Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why you should avoid store-bought toothpaste + Homemade toothpaste recipe!

We're taking baby steps! I know we can't eliminate every single possible harmful substance from our lives. The world we live in is full of potentially harmful things. The best I can do is make little changes here and there in hopes to at least reduce the harmful substances in my home!

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This week I had another science class in my kitchen... throwing things together to see what natural products I can make to replace store-bought products with. Making my own toothpaste has been a desire for quite some time. After a botched attempt at an intricate recipe I gave up and put everything away. I suppose I felt something more involved would be better than something so simple.

Ultimately the recipe I tried likely would not have been a good fit even if I had not botched it. It costs more than simpler toothpaste recipes, had a shelf-life and the overall process of making it was a bit much for me.
After a few months of sulking in failure at my original toothpaste making attempt (and cleaning out the bottles I had put the goop in) I resorted back to ol' faithful - Crest. But you can't put faith in Crest. Or almost any other toothpaste on the supermarket shelves anymore. It's actually quite scary!


I have done a fair amount of research, looking at what is safe, not safe, what ingredients I already have handy, cost etc... I'll be honest, I'm no good at compiling information. I have been trying to hang on to stuff I read for use in posts so hopefully I have done a well enough job here to convince you that what is in your Crest, Colgate, Aquafresh, and even some of your "natural" toothpastes is no good.

DIY Natural & World Dental did great, to-the-point posts with resources about some of those ickies:
- "Triclosan has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor, a skin irritant, and can cause allergic reactions in some cases."

- "...sorbitol has laxative effects that can cause diarrhea if too much is swallowed."

- "Saccharin is only a petroleum based sugar substitute, and other names that mean the same as saccharin include: sucralose, Acesulfame-K, alitame, or tagatose. Cancer and saccharin ingestion have been linked many times in the past." 

HERE is more information on sweeteners, the good (Stevia, for example) and the bad!
- "...the production of SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) results in contamination with a carcinogenic by-product."

FD&C blue dyes... "The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends avoiding these artificial dyes in personal care products because of the adverse impact they can have, including hyperactivity in children, allergic reactions, and even cancer (in animal studies)."

- Just like the post says... Flouride is BAD! It's toxic, and prompts a poison warning label on our toothpastes. It even has been linked to thyroid problems. Are you hypothyroid?? I am. And while I can't quite commit to a completely changed diet to help promote thyroid healing, I can definitely avoid flouride as a baby step!

Glycerin is another "hot topic" with toothpastes. From what I gather it's very 50/50 as to whether you should use it or not. I have decided not to use glycerin in my toothpastes although I do have it on hand for other natural products. I found this post that details and sources glycerin use for toothpastes. Make your own choice :)

Is that not enough to make you at least consider an alternative? If so, please continue to the recipe...

Going for it:

I felt confident, gathered the ingredients, and made my own toothpaste!
I take no credit for this recipe. Ultimately it is based upon Family Sponge's post. Truthfully, there are a ton of blogs that use a very similar recipe so I strongly suggest you do your research and pick what variation you feel most comfortable using.

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6 TBSP Coconut Oil
6 TBSP Baking Soda
Stevia to taste (optional)
25 drops of essential oils (optional)
(I used Sweet Orange with a few drops of Eucalyptus)

I didn't do enough research early on with my essential oils and have recently learned that Eucalyptus can be poisonous if ingested, especially for children. I only used a few drops but I will be experimenting with a new recipe soon in order to replace the mix I made for my daughter which I added pure vanilla extract to as well. In mine and my husband's mixture I added some pure peppermint extract and peppermint oil.

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- Recruit your children to help mix all of your ingredients in a bowl then pour in to a glass container. I used a little mason jar I had handy.

- Scoop the paste out on to your toothbrush and brush away! It absolutely makes your teeth feel wonderful.

I currently have a craft stick on top of the jar to use for scooping out the paste. Family Sponge said she sometimes uses her toothbrush. I personally don't want my funky toothbrush mixed around with everybody elses so I'll stick with the stick :p

This jar maayybe cost me $2.

If you have all of these ingredients in a high grade organic form, yay! I don't. I do the best I can without spending more than is truly necessary. The only thing I had to purchase was stevia. I settled on stevia after I had initially wanted xylitol. I thought it was necessary and there were no alternatives but I was wrong. I just couldn't find it in stores locally and didn't feel like waiting to order it online. I had to use a ton of it because I can not stand the salty baking soda taste. I have to make it as sweet as possible in order to make it more marketable to my 5yr old... and my husband.

