Author Archives: Homemaker Chic

About Homemaker Chic

The author is a homemaker, baker, DIYer, undomestic goddess, interior decorator, mommy of 2 boys, wife to one fantastic man, housekeeper, executive chef of the kitchen du noelle, and craigslist aficionado. "There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." ~Thomas Wolfe

Probiotics For Your Pits?

alive-probiotic-deodorant-no-baking-soda-natural-organic-juniper-bergamot

By now you probably know that probiotics are a good idea. But maybe you don’t know what probiotics are, or what they do in our bodies. Sure maybe you knew that taking probiotics can help populate your gut with a healthy flora and keep your digestive and immune system in check. But did you know that probiotics are beneficial when used on your skin? Oh yes, my friends. Prepare to have your mind blown.

 

 

 

What Are Probiotics Anyway?

According to Dr. Axe

Probiotics are bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection. There are actually 10 times more probiotics in your gut than cells in your body!

Your skin and digestive system by themselves host about 2,000 different types of bacteria. Probiotics benefits have been proven effective in supporting immune function and healthy digestion, as well as beautiful skin.

Your good gut bacteria is also responsible for:

  • Producing vitamin B12, butyrate and vitamin K2
  • Crowding out bad bacteria, yeast and fungi
  • Creating enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria
  • Stimulating secretion of IgA and regulatory T-cells

Probiotics have been in our systems right from the moment that we stepped into the world. When a newborn is in the birth canal of the mother during delivery, that’s when the baby is exposed to the bacteria of his or her mother for the first time. This event starts a chain of events inside the baby’s GI tract, and the infant’s GI tract starts to produce good bacteria.

Because of our modern diets, and food processing techniques, most folks these days just don’t get enough of these good bacteria in our diets. The results can be an overgrowth of bad bacteria that can cause a whole slew of ruckus in our bodies.

I won’t get into all the ways we can improve our diets with probiotics, I’ll save that for another blog post, but its definitely something you should look into.

So what in the world does this have to do with my pits?

Pit stink is caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria in our underarms. And what is the antidote for bad bacteria? GOOD BACTERIA! Our bodies are covered with micro-flora all over our skin. This is a wonderful system that works well to keep good stuff in, and bad stuff out.

If you’re using a conventional, chemical laden deodorant, then you’re not only killing bad bacteria, but you’re destroying all that wonderful micro-flora on your skin that keeps the balance in check.

Use a deodorant that…

#1- is free of harmful chemicals that disrupt your skin’s sensitive balance

#2- includes live active beneficial PRO-biotics can actually go to work to combat that stinky bacteria, virtually going to war with stank… and NATURALLY!

How can I make it?

Simply start with a fantastic natural deodorant recipe, like mine. 

Then add 1 capsule of live probiotic powder per tube of deodorant that you’re making in the batch. You’ll add this to the arrowroot dry mix portion of the recipe.

Because of the probiotic powder you likely won’t need any baking soda, so you can leave that out of the recipe, or just add MUCH less. This is an excellent alternative for those who have sensitive skin and don’t react well to baking soda based natural deodorant recipes.

mercola-shelf-stable-probioticsMake sure you select a probiotic that is shelf stable and does not need to be refrigerated.

<—– I like this one. 

You can get the deodorant tubes I use at SKS-Bottle.com for super cheap!

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Want to try it but don’t have the time or ingredients to make it? Buy it ready made in my store. Check out the new Noelle’s Naturals Probiotic Deodorant in my Etsy Shop. 

Have you tried a probiotic deodorant? What was your experience? Did it help?

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Why you should avoid DEET bug spray and what you should use instead.

DEET-Bug-Spray-Dangerous-toxic-safe-alternative-natural-herbal-bug-spray-yarrow-organic

If you’ve ever been to Florida in the middle of summer you’ve probably met some of our lovely friends… the mosquitoes. This year it seems to be worse than ever, and now that we have little boys who love to play outside finding a safe repellent is vital.

The gold standard in insect repellent for many years has been a chemical called DEET. But what exactly is DEET and is it safe for my family? 

DEET is bad news

DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the active ingredient in many repellent products. It is widely used to repel biting pests such as mosquitoes and ticks. The CDC and EPA maintain that it is safe to use, which they follow up with a LONG list of “safe usage guidelines” that would appear to point to the contrary. This “safe” ingredient remains approved for use in the public despite countless reports of negative side effects after using products with this ingredient. The information given by these government agencies is conflicted. On one hand they will tell you there are no issues, and then on the other they will tell you not to get them in your mouth, eyes, lungs, not to put on too much, not to use too high of a concentration, not to spray it inside and various other restrictions. If it is so safe then why all the rules?

Basically its a game of toxic-roulette. Maybe you’ll be fine and maybe you won’t. Maybe your sweet little babes will suffer no harmful effects, or maybe they will have a severe reaction like neurotoxicity, encephalopathy, respiratory distress, seizures or even death. Or at best your child might be one of the one quarter of users who experience rashes, skin irritation, numb or burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.

