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.

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.

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?

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?

SAVING ON HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Aug
18

As the movie buff I imagine myself to be, I truly enjoy watching movies at home. As you would imagine, I do have a “few” gadgets to help facilitate this…but as the frugal shopper I am, I also have to be able to save on home entertainment.

Where We Spend:
TV – We recently purchased a new 46″ LED 1080p TV…for our bedroom. Incredibly, not only did we get a great deal on it at Best Buy, but they had an online sale a few days later, and we saved an additional $35 using their price-match guarantee. We have a 50″ plasma in the living room that we got a good deal on a few years ago.

Xbox 360/Xbox Live – We’ve had our Xbox 360 since 2007, so getting our dollars’ worth on this one. We do subscribe to the Xbox Live service (paid annually to save $$), which gives my husband access to gaming features, Netflix, and ESPN content. We have the Xbox hooked up in the living room.

AppleTV – I got an AppleTV for my birthday ($99) and have really enjoyed it. It’s about the size of a square hockey puck, and not only can I stream most services, but also, YouTube, iTunes, AirPlay with my iPhone, and more (I can also use my iPhone as a remote for the AppleTV).

Where We Save:
Cable – We get the “basic” (first 10 channels) cable subscription…only because spending $9/month on cable saves me $15/month on my internet service.

Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime Video – We get most of our television content from streaming services.

DVDs/Blu-Rays – I have over 400 movies (and an Excel spreadsheet of my collection…I’m a nerd, I know), but I have rarely paid “retail” for any of them. Most of my collection comes from places like used book/media stores and pawn shops, where you can get movies for about $2-3 each. The only movies I buy retail are Disney movies, but I find if you buy at Target and Walmart the first few days after release, they are usually about $5 less.

Movie Theaters – Other than trying to find a coupon for tickets, the best thing we do to save is just not go. We probably go to the theater 1-2 times per year at most, and just wait until we can rent from Redbox or get it on Netflix.

Accessories – Whatever you do, don’t get talked into spending an additional $200 on accessories like a TV wall mount and HDMI cables for your new TV while at the store! Go online for these purchases…we got a great low-profile wall mount from Amazon for $20 and6′ HDMI cables from eBay for $3 each.

Of course, there are tons of more ways to save (and even more ways to spend!) on home entertainment, but this is a good summary of how I enjoy movies at home.

How do you save on home entertainment?