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Handmade Natural DIY Deodorant

DeoNice

This is the second time I’ve made a batch of deodorant.  Seems like whenever I mention that I make my own deodorant people are interested so I thought I’d share my process, as well as the recipe I used.

First and foremost, we are supposed to sweat.  The human body is designed that way it is for a reason.  Our underarm region is full of lymphatic tissue and sweating helps us release toxins from our bodies.  It’s also a form of temperature regulation.

It’s widely known that commercial antiperspirants contain aluminum which is thought to contribute to cancer.  Because our underarms are rich with lymphatic tissue, it makes it one of the worst places on your body to spread a cancer causing agent.  For women, these ingredients are being absorbed directly adjacent to our breast tissue!  A double hit for women is that most shave their underarms.  While this is considered fashionable and aesthetically pleasing for the majority of women (and men), you are actually removing a natural defense mechanism your body has (the hair helps to sweep away toxins in our sweat).  Now, I’m not suggesting that you stop shaving!!  What I’m saying is that if you’re going to slather stuff on your pits consider using something natural. :)

As promised, here is the deodorant recipe I used.  It’s very similar to most recipes you can find floating around the interwebs.

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts coconut oil (example – tbsp)
  • 3 parts baking soda
  • 2 parts Shea butter
  • 2 parts cornstarch
  • Essential oils (optional – I used patchouli and bergamot this time, last time I used lavender and rosemary)

Instructions:

  1. Put your coconut oil and Shea butter in a double boiler
  2. On medium heat stir until it’s melted
  3. Remove from heat and add in your cornstarch and baking soda
  4. Mix well
  5. Add essential oils and pour into a container of your preference

I’ve found that putting the container if the fridge seems to stop the ingredients from separating while it cools.  This batch of deodorant came out a little soupy even though I followed the same recipe.  I just added some more baking soda and mixed well.  If I use a tbsp as my measurement I have enough deodorant to last months.

Enjoy!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my garden lately.  This will be year three in our townhouse and the third year of having a little patch of green to play with.  The first year was a lot of structural and set up work; building garden boxes and putting in garden/flower beds. I didn’t do a lot of book reading before starting my garden.  I decided to dive right in and see what happened.  While we did learn a lot in that first year we also made a TON of mistakes.

We didn’t accomplish much in year two.  My son was under a year old and I was admittedly overwhelmed by my new role as a mama. Our garden experience consisted of successfully planting veggies seeds in our garden beds and ignoring them for months until the hot sun killed almost everything.  Considering we put next to no effort, our yield was still pretty impressive.  We learned that carrots, sugar snap peas and green beans are very difficult to kill!

This year I feel more confident in the amount of time I will be able to spend in my garden.  My son is walking and readily exploring his environment. In fact, I can’t wait to introduce him to the out of doors!

My blogging hasn’t been great since he was born. I’m completely unreliable! But I do hope to keep a record of our experiences and plans. Might be good motivation for me to get out there and play in the dirt more.

 

Plans for 2014

Here are some of the plans we have for our garden and outdoor space for this growing season.

Gate

This is the number one priority for us.  Our rental property doesn’t provide gates and our little guy is on the move!  My son is also visually impaired and we have a ravine behind our backyard. Like I said, a gate is necessary.

2013-06-07 15.28.33         Gate

This is an old photo but you can see the opening between the hedges on the far right.  We are on a tight budget and don’t really have the skills to build a fancy wooden gate.  We found this on the Canadian Tire website.  I think it should work just fine!

Play Area

We want to have a little area just for my son.  A key to being able to work outside is to keep him occupied.  Our first project is a water table.  We aren’t big fans of plastic toys that will just end up in the landfill. Thanks to Pinterest we found this website and instructions for a DIY water table.

Watertable

I think my little man is too young for a sandbox. He’ll just eat the sand to be honest.  But we do plan to have a large Rubbermaid container with sand in it for him to play with if he happens to show interest in digging.  With a portable sandbox and a water table, I predict mud in our future!

Repair Work and a New Garden Box

The winter weather and snow have not been kind to our backyard.  Although the snow hasn’t completely melted I can see that we will need to repair some of our garden boxes and level them out (the weight of the snow caused two of them to sink a lot).

Backyard April 1 2014

We also want to add another box that is 2×4 feet instead of 4×4.  It will be twice a deep as our first boxes.  The deeper soil will be used to grow most of our root veggies (carrots, beets, turnips and possibly potatoes).  It will also free up some space in our three other boxes.  We found them quite crowded the past few years.

