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Sunday, July 31, 2011

How do YOU Shampoo?

Editor's note. I have been enjoying the no poo method now for 3 months, and my hair is soft with its natural wave back. My daughters are still enjoying the no poo method too. 

Last week We talked about shampoo. Shampooing our hair on a daily basis was uncommon until about 20-30 years ago. Before that women would wash their hair less frequently. Perhaps it all started with the Farrah Fawsett ads on TV for Faberge. I don’t remember that one. But I do remember this one.
Shampoo Commercial
And I remember wanting to be a Breck Girl too. I used to have long hair that I would wave about behind me. I would like to say that this picture is me, but sadly it is not. It is Brooke Shields as a Brooke Shields Breck shampoo[3]Breck Girl, circa 1974. You see I thought I was that little girl,  Brooke is about my age after all.
Before my current generation, ladies did not wash their hair so frequently.  However now it is has become part of our daily hygiene routine. Some young people wash their hair more than once a day.
When you wash your hair frequently you strip the natural oils, or sebum from your hair and scalp. Most shampoos contain detergents and it is their nature to strip oil and dry out. When you dry your scalp out it will overproduce sebum, in an attempt to balance out your body’s natural ph and moisture.
We talked about some of the options to shampoo last week.  By now some of you may be considering those options. We have been trying a few of them here at the Granola Catholic house.  No I am not using my family as guinea pigs. They just did not have any other options when we ran out of usual shampoo. So what options did they have?
  • Natural Soap bought at the Farmer’s Market
  • Liquid Castile Soap diluted with water
  • Baking Soda Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
I let my family choose their own preferred methods.
What did they choose?
Deacon G has been using the Natural Soap in a bar form. He has put all the scraps of soap in a soap bag and just runs the soap bag over his head once a day. He said it gets oily. Although he admits that he washes it to get it to lay down too.  We still need to work on him.
I tried the Castile Soap method and found that it left my thick hair feeling sticky and it did not give the lather I was thinking it should. In retrospect I think this is because I did not dilute it enough. Since then I have diluted it more and it does a fantastic job on my son’s hair. I put it in an old pump style shampoo bottle and he finds it easy to use. With all the swimming we have been doing he has been washing his hair about once a week, but rinsing it out with clean water in between.
The girls and I have been doing the Baking Soda/ACV Method.  I have been using it for about 2 weeks now. I tried it a couple of years ago and it worked well for me. I simply mix about 1 tbsp. baking soda with a cup of water then massage into my scalp for about a minute. A follow up with a rinse of ACV that I have diluted with water about 50/50.  I have put the ACV into a plastic spray bottle and spray my head then rinse. You may be looking for bubbles. There are no bubbles with this method.
The  baking soda acts as a deodorizer and clarifier, while the apple cider vinegar is a natural antiseptic and reduces scaling or peeling of the scalp. In addition, ACV  also helps detangle hair, balance hair's natural pH and helps seal the hair cuticle (making it shinier and less frizzy).
Last Wednesday, I was thinking to myself “I don’t think this is working, my hair feels oily”. I then remembered that the last time I had washed  my hair had been Saturday. As I think about it now I had been to a water park on Tuesday that left my skin awfully dried out. I am certain now that it dried out my scalp too. Even though I rinsed off in the shower. We have already established that drying out your scalp causes it to overproduce sebum, so I am thinking that is what happened there.
Peanut and I are having great success with the ACV method. Pi is not so sure, but her hair looks wonderful.
I guess the lesson from this experiment is that one size  does not fit all. We all have slightly different hair and body chemistry. Lets face it if one method or shampoo worked well for everyone then we would have a much much smaller shampoo section in the stores. For now our chosen methods are working well. So will be continuing on our hair care routines.

Linking up with Simple Lives Thursday,Natural and Green Mama's

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Month in Review–July

I can’t believe how quickly July has flown by, and soon school will be starting for the kiddos. I will start sometime in September, so August though it promises to be hot is a great month for me to catch up on all sorts of things, and get our routines back on a school schedule.
Hard to believe all that we did in July. The first weekend saw Deacon G, Peanut, Pumpkin and I on the Deacon Road Show. Traveling with the kids is always so much fun. He was sent off to preach IMG_6450at outlying, rural parishes in the diocese. We made into a fun little getaway with a side trip to a winery and Subbiacco. Subbiacco, for those who do not know is a Benedict an Monastery in Arkansas with a wonderful guest house. IMG_6500

It sits up on  a hill keeping sentinel on the nearby towns. While there we took a side trip to Mt. Magazine, the tallest mountain in Arkansas. We did a little exploring and even took a swim in the mountain lake. Quite refreshing on a 100 degree day.

