Saturday, March 31, 2012

homemade toothpaste.


I've been pretty into making things myself lately. Initially as a strategy to save money but as a healthy measure for my family as I continue to learn more disturbing information. I'm going to try not to rant here... but oh my gosh... there are millions of things that millions of Americans do daily that are detrimental to their health. It's absurd.

I've heard that people make toothpaste. Cool.. I'll make toothpaste too. But why? Yes, it is by far cheaper. And... a billion times healthier. Here is a little information about why the toothpaste you most likely brushed your teeth today may be harming you and is probably, actually, HARMING YOUR TEETH.

Most toothpastes and hygiene products foam, right? Foaming and soapy suds make us think that something is working to make us more clean. You wash your hair and it doesn't get all foamy so you add more soap, right? Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is what does that.

SLS is one of those crazy things that can be found in many products in your home in small doses but that can also be used for completely different things in very large amounts. SLS is used to clean oil spills. It's in bubble bath. In shampoo. In toothpaste.

Have you ever noticed that many hygiene products say to flush your eyes out with water if you accidentally get it in your eye? Have you ever had your shampoo or face wash get into your eye and cause it to get red and sting? Thats the SLS. SLS is known to be a harmful skin irritant and can actually cause damage to the mucous membranes in your eye. Yuck. It is also known to be toxic to the liver and kidneys, it can be deadly to fish and aquatic animals (good thing we're washing it down our drains daily!), and is listed as a hazard by the National Institute of Health. It's (big surprise!) known to cause eczema and other skin problems as well as mouth ulcers (canker sores).

You may find that some of your hygiene products say that they're free of SLS because people are getting smart and learning to avoid certain harsh chemicals. However they most likely contain equally terrible things such as Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate.. which don't seem to be any better. So read the label and educate yourself about what you're reading.

Cases of sensitive teeth and mouth cancers on the rise... Wonder why? Of course many things can be playing into those issues but putting chemicals in your mouth and inevitably ingesting a little can't be helpful, can it?

Most toothpastes contain artificial colors and flavors - neither of which are healthy or even close to natural. Both of which are very bad for you, especially for children. If you don't know anything about what artificial colors do I strongly encourage you to do some research, especially if you have children.

So I poked around and found some very convincing evidence of tooth decay and enamel problems being slowed, stopped, and even reversed in people of all ages after switching to a homemade, safe, and natural toothpaste.

I picked out a pretty simple recipe to start with. If this goes well I may keep it, experiment with changing the taste, or try one of the more complicated recipes out there.


Easy Homemade Toothpaste:
5 Tablespoons Baking Soda
4 Tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil
10 Drops Organic Peppermint Oil
optional: a pinch of Xylitol to make it sweeter

Mix the ingredients together, apply to your toothbrush, and brush away!


Remember.. it won't foam. But that's a good thing! :)

After brushing my teeth felt so squeaky clean and I was left with a refreshing peppermint aftertaste. The baking soda taste may be overpowering to some - simply add more peppermint oil or xylitol if this is the case.


Did you know about what harm your toothpaste could be causing? Do you use natural toothpaste or make your own?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

little baby blues.

I had the privileged of photographing this lovely little lady with gorgeous blue eyes at her home on St. Patrick's Day. She's just a few days older than Olive! She was a little shy but with the help of her parents and a few of Olive's neat toys we had a great time. :)






















Saturday, March 24, 2012

grain and sugar free pumpkin pancakes.

We had grain free paleo pancakes for breakfast this morning. I referenced a recipe but switched up a few things and I am really happy with the result. Kind of like having pumpkin pie for breakfast!!

What you'll need:
Two eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of canned or cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup of almond butter
1/2 Tablespoon almond milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of allspice

Combine all ingredients until smooth


Put about 1/4 cup into a pan with coconut oil or butter and cook a couple of minutes per side. Just wait for the bubbles to stop like "normal" pancakes.


Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

homemade ricotta cheese.

Making ricotta at home is so fast and easy! And less expensive than store bought ricotta as well.

There are many many ways to make ricotta cheese but this is the method that I use and like.

You'll need:
A pot
A strainer
2 qts milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons vinegar

Combine the milk, cream, and vinegar in the pot and bring to a boil for a few minutes. You'll see the milk curdling as it boils. Let it cool and then strain. Squeeze to get the excess liquid out.

You can strain it warm if you want warm ricotta but it will curdle a bit more as it cools so you'll yield a little more that way.

You can use the leftover whey in baked goods or as a replacement for water in soups.

If the mixture is boiling add a bit more vinegar until you see it curdle.

You can very easily half or double this recipe. As is it yields about three cups of ricotta. But I snack as I strain it do I could be wrong. ;)

Enjoy! It's soooo yummy!


Do you make ricotta? If so, how?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

olive in the garden.

Olive enjoyed her first garden experience a couple of days ago. Last year she was with me in our ring sling and in her rocker while I packed CSA shares for our local urban CSA and witnessed our own backyard garden grow and erupt in a volcano of tomatoes - but she wasn't really actively involved in either of those things. Save for sucking on a carrot or a fresh green at the CSA.

We've been blessed with unseasonably amazing weather in Minnesota lately (I think it's a ploy by the state to try to keep us here. Not working, but it's nice.) so it's been time to get to work on the yard and garden. I can't commit too much time to either of these things as we have a lot of work to do inside our house before the county does some lead abatement and when they're done we have to get to work on the outside of the house. It's a deal... they do some stuff if we do some stuff. So I'm trying to be speedy with the garden and multitask as usual (which probably makes me mess up more or do things slower in the long run.. but I have some serious multitasking tendencies that I just can't shake).

Last year I spread some compost as well as a billion unused tomatoes over the garden plot and covered it with the leaves and grass clippings from the last time I mowed the lawn after tilling. This year I'm working a little at a time to till the leaves and break up the soil. My dad brought his rototiller up for us to use but I've heard numerous times that they kill the worms and good stuff. So I'm doing it by hand which really isn't all too terrible (though a little more challenging with a baby strapped to my back).

I got about a row into tilling when Olive decided to jump in to help. :)


As always she just jumped right in. Olive doesn't seem to show much hesitation for things that I would expect her to. She's usually pretty interested in new people and new food. She was all about a mechanical noise making Elmo doll at the store the other day - her first experience with a toy of that kind. And in the garden she was like "hey dirt!!!" when I would have anticipated a little reservation. And seriously.. the Elmo toy? LOVED it - no hesitation, no fear.




At about this time I said "ummmm maybe you should take a bath."



And another vintage dress with legwarmers followed that. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

a fun family portrait session. :)

Last weekend, the day after my birthday, I had the pleasure of photographing my friend Amber's family.

I photographed Amber, her husband, and her son once before shortly after her son was born. They were nice enough to let me practice and tweak my skills photographing them. :)

This time, in addition to her immediate family I also had the please of photographing her mom, dad, sister, and brother this time. Her mom, dad, and brother were in town briefly from the Philippines. Despite a very busy weekend and Daylight Savings we found some time to squeeze in a session. We've been so lucky to have beautiful weather lately in Minnesota. We were able to comfortably enjoy ourselves outside by the Guthrie Theatre and mill ruins. :)

Here are some highlights of our time together: