Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Homemade Products - Washing

I am the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, BUT I don't like having too many plans.  It's similar to how I love a clean and tidy house, but I won't feel like it is clean unless my closets are clean.  I like to have at least on empty shelf in the closet, or space in the cupboards, or else I feel like I have too much stuff and I start to throw away things without thinking... That said, it's a wonder I have time to make my own cleaning and beauty products.  The key is to start with one and then add another as you feel comfortable.  In this blog post I will share a few simple recipes for common cleaning products.

I started out using just equal parts borax and baking soda in my dishwasher, and I was NOT impressed with the results.  My dishes and silverware always had a powdery residue on them, and my glasses were cloudy and far from clear and sparkly.  I tried adding vinegar and still came up disappointed.  Then I searched online some more and found two other ingredients I was lacking.  And Voi'la!  Beautiful & sparkling dishes!  Here is the best recipe I've found (and super easy and affordable) for dishwasher detergent:

* 1 Cup Borax
* 1 Cup Baking Soda (pure, aluminum-free)
* 1/2 Cup Kosher or Sea Salt
* 1/2 Cup Citric Acid (which you can find at most health food stores or breweries)
Mix together and store in a glass jar.  Use 1 tablespoon in your dishwasher compartment (2 tbs for extra dirty/greasy dishes).  Then squirt/pour some Distilled White Vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher, and turn it on.  That's all there is to it!

I didn't know that when you become a mom, you do a LOT of laundry (especially if you us cloth diapers).  I wash a load of cloth diapers every other day, which may not sound like a lot, but before I was a mom, I was only doing laundry once a week.  The laundry detergent I make is awesome, but it kind of takes awhile because I have to grate up a bar of soap (which also works out the biceps).  So, to not have to make it so often, I use it ONLY for the cloth diapers, and then I use Econuts for all our other laundry.  Econuts are awesome!  They last a really long time, and they really do work.

Here is the laundry detergent recipe I make:

* 1 Cup Borax
* 1 Cup Baking Soda (Washing Soda causes more suds, which aren't good for HE machines)
* 1 Bar of Castile Soap, grated (I like Dr. Bronners brand.  They have a variety of different scents, but I use the unscented "Baby" kind)
Mix together and store in a glass jar.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.  And yes, it really cleans the cloth diapers!

So, this recipe fills up just one large mason jar, and if by chance I'm feeling extra muscular, I'll double the measurements and grate another bar of soap.  But... that's highly unlikely.  So I've searched for a convenient liquid laundry detergent to make.  Most of them are the same old ones that call for Fels Napha (which I do not recommend because of it's ingredients), and a huge bucket, and tons of gallon jugs... and I just don't have room for all that (remember, I need my empty shelf!)

Then I remembered I had a Dr. Bronners castile liquid soap bottle under my sink that I'd barely cracked open, and I decided to read it's oh-so-cluttered bottle label.  I did a little more research and found a couple more options for laundry detergent:

* 1 Cup Dr. Bronner's pure castile liquid soap
* 1 Cup Baking Soda
* 2 Cups water
* 1/3 Cup salt
Warm the water and mix with salt and baking soda until dissolved.  Pour into a one-gallon container.  Add the Dr. Bronner's and fill the remainder of the gallon jar with more water.  Use 1/4 Cup per load.  (Makes 64 loads!!!)  This recipe is even gentle enough for wool and silk.

If you are in a fix and don't have any pre-made, you can just use 1/8 to 1/3 Cup of the Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, plus 1/4 Cup of baking soda, per load.  (But obviously you'll get more out of your products and money if you pre-make it).

