Posts tagged ‘natural’

To Tiny House or NOT to Tiny House?

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DIY Facial Mask & Beauty Regimen

So I’m not much of a girly girl. I’m not into fashion and clothes and makeup and hair. My teenage daughters are though, and it’s always a struggle for me to find something to do with them that we are all interested in. Then it hit me: natural beauty treatments. I like natural, they like beauty. It’s girly enough to make them happy and not too girly that it makes me want to run screaming from the house. It’s a win-win.

Here are a few of the things we like to make. Links to buy everything are included. We make them, then we hang out talking while they work. My oldest rolls her eyes sometimes and sighs, “Mo-THER!” at me sometimes when I’m talking but she also asks me things like, “What does this oil do?” and “Which of these herbs is best for my skin?” so it’s good enough for me. She’s 18, so really I should be thankful she even talks to me at all.

Natural Glow Honey Cleanser

  • Raw honey (not kidding, that’s all you need)

Dab the honey onto your face with your finger and then spread it out, massaging upward until it covers your whole face. Leave it on anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. (I make the facial mask while we’re waiting.) When your time is up, wet a rag and wipe it off, just like you would any cleanser. It comes off really easily (don’t get it in your hair). You’re done! Honey has so many purifying benefits that it is a natural cleanser, even for problem skin. It even fights acne! You can use it every day, up to twice a day. It might sound silly, but seriously… don’t knock it until you try it. Honey is also a humectant, which means it draws moisture into your skin at the same time it’s cleansing. I love nature.

You could alternately mix the honey with some milk to enhance the softening and purifying properties of this cleanser if you like but it’s not really necessary. This cleanser can be used on your whole body. I do it at least once a month.

mask

Mask is almost dry.

Chamomile & Rosemary Facial Mask

Place the distilled water in a small pot and simmer until hot. Place the herbs in the water and steep about 20 minutes, until the water looks brown like tea (you’ll know when it’s ready). Add more water if you need to. Strain the herbs out and set the herb-infused water aside to cool. When it’s cooled enough, mix the water and clay together, adding more of either until the desired consistency is reached (you want it to be creamy and smooth; if it’s too thick it won’t spread and if it’s too thin it won’t be a good enough layer on your face). Add the essential oils (optional, but I always use them because I have them) and mix very well. It’ll be a dark greenish-grey. Apply to your face and let it dry. When dry and stiff, wet a rag and gently scrub the mask off. Done! You’ll notice a difference right away in how your skin looks and feels.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

After mask. I know, I got some in my hair.

Fuller’s Earth Clay is a natural antioxidant and brightener for the skin. It’s excellent for lightening acne marks and evening out skin tone. Chamomile calms the skin, evens tone and is also a natural brightener. Rosemary increases circulation and tightens skin, and using a fresh or dried infusion of Rosemary is less harsh on the skin than using Rosemary essential oil. Rose oil promotes circulation, renewal and much more. Geranium is good for tissue regeneration, healing and many other things. Texas Cedarwood oil aids elasticity, tightens skin and promotes circulation. Patchouli softens, smooths, heals and all these oils fight aging.

Some variations of this mask include adding a few drops of Tea Tree oil to fight acne and oil, adding some dried or fresh Hibiscus flowers to the water instead of Chamomile to promote young, fresh skin (Hibiscus-infused water will stain your clothes if it gets on them), adding Lavender essential oil to the clay or fresh/dried Lavender flowers to the water to promote circulation, to calm the skin and to soften… the variations are endless.

There are some oils you should not use on your skin, including citrus oils. Yes, they smell great and they have antioxidant properties but they also create photosensitivity on the skin, which can lead to a chemical burn if you go out in the sun. Cinnamon essential oil of any kind smells wonderful but it will also burn the crap out of you. Best to avoid these altogether as additives to beauty treatments. Because of the lightening properties of this particular mask, I would not use it more than once a week.

ACV Toner

All done!

Done! If you’re wondering if this regimen works, keep in mind that I am 35 years old. :)

Dilute the vinegar with the water at a ratio of 1:1. You might find you need to dilute it further, depending on your skin sensitivity (ACV can be harsh if not diluted enough). I use a 1:3 dilution on my face. That means 1 part ACV to 3 equal parts water. So if you were to use 1 cup ACV, you’d use 3 cups water (that would make a lot of toner, but you get the idea). When I use ACV to rinse my hair, I can mix it a little stronger. You can add essential oils to your toner, or infuse the vinegar* with herbs to get their benefits. Rosemary is fantastic for this and so are roses or other flowers. Shake the toner and then apply to your face with a cotton ball or the tips of the fingers.

