Dec 20, 2008

Interview: Crystal teaches natural birth

Next person to be interviewed in our Living Naturally in Louisiana series is Crystal Garcia, 22 Ruston, LA. She is a natural birth instructor, mom, photographer and Tech graduate from Child Development.



Sirpa: Crystal, how did you become interested in the natural child birth?

Crystal: I first became interested in natural childbirth a couple years ago, while I was working on my degree in Child Development. It came up in my Infant Development class and I knew two of my professors that gave birth naturally and spoke highly of it. Soon after that my husband and I became pregnant with our first child I began looking into different methods of natural childbirth and felt that The Bradley Method was the best fit for us because it was focused on husband coaching, relaxation, healthy eating and preparation.

When my husband and I started the classes he did not really want to go and felt uneasy about even being in the room when our son was born. At the end of the class series he was confident and calm about the birth process. He was amazing during my labor and knew what was going on with my body. We grew so much closer through our birth experience and I wanted my friends, family and everyone to have that same experience that takes away fear and replaces it with education and empowerment. That is why I decided to become a Bradley teacher.

Sirpa: So your children were born naturally? How was it? Didn't it hurt?

Crystal: Haha, yes, both my children were born naturally. Josiah was born in August of 2007, he came 10 days past my due date and after around 32 hours of labor, 12 of which were at the hospital. His birth was difficult because I saw the on call doctor who was not in agreement with my plans to deliver naturally. He put a lot of pressure on me to deliver within a certain time frame and constantly gave me exams and pressured me to get an epidural. Autumn was born last month and came only a day past her due date and her birth was so much better. I still labored over 24 hours, but was only at the hospital for 2 and a half hours before she was born. This time I knew both my nurses and my Doctor and I had a birth plan in my chart so that I knew we were all on the same page. My birth team was very supportive and wonderful.



It did hurt, but the pain was manageable and by the time you think you may not be able to withstand the pressure it is almost over. Surprisingly to most people the most painful part of labor is pushing the baby out, and it is actually a time of renewed energy for most women!



Sirpa: Tell me about the Bradley method!

Crystal: The Bradley Method is a method of husband coached childbirth that emphasizes relaxation, preparation, healthy eating and physical activity. The class series is very extensive. It is usually 12 weeks long and covers all three stages of labor, coaching, nutrition, pregnancy exercises, birth plans, c-sections, newborn procedures, post-partumn, breastfeeding, emergency childborth (like what to do if your child is born in the car), choosing your birth team and more.

Like I said the classes are geared towards couples planning on having a natural birth but many couples take the classes when they think they may try natural or just to prepare in case it is not possible to get an epidural and to be informed patients.



Sirpa: What are the benefits of having your baby naturally (or with the Bradley method)?

Crystal: There are so many and they vary with each birth and woman. With interventions there is something known as the domino effect where one intervention leads to another and another. For instance, when a woman gets an epidural it often slows her labor so she needs Pitocin to make her contractions harder, which may put the baby at distress, which may lead to an emergency cesarean. When you labor naturaly you are at less risk of complications and the need for a cesarean.

Women how give birth naturally always have less problems establishing breastfeeding. Babies who get drugs via their mother's epidurals have shown decreased suckling reflexes up to the third month of life in one study.

For me my favorite part is that I stay in the comfort of my home with my husband at my side comforting me in any way I need. Then when the baby is born I breastfeed her and walk out of the room to my postpartum room, where I shower and have a meal. The recovery is just amazing with a natural birth and the feeling of empowerment as a new parents was amazing.

Sirpa: That sounds great. You must be concerned about how medicalized the birth has become these days?

I am because I know how beautiful and intimate birth can be for a woman and for a family. I also know that many of the "necessary c-sections" that put women and babies at risk are caused my interventions and women who didn't have the information they needed to make the right choices.

Sirpa: How could the situation be improved?

Crystal: One of the biggest ways for things to improve is for women to become informed consumers of obstetric services. This means that you should interview your OB before choosing one. Also avoid inductions unless medically necessary. Women are at a much higher rate of cesarean when they go in for inductions, and I feel like if more women knew this thety would avoid it. You must understand that birth is a business and if lots of women changed doctors and hospitals to find mother friendly maternity care, eventually things would change.

And lastly, go to The Birth Survey website fill out the information regarding your birth experience and join the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care in making information about providers and birth places available to women everywhere so that they can make informed choices. There is also an organization called The Birth Network that just opened a chapter in the Bossier area that people can get involved with to support birthing options locally.



Sirpa: What can parents interested in natural child birth do to prepare for their birth in Louisiana?

