. Bronner's bar soaps to try out some of the other scents (I'm wondering if Mike will mind the lavender...). You can try out all different kinds of herbs for the shampoo or rinse- check them out to see what they'll do for your hair- and though I've tried parsley as well, rosemary is definitely my favorite so far.

So here are the recipes:

Homemade Shampoo #1
1/4 c. Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree Liquid Castile Soap
1 c. strong rosemary tea (pour boiling distilled/spring water over 1/4 c. fresh rosemary and let steep for 30 minutes)
1 tsp. olive oil
*Easiest is to microwave the water and then pour over the rosemary. Strain through a coffee filter or dishtowel to keep the herbs out of the shampoo when adding to the soap. I keep ours in a spray bottle since it's more liquidy than regular shampoo. Use a normal amount of shampoo when washing hair.

Homemade Shampoo #2 (my most recent batch and works better to get rid of oiliness)
1/4 c. liquid castile soap
1/4 c. distilled/spring water
1 tsp. olive oil
*Mix ingredients together. I miss the rosemary scent so next time I'm going to make the rosemary tea and then just increase the soap amount.

Herb and Vinegar Rinse (use about twice/week to condition and detangle, rinse briefly- once hair dries it doesn't smell like vinegar, don't worry!)
2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 c. chopped herbs
*Place herbs in glass jar. Heat vinegar before pouring over herbs and steep in refrigerator for a few days before using. (Or if not in hurry can cover herbs with cold vinegar and steep/refrigerate two weeks). Strain herbs through coffee filter into fresh clean bottle. Refrigerate up to 6 months.
TO USE: Dilute 1 Tblsp. herb/vinegar mix to 1 c. water, rinse through hair after shampooing.

Baking Soda Rinse (use to cut oiliness as necessary)
1 Tblsp. baking soda
1 c. water
I just take a container with the baking soda into the shower with me and fill with water so it's warm and then rinse it through my hair! (And I do the same with the herb/vinegar rinse).

Next up: homemade deodorant!! Maybe YOU can let me know how that goes.... :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lentil and Sausage Soup and Beef-Barley Stew with Roasted Vegetables

This week I tried out a couple new recipes from a cookbook given to me for Christmas by my mother-in-law. I'm pleased to say they were delicious served up in big soup bowls and warmly combated the nasty, rainy weather we've been soaking in. The Lentil and Sausage Soup was an easy dish to prepare while the Beef-Barley Stew was a little more time-consuming from having to add things at different points along the way. Both had fabulous flavor.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 lb. turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced (I used 1/2 lb. polish sausage...mmm)
1-1/4 c. brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 c. water
1 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt (I am now using sea salt for everything)
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the kielbasa, lentils and water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes longer.
Serves:4 (about 1-3/4 c. each)

Beef-Barley Stew with Roasted Vegetables

1 celery root, peeled and cut into chunks (I omitted)
4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 parsnips, cut into chunks
2 onions, chopped (I used one)
1 Tblsp. chopped fresh thyme (I sprinkled veggies with dried thyme, maybe 1-2 tsp.)
1-1/2 lbs. boneless lean beef chuck, cut into 1-in. chunks
6 c. reduced-sodium beef broth
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. pearl barley, rinsed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow roasting pan with nonstick spray. Put celery root, carrots, parsnips, onions and thyme in pan and spray with nonstick spray; toss to coat. Roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and crisp-tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, spray a Dutch oven with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat. Cook the beef until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add 5-1/2 c. beef broth, the garlic, salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes.
Stir in the mushrooms and barley and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in the roasted vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is fork-tender and the barley is tender, about 15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 c. broth if the stew seems too thick.
Serves:8 (generous 1 c. each)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oh It's the Holiday Season....

As I am- on occasion- technologically challenged, I am happy to say I have finally surmounted the latest obstacle blocking my blogging path and have figured out how to upload pictures from our new camera to my blog (with fewer headaches, less time and significantly decreased personal resistance to the entire process). What follows are holiday moments as captured by our camera lens.
Eileigh searching for the perfect tree one incredibly cold morning

Watching Daddy cut the tree...

Whoops, leaned a little too far...

Helping to decorate the tree- the "ornament" she's holding is my mom's most hated ornament (which I love, perhaps because she hates it) :)

A wonderful lazy morning to decorate the tree... notice Eileigh's missing slipper

Eileigh's most cherished worldly possession: her (now) one-eyed bunny, chewed nearly into oblivion

Eileigh's first homemade sugar cookie (at least first made by me)- she loved it, of course

Eileigh was able to lick one of the frosting beaters... Mike commandeered the other

Mike did a great job putting up all the lights!

My favorite place was our back porch- it was so beautiful at night!!!

I was able to get Eileigh's hair in a ponytail for the first time... Mike said she looked like my Mini-me :)

My two sweeties

We painted Eileigh's toes for the first time- she calls them her "pitty toes!"

Christmas dress

Eileigh was SOO excited to wear camo like Daddy- thank you to Charlie and Sheryl!!!

Chillin' in her camo, Cabela's chair, and Daddy's fleece

Christmas morning at our house- I had no idea I was about to open my Uggs!! :)

Eileigh had to put on her robe right away...

Necklaces, bracelets and earrings, oh my!

Going to feed her new dolly in the crib (after trying the bottle out herself)

Such a helper- aiding Boone with his new electric toothbrush

He had the most hysterical look on his face...

While I cracked up that Eileigh was opening her mouth while brushing HIS teeth

They switched dolls for a little while...

Until Eileigh grabbed them both

I'm not so sure Boone knew quite what to think...

A gift for Baby Finn when he arrives (well, and grows a little...)