We usually follow this with a thin layer of plain coconut oil right out of the jar to moisturize. You can do that or try this instead. So there you have it. A beauty regimen you can do with your girly daughters. I use this time to teach them about natural things and they feel pampered and beautified. These recipes also actually work. Win-win!

*Infusing vinegar is very easy. You simply place the herbs of your choice into a jar or container with a lid, heat the vinegar to hot but not boiling and then pour the vinegar into the container, completely covering the herbs. Let it sit for a few weeks in a dark cabinet, shaking once in awhile, then strain the herbs out and use the vinegar. Simple! (Infusing vinegar for eating or use with food requires more care. Doing it wrong can lead to some serious problems, so please research more before attempting it.)

FDA Targeting Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathic

Not content with outlawing ibogaine and demonizing natural treatments, the FDA has decided to go after homepathic treatments as well. As this article is reposted from a mainstream media outlet, it should be taken with a (large) grain of salt. This, is after all, the same scream machine that has denigrated all known cures for cancer that are not sponsored by Big Pharma, gone after Dr. Oz for promoting preventative natural health and which touts ibogaine as unsafe, in part because 19 people died from it between 1990 and 2008 – that’s barely 1 person a year and far less than those who die from approved medical treatments every day. Readers are encouraged to do their own research and form their own opinions. *It should also be noted that homeopathic medicines and herbal medicines are very different.

Reposted from CNN.com:

By some estimates, about a third of Americans use some form of alternative medicine, including homeopathic remedies because they find Western medicine inadequate.

Creams such as Arnicare for pain relief or liquids such as Sidda Flower Essences for male virility are part of a $2.9 billion business that has seen “explosive growth,” according to the FDA. These drugs do not go through the same level of scrutiny as over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

But now your over-the-counter homeopathic remedies might soon face stricter scrutiny from the federal government.

Products such as the homeopathic cold remedies Coldese and Zicam, among others, came under fire Monday from experts who testified at a Food and Drug Administration hearing Monday.

The two-day “listening session,” as the FDA calls it, is an opportunity for experts and members of the public to help the FDA decide how it should regulate these products. Critics say the agency is not doing enough.

An analysis of hundreds of published studies from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia found that homeopathic medicine was no more effective than a placebo. There is no evidence that they actually work, the council claimed, and yet it is a multibillion dollar business.

Homeopathy is a medical philosophy that essentially believes your body is the best weapon to fight disease. Homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that “like cures like,” meaning if something causes a symptom in your body, if you take a diluted form, it will boost your body’s ability to fight it. Typically these remedies include a plant or a mineral in a tiny amount.

People who represent the industry, such as Mark Land, a member of the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, argue that the current FDA system is a good one and that the products available today are of high quality and label standards are enough.

Critics argued otherwise.

Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman testified that most people don’t entirely know what homeopathy is and “may assume that these products are dietary supplements or are conventional drugs” since they are often sold on the same shelves as traditional drugs.

This practice is “innately misleading,” said Fugh-Berman, an associate professor in the department of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown. Most consumers, she said, don’t know that the FDA doesn’t “routinely review these products for identity, purity, potency, quality or stability prior to marketing.”

While many people believe the drugs are safe in large part because they are highly diluted, products such as Cold-Eeze, if taken according to the recommendations on the label, would be 10 times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of zinc for adult females and eight times the recommendation for males, according to Fugh-Berman.

Too much zinc can have toxic effects. More than 130 people using another homeopathic medicine with zinc, Zicam, reported to the FDA that they lost their sense of smell. The FDA issued a warning to consumers about it in 2009.

There is a misconception that all homeopathic products are “natural” according to the FDA “and therefore safe. Unfortunately, FDA has become aware of significant safety issues associated with homeopathic products in recent years,” according to an email from the agency.

Other issues include a 2010 FDA warning about Hyland’s Teething Tablets. They also recalled the tablets that had inconsistent amounts of belladonna. Larger doses of the substance can be toxic.

In 2014, the FDA warned consumers about Pleo Homeopathic drug products having penicillin or derivatives of penicillin.

