Thursday, September 27

Oil Pulling

I've started "oil pulling" in the mornings. This simply means that after I wake up, before I brush my teeth, I swish sunflower oil around my mouth--supposedly for around 15 minutes, in reality for about 3 minutes. I have heard great dental and oral healing attributed to this method, cavities cleansed, plaque removed, and... teeth whitened! The website promoting the method also says that it cures all kinds of non-oral diseases, but I don't know about that.

It feels really nice. I brush my teeth afterwards, but I could well imagine the method being able to replace tooth brushing in a toothbrush-free world.

I'm sure there are some other nice things I'm doing but at this hour, I can't remember what they were.

Tuesday, September 18

Essential Oil Blends for Fresh Air

While we're at it, I don't think I mentioned that the best blend for freshening the air up a bit is pine and lemon.

Essential Oil Blends

I've found a really lovely essential oil blend: spikenard, rose, and bergamot. However spikenard and rose are really quite intense so it's important to use only one drop of each oil at a time, in my diffuser.

Spikenard is a base oil. By itself, especially on first whiff, it's sort of unpleasant, as with many base oils. In combinations, it deepens a blend and brings a distinct emotional quality that I find affects me quite distinctly, though gently. Perhaps it is because of the description I read of it--that Mary Magdalene washed Jesus Christ's feet with it before he was crucified--but it really does seem to bring about a feeling of devotion and openness.

As such, it is a perfect accompaniment to rose, the essence of love in all its complexity. Rose also sweetens the earthy spikenard's scent.

And bergamot adds a note of soothing and upliftment; and to the scent it adds a very gentle citrus quality, to make things more interesting.

Sunday, September 16

Mop, Hair, Cook

We mopped the floor today! Yes this is a rare event around here. And a fun one, too.

The oil soak was really good for my hair--it's much softer and shinier now. Still, I'm looking for a more lasting fix. I'm going to add some hair nutrients to my supplements: 5000mcg of biotin, and silica gel. Iron is also reputedly important for hair but I already get that from my multivitamin. And I'm due for some henna as well. The dandruff-freedom concoction seems to be working very well already.

I cooked a spicy potato dish from the new cookbook and added red lentils. It was delicious, but I accidentally made it way too spicy. I'm still recovering. Next I have in mind a rich little whole wheat bread with molasses, and a bean dish.

The weather is turning overcast and cool, which puts my minds towards crafts once again.

Saturday, September 15


Gecher comments here!

Friday, September 14

White Vinegar for Dandruff, New Approach to Recipes, Fertility Awareness

I'm trying something new today. I must confess that my hair gets more dandruff than I would like the day after washing. I've decided to be proactive about it. So I made a concoction of one part white vinegar to one part water, added rosemary, cedar, and lavender oils, and scrubbed that into my dry scalp. Since my hair has also been quite dry since the trip, I added a lot of olive oil to the length of my hair, and wrapped it all up in an older towel.

I'm now back with my books as the concoctions soak in, drinking my water and apple cider vinegar. I'm going to wash it all off with shampoo diluted heavily with water, as advised by my wise and lovely friend Bug. (I keep a few empty Cetaphil bottles around for just this sort of purpose--cetaphil is a nice product, the bottles are perfect, and the labels come off cleanly.) And before washing it off I'll use even more of the white vinegar solution on my scalp.

By the way--Devon this is especially for you--Bug's approach was to slowly dilute her shampoo more and more until now she basically cleans her hair with water-only, and an occasional diluted shampoo every few weeks. It's another approach to try!

I have started adding recipes to a recipe application called Connoisseur. (Several months ago I downloaded all the freeware or shareware recipe applications I could find and compared them, I liked Connoisseur the most.) So far the recipes have come from Madhur Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian" and have all been for beans and lentils. This morning I received Claudia Roden's "New Book of Middle Eastern Food" and have been reading through that, and am truly impressed.

I also got "Taking Control of Your Fertility" last night, by Toni Weschler, and I'm re-reading that. It's really a book that every woman should at least have the opportunity to read. I'm getting more seriously into the Fertility Awareness Method of birth control; the fact that I now have a lovely alarm clock will, I think, make the process more fun and effective.

Tuesday, September 11


I'm inspired to write out a detailed description of my no-poo regimen and the information I've picked up about it. Most of my knowledge comes from the MDC Natural Home and Body Care forum, including the sticky. The rest comes from my own tinkering. There's also a good cheat sheet from babyslime on livejournal.

No-poo is the art of not using shampoo. There are variety of alternatives to shampoo. There's water-only, which works for a lucky few. There's conditioner-only, which is ideal for curly hair and perhaps very dry hair. There's shampoo bars. And there's baking soda and vinegar, which is the method I use.

I can't tell you very much about why shampoo is problematic. I have come across explanations which I found interesting, but I don't remember them all that clearly. I simply found no-poo intriguing, tried it, and stuck with it. I know that shampoo is a bit harsh on my hair and makes it more prone to breaking, while with no-poo my hair is softer and healthier. I also enjoy reusing bottles and having creative control over my own hair wash. I never had an adjustment period while my hair got used to the new regimen--only an adjustment period as I tinkered with the ratios and techniques. Once I got it right my hair was just as clean as when I shampooed.

The general principle is simple. Soaps are made by adding an alkaline substance to oils. The alkaline substance saponifies the oil, or turns it into soap. With no-poo, I add diluted baking soda (a gentle alkaline) to my hair, where it saponifies the natural oils in my hair. They then rinse away, taking any dirt with them. Because I control how much baking soda I use, I can choose how strong or mild to make the hair wash, depending on what my hair needs.

