With Good Things

NATURAL BEAUTY TIPS

Mar
22

Cleanser
Eliminate the chemicals & sulfates in your store-bought cleansers and switch to the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). OCM is a great way to dip your toes into organic skincare and also treat your skin while dissolving makeup, oil, and dirt. For an even easier, one-ingredient cleanser, try the honey challenge and cleanse with raw honey.

Eye Makeup Remover
Apply extra virgin coconut oil (my fave) or olive oil to a cotton ball to gently remove even waterproof makeup without tugging.

Toner
Not everyone needs a toner, but if you’re one of the ones (like me) that have the need to feel “clean” skin, try substituting lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (ACV) for toner. Just make a solution by diluting the lemon juice or ACV in water, apply to a cotton ball, and smooth over your skin for a clean face.

Cuticle Softener
Keep an orange stick in the bathroom, so that after a bath or shower, you can easily push back your cuticles. Dab on a little olive oil, and you’re set!

Body Scrub
Mix sugar (white or brown) or salt with olive oil, honey, or a combination of any of these to make a great exfoliating and moisturizing body scrub.

Facial Scrub
What could be easier than making a paste out of baking soda or ground nutmeg and massaging onto skin weekly for a great exfoliator?

Moisturizer
There are several oils: olive, coconut, jojoba, argan, sweet almond, grapeseed, apricot, etc. that can be either (or both) a facial or body moisturizer…not to mention a great moisturizing mask for your hair.

Air Freshener
Just put a couple of drops of any essential oil (I like eucalyptus oil) into the commode to create a “diffuser” and instantly eliminate any unpleasant smells from the bathroom.

SALAD IN A JAR

Dec
05

It’s not too early to start on those New Year’s resolutions for eating better! If you’re like me, the #1 reason to not eat healthier is that it takes “too long” to get a healthy meal ready (especially lunches during the workweek). Good news: a week’s worth of salad jar lunches can be made in about 10 minutes!

You can use any combination of salad ingredients you like, just follow this one rule: KEEP THE DRESSING AWAY FROM THE GREENS! As long as the greens stay dry, your salads will last in the fridge for several days. When you’re ready to eat your salad, just shake up the jar to distribute the dressing and pour it out into a bowl to enjoy!

For my salads in the picture, I put dressing at the bottom, sliced mushrooms, grape tomatoes, grilled chicken, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and spinach leaves. Here’s my recipe for the dressing I used:

With Good Things’ Quick & Easy Balsamic Viniagrette
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
Sprinkle of pepper to taste
Swirl ingredients in bottom of mason jar to combine before adding salad ingredients.

Who else has some quick work lunch ideas?

NO ‘POO HAIRCARE CHALLENGE RESULTS

Aug
12

I can’t believe it’s already been 9 months since I started my “no ‘poo” challenge! I’ve made some tweaks along the way (I only “cheated” once–on vacation–believe me, it wasn’t worth it!), and I’m here to share my current routine.

I use baking soda (BS) 2-3 times per week (using BS every day was causing my hair to feel like straw). I found my ideal mixture is around 1 Tbsp. BS to 8oz. of warm water. I mix it in one of those bottles with a pointed nozzle used for applying hair dye (so I can target my scalp and not pour it over all of my hair). I just massage the mixture into my scalp (avoiding my ends) before rinsing it all out.

Once per week, I am using a (gasp!) shampoo bar. My hair feels super-clean and super-soft after using a shampoo bar, and I usually don’t feel the need for the BS until the 2nd or 3rd day. I’ve actually tried several great handmade shampoo bars from Etsy (I’ll do a review post for these separately), so my advice here is to find one that works for you and go with it! Shampoo bars are a great way to ease into the whole “no ‘poo” thing–pretty much, not using shampoos with sulfates and parabens is the ultimate goal, anyway!

For conditioner, I am alternating using an organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse (1-2 Tbsp. ACV to 8oz. water) and a paraben-free conditioner (I like Aubrey Organics GPB Glycogen Protein Balancing Conditioner). As a styling product, I just work into my damp hair 3 pea-size drops of Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Lite–The Curl Booster.

Results: Amazing! My curls are defined (but not crunchy), NOT FRIZZY!, and my hair is not greasy or weighed-down at all. I actually haven’t had the need to cut or trim my hair since I started this challenge! (The image here is from 9 months in.) I don’t have split ends, and even though my hair is past my shoulders, I’m still able to comb through it easily. I get more compliments on my hair than I ever had before. I will not ever be going back to commercially-produced, chemical-laden shampoo!