Boone seemed pretty happy with his new camo chair from Cabela's

And David was the lucky recipient of the gift that keeps on giving... year after year... a broken cat ornament

My mom and her new iPod

Matching robes... mine was left at home. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!!

Last night marked the ending of an incredible year and we had a great time sharing it with family and friends [minus Emi and David who thought it would be more fun to cruise to Mexico for a week :)]. We enjoyed a bountiful meal of shrimp and grits, grilled halibut, crab dip appetizer and delicious sides and desserts before attempting to do some "ski jumping" on the Wii (I failed miserably and ended up in a snowball after every attempt but gleefully blamed it on my unwieldy belly- it gets blamed for most things at this point). All in all, a great way to wrap up 2009.

Since I've been so focused lately on upcoming events I thought I should take a little time to think about all that has happened throughout 2009 and how much God has blessed us- so richly!!

January we had a covered back porch/overhang built and it has been a much appreciated addition to the house! I also met and completed my goal of exclusively pumping for 1 year and officially "hung up the horns". Although reaching the goal was bittersweet, Mike and I fully enjoyed celebrating the milestone at Bonneville Hot Springs Spa and Resort for our first overnighter away from Eileigh (who did great). We celebrated Eileigh's first birthday with family and Eileigh started crawling three days before she took off walking on her own, all within the same week of her birthday.

In March we adopted our cat Sterling and he's been great from Day 1. Mike enjoyed the annual fishing trip to Wikiup Reservoir in April and came back with some great stories and nice fish.

We headed up to Seattle in mid-May to celebrate four years of marriage at a Mariner's game and stayed the weekend with Mike's family in Olympia. Mike and I had a blast at the game enjoying time for just the two of us- it wasn't until two days later that I discovered it wasn't just the two of us at the game like we'd thought but in fact I was pregnant and due in January 2010!! We were thrilled, to say the least.

The summer months were a whirlwind of frequent trips to the Oregon Coast, gardening, trying my hand at canning peaches, pears, making pear butter, jalapeno jelly and huge batches of freezer corn, watching Eileigh play outside in the little backyard pool, garage saling and keeping Mike supplied with fresh ice water and Gatorade while he worked diligently to build our back deck- at times seemingly an insurmountable process. July 12th my baby sister Emily got married in a beautiful outdoor wedding, in the rain! It was an amazing time- so special for all of us who were blessed to share in it. In August we were blessed to attend Mike's cousin's wedding during the annual family reunion at his Grandma's lakefront property- the only time I've ever gotten to swim in a lake during a wedding reception- and it was perfect. We also found out my sister Mindi is expecting and due in February 2010!

The end of August always begins my official hunting widowhood as I lose my husband to the pursuit of four-legged, horned creatures. Mike spent a week over East bowhunting elk, a few days camping at Detroit with his old C-shift crew from the fire dept. and then mostly stayed in the area for the rest of elk and deer season- first and second season, that is. The last day of deer season he bagged a nice forkie to add to the wall collection that is steadily growing in our house.

September we travelled back to the Oregon Coast for my family's yearly camping/yurt/5th-wheel trip and spent what was to be our last vacation in our 5th wheel. It was surprisingly cold at night even in the 5th wheel and so the last night Eileigh bundled up next to me while I spent a sleepless night realizing how much things are going to change in the next few months and to enjoy each and every moment as it comes.

The end of October saw Eileigh costumed as a flower and Boone decked out as a spider as we went to a few houses on the street in search of "goodies". The kids liked going up and knocking on the doors perhaps even more than getting the candy (probably because we didn't let them actually eat the candy).

Thanksgiving was spent at Mike's parents' in WA and we also enjoyed a trip up to the mountains to play in the snow in November. I spent the rest of the month trying to wrap up all of my Christmas shopping!!!

In December we eagerly looked forward to Christmas as Eileigh is now old enough to somewhat start to grasp the excitement of the Season. This year we started my childhood tradition of the Elf Pail (it was the Elf Box when I was growing up but I couldn't find a "box" ornament and instead decided to use a little tin bucket I found to hang on the tree). Once the Christmas tree is up the "elves" bring a "goodie" (generally a butterscotch chip and a chocolate chip) every morning until Christmas, when we open presents instead. I always loved this tradition since it gave us something to look forward to each morning and it was so much fun to see Eileigh's excitement as well! It was almost like I was experiencing it for the first time myself. One of Eileigh's favorite things this Christmas had to have been the Christmas lights (which she pronounced Kee-fee yights... although she soon shortened that to just requesting "Kee-fee ON!!") We spent several evenings just driving around and looking at homes all decked out with lights and eventually had our favorite routes that included all the best displays. Christmas Eve was spent with some of my mom's side of the family and then Christmas morning Mike, Eileigh and I had a great time exchanging gifts. Mike and I had decided to buy a really nice camera for a "family" gift and not do anything extravagant for each other- which he totally disregarded and shocked my socks off (literally) when I unwrapped a beautiful pair of brand new Uggs!! He was so sweet about it it brought tears to my eyes- he has been such a rock for me to stand on. After that we headed over to my parents' for more gift-exchanging and brunch. Eileigh and Boone went a little into overdrive and actually seemed a little tired of opening gifts by that point and ready to just play. Eileigh got a couple dollies to love on and even tried to take away Boone's little boy doll too- she is definitely excited for our baby to be here (although I know she cannot conceive what all that will entail- not that I do either).

This year of 2009 we experienced some incredible growth in our relationships as well as watched Eileigh grow like a weed and expand her vocabulary exponentially. 2010 we're looking forward to Selah's arrival and becoming a family of four- won't be too long now! We are so richly blessed and I love knowing that our God will supply all our needs, strengthen us and carry us through whatever this next year holds!! There is such a peace in knowing it is HE Who holds our future. Blessings to you in 2010!!