Crystal: Take a QUALITY birthing preparation class. Not a short class that gives you a hospital tour and shows a video, but a good informative class that will really make you prepared. There is a Bradley teacher in Shreveport, I teach in Ruston, and there is a new teacher that just started teaching in Monroe. If you are interested there also doulas around our area. Get a good physician. If you are in the southern part of the start you also have the option of using midwives in a birth center or at home. Look into all your options and do not settle for a practitioner who is nice that your coworker sees.

Sirpa: What kind of response have you received from your students so far?

Crystal: Well I have taught three 12 weeks class series so far and the response has been great. 80% of the couples from my classes who have given birth vaginally did so without pain medications and all students reported having learned so much from the classes. Most tell their friends what a great class it is whther or not your plan to give birth naturally. I have had the priviledge to attend some of the births, and they were all beautiful and even got to I photograph a couple of them. That is the great part about attending a Bradley birth; I can be there for support and to give the coach a break if he needs one, but mostly I watch the couple do what they were trained to do, which is work together to give birth to their babies. In the process I have captured some beautiful moments.

Sirpa: I had a possibly unnecessary c-section with my baby. What if you have already had a c-section, can you have another one naturally with the Bradley method?

Crystal: Ah yes! That would be called a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and yes you can. I actually have had one couple in my classes planning a VBAC and on of my previous students is pregnant with her second planning a VBAC as well. The Bradley Method classes can help you find the right practitioner and birth place for you special circumstances, teach you poses and pregnancy exercises to help your baby get into the optimal birthing position and all of the other natural techiniques for labor.

Sirpa: So when will you teach your next class series now that your baby has arrived?

Crystal: My next class series starts the first week in January and I take only 5 or 6 couples per class so that everyone gets the individual attention they need. You can visit my website www.CrystalGarcia.com for more information on my classes and for my contact info!

If you know someone who you think should be interviewed for this series (or if you think YOU should be!), send e-mail to livingnaturallyinla @ gmail.com

Dec 18, 2008

Make your own dish washing detergent

I told you earlier about a natural dish washing detergent recipe that you could use also in the automatic dish washers. I tried it today in our dishwasher and it worked great. I think even better than my store bought earth friendly detergent. The recipe is here) if you want to try it.

Dec 16, 2008

More in Ruston Daily Leader

Monica wrote another interesting column about veganism where she mentions our group too again. Read it online from here. Last time she mentioned the Living Naturally in Louisiana group, we got some new members and new readers to the blog. Thanks Monica! Read the previous posting and column from here.

I need to add one thing though. As Monica says, you can get the protein, minerals and vitamins you need from vegetarian food too. But in a vegan diet there is one thing you can't get from just vegetables and that is vitamin B12. Vegan needs to supplement that. (Ovo-)lacto-vegetarian gets it from (eggs and) dairy. Check this link from Vegetarian Society, it says "However, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans and so these foods should not be relied upon as safe sources":
http://www.vegsoc.org/info/b12.html

And just to be clear, the Living Naturally group is not a vegetarian group. All vegetarians and non-vegetarians interested in living a more natural life in Louisiana are welcome!

Dec 11, 2008

More about the I am not a Dirty Hippie -party

My new friend Monica wrote about the recent I am not a dirty hippie party in her blog too. The previous posting I wrote about it is here.

Dec 8, 2008

Two months without shampoo!

Oh, people keep asking me if I am still on no 'poo (no shampoo). Yes I am. I have been shampoo free for two months now. I am still washing my hair, only not with shampoo but with baking soda and apple vinegar rinse a couple of times a week and sometimes with plain water in between. After a short adjustment period I didn't have to wash so often, my hair got used to the more infrequent washing. And the BC/ACV wash doesn't have any suspicious, possibly cancer causing ingredients that some shampoos have. My hair looks nice, it is soft and shiny and the best part: my itchy scalp is gone. I could go to a no 'poo commercial. I will add a photo soon.

Look also my previous postings about the experiment from here.

Living Naturally group in Ruston Daily Leader

Our group and blog is mentioned in a column by Monica Crowe in the Ruston Daily Leader today. The column, Is 'vegan' a dirty word? is really good so check it out from your copy or online

"To find a support group of vegan, vegetarian, health- and earth-conscious individuals, visit the Living Naturally in North Louisiana Web site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingnaturallynla/. Also check out the Living Naturally group blog at http://livingnaturallyinlouisiana.blogspot.com."


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By the way, Monica makes beautiful jewelery, check out her blog.

Dec 7, 2008

The natural christmas tree

 

I decorated our Christmas tree with mainly natural stuff like in the old days. In the old days they used to decorate the Christmas tree with edible stuff and eat all of it when the Christmas was over. I used organic apples, pine cones from the park, gingerbread and a couple of fair trade ornaments from the Serrv web store. I wanted to get fair trade ornaments but they are expensive so I decided to buy a couple each year and slowly build up my collection in addition some home made ornaments.