Yet the CDC continues to recommend a bug spray with a concentration of 20-30% DEET for adequate bug repellent. They maintain that when used properly, and for short periods of time on the skin, DEET is relatively safe at doses found in sprays, lotions, and liquids.

This is from the CDC.gov website…

Since 1961, at least six cases of toxic systemic reactions from repeated cutaneous exposure to DEET have been reported. Six girls, ranging in age from 17 months to 8 years, developed behavioral changes, ataxia, encephalopathy, seizures, and/or coma after repeated cutaneous exposure to DEET; three died. Another six systemic toxic reactions have been reported following ingestion of DEET. Additionally, episodes of confusion, irritability, and insomnia have been reported by Everglades National Park employees following repeated and prolonged use of DEET.”

Does this sound safe to you? Sorry CDC, this is just not good enough for me and my family.

The good news is that there is a natural alternative that is 100% safe and just as effective as DEET without all the harmful side effects.

But lots of natural alternatives just don’t work…

Many natural companies sell bug sprays that include essential oils as the active ingredients. Brands like doTerra, Honest, and Fit are among some reputable brands offering their natural alternatives to OFF and the like. These can be psuedo-effective if the bugs are light, and if applied very frequently, but they just haven’t quite been strong enough to match up to florida bug season in my opinion.

yarrow-herb-stronger-than-deet-bug-repellent-bug-spray-insect

The secret ingredient is Yarrow!

Why? Because they’re missing the secret ingredient. Hellooooo Yarrow. Yarrow is a powerfully medicinal wild herb that is MORE EFFECTIVE THAN DEET! It is effective against mosquitos, no-see-ums and even ticks.

When I learned about yarrow I hit the lab to come up with a bug spray that would include the powerful potency of yarrow, along with the added benefits of essential oils to make a broad-spectrum, and highly effective natural insect repellent that I would feel good about spraying on my kids.

Yarrow-herbal-bug-repellant-stronger-than-deet-natural-organic

Yarrow grows in the wild or it can be grown in pots in your yard. It looks very similar to Spanish Needle (which in and of itself is a great herb!), but they are not the same, so finding a good herb reference book is important if you plan to go foraging for your own. This blog is a good place to start. Also if you’re attempting to find this plant in public places like parks, you’ll want to double check to make sure they’re not spraying pesticides in that area. You can also buy it dried online, but make sure you’re not getting powdered yarrow as that will not work well for our purposes.

I started making this bug spray last year for my Etsy shop and it has been wildly popular online and locally here in my community. I even have a friend who uses it on her dog!

Here’s how I turn the plant into bug spray

To make this magical stuff I use organic yarrow herb that I solar-infuse for 6 weeks in organic alcohol (about 1:2 herb to alcohol). Sarah Pope of the healthy home economist details how to make this tincture at home. After waiting 6 weeks I strain the herbs through a fine sieve. The result is a beautifully aromatic tincture that is potent and can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

Don’t have 6 weeks to wait for the solar-infusion? Lucky for you I’ve already done the work and you don’t have to!

I then dilute the tincture with distilled water, mix it with a blend of citronella, cedarwood, lemongrass, and geranium essential oils (in grapeseed oil as a carrier) and blend with non-gmo lecithin. The lecithin allows the oil, tincture and water to remain suspended while sitting, and then blend together perfectly when gently shaken. This suspension makes it so the spray will remain liquid and not turn into an emulsion. We want a nice liquid bug spray, not lotion.

Skedaddle-Natural-Deet-Free-Insect-Repellent-8oz.JPG

You gotta have cute bottles!

Finally I package it in these beautiful dark amber spray bottles from SKS-Bottle.com. The amber helps to preserve the efficacy of the spray even in sunny areas. The final product dries quickly on the skin, smells amazing and best of all it is non-toxic, safe for the entire family, and it WORKS!

Wanna buy it?

Don’t have all the ingredients on hand, or don’t have time to make it yourself? You can buy it ready made in my etsy shop.

Note for pregnant mommas: Yarrow taken orally during pregnancy is considered to be unsafe. However topical yarrow (especially in the dilution used in this bug spray) is generally considered to be safe for moms who are pregnant. However, ALWAYS speak with your doctor, midwife, or herbalist before using any herb, topical or otherwise, during pregnancy. I have personally used this bug spray during pregnancy and never had any adverse effects, but my anecdotal experience doesn’t necessarily mean its right for everyone. So just double check to make sure.

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Organic Grassfed Beef Tallow for Skincare

organic-tallow-balm-grass-fed-orange-bergamot-noelles-naturalsAbout a year ago we ventured into the world of Nourishing Traditions and the wonderful high fat diet they propose. I’ve lost weight, my energy is up, and we feel fantastic. I’ve played around with lots of different fats to cook with: Grass fed butter, duck fat, ghee, beef tallow.