Anyway, I am excited to put my Dr. Bronner's liquid soap to good use and try this out!  I hope this is helpful to those of you wanting to experiment with homemade products!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The "Second Best" Milk - An Alternative to Breast Milk

“Breast milk is the best milk,” but some women have a difficult time breastfeeding.  I believe God has designed a woman’s body to breastfeed effortlessly and beautifully, but if you are like me, you’ve had some frustrations with it.  I’ve sat in pain and tears, literally dreading the next time I would have to nurse.  And during each feeding, I anxiously watched the clock, willing it to move faster, while curling my toes in agony.  “I promise, it gets better,” friends told me.  And yes it did get “better,” but there was still difficulty throughout my barely-8-month breastfeeding experience.   
            I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with these obstacles, and I know many women have amazing breastfeeding experiences with little pain or struggle.  I encourage every woman (including myself), to keep pressing in for God’s will and grace for a joyful, effortless breastfeeding experience, because it truly is the best for the baby (if your diet is good), and because it’s just plain natural.  However, I myself completely understand if people have to turn to alternatives.  And commercial formula is just not a good alternative.  That is why I am sharing this wonderful recipe for a homemade baby formula that I found on THIS website.  Sarah is Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation, and I’ve really enjoyed her blog, which has a plentiful archive of articles that speak on things like health.
            Let me start out by saying that while the ingredients in this recipe may seem daunting and confusing at first – what the heck is Bifidobacterium Infantis Powder anyway?! – this formula is super easy to make once you get the hang of it.  The biggest task is getting all the ingredients together, which you can search for at local health food stores or just get it ALL (minus the milk, cream, and whey) at THIS site.  Once you’ve gathered all the ingredients, it’s just a matter of putting it together and storing it in the fridge.  I make a batch almost every day now, and I know each measurement by heart.  It probably takes me less than 10 minutes! 
            Is this formula cheaper than commercial formula?  Actually it is!!!  Considering that a container of commercial formula usually costs around $25 (or $40+ for organic), and that container usually only lasts about a week, I conclude that most people spend $100 to over $200 per MONTH on formula.  On the other hand, if you decide to purchase the starting kit for the baby formula that I mentioned in the last paragraph, with shipping it's about $200, and then only a few dollars each month after that (to replenish some of the ingredients).  Of course, you have to factor in the cost of milk, depending on where you find it, but either way it will still be significantly less than commercial formula!  And it is MUCH better for your baby than commercial formula.  You can read more about that on Sarah’s blog (which I mentioned above).  I have found it to be all really affordable.  All but two of the ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and the two that are expensive last for a long time because you only use ¼ to ½ a teaspoon for each batch (which makes 36 ounces).  I’ve only had to buy them each once so far, and I’ve been using this formula for three months.
            One ingredient that may be hard to come by, depending on where you live, is the Raw Milk.  I found a farm 45 minutes away that sells raw cows milk, but I didn’t like the drive.  So, I use raw goats milk from a closer farm for my formula.  And when I can’t get that milk, I use Organic Farm Fresh Whole Milk from Crystal Ball Farms in Wisconsin, which is a low-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk found at Sydney’s, the local health food store in Moorhead, MN.  They come in reusable glass jars, which I love!
            Another ingredient that I had no idea how to come by at first is liquid whey.  (Is that, like, whey powder or something?)  Not at all.  But it’s super easy to make!  I make it out of Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt.  I buy a 24-ounce container of it and empty it into a cheesecloth, and let it drip into a bowl for 12+ hours on the counter.  Sounds weird at first (letting yogurt sit out over night), but it’s totally legit.  And once you let all the whey drip from the yogurt, you can store it in a glass jar in the fridge for up to SIX months! 
            OK, so now for the recipe…


