Thursday, March 25, 2010

Confession: I've Gone Poo-less

Just to clarify, I am talking about shampoo here. Unfortunately, with a baby in diapers, there is still a fair amount of poo in my life to deal with. [sigh] But that is another story for another day.

My confession is that I have not used any shampoo on my hair for months. There, I said it. I feel so much better now. If you know me IRL (in real life), you know that I don't walk around with dirty, stinky hair either. My shower routine is simple and easy and costs pennies. I am no longer spending money on detergents that I dump on my head and then wash down the drain. My hair is looking the best it has looked in the past year (even though I am long overdue to get my dry uneven ends trimmed).

Let me back up a bit and explain what led me to this decision to chuck the shampoo bottle. Let me take you back to a day when my hair was lush, back when I was pregnant with my youngest son. There is something wonderful about pregnancy hormones. When I am pregnant, my nails get strong and my hair gets thick. Well, my son is nearly 14 months old and my hair has gone through some transitions since then and it is not so lush. Around the beginning of summer last year I noticed that my hair started shedding twice as fast. Obviously, my hormones were shifting out of that pregnancy mode and all of that hair that I had not shed during pregnancy was now falling out with great gusto. My hair also turned into a big bundle of frizz. I determined that last summer would be the "year of the bun" and waited for this wonderful phase to pass. I waited and waited and waited. I tried various shampoos and conditioners hoping that each one would be the magical potion to turn my long locks into something I didn't want to hide.

Fall rolled around and I was still disgusted with my hair and continued pulling it back into a bun. Around this same time, I had stumbled onto several articles on the web praising the virtues of going shampoo-free. I had also read the book, Curly Girl, which also advocates not using shampoo. All of the authors swore that their hair was not greasy or dirty, but better than it has ever been. Each proponent of this had slightly different reasons for choosing to go poo-free. One wanted to be more "green" and environmentally friendly and not pollute our waterways with chemicals. Another did it to save money. The one thing that they all seemed to agree on is that shampoo is a detergent that strips your hair and scalp of its natural oils. This makes your hair drier and if it has an ounce of curl in it, frizzy. (Hmmm...sounds familiar) Also, when you remove all the oils from your scalp, your body feels like it needs to produce even more. this can cause an over production that can cause dandruff (another problem I have struggled with). After all my hair frustrations, I figured what could this hurt to try.

Some poo-free advocates don't use anything but water to clean their hair, but most use a bit of baking soda mixed with water to wash - about 1 or 2 teaspoons per cup of water. This can be mixed up and put into a squeeze bottle or empty shampoo bottle (feel the irony) and kept in the shower. Just shake the bottle, squirt some in your hair, massage it in and rinse. Many also use a vinegar rinse made with 1/2 water and half vinegar. Apple cider vinegar seems to be the favorite. Then their are still some who just skip the shampoo and simply use conditioner to wash their hair.

So, what do I do? Well, I tried the conditioner only thing. It was ok, but I didn't like how my scalp felt. That's probably because I have always had dandruff issues. So, I decided to try the baking soda and vinegar route. I just massage a bit of baking soda into my really wet hair. I rinse this out and follow this with a weak vinegar rinse. I have a squirt bottle I keep in the shower and fill it maybe 1/8 full of vinegar and the rest with water. I let this sit a minute in my hair and rinse it out.

And my results? I had a week or so that my hair felt so dirty. From everything I had read, though, I expected this. Your scalp is used to getting all its oils stripped away so it is used to producing lots of oils to compensate for this. It takes a little time for your body to figure out that it doesn't need to do this. So, when you first start, it is only natural that your hair will go through an oily period. It does pass. I have found that my hair looks so much better than it has in a long time. It is way less frizzy. Although, I still struggle a little with dandruff, it is improved a lot. I now notice that the dandruff is worse when my body is stressed.

I find that I am happier with my hair if I still use conditioner once or twice a week. It is smoother and less frizzy. I have weird hair. Over the years it has gone from poker straight to curlier and curlier. I keep it long and don't' really get curls. It just likes to frizz. My bangs which are short have become very curly, especially since my last pregnancy. Because of this frizz/curl, I like a bit of conditioner. One idea that I read about and may try is smoothing your wet hair after showering with a washcloth repeatedly to distribute the oils from your scalp through your hair. Another was to brush your hair repeatedly with a natural bristle brush to distribute the oils. I kind of like this old school method because I remember reading stories about girls with beautiful long hair brushing it 100 strokes a night. Sounds kinda romantic.

