Spring Cleaning in the Summer: Day Two

Spring cleaning in July has become spring cleaning in summer. Who knew July would go away so fast? This series is my attempt to rid my home of things that:
  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space
According to Mercola.com, "Putting chemicals on your skin or scalp may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs."(source) I have often said that if it can't go in me, it shouldn't go on me. It is estimated that people use 9-15 personal care products a day. If all of them contain just a bit of carcinogens, then it can really start to add up.  I mentioned in Spring Cleaning: Day One that cleansers contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate. The same is true for shampoos. You can purchase ones without it. Not a bad idea to have some on hand. But for the most part at my house, I use what I have in the kitchen! Baking soda and water. I also add  a few drops of  lemon oil. The lemon is good for the hair (so are peppermint and rosemary).  I apply it using a squeeze bottle and work it into the scalp. I can do this every other day for 10 days or so, then I like a good sudsy shampoo, and start over again. I spray a bit of orange peel vinegar on the ends of my hair and rinse too, which for me is a good conditioner. 

We have discovered that more than a hair shampoo, this mix is fantastic for underarms. No soap ever worked so good.
1 squeeze bottle
1/3 cup baking soda
5 drops lemon, peppermint, or rosemary
5 drops cleansing blend
Fill the rest of the bottle with water and shake before each use.

There is a breaking in period for the hair when you switch off of shampoo. You may need to shampoo more often in the beginning.

My friend has terrible asthma. She said that her well meaning mother-in-law went out and bought some commercial air freshener for the bathroom and brought it home. The kids had a great time spraying it and she had a terrible time breathing it. One chemical induced asthma attack coming up! My husband calls it cancer in a bottle. And it is sooo unnecessary. You can make your own air fresheners. If opening the windows is not enough for you, you can make your own spray. Just fill a bottle with water and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and a tsp of Epson salts. That is it! Or, you can purchase a wonderful diffuser that will not just cover up the scent, but rid the air of pathogens.

Aaaah, the cupboards are slowly being emptied of toxic chemicals. Tune in to see what goes next!

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Flourless Chocolate Zuchinni Cake

We recently left town on a fun two week road trip. This is no small feat when you have two milk goats, one ornery goat daddy, four rabbits, 12 chickens and a garden on the verge of really producing. But I am lucky to live in a village that was willing to care for things in my absence. In fact, I am pretty sure the buck was fed three times a day or more, which I am sure he did not complain about. For my wonderful neighbors, I took them a loaf of home made zucchini bread, but I have one friend who can not have gluten. I have been thinking all week what I could make her instead. I came up with this cake today. My kids begged me to not add the zucchini, but come on, what else are we going to do with it? Besides, I still spelled it wrong on my last post, so until I can spell it correctly, we will continue to have more zucchini recipes.

Here is the flourless chocolate piece of heaven for my dearest friend who milked goats for me morning and night for two straight weeks. She deserves one a week for the rest of her life...but zucchini won't always be in season.

Flourless Chocolate Zucchini Cake

6 eggs (divided)
2/3 cup xylitol (divided)
1/8 tsp powdered stevia
1/2 cup butter
8 oz chocolate. (Use semi sweet for a sweeter cake, dark for a more intense chocolate flavor.)
2 T orange liqueur or 5 drops orange essential oil
1 T vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini
  • Melt chocolate and butter together on low heat.
  • Whip 2 eggs and 4 yolks together with 1/3 cup xylitol then add to the cooled chocolate mixture.
  • Next, add the zucchini, orange flavor, and vanilla.
  • Take the 4 egg whites that are left and beat them. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of xylitol and continue to whip about 4 min until they keep their shape, but are not super stiff.

Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. Folding is not my specialty. I like to whip! But resist and be gentle. In the end you will have a chocolate cloud.

Pour it into a buttered 9X13 pan or a spring form if you want to get fancy. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until no longer jiggly in the center

Top it with Orange chocolate frosting
2 T butter
2 T cocoa powder
2 T cream
3 drops orange essential oil
1/4 t vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered xylitol

Beat butter, cocoa, cream, vanilla and orange together. Add the powdered sugar a bit at a time until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over the cooled cake.

Oh my yum! The texture is like cake, rather than a dense truffle as are most flourless cakes. The orange is perfect and the bits of zucchini give it the perfect bite. We kept telling the kids, "Don't eat it! It has vegetables in it. You will hate it." But they didn't listen. Most of them had seconds.  I am pretty sure I can get my friend to milk for me again if I make her this. After all, what could possibly go better with a tall glass of milk?