WOOL DRYER BALLS

Apr
23

That great “clean” smell on fresh laundry can come with an unwanted cost, as most commercial fabric softeners contain many toxins. Care2.com has a list of 8 toxins that could be lurking in your fabric softener. (By the way, a great natural fabric softener is simply 1/2 cup of baking soda added to the water in your washing machine.)

I had been using those blue, (supposedly) non-toxic PVC dryer balls, but the hard plastic spines were rough on clothes, and I didn’t notice a decrease in drying time, let alone static, and was still using synthetic dryer sheets along side of them. Wool dryer balls bounce around in your dryer, separating the clothes, eliminating static, and dramatically cutting down on drying time.

When I first learned about wool dryer balls, I went out and bought a skein of 100% wool yarn and set out to make my own. In a nutshell, you make tightly-wound balls of yarn and felt them by washing and drying them inside a nylon stocking (tying a knot between each ball to keep them separated within the same stocking). I followed the twice-felting directions at GoodMama to make mine. It cost me $10 in yarn and about an hour on each ball (I made 4).

My fingers were seriously cramped and chafed after tightly winding & felting these balls over the course of a week. I am happy with what I made, but I wanted to have more than four dryer balls (to cut back on drying time even more). I didn’t think my fingers could make any more balls, so I bought a set of four natural wool dryer balls for $14 (pictured on left). Definitely worth the extra $4 to not have to spend a week making them!

Since using my new dryer balls over the past couple of weeks, my laundry gets done faster and I have no static or worry of any toxins or chemical residue on my clothes.

What do you do to to make your laundry process more natural?

COMMON BUDGETING MISTAKES

Feb
19

It’s been awhile since we set up our spending plan (aka “budget”). How has it been working for you? Mine has been been messed up lately due to some unexpected expenses and purchases. The good news about a spending plan, is that it’s all about SPENDING, so it’s okay if we need to spend a little extra money sometimes (especially if you’ve planned for it and have already saved up). Let’s look at a couple of common budget pitfalls and how to avoid them:

Annual Expenses
By now we should be really good at tracking our ongoing expenses (utilities, groceries, etc.). However, annual expenses, like property taxes, are another story. An easy way to plan for these is to take the yearly expense amount and divide by 12…then set aside that amount every month to be ready for when that expense is due.

Unexpected Expenses
Here is where a spending plan can get majorly derailed (like mine has this month). Who knew that the clutch would go out on the Subaru…the Civic would also need a new clutch (and a water pump, and a timing belt)…the Fit would need new brakes…and the Subaru would get a nail in a tire (resulting in the need for 4 new tires)–all in the same month?!?! Good thing we’ve been working on our emergency fund and had money on hand to pay for these expenses!

While we may not be able to plan for every unexpected expense, we can do a bit of planning: have an emergency fund/savings plan in place, and use past events/expenses to plan ahead. For example, the Fit lasted 4 years before having to replace the brakes. So I know that 4 years from now, I’ll have to dish out for new ones…

Be Flexible
Don’t be too restrictive with your budget or you may just give up on it. A spending plan can change from day-to-day or month-to-month depending on your spending habits and income changes. If you need a new pair of shoes this month, you can plan to spend less in another category to pay for them. Over time you may find that your original budget doesn’t work any more, so make sure you review at least once a year and make necessary updates.

PROFILE: ANDALOU NATURALS

Dec
02

When Alex from Andalou Naturals emailed me a few months ago, I’d heard of Andalou Naturals, but had never really taken a second glance at them before. I spent some time poking around their website and became really intrigued with their Fruit Stem Cell Science. Finding out about their organic and fair-trade ingredients only sealed the deal for me.

Alex sent me samples of of their Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum, and I have to say, this is the first “store-bought” skin care product that didn’t destroy my skin. In fact, it did just the opposite–it created a smooth, lovely glow! According to their website, “This ‘miracle in a bottle’ instantly goes to work with potent Fruit Stem Cells, BioActive 8 Berry Complex, and ResveratrolQ10, repairing cellular damage and discoloration for brighter, even skin tone and smooth texture with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Protecting and perfecting ageless beauty.

The scent is a natural fruity smell that is not irritating or overpowering. This is definitely a plus, because I hate putting anything on my skin that smells unnatural. I started applying the serum every night after cleansing. The serum didn’t cause me to break out, and I’m waking up with improved skin in the morning!

