Friday, February 21, 2014

My Attempt At DIY Makeup

As many of you know by now, I make some of our household products myself. I do this somewhat to save money and because I believe it's healthier. It's also nice to know exactly what's in the products I'm using, and honestly it can be kinda fun for me since I'm not really a creative person, this is one way I can experiment and create things. So when a friend posted a link to a blog on DIY foundation (makeup) last weekend, I eagerly checked it out. I was thrilled to discover that the basic process looked familiar to me, it was quite similar to my own lotion recipe. I also had most ingredients on hand, so I decided to go for it. I made a batch, and having a "bad face day" that day, I gave it a try right away. My results were less than stellar. (I will add the disclaimer here that I WAS missing zinc oxide from my batch, an ingredient said to be listed for it's SPF factor. There is a possibility that including that would have changed my results)

The above image is the powder and foundation I made. Initially I only made the foundation, but after applying it I felt it necessary to follow the link in the initial blog to another blog for powder, hoping that would save this little DIY project and give me the good results I was so certain I was going to get when I'd begun.

So here's me on my "bad face day" having a breakout.This is the makeup free me last Sunday morning. I really wish I'd fixed my hair before I documented this experiment!

Certain that I was going to smooth on this foundation and feel a million times better (keep in mind that other than occasional mascara use, I quit wearing makeup about a year ago in my quest to both eliminate yucky products from my life and try to have more naturally nice skin, so I wasn't going into this used to the performance of a commercial product), I wasn't very worried about my unflattering "before" photo. I actually thought it was good I'd have a more dramatic comparison when my blemishes were minimized in the "after".
Unfortunately THIS is what the application of the foundation did for my looks:
No coverage of the acne and now my face is shiny too. This is when I decided I'd have to make the powder too and THAT would fix everything. I made and applied the powder and not feeling much better threw on mascara too. So this next picture actually does look a little better, but I promise it's only because of the mascara. I wish I'd remembered to snap a pic before I did that.
The powder DID fix the shininess issue, this much is true. However I look like I have dirt all over my face now. The flash of the camera washes out a bit of the "I've got dirt smeared on my face" look I've got going on here, so you can't fully tell how silly my face looks. But you can see that my acne is still quite visible, only now looks like it has dirt on it. Thank goodness for the mascara.
Of course I could've just skipped the makeup and gone straight to the mascara like a did here the week before:
And then I wouldn't have had the wasted effort and this mess all over myself and my sink!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Homemade Room Fragrance/Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

You might wonder why I'm combining these two things, but I promise it'll make sense by the end.

Homemade Room Fragrance

I have always loved the delicious scent of candles in the Fall, particularly anything that smells like holiday baking or warm apple cider. Unfortunately for many years I haven't been able to enjoy them due to the migraines that artificial scents tend to give me. However it seems like those chemicals aren't very healthy to have in our homes, so maybe it's not so unfortunate after all.
It never occurred to me that there was an alternative until recently when I saw a random post in my Facebook news feed. Of course it was only a picture of several jars full of fruit and spices with words like "Homemade Fragrance" on it, so not much to go on. I did get very excited about the idea though, and set out on a mission to make my own. Here's what I came up with:

In the jar above is:
A sliced up orange, a few cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of vanilla extract,  and a teaspoon of almond extract.
That's it! Add water and simmer on the stove top, it smells AMAZING. As the water evaporates, add a little more.
I'm excited to try out new combinations in the future, maybe something with lemon & lavender or lime & mint...

Now before you throw out that leftover water from this yummy project, keep reading!

Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

For quite awhile now, I've been using a very simple homemade cleaner for everyday use. You simply save orange peels, put them in a big jar and fill that jar with white vinegar,  leaving it to soak for a week or longer. When you're ready, strain the orange peels out and save the vinegar to use as your homemade cleaner. You can dilute with water, or use it full strength. You can also add a few drops of essential oil, my favorite is grapefruit.

Now here's how these two things tie together. Previously I had opted to use this full-strength and not dilute any. However as my home was filling up with the wonderful scent of my homemade fragrance, it suddenly occurred to me how great the leftover water added to my cleaner might be. So of course I had to try it, and wow was it a great idea! The bathroom was more than ready for a cleaning, so I got to try it out immediately, it worked great and smelled terrific.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crunchy Chocolate Quinoa Bars (gluten free!)

