Monday, September 21, 2009


My youngest son wanted to take yogurt to school for a snack. I still buy the small cups of yogurt for the kids to take to school, especially since Ryan's favorite does not come in a big container. However, the funny part of this story is that when I was putting his yogurt and spoon in his backpack, my little one looks up and says,"I'll have to bring it home."
A little confused, I looked at him and said, "bring what home honey?" (I was thinking the spoon, but he is already really good at bringing the bags and silverware back.)
"My yogurt."
"Umm, if you are just going to bring it home, then why do you want to take it for a snack?"
"Well, they don't have a recycling can for me to put it into."
Oh, I get it now - my brainwashing has worked...No wonder I was confused!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No 'Poo

Strange title. At least it was to me the first time I read it several months ago. But what seems strange to someone when you are first starting a journey has a habit of becoming normal after a while. In fact, I just read a blog entry on re-defining normal.
This got me to thinking about my own life and what I define as normal. I know that to many of my friends and family, I am anything but normal. I have always been the odd man out and quite frankly - that strange tree hugger. As I have gotten older, some of them have come around and even more strange, I have realized that my mom and dad were actually quite revolutionary themselves - just using different words.
After all, I did grow up in the country, where we grew our own food, and raised our own animals. My mom milked the goats twice a day, composted and shot the squirrels over her fruit trees. She timed our showers so we wouldn't waste our water (we had a well and our own septic system). And frequently during the summer, I would wake up and she had already canned a dozen peaches/tomatoes/pears/jams...
I so wanted to be just normal when I was growing up! My mother made a lot of my clothes and we didn't have TV. All I wanted was to have new clothes from the store and watch television like the other kids at school! I guess however, that some of the things have stuck and now that I have my own children, I want to raise them in the country with our own animals and food...
Re-defining normal is also happening on my spiritual journey. What I once considered strange and odd, is something I now desire. I want a deeper, more personal connection with my God. Where I once saw him as a personal kill-joy, I now see as a source of joy, love and contentment.
Okay, those were really deep thoughts considering the topic is supposed to be about shampoo! And that is what the no 'poo experiment is all about. I have been going progressively greener for many years. I believe that what we put in our environment, on and in our bodies makes a difference to our health and well being.
I stopped using commercial cleaners about 8 years ago when I got pregnant with my first son. I couldn't handle the fumes and chemicals. I started making my own cleaners and I absolutely love them! I did take a break and started using Mrs. Myers cleaners because a friend of mine had a store and I wanted to support her. And I loved the way they smelled! But, I did go back to my trusted recipes for household cleaners. (Maybe that's a good future post.)
I started making my own soap. Nothing compares to handmade soap and everybody keeps asking for more. I make my own toothpaste - and love it! So, after reading about all the chemicals in shampoos and conditioners and how they are absorbed into your scalp, I realized this was more than just how ridiculously expensive hair products are. I decided to do the no 'poo experiment.
The theory is that you use baking soda to clean your scalp and hair, followed by a vinegar rinse. I tried it this morning and other than the lack of lather, everything seemed fine. So, I'll keep you updated and let you know how it goes! And if it works I'll give recipes too...

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day of School

So, I realize that I'm pretty late on these pictures, but I just haven't been in the mood to be on the computer lately...But here are pictures of the first day of school.
Ryan made it to second grade!!
Max started kindergarten...He's in afternoon kindergarten which means he has to eat lunch before he goes to school.

So, I told him we would go to a special lunch...he picked Target. He decided he wanted pizza and a slushy. The differences between my boys are huge! Ryan picks teppan yaki, and Max picks Target - go figure!

Monday, September 7, 2009


I made Kombucha. And before I start my story, you need to know that Kombucha is fermented tea. The theory is fairly similar to vinegar. You start with a strong batch of sweetened tea, add the proper bacteria, cover and let ferment. After a week or so, the little beasties have eaten the sugar and the caffeine and you are left with a carbonated, tangy, slightly sweet drink.

Kombucha is supposed to be very healthy for you, it has been around for thousands of years in Japan and China. Many other cultures have similar drinks based on their local diets. Russians have kvass, and kefir and it is also somewhat related to yogurt and kimchi. In other words the fermentation process and live bacteria are good for digestion and your body.

I started drinking kombucha several months ago when my niece brought be some from Whole Foods. Unbeknownst to her, I had been reading about it, but she gave it me saying this looks like something you would drink…I tried it and was hooked. But, it is expensive!!! $3.99 for a 16 oz bottle. After several months of thinking, I decided to make it myself.

This is actually my second batch… the first one didn’t turn out too well. I ordered a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) on eBay for the first batch. The SCOBY is the thing that floats on top and looks like a thick pancake – it also has all the necessary beasties to safely make this without mold growing on it. When the SCOBY arrived in the mail, it was a flimsy, barely there floating thingy in some liquid. It didn’t look at all like pictures I had seen online. I followed the instructions anyways, covered it and put it in a dark place. After several days there was mold growing on top. The SCOBY wasn’t growing and I decided that this needed to be thrown out.

Several weeks later, I decided to try again. I didn’t want to buy something online again, so I decided to try to make my own SCOBY from the store bought stuff. Since this is a raw, unpasteurized drink, even though it’s filtered it still has the good organisms in it. I drank about half the bottle, poured the other half into a wide mouth jar, covered with a paper towel and a week later had a nice thick pancake looking SCOBY on top. I made strong tea, sweetened it and put the SCOBY in.

A few days later, my mother came up to visit and kept asking if she could throw everything out – because this was obviously not something edible! This is what it looked like after fermenting for 8 days. I strained it and bottled it to increase the carbonation. (It looks fine from the side...In fact, you can't really tell anything is going on unless you lift the towel as in this photo...)
This batch turned out! I even was brave enough to drink it! And I do have to say, that my very Western trained brain was screaming at me that this would kill me…The real issue for me however was when my oldest son came in and begged to try it.

He loves kombucha and knew that we were making it…After I strained it, I finally let him have a little, just because honestly, this stuff looks gross…He loved it and kept asking for more. Several days have passed and we all seem to be fine, so I guess this was a success! I have a few more batches going on the counter and am now experimenting with adding flavors like dried cranberries. However, Ryan says this stuff tastes better than the stuff we got at the store!

Here is a list of purported health benefits from drinking kombucha:
-strengthens the Immune system

- detoxifies, cleansing the blood

- heals and strengthens the Digestive tract

- plays a vital role in regenerating bowel flora

- lengthens the life span

- is a health remedy against chickenpox and shingles

- reduces the formation of wrinkles

- discourages the formation of cancer

- prevents adverse menopausal symptoms

- restores visual acuity

- heals arthritis

- enhances sexual drive

- heals sweaty feet, constipation, joint and back pains

- heals abscesses

- heals blocked arteries and diabetes

- strengthens kidneys

- heals cataracts and heart disease

- restores the appetite and heals sleeping disorders

- reduces the chance of gall stones and liver problems

- reduces obesity and stops diarrhea

- heals hemorrhoids

- helps to restore color to gray hair and improves baldness

- encourages body rejuvenation

Of course none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, but the Chinese have been using this for centuries to maintain or regain health. For me, it’s helping me get away from my addiction to Dr. Pepper and if it helps my digestion well then that's just an added bonus!