I wanted to decorate the tree with newspaper strips like they did in one of my favorite books, The Salvage Sisters' Guide to Finding Style in the Street and Inspiration in the Attic. I tried it but didn't get it to look good. I am still going to make the newspaper wreath from the same book.

I guess the most environmental friendly Christmas tree would be one that you plant later. My husband said he would not dig the hole but I wanted a tree so we got a cut spruce tree. I love it. I love the smell of it. I have never had a plastic tree and I can't imagine having one. I am rather without. Last year we decorated our biggest house plants since we spent the Christmas abroad.

The only problem with the edible ornaments is that it is hard for my little son to keep away from them, he is eating straight from the tree and I have to add more ornaments. But that is fine. I have more apples and tomorrow we will bake more ginger bread.

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After one rainy day we had it was so humid that all the ginger bread fell from the tree! They just fell down! I can't believe it. If anyone has good hints about how to harden them against the humidity, let me know.

Dec 5, 2008

Story of stuff

A reader of our blog shared this incredible video about the stuff we use. It is great, watch it.

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

About the person who made this video:
Annie Leonard is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, with more than 20 years of experience investigating factories and dumps around the world. Coordinator of the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, a funder collaborative working for a sustainable and just world, Annie communicates worldwide about the impact of consumerism and materialism on global economies and international health.

Ear infections and P.E. tubes

Hi everyone,

Sirpa has already posted lots of helpful information. She has also sent me a great link about ear infections in children that I would like to share.

Unfortunately, our son Dominic, 20 months, has an otitis media in both ears again. I think it is maybe his 8th infection. When he was one week old, he already suffered from an ear infection that was treated with antibiotics. The ENT who saw Dominic yesterday, suggested we should think about inserting P.E tubes as his ear infections are hard to get rid off - we had to try several different antibiotics. I am hesitantant to agree to the procedure but I also don't want him to take antibiotics all the time...

I would appreciate your comments about the placement of P.E. tubes, especially if you or your children have first hand experience with reocurring ear infections and will search the internet for more information during the next days.

Dec 4, 2008

Green dishwasher detergent recipe

I just found this from Green Living Tips. You can use it for hand washing or automatic dish washers. Haven't tried it yet because I have still some Seventh Generation detergent left but I will when it is finished.

Dishwasher detergent

Ingredients:

2 cups liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil
1/2 cup white vinegar

Nov 29, 2008

Interview: Spinning yarn as art (Rachel)

This is a historical moment! It is time for The Living Naturally in Louisiana blog's first interview. In this interview series we will talk to people who live in Louisiana and who attempt to live a more natural life, who make things themselves or who teach others to do things more naturally. The first person we are going to interview is Rachel, 24, from Quitman, Louisiana. She is not just any woman. She spins yarn. By hand.


Photo: Crystal Garcia

Sirpa: Where did you get the idea of spinning yarn? How did it all start?
Rachel: I saw a spinning demonstration years ago and thought it looked fun. After I learned how to knit, I wanted unique yarn to work with, so I decided to learn how to spin.
Sirpa: Wasn't it difficult to learn to spin? Did someone teach you?
Rachel: It took patience, but it wasn't too hard. I learned on a handspindle first. I looked it up on books and online to figure it out, and the ladies that I bought fiber from gave me advice when I got stuck. I didn't know anyone in the area who knew how to spin though, so a lot of it was trial and error.


Photo: Crystal Garcia

Sirpa: Where did you get the spinning wheel from?
Rachel: I got the wheel last Christmas from my mom. It's an antique, probably handmade in Europe. Many wheels of this style were made in Lithuania and Russia.
Sirpa: It looks a lot like the old spinning wheels in Finland too. I think my great grandmother used to spin yarn. Where do you get the wool from?
Rachel: I think it is very cool that your great grandmother spun! I spin fiber from farms where the animals are treated well. They aren't overcrowded, they have plenty of food and fresh water, and the farmers raise animals because they love them, and not just to make money. Most of my fiber comes from a farm where they don't breed their sheep. They adopt sheep that need homes. For more info, go to www.homesteadwoolandgiftfarm.com
Sirpa: I think that is great that you use wool from animal-friendly farms. The wool business can be quite harsh for the sheep. What kind of wool or other materials do you use for your yarn?
Rachel: Most of my yarn is a blend of fiber, depending on what I have on hand. I've spun wool, alpaca, llama, camel, mohair, angora, recycled sari silk, bamboo and soy silk.
Sirpa: I like that recycled material aspect a lot. What do you like about spinning yarn?
Rachel: Everything! I like the process of turning a pile of fiber into yarn. I like how the colors and textures blend, making each skein unique. Before I learned how to spin, I thought yarn was simply a material one uses to make things. Now that I spin, I know that yarn is art. Handspun yarn is limited only by your creativity.