All this time our oldest was out traveling about, first in Boston on the Paul Revere Trail North Church and Paul and then in Philadelphia with a brief visit to North Carolina, before returning home.
moriah in Phllly
We sent our Middle Daughter off to her first residential camp this month.IMG_6560

And when everyone came home we started on some more natural beauty routines
We have spent the two weeks of the month catching up on all the usual summer activities here, despite theIMG_6601e weather. 


Hard to believe school will be starting up for us in less than two weeks. We are not ready for summer to be over, except for the horrible heat part. We had to take some time this week to get ready for Back to School.
It seems like summer has just flown by for us. But as Pi says, “Mom we still have the weekends.” 
So tell me,  How is your summer going?

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes

I have a new favorite beauty product. Not only does it work like a wonder on my inflamed and cracking skin it does not cost an arm and a leg.  I would have to say this is a must have product for everyone. Turns out this product has been around forever and gets favorable review on EWG too. What is it? Queen Helene’s Cocoa Butter.
We have been eating a LOT of ice cream lately here. In fact as I write this Deacon G has taken the kids out for Sonic. I guess since it is a kazillion degrees here ice cream keeps us feeling cooler.
I took the kids back to school clothes shopping this week to get a first day of school outfit. My son in true male fashion just grabbed a pair of shorts and a shirt without regard to size and put them in the cart.  The girls were a little picker. Neither of them found anything they liked at the first store. So off to store number two. They both loved it, my oldest wanted to bring home the entire store.  My petite Peanut could not find clothes small enough for her. So off to store number three. A store geared towards little girls. She fell in love with all the clothes there, but not so much the prices. You see I had put them on a budget for their clothes. Our next stop was T.J. Maxx where my daughter found several pieces from the little girl store at about 1/3 the retail price. She was very happy.  But what really made my Peanut happy was a trip to our favorite thrift store. We had heard that the little girl store had donated a big bunch of clothes there. And boy did she score. Full outfits, tops and bottoms even. IMG_6782

How to make my kids happy. Get them up early to beat the heat. Take them to the Farmer’s Market. Let them pick out something they want to get.

Take them to a couple of thrift stores.
Come home and do some arts and crafts.
Finally, we have been able to cross some things off our Summer Bucket List.
  • Finish Summer Reading Program
  • Trip to Zoo
  • Splash Pad Visit
  • Water Park Trip
  • Trip to Blue Hole
  • Triathlon
It seems we were so busy with camps and swim lessons that we have had to cram most of Summer bucket list into the last two weeks. But we managed to get all of that done. And it was a blast. We got a little  break in the weather and most days have been closer to 100 than 107 this week.

119498900815838943alarm_clock_mike_powers_.svg.medSchool starts for us in just 11 days. In order to get the kids acclimated to the earlier wake up time I have been making our wake up time earlier each week for the last two weeks. We are working towards our 6:30 am wake up call to start before school starts so that kid will be tired and ready for bedtime.

I have been doing a lot of looking at alternative places to move to. Not just new houses but new climates. Have I mentioned how hot it is? So far I am leaning towards Tennessee, with an average Winter temp of 40 degrees and an average Summer degree of 78 degrees, or how about Switzerland? I just love that country. It always looks so clean and like a photograph. Even though it is surrounded by mountains it does not get that cold. While there in November, I was able to get away with wearing a heavy sweater with a scarf when I was down off the mountains. And in Switzerland, even though they get snow they know how to deal with it. Unlike my current local, whose main method of snow removal is to wait for it to  melt.                                                          chapel bridge lusanne

Ireland and has a nice mild climate too, and rarely gets snow.
Where would you move if you could move anywhere in the world?

This post is linked up to 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Why NFP (Natural Family Planning)?

The U.S. bishops have designated July 24-30 as national Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. The week coincides with the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, “Humanae Vitae,” which articulates the Catholic teaching about human sexuality, marital love and responsible parenthood.