-- 2 Cups whole, raw milk from organic grass-fed cows (If you use goat milk like I do, you will have to substitute vitamin B12 and folic acid)  Also, ultra-pasteurized milk, like Organic Valley, is NOT good.  If you can’t find raw grass-fed milk, then search for low-pasteurized, non-homogenized milk. (For more info, I recommend Sarah’s blog and reading through her comments for ideas and helpful instructions)
-- 2 TBL good quality raw or pasteurized cream (use 4 TBL if the cream is from Holstein cows, and do NOT use ultra-pasteurized cream)
-- ¼ Cup liquid whey
-- ¼ tsp Bifidobacterium Infantis Powder (a probiotic for infants)
-- ½ tsp fermented cod liver oil (unflavored, Blue Ice brand is what I use, make sure you get the liquid and not the capsules)
-- 1 tsp expeller pressed, organic sunflower oil
-- 1 tsp organic, extra virgin olive oil (in dark bottle)
-- 2 tsp virgin coconut oil
-- ¼ tsp high vitamin butter oil (optional, but highly recommended.  This is a Blue Ice brand too, like the fermented cod liver oil, and they make one that is mixed together, which is not recommended since the measurements are different.  They also come in capsules, so you’ll want to make sure you get the liquid kind)
-- 2 tsp gelatin (NOW brand and Bernard Jenson are both good brands because they make it from beef, not pork)
-- 4 TBL Lactose (milk sugar.  I use the NOW brand)
-- ¼ tsp acerola powder
-- 2 tsp Frontier nutritional yeast flakes (not brewers yeast.  I use the NOW brand)
-- 1 7/8 Cup filtered water (2 Cups minus 2 TBL)


-- Fill a 2-cup measuring cup with filtered water and remove 2 TBL
-- Pour about half the water into a small pan and heat on medium (don’t worry about it being exactly half the water)
-- Add the gelatin and lactose and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
-- When gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the rest of the filtered (cold) water to cool it.  (I should mention here that I have found it helpful to add the acerola powder and the nutritional yeast to the warm water because I’ve had issue with it dissolving properly otherwise, and it would get stuck in the nipple of the bottle while feeding, causing frustration for both Mama and Baby J)
-- Stir in coconut oil and butter oil until melted
-- Put all the other ingredients in a blender
-- Add the water mixture and blend for 3 seconds
-- Pour formula into glass bottles or glass jars and refrigerate (makes 36 ounces)

Warm bottle in hot water (not microwave) before feeding to help the ingredients mix together again.

Making liquid whey - you can also lay the cheese cloth on a strainer and set it on/over a bowl, instead of hanging it like I did here
Everything you need to make your homemade baby formula
I warm these ingredients first
These are the remaining ingredients (with the Crystal Ball Farm milk and cream)

Blend and Pour into glass bottles!

Happy Formula Making! Hope this was helpful to those of you who need a healthy alternative to breast milk!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Raising a Child on a Healthy Diet - How it is Possible

So it's been many months since I've even attempted at writing a blog, and last night I suddenly felt compelled to.  Courage is just about 11 months now, which blows my mind every time I think about it.  He is a growing, curious, joyful and precious gem in my heart and I love him more every day!  So here's a little of what I've been thinking about lately...