Sirpa: Please describe the process of spinning yarn briefly!
Rachel: First the fiber has to be prepared for spinning. If you're started with raw fiber this means it will have to be washed, dyed (if desired) and carded. The carding process basically combs the tangles out of the fiber so that it will spin more easily. When you have fiber ready to spin you attach it to the "leader yarn" on the bobbin and start turning the wheel. As the wheel spins, the fiber is twisted and the spun yarn is collected on the bobbin.
Sirpa: That is amazing. Sounds like a lot of work! How long does it take for you to spin a skein of yarn?
Rachel: Not very long. My wheel has small bobbins and they won't hold very big amounts of yarn, so it probably takes me 30 minutes or less if I'm using prepared fiber. If I'm carding the fiber as I go it takes longer since I have to stop to card fiber as I need it.
Sirpa: Do you make something out of your yarn or the wool?
Rachel: I use my yarn for most everything that I knit, I've made purses, scarves, etc. I spin a lot more than I knit though.
Sirpa: I think it is great that you have learnt this old skill that not many people master anymore! It is important that we preserve this kind of valuable folklore and art. Thank you, Rachel.

Anyone wanting to ask Rachel more questions, please feel free to comment on this post or e-mail directly to her to woolgypsy @ gmail.com

Also, if you know someone who you think should be interviewed for this series (or if you think YOU should be!), send e-mail to livingnaturallyinla @ gmail.com

Nov 28, 2008

FDA finds lead in vitamins


Photo: SXC

The Food and Drug Administration tested vitamins for women and children. The tests revealed that almost all of them contain trace amounts of lead.

Lead is a poisonous metal that can damage nervous connections (especially in young children) and cause blood and brain disorders. It is also known to cause permanent brain damage, limiting IQ, causing behavioral and learning problems and affecting other aspects of development. So it is especially harmful for pregnant women and children.

The FDA vitamin research covered 324 vitamin products. There wasn't lead in four of them. FDA does not consider any of these vitamins unsafe, based on lead content being so small. Me and my husband looked for info how much lead there is in other food just to compare and calculated that in one daily dose of vitamins (depending which one) there could be the same amount of lead than in 1-10 kilograms (about 2-20 pounds) canned vegetables (we just found info easily on canned vegetables for some reason and I guess it depends in how polluted area the vegetables were grown for instance, how much lead they contain).

The test results at FDA website

Nov 26, 2008

Healthy Home Tips

I get the Environmental Working Group newsletter. It has updates about the bispenol A (BPA), the toxic plastics chemical among other things. In the latest newsletter they had a link to their site where they have collected tips for healthier homes for parents, but I think it applies to homes without children too.

They present 11 important steps that are not very hard to do. I picked a few of them here, shortened, read the whole list from the link below.

+ Choose better body care products. Just because a label says "gentle" or "natural" doesn't mean it's safe. Look up your products on CosmeticsDatabase.com. Read the ingredients and avoid triclosan, BHA, fragrance, and oxybenzone.

+ Go organic & eat fresh foods. Opt for organic fruits and veggies, or use FoodNews.org to find conventionally grown produce with the least pesticides. Limit canned food and infant formula, as can linings contain bisphenol A (BPA).

+ Pick plastics carefully. Some plastics contain BPA, which is linked to cancer. Avoid clear, hard plastic bottles marked with a "7" or "PC". Don't microwave plastic containers. Stay away from toys marked with a "3" or "PVC." Give your baby a frozen washcloth instead of vinyl teethers.

+ Skip non-stick. When overheated non-stick cookware can emit toxic fumes. Cook with cast iron or stainless steel instead.

+ Use greener cleaners & avoid pesticides. Household cleaners, bug killers, pet treatments, and air fresheners can irritate kids' lungs. Investigate less toxic alternatives. Use vinegar in place of bleach, baking soda to scrub your tiles, and hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.

Check out & download Healthy Home Tips for Parents at Enviroblog.

Nov 25, 2008

Other blogs and websites

Check out the link list on the right side (scroll down). I just added today a new one, our member's blog, Living in Louisiana and another area blog Dig, Compost, Grow.

If you have any suggestions of good websites (Louisiana or elsewhere), let me know for instance by commenting this posting.

Green living tips in a newsletter

I subscribed to this free Green living tips newsletter recently and have to recommend it to you too. They sponsor a tree for each new subscriber!
In the newest newsletter:


Sustainable Building 101
Thinking about going green in your building? Why should you build green anyway and how do you do it?

For peat's sake
Peat is still used extensively around the world in the garden and as a fuel. Peat moss is also a gardener's favorite, but our peat and peat moss consumption is wreaking havoc on wetlands where these materials form - read more about the issues and alternatives.

Buying green electricity
While not all of us can afford solar panels on our roof, many electricity providers now offer green power products that are quite economical and allow us to do a bit more to help lessen our impact on the environment.