So, the bottom line is that I am no longer searching for that perfect hair care product, I am saving a TON of money, I am being "green", and my hair looks better than ever. I have retired the bun and it only occasionally comes out, usually when I am short on time and need to leave the house in a hurry with somewhat wet hair.

If you are interested in more information and tips about going poo-less, here are a few articles:

The No-'Poo Do

Info: Shampoo Free

How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo

Let me know if you, too, chuck the poo!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

So, who is the Patrick guy?

St. Patrick's Day is a day that I tend to hold dear in my heart for several reasons. Perhaps, it is that bit o' Irish blood coursing through my veins, or because I am named Patricia, the female version of Patrick, or the fact that I have a son named Patrick who is named after me, his grandmother, Patricia, and ultimately his Irish great grandfather, Patrick. Even if I didn't have all that to draw me to the holiday, St. Patrick is a worthy man to remember.

I know most of us, including me until recent years, don't know much about St. Patrick. I grew up celebrating St. Patrick's day with leprechauns, rainbows and pots o' gold. But this man, Magonus Sucatus Patricius, is a great example of a Christian submitting to god's will and doing His work. He was kidnapped and taken from his home to Ireland. There, while being forced to work as a slave, he truly found God and learned to listen to His voice. He eventually escaped with God's leading and returned to his home in England, but later God gave him his most famous vision to return to Ireland, to his captors, and preach the gospel to them. He obeyed. He returned to those he knew when in captivity and preached the gospel with such zeal that many found god and came to know Jesus Christ. Amazingly, one of his first converts was his former master. St. Patrick is famous for using the 3 leaved shamrock to illustrate the trinity. He ultimately started hundreds of churches in and was responsible for leading thousands to Christ all because He listened to and obeyed God with enthusiasm. What a great example for us today!

So today, as I remember St. Patrick, I am going to think about listening to God to know the work that He has set before me. Just like him, God has a plan and work for each of us to do. True happiness and glory come through doing this work, the will of God.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which
God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

In our home, it wouldn't be St. Patrick's without watching this little VeggieTales short. It is cute, funny, and does an excellent job of telling a bit about the man, Patrick, who changed history in Ireland.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Christmas in March

Well, I am feeling a bit behind. All last week I was fighting off sickness, telling myself that I was NOT going to get sick and that I could just keep going at my normal pace. With all of the hats that I wear and things that I do each day, I really don't feel like I have the luxury of getting sick. I did battle with my sinuses all week, dealt with pain and pressure in my ears, and pounded down my headaches with constant doses of ibuprofen. Even still, by Friday night I was exhausted and my left eye was bloodshot and pussy. Ick. I woke up Saturday morning and the eye was matted shut and I decided that I had to get to a doctor before this new development spread through the whole family. The verdict was a sinus infection, 2 ear infections and conjunctivitis (pink eye). So, I isolated myself as best as I could from everyone over the weekend and took my antibiotics.

I think I am finally seeing the light at the end of this dark tunnel although I am not quite through this yet. The good new in all of this is that during my personal quarantine, I was able to sneak in some scrapbooking, something that I haven't been able to find the time for in months. Yay! I didn't realize how much I missed it. I think it is like a drug. I had it out of my system, but now that I have gotten another taste of it, I am hooked again. Now, the trick is figuring out when I can sneak time into my day for scrapbooking. That's a challenge.

So, this is why we have Christmas in March. I started going through my photos and this sweet one of Samuel sleeping in his Grandma's arms at one of our Christmas get-togethers called out to me. I can't resist those flushed cheeks and pudgy little fingers. (Materials used for this page can be found here.)

Here is a page full of other misc. photos from the same Christmas party. I thought it was easiest to just put them all into a big collage frame like this.

(Materials used for this page can be found here.)

Then Santa came to another big family get-together we went to. Since we don't make a huge deal about Santa in our house and don't go to the mall to get the photo on his lap, this was Samuel's first time to meet the big guy. I don't think he knew quite what to think. At least he didn't start screaming, but he kept a wary eye on him the whole time he was one his lap. I like how this photo captures that. (Materials used for this page can be found here.)