Garden Plan 2014

Here is our garden plan from three years ago modified to show the potential site for our new box.

Planning the Garden Boxes

This will have to be a blog for another day because we aren’t quite sure what we want to plant yet.  Lots of repeats from years past with some new additions like eggplant, peppers and cucumbers!

One thing we plan to do differently this year is to install temporary chicken wire over our boxes after we plant the seeds.  Our area has a lot of squirrels and many of my well placed seeds ended up in their bellies.

Hopefully I will write again soon with our final list of veggies and herbs to grow!

Until then.

Sambucus Nigra (American Elderflower)

While most people are familiar with the berries of the American Elder plant, I was taught about flowers in school.  I can’t remember why my teacher opted to use the flower of the plant, although I’ve heard many tales from my Oma about birds dive-bombing her and my Opa when they tried to pick them.  Perhaps that’s why.  I do remember him saying that the properties of the flowers were surprisingly similar to the berries.

Elder flower

Just like its berry counterpart, the flower of the Sambucus nigra plant has potent immune stimulating and antiviral properties.  It’s these two main properties that give elderberry syrup/juice its famed reputation in the herbal world.  Although I wouldn’t be surprised if more people know about it after Hershel from the television show Walking Dead used it in an attempt to combat a super virus!!

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Other properties that make it a fantastic herb to use during cold and flu season are the following:

  •          Antiallergenic – aids in the symptoms of seasonal allergies
  •          Anticatarrhal – helps with runny noses
  •          Expectorant – aids in the expulsion of mucus from the lungs
  •          Febrifuge – helps to regulate/lower fever

 

The combination of all of these properties results in it being a powerful ally against colds, allergies, sinus infections, flu, bronchitis and measles just to name a few.

 

American elderflowers also have nervine (nervous system), relaxant and tranquilizing properties making it a great herb for stress-related conditions.

 

Sambucus is also a great herb for detoxifying, in particular, for rheumatic conditions.  Because it is a diuretic, it’s main cleansing action is through the kidneys.

 

Like many herbs, American elder also has topical healing properties (vulnerary) and would be a great herb to use for cuts, bites, stings and other wounds.

 

Because of its detoxifying properties it would be wise to only use elderberries, elderflowers or elderberry syrup in acute doses if pregnant or lactating.  Due to its effect on the nervous system you should consult your doctor, herbalist or other practitioner if you are on anti-depression, anxiety or other nervous system related medications.

I don’t know what this winter season was like for most of you, but for my family it was brutal.  It started with a head cold – headaches and a super stuffy nose. Then the stomach flu hit as soon as I started feeling better.  Although the actual symptoms only lasted 48 hours it was one of the worst two days in my recent memory. I haven’t had the stomach flu since I was a kid and I’m not much of a drinker so I had forgotten how awful vomiting continuously was like. Yuck is really the only way to describe it.  When my husband started showing stomach flu symptoms I began to worry about my son, who was 15 months at the time.  My little guy is lean and small for his age.  I knew if he started vomiting or had diarrhea we would be in trouble.

I began mentally kicking myself.  What kind of herbalist doesn’t have elderberry syrup at the ready ALL the time?!  Then came the mama guilt. A herbalist AND a mother and I didn’t have anything in the house to keep my son healthy!

Before I could order supplies to make elderberry syrup my husband and I got sick again.  We had heard the rumours of a terrible flu going around.  Congestion, headaches, fever, total body ache and a dry hacking cough that lasted for weeks.  It didn’t take long before we realized this was exactly what we had.

And then what I feared happened. My son got sick.  Really sick.  A fever that got scary high at night, stuffy congested nose and low energy/lethargy were the main symptoms.  While he wasn’t vomiting he was still pretty miserable and was not eating or drinking much.  Nursing was hard because the poor guy couldn’t breathe through his nose and I was coughing uncontrollably.  I pulled out everything I had on hand.  Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) tincture to help reduce his fever, garlic rubbed on the soles of his feet to act as an antimicrobial (I was taking it too so he was getting some of the constituents via breast milk), steams with essential oils and a homeopathic cold/flu cough medicine to help with the other symptoms.  While what I did have helped a little, my little guy was sick a little too long for my liking.  We all were.

Sick Ash

(Mama and baby bear both sick)

 

Garlic has always been my go-to herb when it came to nasty bugs and illnesses.  It’s never let me down.  While it did help this winter, it certainly did work as well as it used to.