Uses for salt
Common salt can be be used for many applications around the home as a more environmentally friendly alternative to harsher synthetic chemicals. Salt has over 14,000 known uses - here's just a few.

Greener car washing
A clean, glowing car is a pleasant sight, but it can often come at a cost to the environment through excessive water use and the effect of chemicals in detergents. Pick up some tips for lessening your car washing impact.

How to prevent the colds (and sugar's role in lowering the immunity)

We are having a cold so I am studying online what can be done to prevent the colds apart from washing your hands. (I know it is a bit late for this one, but there is still plenty of the cold season left!)We don't take the flu shots either so it is important to keep our immunity good. Recently on the Living Naturally discussion list (Yahoo group) there was some talk about sugar lowering the immunity. Everyone knows that sugar is not good for you anyway, it ruins your teeth among other things, but what about this cold thing? I talked about it to friends who seemed suspicious so I decided to find out so I have something to back up my claims in the future.

I did a brief Google research and found this from an article "How To Stay Healthy This Winter - Natural Tips to Prevent Colds & Flu" by Kristin Colangelo:
"During the holidays, many of us eat way too much sugar. Studies show that sugar depresses the immune system, so it is no wonder that most of us are sick by the end of the year! Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or other holidays), this time of year is full of sweets for many of us. Limit sugar consumption during this time of year and it will be easy to notice a positive difference in your health."

I checked the link to the studies Colangelo refer to above, you find the references here.

The page with the references is interesting in itself too, it is about the dangers of sugar. It presents 76 ways sugar can ruin your health, for instance:

Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease.

Sugar can cause can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.

Sugar can produce a significant rise in total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol.

Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.

Sugar can cause premature aging.

Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)

Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.

Sugar causes food allergies.

Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.

Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.

Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.

Sugar can reduce the learning capacity, adversely affect school children's grades and cause learning disorders.

Sugar can cause depression.

Sugar dehydrates newborns.

Source: Nancy Appleton, Ph.D, Author of the book Lick The Sugar Habit

So what about other tips for staying healthy? Colangelo mentions adequate rest and vitamins. We don't take that much vitamins but try to get them from nutrition. I guess we will have to pay extra attention to eat oranges with vitamin C and eat healthy otherwise too. I just bought a bagful of beautiful satsumas from Ruston Farmers market's Fall festival so I am set for a few days.

I just had my blood checked lately for the vitamin levels and my iron was low so I am now exceptionally supplementing with iron. I use Floradix liquid iron that I found good in the past too. Iron and B12 are something I have had to pay extra attention to get from my low-dairy vegetarian diet. This reminds me that I HAVE TO make a posting about the lead in the vitamins FDA found.

I also read that according to one study going to sauna frequently can prevent you from getting sick! Maybe that is why we started getting colds more often when we moved to US from Finland, the land of saunas :)

What are YOUR tips for not catching the colds and flus?

Nov 23, 2008

I am not a dirty hippie -party: homemade deodorant and lip balm

 
Tonight some people from the Living Naturally in Louisiana group and some people who are not in the Living Naturally in Louisiana group got together to make natural deodorants and lip balms. We got the idea and recipes from The Angry Chicken -blog and The Artful Parent -blog. The first two first recipes are originally from Angry Chicken's blog (with maybe a tiny little adjustments). Ingredients are from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I have to mention that I made a test deodorant already two weeks ago and it works GREAT! It works much better than any other natural deodorant I have tried before. And it it cheaper. And I know what is in it.

NATURAL HOME-MADE DEODORANT (4 oz)

3 Tablespoons of shea butter
3 Tablespoons of baking soda
2 Tablespoons of corn starch
2 Tablespoons of cocoa butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
A few drops of essential oil

Smell the essential oils first and choose one(s) you like. You can also combine several. Use with care, essential oils are strong. Good essential oils for deodorants are for instance
Eucalyptus – gentle and soothing, refreshing, antiseptic (mix for instance with lavender and rosemary)
Lavender – soothing, antiseptic, deodorizing, cleansing and drying to the skin, an aphrodisiac (good to mix with patchouli and rosemary), not in big quantities for people with low blood pressure or in early pregnancy
Patchouli – deodorizing, antiseptic, moisturizing (good to mix for instance with lavender)
Rosemary – fights bacteria, not for people with high blood pressure
Sweet Orange – fresh and uplifting (mix with lavender)
Or any other you like! Get creative!

1. Melt all the ingredients (except the vitamin E and essential oils) in the microwave (60 seconds or so) or in a pot on the stove until melted. Stir well.
2. Add the vitamin E oil and essential oil, stir again.
3. Pour it in a jar.
4. Place it in the fridge for a while to solidify.