One of the practical things I love about my life right now is preparing healthy, balanced, organic meals for my son, and as a result, I have a much healthier diet than before I became a mom.  I want to be able to live a lifestyle that is a truly good example for my children, and one goal of mine is to feel comfortable giving Courage whatever I am eating, snacking on, or drinking.  I have quite a few things I need to cut out of my daily diet to achieve this goal, but this is my desire, and it motivates me to press on to a healthier lifestyle. 
Right now Courage is on a beautiful organic diet of mostly raw foods, which consist of balanced protein-carb-fat meals three times a day in addition to the homemade formula I make for him (4 – 6oz bottles per day).  (How to make homemade baby formula HERE).  Now that he is turning 1, I am looking forward to switching to just raw whole milk, or low pasteurized/non-homogenized whole milk.  I am grateful for the organic health food store here (Sydney’s Health Market) that always has a great selection of affordable organic produce and dairy products. 
Preston and I often talk about how we will raise our children to value nutritious food, rather than sugar, candy, and processed foods packed full of artificial ingredients and preservatives.  Like a lot of people in America, I was raised on that sort of unhealthy food, and have battled the different cravings, addictions and side-effects all my life.  I want my children to value their bodies enough to have distaste for fake, toxic/acidic, unhealthy food.  So much of the common food out there serves to cause chemical reactions in our bodies and minds, spike our blood sugar, and convert sugar into fat, leaving us obese, fatigued, and craving the same crappy food all over again – a destructive and perpetual cycle.  I never want my children to become caught in that web! 
I admit that I have been “ruled” by my appetite.  I’d rather “fast” entertainment than food, and I have fallen for that ice cream or bag of processed chips far too many times.  My desire is that my children will grow up never being a slave to food.  I feel as a mom I have this beautiful opportunity to teach my children to love that which their body truly loves – food that gives LIFE to their body!  With proper education, I believe they will learn to understand from a young age how to value the right foods, to love their body, and to be unaffected by society’s tempting tactics in disguise.  For my children will see with pure eyes that which is harmful and destructive, and that which brings life.
Some people probably think I am a bit overzealous and unrealistic about this issue.  But am I really?  Is it really impossible to break out of the mold of society that says all children will inevitably eat loads of sugar?  No, it is not impossible, and I believe I am completely realistic.  It is realistic to educate and empower our children to take responsibility for their bodies, and in turn their lives.  They have their whole lives in front of them.  It is reasonable to start off on the right foot, rather than to try to fix things later.
Some people might even think I am cruel for wanting to keep my children away from sugar, accusing me of “depriving” them of pleasant childhood experiences.  I think it is absurd to think I would be depriving my children of anything of value.  Obviously I won’t be keeping my children locked inside where they can be 'sheltered' from the outside world where sugar and soda and fast-food plague the streets.  That is unrealistic, and probably harmful in itself, (for it does not teach them to be empowered, entrusted, or responsible). 
But this does bring up a valid point – at what point will I let my children choose for themselves what to eat?  I want my children to be free, but not careless or reckless.  I am fully aware that if I were to always say, “No you can’t have this or that” without really explaining why, or if I neglect to emphasize the yummy healthy treats that they can choose from, they may feel like they are missing out on something special.  When I was young, I used to think that Lunchables and Doritos and Cheetos and Squeeze-it juices were something to be valued because my mom would never buy them.  So, they were like a forbidden treat that we never got to have.  Whenever I was at the grocery store with my mom and wanted those things, she would say something like “No that’s too expensive,” and therefore I learned that those kinds of foods were valuable. 
It is so important to teach our children from the beginning the real reason why we are choosing to not buy or feed them certain foods.  And it is just as important to speak highly and loudly about all the other healthy foods much more often than the “bad” ones.  If we are always saying “No, you can’t eat that,” and “that’s bad for you,” we are sending a negative message.  I always try to communicate to and around Courage by avoiding the negative words (such as “no,” “don’t,” “can’t,” “bad,” “not,” “stop,”) as much as possible because I know that negative words can speak much louder than positive words.  It is challenging, but you can get creative with it! 
For instance, instead of saying “Don’t touch that,” we say, “Stay away from that.”  Other common ‘positive’ sayings we say to Courage as an alternative to “No” are “Off-limits,” and “Hands-off.”  And as he grows in his understanding, we want to make sure we also explain why we want him to “stay away” from the toilet or the outlet, etc.  
But what about Halloween, you say?  Every child looks forward to Halloween.  Will I “deprive” my children from such a popular and memorable childhood tradition?  Has anyone every thought about why we do things the way we do?  Like, why do we send our children out every year from door to door to fill their pillowcases up with pounds of processed sweets?  Halloween can be more than just about candy.  There are so many other traditions to share, like carving pumpkins, baking, dressing up in fun costumes…to name a few.  And we can always create our own traditions.  As far as “trick-or-treating” goes, Preston and I have bounced around some pretty cool ideas on what our kids can do from door-to-door instead of taking candy…   
Anyway, my point is we do not have to succumb to the world’s standard on how to do things, just because everyone else does it.  We are powerful and creative and inventive.  And as parents, we have the best privilege to lead a generation, a life, a legacy, a child in a new and positive way…to live a lifestyle that is healthy and whole and brings LIFE.  It is not impossible.  It is empowering.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Brave Warrior Courage

I love feathers.  I love crowns.
So I made Courage a feather crown!