When the nasty germs finally left my home at the end of January I vowed never to be without more herbal remedies ever again.  I ordered my local honey and elderberries and waited patiently for all the ingredients to arrive on my doorstep.  The syrup I made was a lovely combination of elderberry fruit, flowers, cinnamon, clove and ginger with local raw buckwheat honey. It was divine!

Elderberry Syrup

(Beautiful jars of elderberry syrup)

It was almost like he waited for me to make the syrup because after a few play dates with some snotty little infants my son had his second cold of the winter season.  This bug was different from his first.  A low grade fever that only lasted a few hours and a runny nose that left him looking like Rudolf.  He also had this really deep cough. Although it was loose and productive it still had me worried.  I’m convinced paranoia is standard for first time moms.  I kept thinking, “oh no, he has whooping cough”.

Sick Ash 2

(Thank goodness for babywearing because he was MISERABLE!)

 

As soon as he started showing symptoms he was getting acute doses (1 tsp) of elderberry syrup 5-6 times a day.  These doses were easy to administer because he loved the taste of the syrup.  Within 48 hours the cough started to sound much better, the mucus coming out of his nose was running clear (instead of a scary green colour) and he was sleeping far more soundly.  By day 4 he was on the mend, faring MUCH better than my husband and I who were sick for weeks!

During this time my husband and I took 1 tbsp of syrup a day just a precaution.  Of course I can’t say for certain, but neither of us got sick and this seemed like a miracle considering we seemed to catch every little bug we encountered this winter!

So long story short, elderberry syrup is awesome. It made my son feel better quickly and it kept the rest of my family healthy.  I will NEVER be without it during a cold/flu season ever again.

Next I will post I will talk about the healing properties of elderberry fruit/flower.

Finally got around to writing another blog. Between technical difficulties (our desktop computer died), lack of motivation and a serious case of diaper funk (yes that’s a real thing) that has me stumped, my blog ended up on the back burner.  But I’m back!!

SLEEP

We all know how important sleep is.  We need it to think straight, be productive and to maintain emotional balance.  When someone has one night of poor sleep, they feel it the next day.  Stretch that into a week and even the nicest person can turn into a cornered grizzly bear.   Imagine missing out on quality sleep for months, perhaps even years (if your little one is not the greatest sleeper).  For people who aren’t going through a depressive episode this would be challenging emotionally, but for a mother going through PPD it can seem impossible to live with.

overwhelmed mama

Depression is an extremely vulnerable emotional state.  Women going through PPD often struggle with feelings of guilt, low self confidence, inadequacy, loneliness, sadness and a feeling of being trapped.  These emotions are very difficult to work through on a full night’s sleep.  Unfortunately the nature of motherhood and parenthood involves chronic sleep deprivation for a time.  This can exaggerate the negative feelings a mother may experience and can heighten and add to an already tense situation.  Sadness can turn into despair and a feeling of being trapped can turn into paranoia and controlling emotions like anger and frustration seems unattainable in the moment.  For some mothers there is no solution.  No help at night and no end to the sleep situation your little one experiences.  However, if it is possible, a mom with PPD should get as much help as they need.  It is vital that a family’s home situation be one of openness and honesty.  She needs to be able to communicate her feelings and struggles in a frank and candid manner.

Sleep When the Baby Sleeps

babysleeps

A common piece of advice passed onto mothers is to sleep when the baby sleeps.  On paper, this sounds like a fantastic idea, but putting this into practice can be hard.  I remember struggling to fall asleep during the day.  It would take me thirty minutes of tossing and turning to finally surrender, only to have my little guy wake up minutes later.  I felt groggy, grumpy and basically worse than before my nap.  To complicate matters further I developed insomnia at night.  The need for sleep became so desperate that it was almost impossible to achieve.  There is no worse feeling than knowing that your baby is going to wake up in 45 minutes and for some unforeseen reason you can’t sleep.  My husband and I had a running joke at night.  We would say ‘see you in ten minutes’ as our heads hit the pillow because we knew our son would be up in no time.  Let’s just say that joke got old pretty quick.

There would be times when I was tired, but I would opt to stay awake during the day. Perhaps not wise, but sleeping each and every time your baby is asleep can leave a mom feeling like she has no life outside baby.  At times a good conversation with a friend or watching an episode of your favourite television show can be just as, if not more, rejuvenating than a nap.  A feeling of being trapped in your new life as a parent is very common, so try to find time to enjoy pieces of your old life. Even if it’s just a cup of coffee or the latest episode of Walking Dead.