But when a friend recently asked if I had gotten into beef tallow as a skin care product I was a little surprised. I mean I’ll eat it, but not sure I wanted to put it on my skin. But it does make sense. Technically all the skincare products I make are edible.

erin-brockovich-trihalomethanes-pinellas-county-water-homemakerchic.comSo when our family was hit with a terrible bout of dry skin (thanks to the Pinellas County water system for the delicious chemicals they recently dumped in our water), I turned to something different when Shea butter was no longer doing the trick.

I hit the lab to formulate a Tallow balm that would be good for our whole family (and yours too!). This stuff is fantastic for any skin ailment you can think of, from dry skin and eczema, diaper rash, acne, aging facial skin, scars, sunburn, psoriasis, dermatitis, or even stretch marks (which is quite appealing since I am 7 months pregnant with baby number 3 as I type.) You name it, this stuff is for it!

Tallow is actually a very old fashioned skin care ingredient. Animal fats used to be as much a part of skin care regimens as they were a part of old fashioned diets. But the move away from animal fats in cooking, in exchange for vegetable oils, also included its exclusion from use in skin products. In fact, up until it’s recent resurgence in popularity you would have been hard pressed to find any skin care products with animal fats at all. But thankfully organizations like the Weston A. Price foundation are doing a fantastic job of educating the public on the benefits of animal fats consumed both internally and externally.

I’m here to say that FAT IS BACK!

I began researching Tallow balm and its benefits and I was so very pleasantly surprised to find this amazing ingredient to add to my products!

According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price foundation, science backs up the use of Tallow for human skin…

Modern-day research confirms the traditional wisdom of our ancestors. From biology, we know that the cell membrane is made up primarily of fatty acids, a double layer, to be exact. Saturated fats constitute at least 50 percent of the cell membrane. Since saturated fats tend to be more solid than unsaturated fats at a given temperature, they help give the cell membrane its necessary stiffness and integrity for proper function. The monounsaturated fats, while not as “solid” as the saturated fats, are more so than the polyunsaturated fats which are also present in the cell membrane in their own proper proportion, although the modern diet leads to a disproportionate amount of the polyunsaturates. Healthy, “toned” skin cells with sufficient saturated and monounsaturated fats would undoubtedly make for healthy, toned skin. Interestingly, tallow fat is typically 50 to 55 percent saturated, just like our cell membranes, with almost all of the rest being monounsaturated, so it makes sense that it would be helpful for skin health and compatible with our cell biology.”

Now its important to talk a little about what exactly Tallow is, how its made, and the best sources for it.

When it comes to our skin we want to be wise about what we’re absorbing. We know that its our largest organ, so we wouldn’t want to put anything on our skin that we wouldn’t want to consume internally. Our skin is literally drinking every cream, lotion, or balm we put on it. So avoiding toxins and chemicals in skin care products is just as important as avoiding toxins in our foods.

So when we look at the fat of an animal, especially for the purposes of putting on our skin, it is important to look at what kind of toxins may or may not be stored in that fat.

So only the fat from cows raised on organic farms, and fed grass fed diets will be appropriate for use on the skin. Studies show that the fats and milk from grass fed cows have four times the vitamin E of grain-fed cows. Extra vitamin E for my skin? Yes please!

The process of making tallow can be grueling. It involves finding reputable beef fat (called suet), chopping said suet (and no not in a System of a Down sort of way), then cooking down or rendering the fat until all the liquid fat has separated from the fried fat pieces, also called “cracklins” if you’re in the south (which I am). That liquid fat is then strained and cooled and the remaining substance is a velvety smooth, ivory white, waxy sort of hard butter that is mild in scent, but slightly nutty. Its not exactly “beefy” but there is a subtle aroma that isn’t exactly sweet. 

rendered-beef-tallow-homemakerchic.com

Since we’ve moved away from the farm days of preparing our own foods I think most modern homemakers would shy away from this process (current company included.) So I buy mine ready rendered.

And thus you have Tallow. It is a beautifully smooth substance.

So now that its in this lovely form how do we get the balm?

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Tallow is a bit firm on its own and can be difficult to spread.
  2. It does have a very light subtle aroma that may not be appealing to everyone.

So I decided to invite some of our plant friends to the party. Yes animal fats are awesome but let’s not forget our wonderful plant based buddies that have been a mainstay in skincare for just as long. I wanted to use something naturally very fragrant without having to add a TON of essential oils. Don’t get me wrong, EO’s are my jam, but they can sometimes irritate certain skin types, so I wanted to be careful. I added just 1-2 drops of Bergamot oil per jar. But I still wanted more scent (without going EO crazy).

Enter Orange Butter. Being a Florida girl I am partial to the wonderfully refreshing aroma of ripe, juicy, florida oranges so this ingredient makes me very happy. It smells fantastic! The one I use is derived from Orange Peel oil and Orange Peel Wax (blended with almond oil), specifically from the Florida area, and is made by cold pressing Orange peel to get the oil. Orange Peel Oil contains Limonene, which is a very effective free radical scavenger. It also has a cleansing and toning effect on skin that can improve oily skin and acne problems. Also contained in Orange Butter is Orange Peel Wax which contains a high level of Bioflavonoids (polyphenols). Bioflavonoids have anti-cellulite, anti-inflammatory, and many other protective benefits for skin.