HAIRCARE CHALLENGE: ‘POO & PRODUCT-FREE

Nov
15

I have never been one of those people who wanted my hair’s texture to be something that it’s not. I’ve always embraced my curls, and rather enjoyed the fact that the only thing I had to do to “style” my hair was scrunch some gel into my wet locks and let it air-dry. Really, my only problem was that the “x-treme hold” gel I was using to control frizz and define my curls made it virtually impossible to NOT wash my hair every day (besides the fact that my hair became greasy and unpleasant-smelling after 24 hours anyway). Enter my issue with a couple of patches of psoriasis behind each ear…the daily shampoo was not helping this at all!

With the success I’ve had going natural & organic with my skincare routine, I’ve been wanting to try the same approach with my haircare. Two “objections” prevented me from trying it sooner: 1) the fact that without a ton of certain conditioners, I cannot pull a comb through my hair at all, and 2) the fear of a greasy, smelly head of hair. After some research, I decided to go with the banking soda (BS) & apple cider vinegar (ACV) approach to “washing” my hair. With a week off of work ahead of me, I knew it would be the best time to try this experiment.

The first day, I just put the BS into my hand, wet it, and worked it into my scalp (very messy). I have to admit, “washing” my hair without lather felt very weird, but once I rinsed, it felt clean (if not dry and almost straw-like). For the ACV, I put a couple spoonfuls into a small spray bottle (filled the rest with water) and sprayed it onto my hair. Amazingly, I was able to comb through my hair with ease! Although detangled, my hair did not feel slippery-smooth like it does with conditioner, which was again, weird. I rinsed a final time before stepping out of the shower.

Not wanting to “ruin” my natural/organic challenge on the first day, I didn’t want to use my normal gel to style my hair, but since I hadn’t really thought through the style aspect before I attempted this, I grabbed the closest thing to gel I could find, which was a tube of aloe vera gel for sunburns (without alcohol, dyes, or fragrance). My hair still felt a little straw-like on the ends, so I smoothed on a pea-sized amount of extra virgin coconut oil on my ends to moisturize and to tame frizz.

Over the course of the week, I made a few tweaks to my routine: I’m now putting the BS into a hair dye applicator bottle filled with water for ease of use, and I’ve started putting a couple drops of essential oils into both the BS & ACV mixtures to treat my scalp and to eliminate the vinegar scent. I’ve also bought a bottle of food-grade pure aloe vera gel from a health food store to style with.

nopoo1Results: My curls are defined, but not crunchy, and my hair is not greasy or weighed-down at all. The part that surprised me the most was how soft my hair is with SO MUCH LESS frizz! In addition, my scalp is slowly starting to heal as well. (The image here is from Day 6 of No ‘Poo.) These results are enough to motivate me to continue my challenge through the week (and beyond!).

Who out there has tried “no ‘poo” and has some tips to share?

MASCARA TRICKS

Oct
10
  • Give your eyes instant lift by curling your lashes before applying mascara.
  • Gunky mascara? Dip the bottom 1/2 of the tube into a cup of hot water to soften mascara so there will be no clumps when you apply.
  • Create thickness by first applying mascara to the top side of lashes by looking downward and twirling the wand before applying mascara as you normally would.
  • Avoid clumps when applying mascara by wiggling the wand side-to-side from the base of your lashes to the tips.
  • Give your mascara fullness and staying power by dusting loose powder on lashes between two coats of mascara.
  • Make your eyes appear bigger by adding a second (or third!) coat of mascara to the outer corners of your upper lashes.
  • Make your eye color pop by applying a coat of colored mascara to the tips of your lashes over a layer of black. Burgundy or brown are great for blue eyes; blue or green mascara makes brown eyes sizzle.
    Create volume (and staying power) by dusting loose powder between two coats of mascara.
  • Need a touch-up in a hurry? Create the illusion of fullness by applying extra mascara to just the tips of your lashes.
  • Prevent under-eye smudging by applying mascara to lower lashes with a vertical wand, and pressing loose powder just under the lash line (also, waterproof mascara helps prevent smudges and runs).
  • Remove mascara (even waterproof!) in a jiffy by gently swiping olive, coconut, or sesame oil to lashes with a cotton ball until mascara melts off (added bonus: rich moisture for the eye skin area).