While everything I just said is often true, attempting to sleep when the baby sleeps is wise.  There will be times you don’t feel like it or you simply can’t, but don’t stress about it.  Just catch as much rest as you can on your terms.

While the sleepless nights feel like are going to go on forever remember, one day when they are teenagers you’ll need a bucket of cold water to get them out of bed.

Sleep well (ish)… if you can.

Peace.

I’ve never been a real foodie.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a really good meal and I do feel a sense of accomplishment when a recipe works out, I’m just not super passionate about food.  Not like I am about herbs. Going gluten and dairy free has presented me with a real challenge in the kitchen. Many of our staple meals are out the window and I’ve had to get creative.  Yesterday I had a can of opened coconut milk in the fridge and fresh beans and zucchini from our garden.  Here’s what I made and it turned out really good! So good that I’m sharing the recipe.

Soup

Ingredients – Broth

  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cans of coconut milk (one can was about 2/3 full)
  • 1 tbsp of red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp of yellow curry paste
  • 2 tsp gluten free soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime

Ingredients – Veggies

  • 2 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1 yellow zucchini chopped
  • ½ large onion chopped
  • A large handful of green beans (about 20 or so)
    • Chopped and blanched
    • 10 small potatoes (mixed variety – what I had left in the fridge)
      • Chopped and boiled for 5 minutes to soften them

I had it simmering for most of the day. It was delicious! My husband is not really a soup guy and he devoured it.  This is definitely going in the menu rotation.

I have a confession to make. We’re not 100% gluten and dairy free.  There I said it. I’ve heard that anything you put on the internet stays there for life even if you delete it so I figured I shouldn’t lie. Besides I’m going to teach my son that lying is wrong so I should probably confess my sins.

I hate wasting food. I grew up in a house where you couldn’t leave the table until your plate was clear and leftovers were served ad nauseam.  We’re also working on a tight budget so wasting food is also wasting money.  So how have we cheated? Well, we had some butter left over so I haven’t made the switch to vegan margarine yet (which I’m not really looking forward to).  We also had some salad dressings that we just bought which contain minimal amounts of wheat ingredients.  Finally we had two open boxes of cereal on the go that I didn’t want to throw out.  Not bad considering I have contemplated pizza and a giant cheesecake on more than one occasion.

 caveman_invented_leftovers_378045

So it’s more accurate to say that we have drastically reduced the amount of gluten and dairy in our house.  One person said to me, ‘you guys must be so healthy!’  Well let’s just say that fuzzy peaches don’t have gluten or dairy. Sigh.

I always figured this transition would be more of a journey than a cold turkey thing.  I’m an emotional eater and I’m struggling with my mood so cutting out all of my vices isn’t easy.  That being said, I’ve already noticed some benefits which should keep me motivated.

Bye Bye Bloating

It’s amazing the number of times I’ve gone to bed feeling bloated and never given it a second thought.  But for seven nights now I’ve felt surprisingly good in that department.  Obviously gluten and/or dairy was causing some serious gas, indigestion and bloating.  My husband has also noticed this awesome little side effect.

Fatigue Levels

Slowly but surely my energy levels are increasing.  Sleep is precious in this house and certainly not solid.  I don’t expect to feel bright eyed and bushy tailed anytime soon, but not feeling like a zombie is an added bonus.

Mood

This is a tough one to be certain about.  My mood and depressive symptoms are most definitely tied to my cycle.  So I have been feeling better the past few days but I’m also at a point in my cycle where that would be normal.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.

My Son

Nothing new to report in this area.  Milk proteins can linger in breast milk for up to two to three weeks.  I imagine it’s a similar timeline for noticing results with gluten as well.  I’m not expecting his digestive/sleep issues to change overnight. 

Eczema

No noticeable change in this department, but I am hopeful (bordering on desperate).  My hands are in a terrible state right now, probably the worst they have been in years.  Weepy, cracking, burning and stinging constantly.  Normally I would take on a deep detox and cleanse, but since I’m nursing that isn’t possible for me.  I know many people have had success with reducing/eliminating gluten so my fingers are crossed… metaphorically since crossing them would actually be kind of painful. 

Since this is the one condition that I provide you folks with noticeable results I’m going to be posting pictures of my hands as I go along.  Warning, they are pretty nasty right now.

 Day7-1 Day7-2 Day7-3

Peace and herbal love.

 

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