So that solves the aroma issue, with the added benefit of tons of pro skin factors.

Now for the texture. Welcome to the stage Olive Oil. Olive oil has been used for millenia, with skincare usage going as far back as the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greeks. It has excellent skin benefits (including MORE polyphenols) and its liquid state adds a wonderful softness to the harder waxy tallow.

When melted down and blended together, these 3 all-star ingredients make a powerful skin moisturizing trio. I’m so excited for you to try it! As always if you love the idea of the DIY thing but just don’t have the time (or desire to render beef fat) you can buy this magical stuff ready made in my Etsy shop!

Special thanks to SKS Bottle for the fantastic glass jars. They seriously have every type of jar or bottle you can think up and these adorable dome jars were just perfect for this balm. A little goes a long way with this stuff so a giant jar wasn’t necessary, these 4oz jars were just right.

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How to Reduce Phytic Acid in Raw Nuts (Soaking & Dehydrating Tutorial)

wapf-paleo-nuts-almonds-soaked-phytic-acid-reduced-snacksSo we have recently taken up the Weston A. Price Foundation Diet or Nourishing Traditions. If you don’t know what it is I highly suggest you do some research. I will be writing a lot about it in the future but since both of my children are currently napping, and I don’t know how long that will last, I have limited time. Must. Stay. Focused!

In my recent post about my Remineralizing Toothpaste Recipe, I talked about Phytic acid, and why it is harmful for dental health, and overall wellness. Here is a fantastic article about why Phytic Acid is bad: Living With Phytic Acid- Weston A. Price Foundation.

Go ahead, read it, I’ll wait here…

Welcome back. So now you understand why this Phytic Acid business is so important and why we should remove it from our food and our children’s foods whenever possible.

So to do this in raw nuts we need to soak them, and then dehydrate them. Doing this is simple, and quick to prepare, although it does take a few days to complete the process. The good news is that you can do several pounds of nuts at a time, and in my house it takes months to go through that amount of nuts, so I won’t be doing this very often.


Here’s how:

Phase 1: Soaking

Step 1: Buy raw nuts. I got a big 3 pound bag of Almonds at Costco for under $15.

Step 2: Rinse the nuts well. Then pour them into a large shallow dish. I used the biggest pyrex pan I own. A pan like this works well because it allows the nuts to be fully submerged in the water without needing so much water.

soaking-raw-almonds-how-longStep 3: Cover the nuts with filtered water. This needs to be water with no fluoride, chlorine, bromine, or other harmful chemicals. “Need” is relative. Obviously you can achieve the same results with tap water, but if your water is laced with all sorts of chemicals, you’re doing damage while trying to remove damage. Sort of defeats the point. You can buy spring water by the gallon at most grocery stores for dirt cheap, or just use small bottles. It only took me 2 bottles of water to submerge 3lbs of almonds in this 10″x15″ dish.

Step 4: Allow the nuts to soak according to this chart:

nuts-seeds-soaking-times-chart-homemakerchic.com-phytic-acid-wapf-nourishing-traditions

soak-and-rinse-raw-nuts-weston-a-price-wapf-homemakerchic.comStep 5: Once the nuts are done soaking you need to rinse them very well. I did this by pouring the nuts into a colander. Then returning them to the dish, filling it with clean water, stirring around well, then repeat. I did this 3 times. I felt like they got rinsed much better than if I had just run water over the colander.

 


Phase 2: Dehydrating

First things first you need a quality dehydrator. I have two dehydrators and I REALLY like this one. I was able to easy fit 3 pounds of almonds on the trays, the rectangle shape makes the trays easier to fit in my dishwasher, it has a digital control so you can be accurate with your timer and temp, plus it has an automatic shut off when the time is done. This is awesome for overnight dehydrating, that way you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to turn it off.

You can dry them in the oven but it takes 24 hours, and I just don’t want to run my oven for that long or while I’m asleep. And what if I need to leave the house? Aside from using up a ton of electricity, it will make my house super hot, and this is Florida, and its June. No thanks.

A dehydrator is a handy gadget that will get good use on the WAPF diet for snacks like these nuts, jerkies, dried fruits, herbs, and more. You could even use it to dry and encapsulate your own placenta, if you were that crunchy ;). (I may or may not be THAT crunchy). how-to-soak-and-dehydrate-raw-nuts-phytic-acid-wapf-weston-a-price

garlic-sea-salt-crispy-nuts-soaked-wapf-friendly-weston-a-priceStep 1: While the nuts are still damp (but not wet), sprinkle generously with desired seasoning. Now here’s the fun part. You can really get creative with your seasoning.

Here are some of my favorites…IMG_9696

 

 

 

  • Sea Salt
  • Sea Salt & Garlic Powder
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cinnamon & Coconut Palm Sugar

how-to-soak-and-dehydrate-nuts-seasoned-nuts-wapf-weston-a-price

 

 

Step 2: Spread the nuts on the trays in even layers, making sure not to overlap any nuts.