Another expert asking for stricter standards with homeopathic medicine, Janine Jagger with the Familial Mediterranean Fever Foundation, said that there should be stricter label standards that better explained what was actually in the homeopathic product. She believed there was a “deceptive illusion of treatment” when people chose these homeopathic options over pharmaceuticals that have been proven to work.

A third of Americans use alternative medicine

A mother and editor of an alternative medicine magazine and website, Peggy O’Mara, testified that homeopathic medicine has helped her family over the years.

As a writer and editor of health publications, she said she has seen a growing interest in this kind of medicine, and she believes it is is well-placed. She believes people have more trust that consumers do their research before purchasing the product, as she does.

She wishes doctors were better versed in this kind of medicine and believes others want “safe, effective and easily accessible” products that are “nontoxic” alternatives to help people feel better.

The public hearing will continue Tuesday. The FDA could make decisions about these labeling and regulation standards some time this year.

More info:

What is the difference between homeopathic medicine and herbal medicine

Essential Oil Spotlight: Lavender

Lavender_7

Oh, lavender. I love it so much. I am literally never without a bottle of it. Lavender essential oil has so many uses, in some ways it is the only essential oil you really need. I use it in soap, lotion, for pain relief, to treat wounds, for calming my dogs and my kids… this oil truly is multi-purpose. It also smells divine and can relieve a headache just with a sniff.

If you have no other essential oils in your home, pick up a bottle of lavender. It’s great for your skin, your hair, your nerves and so much more.

Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil:

Bug Repellent: The smell of lavender essential oil is potent for many types of bugs like mosquitoes, midges, and moths. Apply some of the lavender oil on the exposed skin when outside to prevent these irritating bites. Furthermore, if you do happen to be bitten by one of those bugs, the lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that will reduce the irritation and the pain associated with bug bites.

Sleep: Lavender essential oil induces sleep which has made it a common recommendation for an alternative treatment of insomnia. Frequent studies on elderly patients have shown an increase in their sleep regularity  when their normal sleep medication is replaced with some lavender essential oil being placed on their pillows. It has such a relaxing impact on people that it can often replace modern medicine for sleep issues.

Nervous system: Lavender essential oil has a calming scent which makes it an excellent tonic for the nerves and anxiety issues. Therefore, it can also be helpful in treating migraines, headaches, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. The refreshing aroma removes nervous exhaustion and restlessness while also increasing mental activity. It has a well-researched impact on the autonomic nervous system, which is why it is frequently used as a treatment for insomnia and also as a way to regulate heart-rate variability. One study showed that people taking tests showed a significant decrease in mental stress and anxiety, as well as increased cognitive function when they inhaled lavender oil and rosemary oil before taking the exam!

Acne: According to dermatologists and aromatherapists, lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils in the treatment of acne, which is a very uncomfortable and embarrassing condition that primarily affects young people as they move through puberty, but can also afflict adults. It is characterized by red, raised sores on the face and body that develop due to a bacterial infection near the sebum gland. When sebum cannot be properly secreted from the sebum glands on the face, it begins to build up, particularly because puberty stimulates extra sebum and bacteria feeds off of it, creating a vicious cycle of irritation, infection, and visible sores that can result in serious scarring.

Lavender essential oil inhibits the bacteria that cause the initial infection, helps to regulate some of the over-excretion of sebum by hormonal manipulation, and can reduce the signs of scarring after the acne has begun to heal. Adding a small amount of lavender essential oil to other skin creams or ointments can greatly increase the potential for relief and healing.

Pain relief: Lavender essential oil is known as an excellent remedy for various types of pains including those caused by sore and tense muscles, muscular aches, rheumatism, sprains, backache and lumbago. A regular massage with lavender oil can also provide relief from pain in the joints. A study done on postoperative pain relief showed that combining lavender essential oil vapor into the oxygen significantly reduced the amount of pain experienced, versus those patients only revived with oxygen after a major surgery.

Urine flow: Lavender essential oil is good for urinary disorders because of its stimulating effect on urine production. Furthermore, it helps in restoring hormonal balance and reducing cystitis or inflammation of the urinary bladder. It also reduces any associated cramps with these and other disorders.

Respiratory disorders: Lavender oil is widely used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. The oil is either used in the form of vapor or is applied on the skin of the neck, chest and back. It is also added to many vaporizers and inhalers that are commonly used for colds and coughs. The stimulating nature of lavender essential oil can also loosen up the phlegm and relieve the congestion associated with respiratory conditions, speeding up the recovery process and helping the body naturally eliminate phlegm and other unwanted material. The vapor of lavender essential oil also has antibacterial qualities which can battle respiratory tract infections.