NATURAL HOMEMADE LIP BALM (1 oz)

2 teaspoons of cocoa butter
2 teaspoons of shea butter
2 teaspoon of jojoba oil / olive oil / almond oil / some other cosmetic grade oil or a mixture of them
A drop of vitamin E oil
A drop or two of peppermint essential oil

Melt everything together except the essential oil and vitamin E oil (30-60 seconds in the microwave or in a pot on stovetop until everyhting has melted). Add a couple of drops of essential oil and vitamin E oil and stir. Pour it in the tin. Put it in the fridge to solidify it.

LIP BALM 2 (about 1 oz)

1 tsp of beeswax
1,5 tsp shea butter
3/4 tsp cocoa butter
2 tsp olive oil or jojoba oil
(a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil)


We made lavender and sweet orange deodorants (sweet orange and eucalyptus mix was nice too!) and peppermint lip balms. We ate good vegetarian food. Pita bread with salad, tomatoes and lettuce, hummus, potato salad, tapenade...

Hummus

about 2 cups of chick peas, soaked overnight and boiled until soft (you can also use canned chick peas)
juice of half a lemon
2-4 tablespoons of Tahini sauce
3-4 gloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp olive oil
water as much as needed for good consistence
cummin, pepper, salt to taste

Mix boiled soft chick peas with other ingredients in a food processor or with an electric blender. Add water little by little to get a nice creamy spread/sauce. Serve for instance in pita bread with veggies and feta cheese.

Tapenade olive paste

A jar / can of black olives (pitted)
A jar can of green olives (pitted)
1 tbsp capers
4 pieces of sundried tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
seaweed, optional (soak first)

Mix everything together in a food processor or with an electric blender. Serve with good bread.

"I feel like I would have been cooking", one of the attendants said when she was leaving. That is the fun part about making your own stuff! You know what is in it and nothing beats the feeling of using stuff you made yourself! We plan to have other parties like this too and make maybe other cosmetics or cleaning products. Does anyone have good recipes for cleaning products, face cream or body butter?

Nov 13, 2008

Toys that contain banned plastics are still on market


Plastic toys that contain harmful toxins (banned by lawmakers in US in June) are still on the market, writes Wall Street Journal (The article, WSJ, Oct 23rd 2008).

Restrictions on phthalates take effect in February 2009 and rubber ducks and many other toys will be illegal to sell. Problem is they are still sold (and they might be even on sale) so take care what you buy for your child (or someone else's child) this Christmas! And get rid of those rubber ducks (sorry, vinyl ducks.)

Even though the law is an improvement to the current situation, there are other problems too. The law doesn't cover vinyl products that are not play things. The Greenpeace writes:

"The legislation will cover products made for children up to 12 years of age, ranging from baby teethers to Barbie dolls. Unfortunately, the new law will not cover vinyl products that aren’t playthings, although every parent knows that everything in the home has the potential to be sucked on or put in a child’s mouth. Vinyl products not covered by the legislation include car safety seats, clothing, children’s furniture or other vinyl household products ranging from shower curtains to floor and wall coverings. The law will also not cover other chemicals such as bisphenol-a (BPA) which has been found in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles." Read more.

Photo: Stock Photo

Nov 10, 2008

Plastic bags and one month on No 'poo

I went to Ruston Super1Foods store to buy some groceries the other day and they said they have started to give discount for using your own bags! The discount is five sents per bag. I usually use my own bags anyway but I was so happy that instead of looking at you weird (or even acting in an angry way) when you have your own canvas bags (this often happens to me in Wal Mart), they actually encourage you to do so. That is great.

In other than grocery stores, if I buy something little, I usually just say that I don't need a bag but I will just either use my own or put it in my purse or back bag or pocket.

Do you use your own bags in stores and what kind of experience do you have about it, good or bad?

I have been now one month on no poo and I couldn´t be happier. My hair looks and feels GREAT. My scalp is almost itch free.

Oct 29, 2008

No shampoo experiment, day 24: Going well

I am still in love with no 'poo. My hair and scalp feel great. I am still washing with baking soda about every three days and rinse with apple cider vinegar. In between I sometimes wash with water. I don´t think my hair has ever been so soft and shiny. It doesn´t really get too oily, nor dry. Yet, at least. I have been warned that the BS might start drying my hair and I will have to phase it out. I have managed to stay away from it 3,5 days but then my scalp got itchy and hair looked a bit greasy so I washed it with BS again. An interesting thing is that I think my hair dries now slower after I have washed it. I am too lazy to blow dry so I walk around with wet hair now more than before. My husband is still no'pooing too and he likes it. Soon I will be giving away free half-used shampoos at my house. :)

Oct 24, 2008

Make your own bread spread

On my bread I like to use organic butter instead of store bought margarines that contain who knows what. But the butter is not spreadable straight from the fridge so I have started making my own bread spread. It is fast, easy and it tastes good!