Step 3: Dehydrate for 20-24 hours at 115 degrees.

 

 

 

storing-nuts-in-mason-jars

 

Step 4: Store in mason jars and enjoy!! I get my mason jars from SKS-bottle. I love that they actually say MASON and not Ball! And I like that the caps are all in one piece. Its really annoying using the two piece canning lids when you’re just storing things. These are much better.

Step 5: Enjoy your homemade WAPF friendly nuts! These are a great sweet or salty crunchy snack for my toddler. They replaced goldfish crackers in our house for a wonderful all natural health treat!

 

Homemade Remineralizing Toothpaste Recipe

homemade-remineralizing-toothpaste-recipe-homemakerchic.comIn my quest toward a more healthy, whole, and holistic life, I have taken to making a lot of my own personal care products. It started with Lip Balms and Sugar Scrubs, and progressed into the most fantastic deodorant I’ve ever used, and now I have progressed into the world of toothpaste.

First things first, I have a HORRIBLE fear of the dentist. Specifically dental work, cleanings are okay. Its not even something I can control. I have tried everything I can think of to be zen and calm and talk myself through it, but no matter how hard I try, the second I hear the drill, my body goes into fight or flight mode and I have a full blown panic attack. I’ve even tried taking anxiety medication, but nearly rolled out of the chair trying to get away. The only thing that works is full sedation dentist visits, and it ain’t cheap. A few years ago I had to have 3 crowns, and I’ve had many cavities in my life, and there was threat of a future root canal. So I have more incentive than the average Joe to avoid extensive dental work.

Almost 3 years ago we stopped using Fluoride toothpaste. (Here’s why). At first, the switch to a popular “natural” brand was protested by my husband but we soon got used to the smooth, minty, so-close-to-conventional toothpaste that we couldn’t tell the difference. I thought I was doing so great with my healthy toothpaste.

And then I heard about Weston A. Price.

In short, in the 1930s a dentist by the name of Weston A. Price set out across the globe looking at the teeth of indigenous tribes and people who did not have access to modern dentistry. To his surprise many of them had fabulous, strong, white teeth, with little or no decay. He figured out that the common denominator was a diet that was rich in fats, bone byproducts, meats, and mineral rich vegetables. They also did not consume modern western foods like flours, refined sugars, or vegetable oils.

There is a ton more about this subject and I highly suggest you research it. Beware, it is a fascinating vortex of information that will suck you in if you’re a nerd like me. Sarah Pope from The Healthy Home Economist has an insane amount of content about this topic on her blog.

And here is a video that is a great place to start. 

Wellness Mama’s blog is another great place to start. She has a wealth of information about the history and background of this fascinating research.

From her blog:

As Dr. Weston A. Price found and detailed in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, there were cultures throughout the world who had perfect teeth despite no access to dentists or modern toothpaste, while similar cultures with different diets had very high rates of tooth decay. He found examples of cultures with similar genetic backgrounds with some living in primitive type societies and eating primitive type diets and others who ate a modernized diet. He found that many primitive cultures were able to completely avoid tooth decay and the many oral health problems we struggle with today.

Price hypothesized that several dietary factors contributed to this difference in oral health.

Sir (Dr.) Edward Mellanby (he discovered Vitamin D) and his lovely wife Dr. May Mellanby were also influential in discovering the roles of nutrients in oral health. These two contributed much research in the areas of bone and tooth health and mineral absorption.

In fact, it was Edward who discovered that Vitamin D deficiency caused rickets. They also discovered that tooth structure is determined during a child’s growth, and that poorly formed teeth are more likely to decay (pretty logical).

Sadly, the most commonly eaten diet in America these days is high in grains, sugars, and vegetable oils, and low in animal fats and fat soluble vitamins- the exact opposite of what the Drs. Mellanby found to be helpful for optimal bone health and the prevention of tooth decay.

The good news is that teeth (and bones) are able to heal themselves in a process called remineralization. Basically, specialized cells in the center of the tooth are able to regenerate dentin, the layer of tooth just under the enamel, and the enamel can then properly remineralize from the outside. This same process happens in bones when phytic acid is removed from the diet and minerals/fat soluble vitamins are added.

This brings me to the topic of Remineralization and Remineralizing Toothpaste.

In addition to following a diet that is…

a) Rich in minerals and nutrient dense REAL foods.

b) Low in grains, sugars and foods high in Phytic Acid.

…using a remineralizing toothpaste can actually help to heal and prevent cavities. Beat THAT Colgate! This recipe has zero artificial ingredients or chemicals, and includes plenty of naturally occuring trace minerals to make your teeth strong. Plus it is excellent for healthy gums, fights the bacteria that cause bad breath, whitens teeth, and leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh.