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Low Sugar Zucchini Muffins

Is that the funniest name for a veggie or what? Thank goodness for spell check, because I have about as much success spelling this word as I do mhyyr, myrhh, myrrh! Well, we didn't plant a single one. Not this year. I never have anything but bad luck with zucchini and besides, those who do have success have sooo much success that they are begging me to take it off their hands. So even I have it coming out my ears. What to do with it? I personally like it. My kids think it is slimy poison. They do, however love zucchini muffins.

Muffins can be a great addition to your low sugar breakfast menu. Have you ever seen on Pinterest a caption like: Finally, a zuchhini bread that doesn't call for three cups of sugar? I always giggle at that. Cuz guess what, just because it calls for it does not mean you have to actually use it. But for those who have an absolute need to follow directions to the letter, feel free to pin this and write: Finally, a zuchiine, zuchinni, zuchhhiiiinnini, zucchini bread recipe that doesn't call for three cups of sugar!

Zucchini Banana Bread/Muffins

4 large ripe bananas
2 cups shredded raw zucchini
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1 cup sugar (I use evaporated cane sugar or Muscovado Sugar).  
4 eggs from the back yard
2 t baking soda
2T baking powder
4 cups flour (Freshly ground whole wheat...I use a mix of hard white and soft white)
I would say chocolate chips are optional, but are they really? I use these wonders...just a few.
  • Beat the bananas into submission.
  • Add the zucchini, you just have to add it, you don't have to spell it.
  • Add soft or melted butter and the coconut oil.
  • Then put in One, yes just One cup of sugar!
  • Beat it all until creamy and add eggs as you curse the rooster who is highly overprotective of them...stay tuned for chicken and dumplings! 
  • Add the powdery substances and mix until just combined. If you over mix, you may get rocks instead of muffins.
  • Add chocolate chips if desired.
  • Makes 24+ muffins or 12 muffins and one loaf or two loaves or dozens and dozens of mini muffins, but who has time for that?
  • Bake at 350 for 15-17 min until the tops are firm. The loaves will take about 45 min, possibly more. I know, I am so specific. I can tell you that if you forget the loaf while you mix up smoothies and feed a crowd, it will get slightly overdone. OOPS!

I love muffins for breakfast. I can mix them up at dinner and if I can keep everyone from eating them for dessert, then we have a speedy quick meal. I love to serve with chocolate milk or Orange Julius.

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Spring Cleaning in Summer Series: Day One

As I stated in my introductory post, my cleaning goal is to get rid of things that:

  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space
 At one time, my cupboards were teaming with tubes of deodorant, bottles of mouthwash, mounds of toothpaste, and jugs and jugs of laundry soap. I got them all at really good prices, but what is the final cost? So many commercially produced beauty and cleaning products are chemically laden with ingredients I can not pronounce. I am thinking if I don't know what it is, then my body probably doesn't know either. But more than that, most of the ingredients are completely unnecessary. When was the last time you felt the need to swish your mouth with cetylpyridinium chloride and methylparaben? No? So, out goes the mouthwash!  

Replace those unknowns which are really hard to spell with essential oils and water. Peppermint, Cinnamon, and Protective blend are all good ones. A little drop in some water goes a long, long way.

Extra Strength mouthwash: like get rid of garlic strong:


Without a doubt, the product I love most in my home is lotion. I may not have actually gotten rid of this one yet. Baby steps! I can not tell a lie, I don't exactly love my whipped body butter and lotion bars. Not because they are not wonderful, but because they don't feel like Vaseline Intensive Care... sigh. I have new lotion recipe in the works.

 Six times out of ten I go for my home made lotion. But that other 40%, I am still working on!

 I have boxes of this stuff. I don't know why. I have never even used them. But when you pick it up for free.. why not? Parfum Fragrance for one, sodium laurel sulfate for another. What we put on our skin can be even more dangerous than what we put in our bodies. Instead of lathering up with one product filled with carcinogens, then moisturizing with another and toning the skin with a third, and getting rid of blemishes with a fourth.....

Go natural with things you can find in the grocery isle. Cook with it, then wash your face with it!  May sound weird, but it works and leaves it so soft and smooth. Rose water is a wonderful smelling astringent. Lemon juice works as well...but not so much on a blemish or cut...ouch!  To use oil, use hot water on a cloth to open pores, then use a teaspoon at most of oil. Olive works great for me. I mix it with a bit of Castor oil. Then using hot water again, wipe off the oil. Using a cotton ball, use rose water (a lovely Asian drink) to smooth over the face. I tried honey as a face wash once. Now that is just a sticky situation. I prefer oil myself. It will leave you with soft, glowing, wonderful skin.