These bars are tasty and healthy! The are also gluten free, dairy free, and egg free, so a nice option for people on certain special diets. Make them ahead of time and freeze in individual portions for an easy and healthy on the go snack/meal.

What you'll need:

- 2/3 cup (when dry) quinoa, cooked and cooled
- 1 cup raw almonds (or other nut of choice) chopped
- 8 ounce package of pitted dates (they can be chopped or whole, but make certain they're moist and squishy feeling, dried out won't work)
- 2/3 cup of almond butter (can substitute peanut or other nut butter of choice)
- 2 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate
- 2 Tablespoons honey (preferably raw and local)

What you'll do:

Take you previously cooked and cooled quinoa and put it in a large mixing bowl. Add your nuts and nut butter.
In a food processor, chop the dates until they are completely chopped and starting to stick together again in little balls. Add this to the other ingredients in your bowl. Mix it all together thoroughly, I find it best to use my hands to get it mixed up well. Next put the mixture into a 13 X9" pan spreading it all over evenly.
Now in a saucepan or double boiler melt your chocolate. After its melted, stir in honey. Spread this chocolate over the top of the mixture in the pan.
That's it! Refrigerate, slice into bars and you're ready to eat!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Running Blahs...The Life Blahs

I've got a serious case of the running blahs. It's been dragging on for months. When you've been a runner for more years than you've not been one, I think going through some "blah" phases is inevitable, but I've let this get out of hand. A phase such as this tends to happen at least a couple of times a year, especially in the winter months. However I usually snap out of it within a couple of weeks and get back to running. This time that's not what's happening. It dawned on me sometime last week that it's spreading and has become the life blahs.

If you're wondering what the running blahs are, it's where you just quit caring for awhile and can't even seem to force yourself to do it for your own good. Now you might really wonder how this works when someone both has the running blahs and is also maintaining a running streak. (I hit 600 days back in December...didn't notice...didn't really care once I did) Well you just do your one mile minimum day after day to technically satisfy the requirements and that is all. You quit putting forth any real effort.

This all started back in November. Two months now and I can only think of maybe three times before the last few days where I ran more than a mile. I'm seriously embarrassed to admit this, but it's the truth. When the running blahs began, I was actually feeling pretty energized and excited about life. I had just passed the exam for my real estate broker's license, had a few great employment offers almost immediately, and we were getting ready to travel for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately since then, things have mostly come to a standstill. I'm still waiting on my license to actually be issued due to my fingerprint background check still being pending. It's all hurry-up-and-wait where me getting started working is concerned. Also when we made arrangements to travel for Thanksgiving, I was earning an income babysitting, but that abruptly ended right after the plane tickets were booked. So the trip put us into a financial hole from which we just can't seem to get out. We didn't even do Christmas for the kids in the sense of gift-giving. 

I think my anxiousness, turned into frustration, and then finally to the life blahs. Not caring about anything might be making it easier to cope? Since I now realize what's happening though, it's time to turn things around. The kids deserve more than a mom who's blah about everything and not putting forth more than the minimum effort. And I should be putting more than the minimum effort into my running as well.
The past couple of days have been a good start. I've actually done some real running and been doing more fun things with the kids. Now to gain some momentum and charge ahead with running and with life!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dessert So Healthy, You Can Eat It for Breakfast!

This is gluten-free baking at it's best. Give it a try before you decide it isn't good, I just had to get onto the older two kids for eating most of a plate of these treats in a day!

1 egg
3 Tbsp milled flaxseed
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter-I warm it so it mixes easier
1 1/2 cups PUREED garbanzo beans (approx 1 can, drained & rinsed)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together and spread evenly in a 13 x 9"pan lined with parchment paper, bake at 350 for about 25 minutes

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Making Liquid Laundry Detergent

This idea certainly isn't my own, but I love it! It's so simple to do and saves a ton of money, plus it reduces waste and is more natural than mass produced detergents.

To do this you need:

Borax (approx $3.00)
Washing Soda (approx $3.00)
A bar of soap (I like Dr Bronners, which is more expensive at about $3.50. Fels Naptha is only $0.98 and also works great)
A 5 gallon bucket (or other large container)
4 gallons of water

 You'll need a new bar of soap each time, but you get several batches from the other ingredients, so it's definitely a money saver considering how much it makes!