Seriously, my teeth feel SO much more clean since I started using this. Now let me warn you. This is NOT your conventional toothpaste. It definitely has a different texture and mouthfeel. Its slightly grey, it does not foam, and the texture does take some getting used to. My husband says it feels “healthy.” It tastes good thanks to the xylitol and essential oils, but the mouthfeel definitely takes some getting used to. But honestly once you get used to it the benefits will really have you hooked. Within one week of use I noticed my teeth were whiter, my gums looked pinker, brighter and healthier, my sensitivity was greatly reduced! And that’s a big one. I have had sensitive teeth since I was a kid, like VERY sensitive. Also, after using it for a few weeks I noticed that my morning breath is virtually eliminated. Plus my teeth feel sooo much cleaner. Did I say that already? I used my old toothpaste for comparison and my teeth felt grimy compared with how clean they feel after using the new stuff.


toothpaste-warning-label-toxicNeed more reasons to switch? Many conventional (and even some so-called natural) toothpaste brands contain harmful chemicals and poisons. Has it ever concerned you that there is a WARNING label on conventional toothpaste tubes? Not exactly something I want to see on a product I’m putting in mine and my kid’s mouths multiple times a day.

Here are just 3 of the delightful (sarcasm) ingredients you can expect to find in many storebought brands. Read about more here. 

Fluoride: Besides the fact that it actually does nothing to help strengthen teeth or prevent decay fluoride is a toxic chemical that accumulates in your tissues over time, wreaks havoc with enzymes, and produces a number of serious adverse health effects, including neurological and endocrine dysfunction.

Triclosan: Remember the big stink about triclosan being added to hand sanitizers? That’s because its toxic. This endocrine disrupting chemical is added to toothpaste for its antibacterial effect but it comes at a cost. “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are a serious concern, as they can promote a wide variety of health problems, including breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, precocious puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys.”-Mercola

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): SLS was originally marketed as a pesticide. Mmm delicious. This ingredients creates the fun foaming action of the toothpaste that tricks you into thinking your teeth are somehow getting extra clean, but it interferes with the functioning of your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. Its also poison. Plus it doesn’t actually make your teeth any cleaner.

So I mentioned earlier that I switched to a “natural” brand a few years ago. Sure it didn’t have as much of the garbage as the conventional brands (although it still had plenty) but the main reason I decided to drop it was ingredient #2 on the list. Glycerin.  Glycerin helps give toothpaste its nice slick mouthfeel, and is supposed to seal your teeth to prevent stains but the problem is in the sealing. When you seal off your teeth you prevent those glorious minerals from your new tooth mineralizing diet from redepositing in your teeth! We surely don’t want that.

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So whats the big amazing solution? Make your own remineralizing toothpaste.

(Or if you ain’t got time for that, I have some ready made that you can buy here.)

Now lets talk about the ingredients in my recipe and what they do:

(click the ingredients for links on where I find mine.)

Calcium Carbonate- You can get this sourced from eggshells or limestone if you’re looking for a vegetarian option. If you’re ambitious you can make your own by drying out the eggshells in the oven and then blitzing them up in a food-processor. You can also get Calcium Carbonate in the form of Bone Meal powder. It is important to use a reliably sourced bone meal to ensure that there are no traces of lead in the product. The Bone Meal is also a great source of phosphorous which is important for remineralization and also some Magnesium and Iron.

Non-GMO Xylitol PowderXylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It has a really nice cooling effect. “It does not break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With the dental benefits of Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. Most people are not aware of this benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug, crossing a boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.” (Source: http://xylitol.org/xylitol-uses/dental-benefits-of-xylitol).

It is important to find Xylitol sourced from Birch and NOT from GMO corn. GMOs are counter-intuitive to what we’re trying to do here. We want to get healthy, not add more garbage to our toothpaste. Make sure you get Xylitol Powder, and not crystals. The crystals won’t dissolve in this recipe and you’ll end up with a crunchy toothpaste (Hey we’re crunchy but not THAT crunchy). If you can’t find the powder, you can quickly grind the crystals up in a coffee or herb grinder. Works great.

Diatomaceous Earth– D.E. As it is often called, is made up of 84% Silicon Dioxide (Silica), and it contains other essential trace minerals including calcium, titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium. Silica is such an effective dentifrice, that diatomaceous earth was originally mined as tooth powder. It helps promote healthy tooth enamel, tooth decay and receding gums. It is a very mild abrasive so it works like a polish to scrub away plaque and grime and leave your teeth spic and span. Some people might say that DE is too abrasive but it is actually less abrasive than Baking Soda, and we have had no issues in my house, even on my toddlers teeth. You could certainly leave this out but then you’d be missing out on all that silica goodness. 

Bentonite Clay– This ingredient is quite interesting to me. BC actually has a unique ability to bind to toxins, bacteria and heavy metals and pull them out of the mouth. It is also chock full of beneficial minerals like calcium, silica and magnesium.

Colloidal Silver– Colloidal silver is antibacterial, works to fight infections in the mouth, kill harmful bacteria, and prevent & heal gum disease.

Baking Soda – This is added for its teeth whitening and stain fighting properties. Baking soda is aluminum free, despite many claims on the inter webs to the contrary. Any brand will do.

