Kicking Out Chemicals, A Lifestyle Shift

It’s funny how kids can change a person’s perspective and I’m no exception. I’ve been slowly dipping my toe into a chemical free (or a least greatly reduced) life. It all started with a batch of DIY laundry detergent as a way to save some money. But when I noticed my family’s skin clearing up on legs, arms, and backs I started paying attention.

There are chemicals in everything.

I’m not exaggerating. Unless a product is regulated through the FDA they don’t even have to tell you what’s in it. I downloaded the Think Dirty app for my phone and started scanning my household products. I didn’t make it far before I was tossing things into the trash. Brands I have trusted for years! I threw out Dove, Johnson & Johnson, Oral-B… Goodbye Maybelline. If you are skeptical check out this article featured on WebMD.

What started as a light dabble of detergent DIY has turned into a full baptism, I’m off the chemical boat and I’m going to do my best to not go back.

I threw out my deodorant, my toothpaste, my makeup, my hair care products…. If this is TMI I’m sorry but this is where the blog comes in. I’ve had a lot of people asking me about what I am using instead of the chemical products. Let me say I’ve tried a few weird things some worked and other’s didn’t. I know it’s not possible to be completely chemical free, it’s too pervasive, but when I have a choice I’m going to try.

So I’ll be making a few resource posts on what I am using, what didn’t work, and what I’ve found to be the best solution for DIY body care. Stay tuned for more to come and I will be relying on my an oil kit I purchased through Young Living for many of these recipes (Check out the kit here).

Be aware that some of the solutions I have found do not look like what you buy at the store. We have been trained to have deodorant in a stick, to have bubbles when we shampoo and to associate clean with the smell of bleach. So resetting my mind for what is normal is just as important as understanding the products.

So please feel free to laugh, comment, or question as I show you my new oily life, chemical free.

Happy Questing!

 

Plum Jam

I went to my local fruit stand and bought 6lbs of plums because they were so affordable! Then I had to think about what I would make out of them. I decided to make some jam, however I have never made plum jam before.

This is a super simple way to make jam if you have the time.

Start by cutting 6lbs of plums in half and pitting them, placing the plums in a large bowl.

Per the 6lbs of plums add 2 1/4c sugar to the plums and mix well, let the sugar sit until it has dissolved.

wp-1472218776537.jpg

Place the plum mixture in a large pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Once it is evenly boiling place the element on simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the 10 minutes allow the mixture too cool down to room temperature.

Once this is room temperature you are going to bring the mixture to a boil, and then place on simmer again. You will do this process a total of 4 times. If you still believe it is not your desired consistency then do this 5 times. As it cools it does become thicker.

Then on the last boil get your sterilized jars ready. I was able to fill 4 jars, which is just enough for my husband and I.  Fill them right after you allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill the jars carefully, leaving about 1/2-1in of space at the top, make sure the rims of the jar are cleaned off otherwise they may not seal.

I do not have a pressure cooker, I ended up bringing a pot of water to boil on the stove and placing all four jars in the pot. The lids of the jars were covered with water by 1-2in. I let them boil for 10  minutes.

wp-1472218786108.jpg

Carefully remove the jars and place upside down to sit until cool. If the lids “pop” up and down when you push on them then they have not sealed, and you will need to try to seal again. All my jars ended up sealing well on the first attempt.

When you open your jam for eating I suggest storing in the fridge.

 

Ingredients:

6lbs Plums

2 1/4c Sugar

4 Jars

Calendula infused Oil

What is Calendula?

Calendula (calendula officinalis) is a plant originating from the Mediterranean region and is sometimes called pot marigold. However it is different from the marigolds found at plant nurseries in the USA. Calendula has been prized for centuries for it’s healing capabilities.

Calendula, is a genus of about 15–20 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the daisy family Asteraceae that are often known as marigolds. They are native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean.Wikipedia

Calendula is easy to grow

Calendula is a hardy annual that thrives in cooler weather. Plant seeds directly in the ground after the snow is gone a couple weeks before the last frosts. Space the plants 10-12 inches apart for best results. Blooming begins in about 8 weeks from sprouting and will last into late fall, even tolerating frost. I bought one small package of seeds which gave me  enough blooms to use and enjoy. I saved enough seeds off those for the following year. IMG_20160208_142727739

How to harvest the flowers

Harvest the flowers by simply popping off there heads. Don’t pick the stems as new flowers will continue to emerge. Harvesting flowers produces more blooms. Pop the heads off in the early mornings after the dew has dried. I only use newly opened flowers. I always leave a few flowers to go to seed. This will be next years planting.