 And for acne, add a drop of lavender myrrh, or melalueca to your oil wash. Get rid of this other toxic goop!

Stay tuned for more of spring cleaning in July, where we will tackle shampoos, deodorant, medicines, and more.

Please visit the other posts in this series!
Spring Cleaning in Summer
Day two
Day three

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Spring Cleaning in Summer Series

So what is it with people and their stuff anyway? It is an obsession with some. Clutter from floor to ceiling. Coupon mania has spurred some to become addicted to collecting more than they will ever use, and most of it garbage anyhow. I had a lady tell me the other day that her home is just busting at the seams so they need a new one. She and her family of 4 would feel downright claustrophobic if they came into my 1800 sq foot home with 7 people, 10 chickens, 3 goats and 3 rabbits (No, the animals are not actually IN the house...except on accident sometimes.) Plus all our stuff. We, however do not plan on up sizing any time soon. My philosophy is that if you are feeling too cramped, get rid of some stuff! I have had  "stuff" on my mind a lot lately. I have decided it just takes up space and can be gone in an instant anyhow.
So, it's time for some spring cleaning in July. There are a few products that I have kept around mostly because I just haven't gotten around to tossing them. I have decided, however that it is time.  Now I have room for the abundance of jars that will need a new home when I get my tomatoes canned.  
I am getting rid of things I do not now, nor will I ever need. Things that:
  • Are chemical filled
  • Have ingredients I can not pronounce
  • Do not promote self sufficiency
  • Have no value to me whatsoever
  • Just take up space
I can replace almost all of the "stuff" in my cupboards for cleaning, beauty and medicine with the following:
Baking Soda
Essential oils
Coconut, Almond, Olive Oil
Shea butter
Distilled Water
Castile Soap
Washing Soda
Fels Naptha
Distilled Water
Good Vitamin Supplement
Redmond Clay
Hydrogen Peroxide
So tune in tomorrow as we begin day one of Spring Cleaning in July! What products would you add to this list?
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A Lamp Full: Riches

If we insist on spending all our time and resources
building up for ourselves a
worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.
Spencer W. Kimball
We had a lesson in church yesterday about the rich man who asked what more he needed to get into  heaven. The Savior told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. (Mark 10) The rich man went away sorrowing because he had much. Perhaps his whole identity was tied up in his stuff. Who would he be if he no longer had it? The problem with the rich man is that he had no idea who he really was. He was defined by his possessions.
“For a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
A few years ago, a tornado ripped through our neighborhood. We were huddled down in the storm cellar while the storm raged above us. We were completely convinced as we heard tearing and pounding and the darkness became light in an instant that all we had in the world had just been flung into Kansas. But all that mattered to us was folded into that tiny cellar below ground. Two thankful parents, four brave children, one cowering puppy, a gaggle of recently hatched chicks and my Ipad.
It didn't matter if the house above us and all its contents flew into next week. The only things that could never be replaced were safe and sound and together. I gotta tell ya folks, I have never seen "stuff" the same since. We were blessed to still have a home in tact when we timidly opened the cellar. Some of our neighbors were not so lucky. But you know what? They had learned the same lesson we did. A safe family was enough. Stuff means nothing. What good was the dumb Ipad when there were no longer any power lines in the immediate vicinity anyhow?
The moral of this story is that we spend too much time in this life amassing things. Some love money and things so much that they stoop to dishonesty to get it. Some neglect home and family to work harder to get more things. They may justify that they are doing it for the very people whom they hurt in their quest for slippery riches. But it can all be gone in an instant. Then who are they?
Riches of eternity lie in the scriptures. In our relationships. In the walls of our homes and even in tiny crowded storm shelters. These riches come in the form of knowledge, of testimony, of faith. This wealth can never be taken from us. When we spend our lives in the service of others as well as in study and prayer, we will never be poor. 
Funny isn't it, that I look back on my grandparents and great grandparents and think how very poor they were. But only by today's standards. They could sew, cook, garden, cut up a pig, make soap, and build their own homes. What riches they possessed in their abilities! I am inspired by those riches and that is they type of wealth I am working to amass.
I often stop think of the type of inheritance I will pass on to my children. Hopefully there will be some monetary value to it, because it does take money to buy the land, the cow, and the seeds. But most importantly, I hope that I pass on to them what can't be found at the ball field or at dance class, or even at school. Knowledge of how to be unyielding in faith, frugal in finances, unselfish in service, courageous in trial, and self-sufficient in homemaking. 
How can we fill our lamps with riches?
  • Put family first. They are our greatest resource.
  • Learn a new skill that grandma knew. Bake bread, sew, make soap, or plant a tomato.
  • Distinguish wants from needs. Help others before you purchase those wants.
  • Spend time each day in the scriptures and on your knees in prayer.
We can not borrow riches from another. We must have our own lamps filled with the skills and the faith to lay up for ourselves the riches of eternity.
If you enjoyed this post, please read the others in my series here.