After using the alkaline hair wash, the hair and scalp are clean. However they are now at a gently alkaline ph, when their natural ph is gently acidic. Hair that is left at an alkaline ph will be dry and brittle. So after applying the baking soda solution and rinsing it out with water, I apply a diluted acidic solution--usually apple cider vinegar, but other acidic substances can be used too... other vinegars, lemon juice, beer, wine, etc. Then I do not rinse this out with water. Water is slightly alkaline and rinsing with water after the vinegar solution would give my hair an alkaline ph again. I simply let it dry after this. The vinegar evaporates quickly and my hair is left soft and shiny.

A basic principle in tweaking your mixes or your technique is this:

dry hair = too much baking soda and/or too little vinegar
oily hair = too much vinegar and/or little baking soda

Let me be more detailed about the steps involved in making the solutions, and then in washing my hair. One note is that most people seem to make a new solution every time they're going to wash their hair. I make two bottles of solution and only make more when I run out. Other people have a number of different approaches, for instance some apply the vinegar solution with a spray bottle. I'm just going to cover my approach, for alternatives you will find a lot of information in the MDC forum mentioned above. Here are the bottles I use:

Making the solutions

A good dilution rate to start with for both baking soda and vinegar is roughly 1:10. My bottles hold about about a cup of fluid each. There's 16 tablespoons in a cup, which we'll round off to 15. So I might add 1.5 tablespoons to the water. In practice I usually add 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons of vinegar, but this varies.

Baking Soda Solution

1. Using a funnel I pour 1 tablespoon of baking soda into the bottle.

2. I squirt a nice glop of honey into the bottle. Honey is added for its moisturizing effect, it is optional.

3. I fill the bottle with water.

4. I add about 3-6 drops of essential oils. It may be worth while to choose these oils said to stimulate hair growth. I'm particularly enthusiastic about rosemary and cedar. I find the smell is washed away but I expect it to have some effect on the scalp because it is really scrubbed in.

5. I mix all this together by shaking it either gently or vigorously or just letting it sit... depending on how soon I need to use it. The baking soda needs a chance to dissolve at least a bit.

Vinegar Solution

1. Using a funnel I pour 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar or other mildly acidic fluid such as lemon juice into the bottle.

2. I fill the bottle with water.

3. I add about 3-6 drops of essential oils. These are the essences that will stay in your hair and influence your scent. I use vetiver and rosewood. The vetiver also quiets the vinegar smell, I find.

Washing with the solutions

1. I wet my hair first. I use warm or moderately hot water, which is best for skin and hair.

2. With one hand I squirt the baking soda solution directly to where I am going to scrub, and with the fingertips of my other hand I scrub my scalp and hair roots. (I never pay any attention to the rest of the hair, which gets clean as the baking soda solution rinses through it.)

3. I scrub in the pattern described by Veganmamma in the above-mentioned sticky. I start by scrubbing along the crown of my head--where the rim of a crown would be. Then I scrub the top of my head, filling in the crown. Then I scrub below the crown.

4. I rinse the solution out with water.

5. I squirt the vinegar solution into my hair, concentrating on the length of my hair. I avoid getting too much around my roots, which can make them oily--opinions differ on how big a factor this is, I find that it is not a very big factor.

6. After this I do not rinse with water, I keep my hair out of the water and finish up my shower.

Sunday, September 9

Today was a great day in the world of decluttering. For one thing, we found a way to put away our suitcases.

Mainly, though, I decluttered the kitchen. It's interesting how clutter relates to the psyche. I've decluttered the kitchen before, but each time I only skimmed the surface. This time the changes are much more complete--I choose one shelf, remove everything and put it all on the kitchen table, ruthlessly get rid of whatever needs to be gotten rid of, and then put things back in a more efficient fashion. I got some stackable shelves, and now my essential oils and gardening materials fit in the same shelf.

I also got some baskets for storing potatoes & onions & beans & grains.

We also put in a new incoming paper holder, which is far more space efficient than the old one.

There are still a few corners not yet decluttered, that pleasure will come tomorrow.

I also want to get up some good energy around cooking, which previously has been an obstactle for me.

Friday, September 7

Return With New Eyes

I'm back from Europe!

(We'll see about the trip posts... as soon as I get the inspiration to play with them. I have a bunch that are just about finished and for the rest I have to get the pictures from Ivan's computer onto mine.)

I'm seeing my home with new eyes. And I am driven to declutter. So far I've decluttered my clothes and our bathroom stuff. Next will be the paper corner in the kitchen, when Gordan gets home from work. These are all areas I've decluttered before, but I'm being more exacting this time, to great improvement. In the meantime I've also been doing a lot of much-needed cleaning in the bathroom and kitchen.

It's hard to believe that it's nearly 3 PM. Jetlag is sort of fun, once the acute phase wears off! The weather pattern lately is that the day is cloudy and cool until around 1 PM, and then it turns warm and sunny--with an autumnal scent in the air. This is the time of year in which I miss the east coast, and wish I could introduce Gordan to the pleasures there--the crisp air, gorgeous trees, cool wind, enormous sunny days, golden leaves fluttering over the roads, exquisite fresh cider and abundant apples, tromps through the forest... not to mention the magnificent Sheep and Wool Festival in Kingston, NY.

Perhaps I'll go buy some flowers from the hardware store and plant them while the day is warm. Our porch garden wants a little color after our absence.