Hair care: Lavender essential oil is useful for hair care because it has been shown to be very effective on lice, lice eggs, and nits. Furthermore, lavender essential oil has also been shown to be very helpful in the treatment of hair loss, particularly for patients who suffer from alopecia, an autoimmune disease where the body rejects its own hair follicles. A Sottish study reported that more than 40% of alopecia patients in the study reported an increase in hair growth when they regularly rubbed lavender essential oil into their scalp. Therefore, lavender oil is sometimes recommended as a preventative measure for male pattern baldness!

Cancer: Although more research needs to be done on human subjects, there is significant research on the effects of lavender, in combination with other essential oils, as a way to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer in mice. However, this could be an indication of an increased chance of lavender battling other carcinogenic effects and the presence of cancer.

Blood circulation: Lavender essential oil is also good for improving the circulation of blood in the body.Research suggests that aromatherapy using lavender oil has beneficial effects on coronary circulation. It also lowers blood pressure and is often used for hypertension. This means that not only do the organs increase their levels of oxygenation, promoting muscle strength and health, but brain activity can have a noticeable boost, skin remains bright and flushed with blood, and the body is protected from the risks of heart attack and artherosclerosis that is often associated with poor circulation.

Digestion: Lavender oil is useful for digestion because it increases the mobility of food within the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile, thus aiding in the treatment of indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.

Immunity: Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to a variety of diseases. It is well-known that lavender has antibacterial and antiviral qualities that make it perfect for defending the body against rare diseases like TB, typhoid, and diphtheria, according to early research in the 20th century.

General Skin care: The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other inflammatory conditions. It is commonly used to speed up the healing process of wounds, cuts, burns, and sunburns because it improves the formation of scar tissues. Lavender oil is also added to chamomile to treat eczema.

Other: Other health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to treat leucorrhoea. The oil can also used to repel mosquitoes and moths, which is why you will find many mosquito repellents that contain lavender oil as one of the primary ingredients.

As with many other essential oils, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender essential oil. It is also recommended that patients with diabetes stay away from lavender oil. It may also cause allergic reactions to people that have unusually sensitive skin. Some people may also witness nausea, vomiting and headaches due to either common or excessive use of lavender oil.

Need more info about essential oils?

You can download the most popular essential oil encyclopedia app on Amazon. This app is also available on the Google Play store.

*Benefits reposted with thanks from OrganicFacts.com 

Starting Your Homestead: Which Animals Should You Raise?

farm

Once you’ve decided to start your homestead and found your land, it’s time to start planning what sort of crops and animals you are going to raise. You might have a broad range of animals and plants you could raise, or the region and restrictions could make it a bit narrower. For us, the Midwest is fertile soil for just about any crop and the land we’ve purchased has no zoning restrictions whatsoever on animals so long as they are fenced appropriately and treated humanely.

After you’ve researched your land’s viability and zoning laws, it’s important to consider what you want your homestead to do. If you want to sell produce at a local farmer’s market or create a breeding program from the animals you raise, you will probably want a larger diversity in the type of each that you have. If your homestead is only intended to support your family, that makes a difference.

For us, it has come down to self-sustainability. The point of self-sustainability to us is to eliminate the use of cash as much as possible. This means we will only be raising animals that can give back to our little eco-system, so that we are not losing money. Because of that, we have to decide which animals are the most economical. For instance, my children would dearly love a horse or two, and while I’ve not said no, there would not be much use for a horse. We have ten acres but we don’t plan on planting huge fields of crops or anything like that, and there is nothing to clear. There just wouldn’t be much work for a horse to do, if any. We certainly wouldn’t eat him, so he would be an 800lb pet that we have to pay to feed and care for. I love horses; he would be loads of fun and wonderful to have, but he would also be expensive to keep and that needs to be kept in mind at all times.