Four Ways to Avoid a Sunburn

There is a quote circulating the Internet lately that says, "The main ingredient in hand sanitizer is paranoia!" If you think it is bad in hand sanitizer, just think how concentrated in sun screen. The experts all tell us that the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. But I wonder? Is it possible that the main cause could be your sunscreen?  Forget that most commercial brands have 20 plus ingredients in them. When the sunscreen is applied, it blocks our ability to absorb the sun and synthesize vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D leads to disease. We need D!

We need direct sunlight, uncovered for 20 min or so in the middle of the day. But hours and hours outside during that time, is not advisable on a daily basis or sunburn will be the result.

Here are some ways we avoid the agony that is sunburn:

Do your outside activities early or late. Did you know that after 4pm, your chances of getting a sunburn dramatically decrease? If you can, put of that trip to the pool until then. It is usually less crowded by then anyhow. It' s a win-win!

Cover up! Well, maybe not this much unless you are in the Bahamas in January and are cold.

But seriously, my teenager doesn't need to see your bosoms anyhow... and neither do I! Where I come from, once it hits 60 degrees out, the clothes seem to shrink! No offense intended, but is that really necessary? Even if you are off to the pool, there is a lot of modest swimwear available, including swim shirts. I saw a young girl with the cutest retro swimsuit on the other day. I want one too! As my little girl says, "Modest it hottest, especially in summer!" It is also safer for our precious skin.

Eat your SPFs! Antioxidants are one of the greatest sources of sun protection. Wanna know the strongest antioxidant I have found? Clove oil!

"As an essential oil, clove's ORAC rating soars to over 10 million. Most other antioxidants are rated in the tens of thousands to a maximum of a few hundred thousand at best." (source)

So, take your clove oil regularly. I take a few drops in a capsule each day. Your skin will thank you for it. You can purchase some high quality stuff here.

Use a mineral based sunblock during the heat of the day.  Zinc oxide will block the UV rays from the sun and it sits on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed. There are a lot of zinc oxide based creams available commercially. They run $15-$17. Badger Natural Sport Sunscreen SPF 35 comes highly recommended.  Or you can make your own of course!

Here is one home made variable to your sunscreen. I made this one before a family outing to the water park.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Beeswax Organic Pastilles
2 T Raw Shea Butter
1 t Vitamin E oil
2 T Zinc Oxide Powder
12 drops helychrisum, lavender, or peppermint

Melt the oils, beeswax and Shea butter together. Then add the zinc oxide and once cool, add the essential oils. I whipped it up with a whisk and put the lid on. We immediately took it with us to the water park and used only this sunscreen. It took 6 min to make, then about 20 min to cool in the fridge.  If applied often, it worked great!

For some other additions to your sunscreen consider the following:
Raspberry seed oil SPF 28-40
Carrot seed oil SPF 30-40
Wheatgerm oil SPF 20
Olive oil SPF 15
Macadamia oil SPF 6
Jojoba Oil SPF 4
Sweet Almond Oil SPF 4

I first became interested in a new form of sunscreen after reading Bruce Fife's, Eat Fat, Look Thin.  I love this book. He postulates that if you only use good oils (no polyunsaturated fats) in your cooking, you should be able to wear only coconut oil as sunscreen. It worked for centuries before we started adding rancid fats and highly processed foods to our diet.  So, my sister and I were in the Bahamas and I was happy to let her be the Guinea pig on that one. She had been off the soybean and canola oils longer than I had, so she seemed the logical choice. We headed out for a great day of motor "scootering" around Nassau which it turns out is a whole lot more dangerous than a sunburn. I nearly killed us that day. Unfortunately for my sister, the coconut oil was not enough to keep the sunburn away and on day two, she had to resort to the chemical filled stuff the rest of us brought. But still, I believe there is something to eating our SPFs! I will continue to include antioxidants and healthy oils to my diet for the sake of my skin. Next trip to the Bahamas should be sunscreen free.... and will definitely be motor scooter free, seriously!

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Out of the Jar: Ketchup

When my siblings and I were kids, we surprised my parents with an anniversary dinner in the hall. We set up a table with chairs and candles and made them a delicious spaghetti dinner. I say delicious, but what I mean is that it was probably undercooked noodles with a sauce made primarily of tomato sauce and ketchup. We have never forgotten it however, and neither have they.