SPA WATER: FRUIT-INFUSED WATER

Aug
30

Want to refresh and hydrate in one sip? Pamper your palate with fruit-infused “spa” water! These inspiring drinks are quick-and-easy to make and look sophisticated at any gathering or event.

I usually have a hard time getting my 64-ounces per day of water, but now that I’ve started making fruit-infused water with their crisp, subtle flavors, I find myself reaching for my “spa” water daily in favor of other beverages.

Fruit-infused water can be made in a number of ways:

  • Slice up fresh fruit and add directly to water
  • Puree fruit and strain the juice to add to water
  • Freeze the slices or strained juice and use in place of ice cubes in water

Infuse the water for at least 2 hours, but for maximum flavor, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight (it keeps in the refrigerator for up to several days).

Don’t limit yourself to just fruit–infused water can also be made with vegetables (like cucumbers or ginger) and herbs (like mint, lavender, or rosemary). The flavors can be as simple as one ingredient, or more complex combinations (try lemon and lavender or watermelon and mint). The possibilities are endless!

What’s your favorite infused water combination?

MAKE YOUR OWN DEODORANT

Aug
01

Of most anything you could make yourself and go organic with your skincare routine, deodorant was high on my “no way, Jose” list. But…since I’ve had so much fun messing around in the kitchen trying other skincare recipes and remedies, I decided to give it a try. I tested this on a Saturday when I didn’t have to go anywhere, and figured if it didn’t work, I could always take a shower!

Making it was very easy: I used a mashup of a couple different recipes I’d found for homemade deodorant, and I’ll include my recipes below. Using a Pyrex glass measuring cup, I made a makeshift double boiler to melt my ingredients in and when I was done mixing, poured the concoction into a cleaned out deodorant container (the picture on this post is my actual final product). I also added a few drops of essential oils for fragrance and added deodorizing properties.

Why I chose the ingredients in my recipe:

  • Coconut Oil: antibacterial protection. I’ve heard some people use just coconut oil as deodorant–it’s that good.
  • Shea Butter: ulta-moisturizing.
  • Baking Soda: odor-protection.
  • Arrowroot Powderor Cornstarch: dryness.
  • Essential Oil: antibacterial, antifungal, odor-stopping.

Amazingly, it lasts all day, and I have not had any issues with body odor or sweating! I even took it with me on vacation to Florida this week, and it held up against the heat and humidity (and through swimming) perfectly! I carried it in the cooler during the drive down and kept it in the mini-fridge in the hotel room. (If you live in a hot climate or find it is too soft, you can adjust the amount of beeswax to compensate.)

I rate both recipes for odor protection 10 out of 10, and for wetness protection 8.5 out of 10. I challenge you guys to try it (or your own version of a deodorant recipe) and give those aluminum-based deodorants the boot!

With Good Things’ Stick Deodorant Recipe

– 1 1/2 Tbsp. beeswax beads
– 3 Tbsp. 
extra virgin coconut oil
– 1 Tbsp. 
shea butter
– 1 Tbsp. 
arrowroot powder or cornstarch
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 20 drops of essential oil (I use a mix of lavender, lemon, and tea tree)
– 1 empty deodorant container

Melt the beeswax and coconut oil in your “double boiler” on low heat or in a saucepan on very low heat, stirring often. Add in shea butter and keep stirring until all is melted. Remove from heat and sprinkle in cornstarch and baking soda, stirring until smooth. Add drops of essential oil and allow mixture to cool slightly (you may place it in a cold water bath to speed up cooling process). Pour/spoon mixture into empty deodorant container and place in freezer for 20-30 minutes (or overnight in refrigerator) until completely solid.

For those of you who want to try out a homemade deodorant, but don’t have all of the above ingredients, or just want to whip up something fast, you can make the following recipe in a snap. This works just as well as the above formula, but it melts more easily and will need to be applied with your fingers.

With Good Things’ Basic Deodorant Recipe

– 6 Tbsp. 
arrowroot powder or cornstarch
– 2 Tbsp. baking soda
– 3 Tbsp. 
extra virgin coconut oil
– 10 drops of essential oil (optional, see above recipe)

Mix together first three ingredients with a fork until a paste is formed, then stir in essential oil. Store in a small jar.

Final tips: Less is more…you don’t need to cake it on for it to work. If you develop any irritation, try using less baking soda. Also, arrowroot powder is much less irritating than cornstarch.

Who out there is willing to give this a try?