Why NFP?
My path to NFP may or may not be the typical path. It was mentioned briefly in our marriage prep. My husband and I practiced birth control the way most young Americans do. We used the pill. I happened to go so a Naturopathic Doctor. He recommended a book to me. I don’t remember the name of this book today, but I do remember that it recommended getting off hormonal forms of birth control.  It had a referral to Couple to Couple League, a group that teaches NFP. I contacted the local instructor and they got us started with the book and a private first lesson.  I got started with NFP for health reasons, 14 years ago.  When my first daughter was in the NICU, the lactation consultant asked me what I planned on using for birth control. Turns out hormonal methods interfere with breast feeding and milk supply. When I told her I wanted to try LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea) and NFP (Natural Family Planning) he was quite happy. Turns out she practiced NFP and she directed me to the book Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, by Sheila Kippley.
What is NFP?
Natural Family Planning is a natural form of achieving or avoiding pregnancy.  It fits within the Catholic Church’s teaching of sexuality. NFP is green, there are no hormones entering into our water systems. Birth Control hormones are found in drinking water across the country. Water treatment facilities can not filter out the hormones. But, most importantly, NFP honors a woman’s body. There are no devices implanted, nothing to throw away. NFP uses several methods of observing and recording fertility symptoms including: basal temperature,
You may be wondering how effective it is. When fertility awareness methods are used correctly and consistently it reaches effective rates of 90% or higher. This points it on par with birth control methods such as the pill and higher than condoms. In fact when used correctly the only forms of birth control more effective are physical or chemical sterilization.
Unlike chemical forms of birth control there are no side effects of using NFP or fertility awareness methods.  NFP is the only form of birth control that can be used to achieve or avoid pregnancy. There is no waiting time, before attempting to get pregnant. NFP is very cost effective, if no free courses are available in your area you can of attend classes online or through an organization such as  CCL for about the cost of one – two months of birth control.  The only special equipment needed is a basal thermometer. You don’t have to pay for doctor’s visits.  You can usually get these at for about $10 at most stores. You can use charts, which you can print off for free online. I just use a calendar I keep in my bathroom closet. I also use it to track other symptoms, exercise and my weight.
But wait, don’t all people who practice NFP have huge families? No, not really. We have been practicing NFP at our house for 14 years and have three children. When we first started using NFP I always thought we would have 4 or  5 kids. But that was my plan, not God’s plan. Yes, some couples who practice NFP have large  families. but it is not because of NFP failure.  I love what Leila     says on her blog Little Catholic Bubble
“if there is one message I want to send clearly to all, it's this: The fact that we have eight children is not an indication that NFP does not work. On the contrary, it has worked beautifully for us, and our children came when we expected them. No, the reason we have eight children is because understanding the truth and meaning of human sexuality changed our hearts. We went from being closed to the possibility of new life in our marriage, to opening those doors wide. It was a freedom in so many ways and on so many levels that turning back is unthinkable.
If you are interested in in finding out more about NFP check these NFP and More or Couple to Couple League

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making Back to School Green

Around here we are entering the Back to School Season.  We have been acquiring back to school supplies and assembling back to school clothes. Even if you don’t start school until September, you have probably noticed the school supplies in stores everywhere. The sales have started. You want to do something green, but are baffled by the how’s and don’t know where to start.
Let’s start with the basics supplies.
The Backpack.  There are many green options here. A cloth one is preferable to a plastic one and will last many more years. A quality backpack will cost you a little more to start with, but will last much longer in the end. Case in point my husband still has the same one he had in college. It has lasted twenty plus years and we still use it on day outings. It is a canvas and leather. Canvas is a durable material and will last a long time. Green Home  has a vulcanized rubber back pack. Vulcanized rubber is almost guaranteed to not wear out. Rawnique  has a hemp bag. Hemp is, as you know almost indestructible.  But for me perhaps the best option is to check the thrift stores. In buying a backpack at the thrift store you not only get a good deal, you are keeping things out of the landfill.  We found a Coach backpack for $10 at a thrift store last year
The Lunch Box. Taking lunch from home has so many more Green possibilities. But what to do about the lunch box? Most options are plastic. So where do you start?
Terra Cycle  - the company that collects juice pouches make a lunch box from them. How cool is that. Something that was destined for the trash, recycled into a new product. 
Let’s say you don’t want to use Plastic Ziploc Bags or plastic containers. What are your options for packing lunch?  I found these cute looking cloth sandwich bags.
LunchBots Rounds Stainless Steel Leak-Proof Food Container Set, 8-Ounce and 16-OunceLunch Bots    – These are stainless steel, lunch containers. They are practically indestructible. 

Bento Lunch Box Set - Airtight - Microwave, Dishwasher, Freezer SafeBento Boxes – These are a time honored tradition in Japan. Mothers there display their creativity with how they pack the lunch.  I had been using a plastic Bento Box, but this year I planning on getting some aluminum ones this year. My kids are good about bringing home lunch bags so this will be our next step.

Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Insulated Loop Cap (16-Ounce, Monterey Blue)
Aluminum Water Bottles  – chose bpa free aluminum water bottles, like Keen Kanteen.  These are refillable and will save you not only money but keep us away from the pesky problem with plastic.

School Supplies
Unfortunately there are not a lot of options with school supplies and the ones that are out there are horribly expensive. Before you head out the the store to get supplies, check around the house to see what you already have. I like to stock up each year and buy extra supplies for to keep at home. When you do head out to the store  opt for recycled paper products. Notebooks should have cardboard covers, so that you can recycle them later.
School Clothes
IMG_6781Believe it or not one of my daughter’s favorite places to shop for clothes is Goodwill. We happen to have a large central store near by us and they get donations directly from stores. This past week we found many brand new clothes that we bought for $1.99 each. When you buy clothes at a resale shop you are not only saving money but keeping items out of the landfill.
Getting to School
Walking to school unfortunately is not an option for us. Living in the country has it downfalls. But for many people it is definitely an option. If you live within a mile of the school, walking is a viable option. Think about it by the time you load everyone up in the car and drive to school and wait in the drop off line, you can walk to school and get some exercise to boot.  If this sounds like a better option for you than driving back and forth to school twice a day to pick up kids then check out the Walking School Bus. If you are like my and the walking school bus is not an option try carpooling. We did this last year and it was wonderful. My daughter went with her coach to gymnastics and I brought one of my son’s team mates to soccer practice.

for more Green Back to School Ideas check out Retro Housewife Goes Green

Pretty Happy Funny Real

Finally our schedule allowed me to get back to the farmer’s market.  I got some lovely cantaloupes and garlic, shallots and tomatoes. But what I love the best is I gave my camera to my daughter and let her shoot away. Long after we have eaten all the goodies I will have these pictures.
We have had a horribly hot summer this year. In fact it is the officially now the 2nd hottest summer ever.  We have been above 100 more days than not this month. Today I heard that we are the 4th hottest place in America. But this past Sunday we got our first rain in over a month. It didn’t last long but it was long enough for my kids to go out and DANCE.

We made a trip to the creek last week, it was a nice break from the heat. The creek is spring fed and the temperature of the water runs in the 50’s. We had a great time with our friends, and in true form even ran into some of our other friends there.  My kids think we can’t go anywhere without running into someone either Deacon G or I know. I would like to keep it that way too.

While we had fun here this is not the funny picture. I am still not sure what my son is doing in this picture.
This is our forecast. I am praying for a Hurricane for this weekend.

Tropical Storm Dan is in the Gulf of Mexico. It has a chance of developing into a hurricane. Now I don’t want a big damaging hurricane to hit Texas. But a nice strong tropical storm will help move this weather system, bring some rain to the parched land and relieve us from the heat we have been experiencing for the last month and half.

This post is linked up to Like Mother Like Daughter

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On my Book Shelf

We are book junkies here, we go to the library and come home with bags full, but we go to the second hand book store and thrift shops digging for books to. It is a habit I have passed on to me kids. (this is just one of a dozen book shelves in our home) There is always a book on my nightstand and another one by my chair in the living room.  The newest books to make reading list have in the Nutrition and Natural Health Area. These books have earned a permanent  spot on my bookshelf, on the 4th shelf from the top. Be warned these books are not fluff, and they are not necessarily light reading but do make good home reference books.

                             What to Eat by Marion Nestle  

Natures Pharmacy: Break the Drug Cycle With Safe Natural Alternative Treatments for 200 Everyday Ailments
What to EatI have heard so much about this book and when I spotted a copy at my thrift store I did not stop to think twice about buying it. Marion Nestle is known as the outmost authority on Nutrition in the United States

Natures Pharmacy
What I love about this book is that it breaks things down by ailments, showing medical treatments along with alternative treatments.

Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford 

Healing with Whole Foods  by Paul Pitchford
This book was recommended by my TCM Doctor. It is not a light read. It is a good 2-3 inches thick. This book is  a comprehensive look at modern medicine through Traditional Chinese Medicine eyes. It takes a nutritional approach to healing and curing ailments.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sort of Wordless Wednesday

My front yard after a month of above 100 degree temps and no rain
The only flower still blooming in my garden.IMG_6751

But then we got some Rain. Not a lot, but just enough for the kids to go out and play in it.

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