Next month, my wonderful parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. All five of us kids were visiting them for a few days this week and my brother had the brilliant idea of recreating that special anniversary dinner from so long ago. We were so excited to show them how far we have come. We have come far! Five kids have added five spouses and 13 distractions grandchildren so our plan didn't go according to plan and the ones in charge of distracting the parents got distracted themselves by water slides and glorious sunshine. So, my sister, my husband, and I stealthily managed to set up the table in the hall, with candles and flowers and make a stunning spaghetti dinner right under their noses. It was so fun to see my parent's reaction. The minute we all led them into the hall their faces lit up with recognition of what we had done.

It was just like old times, right down to the sauce on the spaghetti! That's right. In my inconspicuous hurry to get the food on the table without being noticed, I heated up a whole jar of  Suzanne's home made ketchup, rather than Raelynn's home made spaghetti sauce. My parents were in the hall politely eating our fancy dinner and not saying a word. My son, however is not so tactful and he took one bite of his and said, "What did you do to this sauce?" We all tasted it and wondered the same thing. Aw man, we are still putting ketchup on spaghetti!  I guess we haven't come as far as we thought we had. Happy 50th mom and dad! Aren't you proud of this crowd you raised?

Although it does not taste especially delicious on spaghetti, you can't find a better dressing for your home made french fries or your eggs and sausage. This is truly ketchup out of the bottle. It contains no high fructose corn syrup or synthetic preservatives. It is good for the gut too! I am excited to try it this summer when I make my own tomato sauce from my backyard tomatoes.

Suzanne's Homemade Ketchup

3 cups organic tomato paste (I used Bionaturae  brand in glass jars)  **Note: Costco has a much less expensive organic tomato paste if that is available to you.
1/4 cup liquid whey (for preservation)
¼- ½ cup Pure Grade B Maple Syrup
Pinch of cayenne pepper (use 1/4 Tsp for a more powerful taste)
1 Tbs sea salt (I recommend Celtic Sea Salt for the best flavor)

3 cloves organic garlic, mashed
1/2 cup fish sauce (from Asian supermarket – make sure to get one with only anchovies and salt as the listed ingredients)

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder (could probably use a prepared Dijon mustard if you don’t have powder)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Mix all the ingredients until smooth. You can alter any of the spices to taste. If you want anniversary style spaghetti, heat slowly over the stove  in secret and serve on pasta. But I really don't recommend it!
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Think Outside of the Jar: Mayo

I am a hold the mayo kind of gal. Originally, because I have always found it to be disgusting. Later because... have you ever read the ingredients?  It is second only to cool whip in things that should never be consumed.   Although I hate the stuff on sandwiches, I love chicken salad. I love potato salad. It is really, really hard to make those two things without mayo.  So, a few months ago, I decided to try my own. Utter fail! All I did was waste expensive olive oil, coconut oil and precious eggs from the backyard hens.  I decided that as seldom as we eat anything with mayo, I will take my chances with the bottled garbage from the store.  But when I was scouring the cupboards for something to make for lunch, I discovered a jar of canned chicken from last fall. I immediately needed chicken salad. I pulled out the mayo and I re-read the label.  I just couldn’t do it. No, seriously, gag!  I realized that when life gives you canned chicken, you are going to have to make your own mayo.   Guess what? Second time was a charm. It was a raging success.

I made a small batch so as to not be too angry over the cost if I failed. It seems like the perfect amount to me.
Home-Whipped Mayo

 1 egg at room temp

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

¼ t mustard powder

¾ cup coconut oil (I used expeller pressed so there won’t be a coconut flavor.)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 T whey (a preservative, left over from yogurt or cheese making)

Crack the egg and add the lemon juice.  Whip together and let sit for 5 min. A friend told me that this is the secret. It worked, so she was telling the truth.  Add the mustard powder. I used an immersion blender, but I am told that a food processor or blender will also turn out lovely results. Slowly stream in the oils. It took me about 4 min to drizzle in a cup of oil. It started to get thick and creamy by the time I added half a cup. It was really hard to pour slowly after that. My patience level is not exactly a 10.  But I wasn’t taking any chances. It was actually kind of magical. After the oil is incorporated, add the whey.  It will keep in the fridge for a few months.

I can tell you that it was perfect in my chicken salad and I look forward to making potato salad very soon! Few things in the world make me feel happier than learning a new skill. No matter how small. And if at first you don't succeed, don't resort to soybean oil in a jar. Try, try again. I am still gushing over my mayo which is maybe not as disgusting as I have always thought...maybe.
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