You’ll note that coconut oil is not in my list of ingredients. We have a septic tank so spitting coconut oil down the sink was not an option for us. Plus I didn’t like the idea of my toothpaste hardening and softening based on the temperature of my house. If you’ve made other homemade toothpaste recipes in the past using coconut oil and haven’t been thrilled with the results, I think you might really like my recipe. 

There are many different recipes out there but here is what I came up with after researching all the ingredients and looking into some of the most popular ready made products available out there.

This recipe makes 6oz (by weight).

  • ½ cup Calcium Carbonate
  • 3 T Xylitol Powder (or less if you like it less sweet)
  • 1 T Diatomaceous Earth
  • 1T Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 4 tsp Colloidal Silver (more or less depending on your desired texture)
  • 10-15 drops Spearmint or Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 5-7 drops Vanilla EO (optional)
  1. In a small glass bowl or measuring cup (I like mixing in a pyrex cup http://amzn.to/1TKTav8 because the handle makes it easier to hold while stirring), using a non metal spoon (remember the bentonite clay binds with metals, so we don’t want it binding with our utensils) combine all the dry ingredients EXCEPT the Bentonite Clay. I tried using a silicon whisk but it was too weak to blend the clays. I use a simple wooden spoon now. 
  2. Stir in the colloidal silver 1 tsp at a time, until you get a very thick paste.
  3. Add the Bentonite Clay, and stir until it combines. The clay will seize up when it meets the liquid but keep stirring, it will relax and soften after a few minutes. 
  4. Add the rest of the Colloidal silver, plus the EOs, until you reach your desired consistency.

Now for the tubes. I’ve seen lots of different options for storing your homemade toothpaste. From little jars that you have to either spoon out (who wants to keep an extra spoon on the bathroom counter?) or dip your toothbrush in (sorry that just grosses me out), to those squeeze pouches used for apple sauce. The squeeze pouches aren’t bad but they aren’t my favourite. I suppose you could figure out a way to squirt this stuff into an old toothpaste tube but it wouldn’t be easy and would probably be a big mess.

IMG_9413I have a much better solution. I REALLY like these airless pump tubes from SKS Bottle. They are perfect for this. You just spoon the toothpaste into the tube and pop on the cap. That’s it! And the toothpaste dispenses so easily from this tube. Its actually more sanitary than a regular toothpaste tube.

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There’s no contact with your toothbrush, just one or two pumps, dispense right out of the tube and drop onto your brush. Easy peasy. Make sure you’re using a soft bristle brush. We have enough natural, gentle, abrasive action going on with this paste, we don’t need to tear up our gums with a hard bristle brush. I like these, the bristles are soft and the bamboo handles somehow seem more healthy and green. Somewhere in the world there’s a landfill that will thank you for using less plastic. 

DIY Toddler Training Underwear

diy-toddler-training-underwear-homemakerchic.com

Well I now live in the wonderful world of potty training a toddler. About a month ago my saint of a mother kept my 2 year old for 2 days and got him well on the path to potty-land. thomas-the-train-toddler-underwearHe is doing really well and goes peepee in the potty about 75% of the time, but he hasn’t yet learned to let me know before he has to go. I just have to take him to the potty every 45 minutes. He willingly goes when I take him, but sometimes I get busy with the baby, or making dinner, or I just plain forget. And then we have accidents. He is very good at announcing that he has gone (or is going) peepee, so sometimes I can catch him in the middle of it and rush him to the potty. We have about 10 or so pairs of adorable little tiny toddler boy undies, but they are so thin that we had little puddles of pee on the floor.

 

  • Disney Toddler Boys' Mickey 3 Pack Training Pant, Assorted, 3T I found these great toddler trainers on Amazon. They do have a little padding which helps with small accidents if I catch him in time, but they weren’t incredibly absorbent and we still had soaking through his pants. They are also not cheap. They run about $5.50 a pair compared with $1.35 a pair for the regular toddler underwear. You can also find many cloth diaper brands offering toddler training pants for as much as $20 a pair. Although I’m sure they’re quality products, its just not really something I wanted to spend.

make-toddler-trainers-out-of-boy-underwearSince I have recently switched from pocket cloth diapers to All-in-ones for my youngest baby who is in diapers, I have a lot of extra charcoal bamboo inserts lying around that I’m not using. So I decided to utilize that little pocket in the little boy undies to make my own toddler trainers! The charcoal bamboo inserts are $2.50 a piece new, but 1 insert will make 4-6 pairs of trainers and I already had them on hand so they were no extra cost. You could really use any cloth diaper inserts including microfiber (which are cheaper at around $1 each) or regular bamboo (around $2.15 a piece). I don’t recommend hemp because it is slower to absorb which wouldn’t work well for this purpose. Or if you’re really on a budget you could also use a cut up piece of a microfiber cleaning cloth. As long as its not touching the skin directly. Amazon sells a 12 pack for $10.50 and you can use the rest to wash your car or clean your floors! Boom! These are pretty thin so you will want to tri-fold your piece for enough thickness that it will absorb accidents well.

So here’s what you do:

DIY-toddler-training-pantsCut your insert into pieces. For 2T/3T sized undies I cut a piece that was about 2″x4″.