To make it:
-Chop finely or grate you bar of soap  
-Combine soap with one gallon of water and "cook" over medium heat, stirring frequently until the soap is completely dissolved (this takes awhile)   
-While soap is dissolving, put 1.5 cups of both Borax and washing soda into your bucket
-Once soap is dissolved, pour it into your bucket and stir well
-Add 3 more gallons of water and stir again

That's it! You've now got a vat of liquid detergent. It'll be really runny at first, but set up to be gel-like eventually. 1/4-1/2 a cup is more than plenty to clean even large loads.    

Here's mine. I can only make half batches since I don't have space for a 5 gallon bucket.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grocery Shopping With a Tight Budget

As a family of five living off of only one small income, the grocery budget is tight. $400 ($450 max) per month is all I have to spend to feed the family. Whenever people hear the budget they usually ask how I do it. The truth is that is isn't always easy and there's not a lot of "fun" food, but we ARE always full and well nourished! We don't normally have many snack or convenience foods in the house and I also make the meals from scratch, nothing served comes pre-prepared in a box. I don't have a magic method for making all those things you might be used to eating less expensive, but I can show you how to make meals based around a few inexpensive ingredients.

The first thing to do is write out a menu for the week/month/etc. I usually do about a week at a time because our kitchen is teeny tiny and a week's worth of groceries fills the cabinets and refrigerator to capacity. I try to think of meals featuring: beans, potatoes, rice, hamburger, and chicken (pasta is also an inexpensive option, but you won't see it much around here because I have to use gluten free which makes it much more expensive) These things are inexpensive, versatile, and nutritious.

This week I decided to challenge myself a bit and set my goal at nine days worth of groceries and under $100. I came in at $91.14!! Here's the menu and the cost breakdown: (the menu actually covers eight days and there should be at least one more day covered with leftovers)

11/30 - bean soup ($1.48 for a bag of great northern beans), fried potatoes ($1.99 for a 10lb bag that will be used in at least 3 meals from this shopping trip), corn bread ($1.88 for yellow corn meal)

12/1 - BBQ chicken covered baked potatoes w/ a side of peas ($9.29 for a 4.7lb package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts- this will be split into 3 meals from this shopping trip. Potatoes listed on prior menu day. $0.98 frozen peas. $1.98 for BBQ sauce which will also be used for future meals)

12/2- three-bean Mexican rice ($1.38 each for a bag of black, red, and pinto beans- these will create multiple meals. $1.76 for a bag of parboiled rice-used for multiple meals. $1.98 jar of salsa. $7.89 for a 2lb bag of cheese-multiple meal use)

12/3- spaghetti & simple salad ($8.58 for a 3lb ground beef-will be used in other meals on this menu. $3.74 for gluten free pasta. $1.24 for tomato sauce. $0.68 for diced tomatoes. $1.48 for red leaf lettuce, $2.12 for baby spinach)

12/4- vegetarian soft tacos (Use excess beans and rice cooked from 12/2 and leftover lettuce/spinach from 12/3. Cheese & salsa prices listed in prior menu days. $2.68 for soft corn tortillas-large package for use in future menus. $0.53 for 1/2 pound of Roma tomatoes. $0.73 for a white onion)

12/5- hamburgers w/ homemade oven baked fries & a side of mixed veggies (Hamburger price listed on prior menu day. Potato price listed on prior menu day. $0.98 for frozen mixed vegetables. $1.28 for hamburger buns- I skip these since they aren't gluten free)

12/6- chicken stir-fry served over rice (Chicken price listed on prior menu day. Rice price listed on prior menu day. $1.98 for frozen stir-fry veggies, $1.22 for bean sprouts)

12/7- three-bean casserole w/ chicken & cheesy sauce ($5.88 for 2 lb of fresh green beans. $3.03 for gallon of milk. $1.14 for French onion topping. Red beans, black beans, chicken, & cheese prices listed on prior menu days)

If my calculations are correct, that puts the total at $67.92 for dinners. Obviously there are things like cooking oil and seasoning purchased in the past that I'm not including in this list, but this gives a rough idea of my spending. So where did the other $23.22 go? It went to:

-beef base $3.72
-Parmesan cheese $2.64
-natural almonds $5.36
-2lb bag of baby carrots $2.74
-chips $1.50
-sausage $2.50
-eggs 18 $3.38
-wheat bread $1.38

So that's the breakdown! I do have things on hand that will be consumed that aren't on this week's shopping list like: frozen fruit, peanut butter, popcorn, yogurt, string cheese, etc. Those are things I usually purchase in bulkier quantities leading to a larger grocery bill those weeks, but keeping things less expensive overall.