How to infuse with oil

Immediately after picking the flowers inspect for insects and place blossoms in a clean glass jar that has been boiled in water for 5 minutes. Pour a carrier oil over the blooms until covered, add 10 drops of vitamin E oil as a preservative. Shake. Place in a cool dark place for 6-8 weeks shaking every few days. Strain, squeeze or press the blossoms to get every bit of oil.  Add 10 more drops of Vitamin E oil. Bottle in a cobalt blue or dark brown glass container and store in a dark cool place.

What is a carrier oil?

Carrier oils are naturally derived from vegetarian sources and have a neutral smell. They are not volatile like essential oils, which makes them an excellent medium for dilution and application. I am using Sweet Almond because it is considered to be the perfect all-purpose carrier oil that works well in most recipes. All oils including cooking oils have a shelf life and can go rancid  within a year. Check the expiration date on the package.  Carrier oils do not like extreme or repeated changes in temperature. This is why oils come in dark colored glass bottles and are recommended to store them in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat. Deterioration will begin once they are exposed to heat and air, which starts at the factory where they are made. Mix small batches that you know will be used up before they expire. Buy all oils in small quantities. Note: Rancid oils should not be consumed and can cause major health issues. Never reuse oils that you have cooked with, and always smell them before use. 

Here is a list of carrier oils I have used: grape seed  oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter.

 Why add calendula to oil?

For the health benefits. The flowers of Calendula are edible and have been used for centuries for a variety of ailments. I invite you do to your own research into this amazing plant and it’s health benefits.

  • Wound healing
  • Burn soothing
  • Immune boosting
  • Collagen regeneration
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Liver, gallbladder, and uterine tonic
  • Anti-fungal
  • Rash soothing
  • Calming scrapes, cuts, bites, and other minor wounds
  • General skincare
  • Inflammation

What to do with the calendula infused oil?

This infused oil can be used just as it is or in recipes.

I am making a healing salve with my oil.

  • 1 cup of calendula infused oil
  • 2 tbsp bees wax
  • 2 tbsp shea butter
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp. vitamin E oil

Gently heat beeswax and shea butter together until completely melted on the lowest heat setting necessary to melt. Add infused oil to the beeswax shea mixture.  Heat just until all is evenly melted and mixed together.  Add vitamin E oil and mix thoroughly.  Remove from heat.  Add the essential oils last.  Note: Do not over heat as this destroys the healing qualities.  Pour into a clean jar and seal. Store in a cool dark place.

 

Drinking Sunshine: Calendula Tea

Organic Calendula tea on a cold winter’s day does not come without preparation unless you are buying it. As I sip on the hot tea looking through the pile of seed catalogs that have been arriving since the new year I smile, recalling this past summers kitchen garden.

Calendula a plant that will bring plenty of bright sunshine to your garden.

Flowers range in color from oranges to bright yellows and are packed with beta-carotene and vitamin A. Calendula is a staple in my garden and I grow it for its healing properties.

Tea Preparation: Steep 2 or 3 flower heads with petals in a cup of boiling water for approximately 5 minutes.

Knowing that gardening takes planning, now is the time to order up your seeds and designate a place in your own garden for this healing herb. Once you buy a pack it is easy to harvest your own seeds after that. I bought one package and planted only half of them. I had so many flowers I couldn’t keep up, so the ones that produced seeds became my next years supply.

To harvest the flower heads, pop them off their stems after the morning dew has dried. I place my fingers under the flower head and just pull up gently. Do not cut the stem because more flowers will bud off from it. Once picked, lay them out to dry in a shady dry place. After they are fully dry put them into a sealed glass container. You can also infuse oils with the fresh flowers to be used later in healing recipes.

The list of healing benefits for Calendula is staggering and it is one herbal plant every family needs on hand.

It can be used in place of corticosteroids a class of steroid hormones which have numerous side-effects, some of which may be severe.  Calendula does not have side effects unless you are highly allergic to plants in the ragweed family. Do your own research or consult your physician if you have questions/concerns or are pregnant/ nursing♥

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Calendula uses:

  • All skin irritations: eczema, sunburns, rashes, insect bites, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, diaper rash
  • Minor injuries
  • Dry damaged-skin
  • Protection from premature aging
  • Helps new tissue grow
  • Anti-inflamatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Heals burns
  • Natural restorative properties
  • Regulates and eases Menstrual Pains
  • Alleviates hot flashes
  • Stimulates immune system