He's such a little warrior

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forgiveness and Tiny Arrows

I've been thinking about something...

Everyone has opinions.  Everyone has different perspectives and ideas based on their experiences and world views.  When you develop your own opinions, or decide to put your faith in something, there will always be someone out there to contradict you, or even potentially discourage you.

I ran into this a little bit while I was pregnant with Courage and planning my home birth.  I set a standard of faith and expectancy for myself and set out to build myself in faith by focusing on promising testimonies and positive reading that encouraged me in my goal.  Now, I know most people have good intentions when they share their opinions (or "cautions"), which are usually based on their own experiences or observations.  And even though I knew not to let someone else's unbelief cloud my vision and standard, it still served as a tiny arrow in my heart that I still cannot seem to shake.  Perhaps I need to just forgive this "tiny" offense that has left a rather heavy mark, most unexpectedly.  Maybe in truly consciously forgiving this or that person, it will unpluck this tiny arrow that I didn't expect to affect me so much.

I like to think I can be that super strong warrior that lets all offenses roll off her back, because I know who I am and Who's I am...and because I know the Truth.  But of course I am faced with challenges, and challenging people, that help sharpen me in basically raising in me the questions, "Do you really believe that?" and "What really is the Truth?"  It's not that I am driven to doubt what I believe, but rather driven to see how deep my faith regarding a particular matter really goes, and if it isn't really rooted, how to become rooted.  You go deeper.

So I guess I can choose to become thankful for the ones who, well unbeknownst to them, ironically help build my faith in something I believe that they don't necessarily believe themselves.  But part of me wants to just ask them "Why?" ... "Why did you have to say that?" ... "Why did you try to discourage me from believing in something that I know in my heart of hearts IS God's will?"
But, then again, it doesn't really matter why, because their reasoning is just coming from their own opinion, perspective, world view...and experience.  And people want to validate their experiences...too often by compromising the standard of Jesus.  And the HOPE that Jesus brought.
And I vow to never lower that standard, no matter what my experience.  His standard, His Word far outweighs and is far more superior than my shortcomings or experiences, whether faith-filled or not.

Let us all go from glory to glory, and seek the standard of Heaven... because everything else is just...well, not worth settling for.

Blessings and Love.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Little Prince!

I am SO IN LOVE with this crocheted Prince Charming crown!!!
I stumbled upon --> THIS <-- blog and found how easy it is to crochet this crown.  So with the help of my aunt in California, we made Courage a handsome Prince Charming crown!  I can't wait to make more in different colors and sizes!

These green booties and rainbow blanket were crocheted and knitted by my fabulous aunt!

Love! <3

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Favorite Waterfall

One of the things I miss the most about Redding is being able to "escape" to a waterfall, lake, river, mountain, or some other secluded nature place.  If ever I needed a refresher, I could hop in the car and make the 5 mile drive to beautiful Whiskeytown Lake and beyond and venture out into the beauty of God's creation, away from "civilization."  Often I would jump on my bike and ride around the peaceful river trail where sometimes I would come across a deer and have a sweet encounter with her.  I LOVED these precious times with God and to myself!

The bummer about Fargo is that there is nowhere to escape like this.  I've tried.  I've tried driving away from civilization...and ended up in farmland.  And honestly, I just want my waterfall.  Or my bridge by my river...not someone's open farm.  There aren't even any trees!

So here's a snapshot into our recent journey to our favorite waterfall, this time with Courage!

Photos by my sister, Hillary Dodson

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meeting Great Grandma

My grandmother is like the matriarch of our family.  She is so precious and strong and wonderful.  
We got to take some family photos this Christmas, which we rarely get to do.  She is so beautiful holding Courage with her kids and grandkids surrounding her.  I love these photos...

4 generation photo

My mom and her mom

My family

Uncle Kev, that picture he is holding is of him holding me when i was a baby
Uncle Greg
My grandma sporting the scarf I made her
Courage holding Jared's finger

(Photos taken by Hillary Dodson)