All you need is

a blender or an electrical mixer
1 cup of butter
1 cup of vegetable oil (I have tried canola oil, didn´t like the taste and now I use sunflower oil, but you could use any oil you like)
1 cup of icecold water
a container, like an old margarine container - I prefer using glass containers, like Pyrex, photo below, instead to avoid possible chemicals leaching from plastic.
(If you want to try something different you can also add some garlic or herbs!)



Let the butter soften for a while. Mix it with oil in the blender until the mixture is smooth. Keep on mixing and pour the water slowly in. Pour the mixture in the container. It will harden in the fridge but it will still be easily spreadable.

Oct 18, 2008

Less paper waste with Catalog Choice service

Image: Catalogchoice

I just added an unnececessary an unwanted catalog that I found in our mailbox to the onlince service Catalog Choice. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

"Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources."

Catalog choice

Oct 15, 2008

Good bye stained coffee mugs

I read this tip from the ReadyMade magazine last week, tried it and loved it.

If you have tea and coffee stains in your cups, try this. Take a citrus peel, pour a little bit of salt on it, rub the stains inside the cup and wash as usual.

So I spent last weekend rubbing our stained tea and coffee mugs. (Who says my life is boring?!) It worked really well.

They also had some pumpkin recipes I was asking for earlier in another post.

Oct 14, 2008

No shampoo experiment, day 10: Feels good!

I have now been on no shampoo experiment for 10 days and I really like it. My hair and scalp looks and feels nice and the soreness and itchiness of my scalp has dramatically reduced. I think the shampoo and / or frequent washing was actually causing it.

My hair has not been too oily, maybe a little bit more than usual but it doesn´t look bad. It doesn´t smell or anything like that (maybe a little bit like vinegar for a while after the rinse if I hasn´t managed to wash it out completely).

I have been washing my hair with baking soda (less than 1 tbsp mixed in about a cup of water) every three days and rinsed it with apple cider vinegar mixed with water. I sometimes add some essential oils (thyme, tea tree, chamomille) to the rinse too.

In the days between I wash (if I wash) with water only or with the essential oil or vinegar rinse. If my hair stays like this I don´t think I will ever go back to shampoo again. I think I will try to reduce the baking soda washes too little by little. I will post a picture of the new hair soon, now I don´t think there is any big change yet.

My husband has tried this too and likes it. So right now no-one in my family uses shampoo! :)

Oct 10, 2008

Repair it yourself: Clogged sink

Maybe you already know this, but in case you don´t I wanted to share this good tip for unclogging sinks that I used today while waiting for the plumber or my husband to come and repair our clogged kitchen sink. I looked for instructions online and found some that worked (and it was really easy to do to) from ThisOldHouse.com.

"Most minor sink clogs can be cleared with a plunger. Partially fill the sink with water, then start plunging. Vigorously work the plunger up and down several times before quickly pulling it off the drain opening. If it's a double-bowl kitchen sink, stuff a wet rag into one drain opening while you plunge the other one. If it's a bath sink, stuff the rag into the overflow hole. In both cases, the rag helps deliver the pressure directly to the clog."
So no plumber (or husband) was needed this time.

Oct 9, 2008

Greener Halloween

I just got a marketing e-mail from a web store selling organic stuff. I was about to delete it when I noticed they had good tips for a more sustainable Halloween. I hadn´t even thought about it. We don´t celebrate Halloween in Finland so we are not really accustomed to it. We decided not to participate anyway - at least yet - because we don´t want our son to get used to sugary candies yet.

Green Halloween tips

1. Trick or treat with reusable bags
2. Make the costume yourself (Thrift stores are a great place to find creative costume ideas. And you can donate it back later.)
3. Give eco-friendlier and healthier treats (organic fruit leather, fair trade chocolate, xylitol chewing gum, organic raisins etc.)
4. Walk instead of driving
5. Reuse, donate or recycle party favors

(Original tips from Nubius Organics)

More greener halloween tips from
StopGlobalWarming.org

Do you have good pumpkin recipes? I would like to try to cook pumpkin but I have never tried so I need good healthy recipes.

Oct 7, 2008

Trains: A Green Alternative for Travel

As American’s we don’t often think of traveling by train. It’s something that Europeans take for granted. The idea of a trip comes up and we immediately think of planes or cars. It’s easy and it’s what we’re used to.

A few weeks ago my husband and I needed to go on a business trip to Chicago and drive a moving truck back. Usually when we go we get a round trip plane ticket and have to waste the return portion of the ticket. I started thinking about my business trip a couple of years ago when I took the Amtrak from New York City to Boston to Philadelphia to Washington, DC. It was so much better than flying and trains have tons more room.