 

 

 

 

sew-your-own-toddler-training-underwear-insertsSew the open edges down. This is simple enough to do and does not require any advanced sewing skills. I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to quickly sew down the open edges. You could just sew a straight line. Make sure to back stitch so it holds up well in the wash. You could also hand stitch the open edges down.

DIY-toddler-potty-trainers

 

Stuff the undies with the tiny insert. 

Put the insert in the tiny little pocket opening in the front of the diaper. Note: Only “boy” underwear has the convenient little pocket. Now if you’re wanting to do this for little girls you can do a couple options. 1) Put “boy” underwear on her. Unless she is particularly inclined to wear princess undies, she won’t know the difference. 2) Sew the insert directly onto the panties. You can do this if you’re using a natural fiber insert. DO NOT put microfiber directly against a child’s skin. It is TOO absorbent and will pull moisture and oils from baby’s skin causing uncomfortable rashes and dryness.

Tada! For less than $2 a pair we have great accident protection and little buddy still feels like a big boy in his goofy undies! Win! To wash these just throw them in with your regular laundry (or cloth diapers). The inserts should agitate out on their own in the wash.

make-your-own-toddler-trainers

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract

vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comSo, two Christmases ago, before I was the lucky mother of two children (and I had all sorts of free time), I decided to make all homemade gifts for my family. I made lovely gift baskets with lots of really cool homemade goodies including this glorious Vanilla Bean Extract. I couldn’t blog about it at the time because it would have spoiled the surprise for all my family. So I had big plans to blog about it in the fall of last year so my readers would have time to make this really thoughtful gift for their families in time for Christmas. Only I had a baby. So here we are in the last day of January 2016 and I’m not going to put it off anymore. Now you will have around 11 months to prepare to make Vanilla extract for everyone on your gift list. You could have a whole vanilla extract factory in that amount of time! Here’s how…

sks-bottle-amber-bottles-homemakerchic.com1) First you will need some dark amber bottles.

The dark color of the bottle keeps light out and preserves your finished product and helps it to last longer. SKS-bottle.com to the rescue! They have these lovely amber bottles that have the bonus of including tamper evident caps and pouring inserts that keep your vanilla beans from falling out every time you want extract. At less than $1.50 a piece for the 8 oz size (which by the way will hold enough vanilla extract to last your average home baker approximately a lifetime give or take) the price was definitely right! The 4 oz size are around $1 each. You just can’t find them any cheaper, I looked. I absolutely love the old fashioned look of these bottles.

2) Get some good quality vanilla beans.

For an 8 oz bottle you will need 7 beans per bottle.

I got mine from on Amazon. I got 1 pound of Madagascar Vanilla beans for $56.75. That’s over 100 beans. I looked and that price has gone up since I bought them, but you don’t need a whole pound. I got a bunch because I was making a lot of these for gifts and also using them for other projects (Homemade Kahlua!). If you’re only making a few of these you can get 25 beans for around $30.

3) Pick your poison.

You will need 1 cup 70 Proof Alcohol

Next you will need to decide if you want to make a bourbon vanilla or a vodka vanilla. Whether you use vodka or bourbon is up to you. Bourbon has more flavor than vodka and will yield a richer, deeper, final flavor. Vodka is a more neutral flavor and really lets the vanilla beans shine. Vodka is also less expensive if you’re trying to stay on a budget (Costco’s Kirkland brand is great!). You can also try light rum, I haven’t tried it but I read lots of reviews of people who loved it. Whichever you choose, avoid using alcohol with too high of an alcohol level as it can really break down the vanilla beans too much and it just won’t work right. 70 proof will do the trick.

4) Make the stuff.

Slice the beans in half and shove them down into your bottles. You can cut them into smaller pieces if you have a hard time fitting them in, but I liked the elegance of the long leggy beans.

Using a funnel, pour the alcohol into the bottle.

Press the white plastic strainer pieces firmly inside the openings of the bottles. (Sometimes they get hidden inside the caps if you can’t find them). Then affix the caps by pressing straight down firmly. If you’re having a hard time getting them on, try to twist gently to the right as you’re pressing down. Don’t twist too hard or you will break your tamper proof seal. It takes a little finesse but I love this feature. It makes them so finished and professional (especially if you wanted to sell these).

5) Labels & Presentation

homemade-vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comI really love these brown Kraft labels for various purposes. They just look so old fashioned and I love the way they turned out against the amber bottles. I used a font called Chocolate Box from 1001freefonts. I used round ones but in the future I might use something with a different shape like these. 

And these scalloped ones are really cute too! And these would be nice if you were using smaller bottles. 

And rustic twine is just a must in my opinion. I buy twine by the roll and use it for everything. I wrap gifts with it, tie gift tags on with it, I wrap pencils in it, hang pictures with it. Tie my hair back with it. I’m a big time twine fan. Adding a little to these bottles just totally makes it special.

Finally, leave the extract for at least 8 weeks (or more!), shaking the bottles once a week for good measure.  Enjoy!!