I really want this to last. I recently started oil pulling and want to hold off on my long over-due dental exam for a couple of months until I brush with the natural toothpaste and get a good oil pulling routine down. I don't know if I'll have a better check-up than I have had in the past but it's worth a shot to try!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

From Mirrored Closet Doors to Homeschool Chalkboard!

We're less than 2 weeks away from the beginning of kindergarten, and since I am homeschooling I've had to come up with some of my own ideas on how to cut costs and still maintain a functioning home + school environment. One dilemma has been a large writing surface (i.e. dry erase or chalk board). 
After a little digging I picked the sliding mirror closet doors in my daughter's room as the victim. Normally I would hate to cover them... she loves to use them when she plays, but unfortunately one of the doors has a large crack and jagged edge that I've been itching to hide somehow. And available wall space is an issue so this was a win win!

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Here is what you will need:
Glass cleaner
Microfiber cloth
(or something that will pick up all the lint!)
(I used a grey primer. If you don't prime you risk an uneven coat of paint resulting in more paint being used and possibly peeling prematurely.)

Chalkboard paint
(Valspar brand is what I used)
Foam roller
(Don't use one with fibers... I'll show you why later)
Painter's tape & drop cloth

Chalk & eraser
Tape your surface anywhere you do not want paint. Clean your mirror very well and use a microfiber cloth to help grab up any extra linty pieces. Use a foam roller and begin priming your surface. Completely and evenly coat it and let dry. I let mine dry overnight.
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**I used a reguar cheap roller for my primer coat. I wish I had not done that. It resulted in fibers being pulled from the roller and left on the mirror. I didn't really catch it until it was too late and far too bad to pick out individual pieces. Once I added a coat of chalkboard paint I took a very fine grit sand paper and sanded down the rough fibers as much as I could.**

Here you can see the fibers sticking out after a coat of chalkboard paint was applied.

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You can see in this image where all the fibers caught the chalk later during the "priming" process. It's not a perfectly flat surface but it still writes very well, just a few little bumps here and there.
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To fix the nasty chip in the mirror I took a quick and simple route of using painter's tape. I took a couple of small pieces and wrapped it around the chip then proceeded to paint over it. You can barely tell on the finished product.

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Apply 2 to 3 coats of chalkboard paint according to package instructions, prime the surface with chalk as shown above (I used sidewalk chalk for quick application), erase and you now have a great writing surface!!


The more I think about it the more excited I am to use the board for school. I can see the sliding doors coming in very handy for hiding subjects, revealing one letter, number or word at a time during different learning activities... yay!
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Friday, July 5, 2013

4th of July Craft Stick Flag on a Rainy Day!

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In true fashion of being "essential personnel" I typically work on July 4th, but for the first time in a few years I had the night off! We had plans of going to the city festivities and making it one of our first big family outings but the weather had other plans. Everything was cancelled and moved to future dates so we spent our day inside playing video games, eating pizza, and my favorite part... making crafts!

First we had to get dolled up in our patriotic gear...

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Somebody didn't want any part of putting clothes on.

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Woo, fun time!

We made American flags with: 
Craft sticks (regular and short)
Hot glue for fast drying time
Finger paint (red & blue)
Glitter for the "stars" (we used gold)
Scissors to cut down the craft sticks (I used a pair of sturdy handled kitchen sheers)

It was a quick craft but Jaiden loved it! All I did was use 3 rows of vertical small sticks along the back to hold several rows of horizontal long sticks together. I cut down the blue/stars sticks so they would fit across with small sticks. Nothing too fancy and I apologize ahead of time for a lack of detailed photos. I'm not a good director to my photographer ;)

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We made sure to have an actual American flag present. We also gave her a brief age appropriate description of our flag, what it means, and what July 4th is about.

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You can use these flags to decorate indoor or outdoor! Ideally you may wish to do this before the holiday but we're always a little behind. I had hoped to make several but a 9 month old crabby pants doesn't understand craft time so we cut it short with 2 flags and a few other sticks decorated with colors.

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  I do hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed holiday!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Pixie Cut Mom

I am probably the last person on earth to feel fashionable, trendy or cute but sometimes I get a little spunk in me and go for it. I don't want to be stared at or the center of attention. Blending in is ok. Until I got the nerve to make a drastic change... to my hair.

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Long for me is a beautiful, stringy mess with few options and more headache than I care to deal with. Post-partum hair loss was my main motivation to make a change followed by the desperate grabbing hands of my little man while nursing.

The above was Thanksgiving 2012. A couple of weeks later I took the plunge to cut several inches off and go for a slight bob cut (thank you, Mary!)...
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I let this grow out over the course of the next 4 or so months (laziness) and decided I was ready for yet another slightly more dramatic change.