Actually, train travel is financially more beneficial as well. Our plane tickets would have cost at least $500 per person for a round trip ticket and ironically even more for a one-way ticket. Our train tickets cost $100 per person with a $244 upgrade for our private room, for a total of $444 for both of us.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. I was really looking forward to a romantic trip with my husband (who happens to be 6’5” so he fits in the train a lot better than a plane). We had the best, most relaxing trip. We chose to get a private sleeping room since the trip was going to be 16 hours.

We left Jackson, MS at 6:00 pm and got to Chicago at 10:00 am…well, we were supposed to. One of the drawbacks of trains in the United States is that they don’t really run on time. We were about three hours late, but we didn’t mind. We had a wonderful steak dinner on Thursday night and went back to our room to watch a movie on my laptop. After a very good night sleep (the chairs folded out to a bed), we ordered breakfast and brought it back to the room to watch the scenery and read. All in all, it was the most relaxing trip I’ve taken. No cell phone, no internet, just spending time enjoying the ride.

It wasn’t until I was reading my new Mother Earth News magazine that I realized how green the trip was. There was a column called “Green Your Getaway”. It says, “This lower-carbon alternative lets you relax and enjoy the scenery on the way to your destination while releasing fewer greenhouse gases than flying or driving.” I had never really considered the idea of train travel, but after this wonderful experience and given the fact that it actually is better for the environment, I fully intend to use this alternative when ever possible.

The trains do have limited coverage in our area, but there are stations in Lake Charles, Lafayette, New Orleans, Jackson, MS and Marshall, TX. You can check out the routes at Amtrak. You can get a full sleeper room with a private bath, a smaller sleeper room with a bathroom down the hall or just a seat in the general cars. The general seats are very large and recline with a foot stool. The restaurant/bar is very good. We took the City of New Orleans which featured great Cajun food. We even ended up sharing a table with a great guy who was traveling with his two small kids to meet his wife.

I would like to encourage everyone to think about taking the train for your next trip. Instead of fighting traffic, being stuck on a monotonous interstate and paying ridiculous gas prices, you can put the driving in someone else’s hands and sit back and enjoy the view from the large picture windows while helping the environment and seeing the countryside as your great-grandparents probably did. You might even come home with a new friend or two.

You can also check out “Tips for Eco-friendly Travel” at Mother Earth News. Happy traveling and maybe we’ll see you on the train!

Oct 6, 2008

No poo experiment, day 2

Ok, I am not going to report about my hair every day but I found this video from Youtube that I wanted to share with you, it made me laugh.

After hearing on Skype phone about my no shampoo experiment, my mother suggested that I would also add some good oils in my diet to help with the possible dryness of the skin. (She also suggested that I could shave my hair but I think I will still wait before taking such radical measures...) So I started today taking vegan omega capsules (made of black currant seeds instead of fish oil) and decided to eat a few nuts every day.

My scalp feels a little itchy today so I am trying to remind myself why I started this.

1. I don´t like the chemicals in the shampoos. I am afraid they will harm my skin and that they are bad for my health too.
2. The shampoos won´t help the itchiness in my scalp. The medicated shampoos intended to help with the problem make things worse.
3. I have read that my body can produce natural oils that will help to keep my scalp and hair well if I don´t wash them away with shampoo. If this is the case, the shampoos are actually unnecessary.
4. Especially organic/natural shampoos cost a lot of money.

The hair looks and feels good though after baking soda and organic apple cider vinegar wash. Tonight I rinsed it with water and a rinse of essential oils (rosemary, tea tree, chamomille) diluted to water. Tip: The oils mix with water easier if you dilute them first in a little bit of milk (this applies also to adding essential oils added to bath water by the way). I forgot to take a "before" picture to compare for later, but this one is taken 20 hours after the first baking soda / vinegar wash.

Oct 5, 2008

Experiment: Going shampoo free



My scalp got itchy after moving to US about two years ago. The dermatologist says it is seborrheic dermatitis. The interesting thing is that it gets better when I visit my home in Finland for longer periods. So I have figured it must be caused by the climate (humid!) or water or then I have stress about living so far away from home :)

Either way, I read about going shampoo free (look at this amazing link to learn more!) and I am going to try it now, starting today. I will follow the instructions of the link above and use baking soda (1 tbsp per 1 cup of water) and occasionally apple cider vinegar rinse. I will follow the experiment in this blog.

I think this might make sense since I rarely use shampoo on my son´s hair, who is two. He has quite a lot of hair and even if I hardly ever use baby shampoo to wash it, it feels nice and smells good and the scalp looks good. So going natural in this case might just help. I feel very hopeful.

Do you have any experience or good hints about going shampoo free?

Welcome to the Living Naturally blog!

Living Naturally in Louisiana blog started from a yahoo group, an online support group for people in Northern Louisiana attempting to live more natural life. The purpose of this blog is to reach more people.

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