We have decided for sure on chickens and ducks, both for laying and eating. We’ve decided to keep goats as well; goats give milk (which can be consumed but can also be used to make all manner of wonderful natural beauty products) and they can also be eaten if need be. We have discussed having one cow, but thinking economically, there is just no need for a cow if we have goats. We could not butcher a cow ourselves and I would never send an animal off to strangers to be slaughtered, so her contribution would be milk only. Goats make this not necessary. We have decided against pigs for the same reason: too difficult to butcher alone. Plus, for me personally… I have seen too many factory farm videos involving pigs to ever be able to kill one, even though on my homestead they’d live like kings. I don’t eat pork very often at all; pigs are too intelligent and I just don’t have the stomach for it. If we are not going to eat them, they just become pets we have to feed. Big pets.

The subject of rabbits has also come up a few times. Rabbit poop is excellent fertilizer and – while my family probably would not eat a rabbit in a regular situation – they can be sold for meat or eaten if necessary. We will probably end up keeping a few for the valuable fertilizer these little guys produce. It can be added to the compost pile or just put directly into the garden.

Don't let him fool you. He is a rodent assassin.

Don’t let him fool you. He is a rodent assassin.

We do have a few pets, but even they have jobs. Our two dogs, Sage and Char are excellent guard dogs and they will earn their keep by protecting our homestead. Our cat Jake is a terrific mouser and he will keep the pest and rodent population down – and be happy to do it, by the way.

Everybody has their job on the homestead, even the animals. If we look at it like that, planning becomes much easier.

DIY Remedies For Allergy Symptoms

remedies*credit goes to the creator of this image :)

Kitchen Measurements Cheat Sheet

measurements-cheat-sheet

Healing Herbs Chart

herbs

HerbalChart1

Need more info about essential oils?

You can download the most popular essential oil encyclopedia app on Amazon. This app is also available on the Google Play store.

Our Public School System: How Far is Too Far?

It is no secret to many of you that we homeschool our youngest son. The reason for this is multi-faceted. The main reason is because our son has been “diagnosed” by the school as having an “autism-spectrum disability” (he was not diagnosed by a doctor, however; the doctor concurred with us that our son was not disabled or delayed in any way), and because of this “diagnosis,” the school endeavored to have him put into a classroom in the basement of the school with no windows with children who could not speak or communicate with other people. No sunshine, no friends to play with, stunted curriculum far below his level… this is a boy who has been reading, spelling, adding and subtracting and much more since he was 3, a child who drew a complete – and correct – diagram of the internal organs on himself with a permanent marker at the age of 4 (yes, I have pictures lol) and could name every organ. He is not delayed, he is advanced. The school was either unable or unwilling to recognize this. So we pulled him out and have never regretted it.

There is another reason, however, and it is what I would like to talk about today: The school system’s continuing overreach into people’s personal lives. A perfect example is the school “diagnosing” my son with autism. The school and their employees cannot diagnose anyone with anything; they are not doctors. They have no business attaching labels to children – a label, I might add, that in our case a medical specialist did not agree with. Schools also often want to conduct home visits and myriad other things. They are the school, not the police. I homeschool specifically because I do not want or need the government or their employees in my home.

Today I read a story online about Leeza Pearson in Aurora, Colorado. Ms. Pearson sent her child to school with a packed lunch just as she does every day. The lunch consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich, string cheese and a 4-pack of Oreos. On this day, however, Ms. Pearson received a note from the Children’s Academy in Aurora, Colorado. The child was apparently prohibited from eating the Oreos because the school stated they weren’t nutritious enough.

The school also apparently sent a note home that read:

“Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a heavy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone’s participation.”

The school has now backtracked on this issue, saying that no such note should have been sent home to any parent.

Aside from the obvious absurdity of insisting on potatoes and bread (two starches is healthy? OK…), what right does the school have to be involved here at all? It’s not rat poison, it’s 4 cookies. Four cookies. This is a massive overstepping of boundaries on the part of yet another government institution: the public school. This is becoming more and more common and people have got to push back against it or we may find ourselves no longer in charge of our children’s lives.

My 6 year old nephew – 6, not 16 – was sent home from school the other day because he threw a tantrum that included saying something about killing. My sister was told that she had to take him to a mental health evaluation or he could not come back to school. She was also told the school would call child protective services if she did not comply. My sister did as directed by the school. The doctor’s response? “This the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. The school needs to learn how to control a child throwing a tantrum.” Just another ridiculous overreaction from people who have no business making themselves the authority on subjects they apparently know absolutely nothing about. Do any of these people even have kids?

Take a lesson from these things, parents. Pay attention to what is going on with your children before it’s too late.

Plants That Reduce Air Contaminants

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