 My newest inspiration started here with Dear Whippy and her longer pixie style.
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And this was my result (thank you Sarah!)...
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I realized I was not much for the longer sideburns and hair around my ears. I was spending far too much time flat ironing to perfection, which seemed unachievable.

It felt almost like a Lego hair piece.
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After I decided I didn't like the Lego look I went back to my hair stylist with new inspiration from my good friend, Ginnifer Goodwin.
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 Ok, so we're not "good" friends, but my minor obsession with the TV series Once Upon A Time made me absolutely fall in love with this style far more than I had previously thought I might.

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My husband recently took up photography and photo editing as a hobby. Enjoy his wonderful work!
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I couldn't be happier with the outcome of my hair!

I am still working on the styling aspect. There is so much to do with the pixie but many of the more fun styles need a fair amount of product and a bit of practice. Currently all I use to style my hair is my blow dryer, flat iron, hair spray and volumizing powder. It does require almost daily washing in order to have a clean styling slate. You're also looking at cutting it ever 4-5 weeks.
 If you were considering the pixie don't expect to be able to jump out of bed in the A.M. and be on your merry way. If you do this you will look like, as I saw once described, a derranged teenage boy.

(After I experiment more I will share with you the products I find work best for me and the respective style. I'm taking tips from several different pixie ladies!)

You will begin to find that accessories such as head bands and clips become a necessity to avoiding the same look every day if you're like me and don't have much styling time on a busy day. There's no need to spend an arm and a leg on them though. Check local overstock stores like TJ Maxx or Ross. They often have them for $1-$5. If you are interested in the clips I'm sporting in some of my pictures you can find them here on Amazon. In the future I plan to make my own assortment, of which you can find hundreds of tutorials if you simply use dear old Pinterest!
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Normally I wouldn't promote this aspect because "natural beauty is all you need" according to my husband... who is he kidding. I'm a woman! But honestly, make-up can really make this style pop and truly do its magic. Your face is fully exposed with little focus elsewhere and the before and after is surprising when it comes to putting your face on. There's no need to over do it but I feel like the fun part of the pixie is you can apply a more natural make-up coverage or an evening make-up coverage and still look fabulous! There will (hopefully) be more on that in the future as there isn't much opportunity for the evening look in my present daily life.
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I suppose I'll end with a thought:
Long hair is elegant and is the timeless and modest picture of being a lady, but don't be afraid to take the plunge in to super short hair if you've considered it! You can still make it look beautiful and feminine! I did it somewhat gradually but I'll be honest, nothing can truly prepare you for this sort of drastic change no matter how short you thought you were before. You'll be shocked at first and likely question every ounce of you that ever thought it would be a good idea, but the compliments will pour in and probably overwhelm you (be humble!)... and confidence will gain. Learn from what others before you have done to make it work. Feel comfortable with your choice and embrace the short hair trend!
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Monday, June 10, 2013

A Girl's Best Friend - Saying Goodbye


In 2010 we decided to get a dog for our family. After some hunting I was able to rescue a pure-bred Yellow Labrador Retriever from foster care outside of a shelter. She was 11 months old, overweight, and in desperate need of a place to call her permanent home. She was a perfect match for us.

Neha had a few different medical problems but in general she was a happy and healthy friend. We've dealt with leg and hip issues and last year she developed seizures with an unknown cause. Despite all of that we were confident she'd be here for years to come.

She and Jaiden were the best of friends.

Sadly we were not to have many more years with our beautiful girl. She developed a serious and deadly condition known as "bloat." Although I've heard of stomach turning in dogs I really did not know the symptoms or even think it would happen.

You can read more about bloat or stomach turning in dogs here.

Neha lived nearly 24 hours from the onset before we had the chance to take her to our vet. The doctor was very surprised to see she had survived so long. I guess she had a will to hang in there. She had been trying all night to stay as far away from the house as possible but instinctively we continued to check on her and give her love.

We all had the opportunity to say goodbye to our clumsy horse of a dog before we made the decision to have her put to sleep. Jaiden took it pretty hard. As parents it was a devastating experience to watch your little girl go through her first loss. Thankfully she has recovered well since. It took some time and a lot of encouragement. She loves to reminisce about Neha and tell people about her. She even draws pictures of them together.


God gave our family a wonderful companion over the last 3 1/2 years and she will truly be missed....

Neha was the only Lab that couldn't swim. Kiddie pools saved the summers!
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A fitting seat for a little girl.
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A fitting seat for a big puppy.
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If you could get past the attack of her tongue and sneak a hug you were lucky.
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If you had the pleasure of visiting our new Maddox you were surely greeted by a protective beast. 
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Always together... 
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