So, that's about it for me. I'm just hoping that I can get back on track and doing what I need to get done along with some fun scrapbooking, of course.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


We are still working really hard to keep our food budget down around here because, well, we have too. I can't go into debt to feed my family. One thing we utilize is popcorn – not that packaged microwave stuff, but the real kind. I have found that I can by a 50 pound bag of popcorn at my local warehouse club for about $16. Let me tell you, 50 pounds is A LOT of popcorn. Our last bag lasted us years. So what all do we do with it? We mostly just pop it up for snacks. The beauty about popcorn is that you can make it into both a sweet or salty snack. We pop ours up in a stovetop popper like this that we got as a wedding gift nearly 22 years ago, but you can just use something as simple as a big pot.

How to pop popcorn in a big pot on the stovetop:

1.Place 3 T. oil and 3 kernels of popcorn in pot, cover and place on medium-high heat.
2.When those kernels pop, add 1/3 cup of popcorn to the pot and make sure they are in an even layer on the bottom.
3.Remove the pot from the heat for 30 seconds. (Doing this brings all the kernels up to the oil temperature so they will pop at the same time.)
4.Place back on the heat covered.
5.As soon as you hear popping, shake the pot. Keep the lid ajar so that your popcorn stays crispy.
6.Once the popping has slowed to a couple of seconds between pops, remove from heat. And dump into a bowl.
7.Season as desired. If using butter, it can be melted quickly in the hot pot.

Seasoning ideas:
Salt (Obvious, I know!) Any salt will work, but popcorn salt is nice because it is so fine, it sticks well to the popcorn.
Cayenne pepper for a little kick.
Salt, Pepper and olive oil. This is a yummy combo that I learned from a friend. Drizzle on the olive oil, add salt and fresh cracked pepper. Toss the popcorn in the bowl and repeat. Yummy!
Parmesan cheese
Spanish smoked paprika
Curry powder
Nutritional yeast
Garlic salt
Pizza seasoning
Seasoned salt
Cinnamon or cinnamon-sugar

I have also heard that you can add salt right to the oil as you are popping and it will be distributed all through the corn. I will be trying that.

Do you like things sweet? There are bunches of caramel corn recipes to choose from. I don't have a tried and true favorite that I can share with you, but here are some you can check out.

My favorite way to do sweet popcorn is kettle corn. I think it is way easier than caramel corn and just lightly sweet which I like. With caramel corn there are several steps. You pop the corn, make the caramel sauce, pour it over the popcorn and bake it. Kettle corn just takes one pot and just one step because you just mix sugar right into the pot with the oil and corn.

Simple Kettle Corn

¼ cup oil
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup popcorn

Place all ingredients into the pot and place over medium-high heat. Make sure you shake this constantly so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat when there are a couple of seconds between pops. Immediately dump into bowl. Done. Easy-peasy!

A really yummy variation on this is Cinnamon Kettle Corn. To make this, substitute red hots for the sugar. It makes reddish pink cinnamon flavored popcorn. I have often thought that you could probably substitute any crushed hard candy, but haven't tried that yet. I'm thinking butterscotch candies or maybe even leftover candy canes. Sounds yummy, huh?

Another great idea for popcorn is to use it in place of breakfast cereal. I have not tried this on my family yet. Breakfast cereal is something that I have cut from our grocery list unless I get a really sweet deal. Since they have been living with homemade granola or whatever I can pick up at the local food auction, this might seem like a fun treat. I think I will do some kettle corn style, but with ½ the sugar for a slightly sweetened cereal.

I'm sure if you think about it, you can come up with lots of great popcorn ideas. Here's a site with lots of unique recipes.

So, when searching for cheap eats, don't forget the popcorn. At just over 30 cents per pound, it is a great deal – especially if you realize that just 1 tablespoon of unpopped corn yields 2 CUPS popped. Try a new recipe and be sure to share your results and ideas in the comments.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I apologize...

Sorry for the downer of a post that I put up last week. I was having a REALLY rough day, battling some demons. It took all the strength that I could muster to cling to what I KNOW to be true and not what I was FEELING. I think that is just sometimes how it is. A day can be very dark and we can't feel the presence of God. But just because we can't feel Him, doesn't mean that He has left us. It is in those times that we must remind ourselves of what we know about God. Come on, if He is willing to DIE for us, you know He is more than willing to walk by our side through whatever is going on.

After much prayer and reminding myself of what I know to be true, I awoke the next morning feeling better both physically and spiritually. God is good! Things are still not all peaches and roses, but I KNOW that God is walking right by my side through it all.

I also need to share how God used others last week to be His hand of comfort. I discussed my struggles with my hubby. Much of my stress is induced by our current financial situation and, of course, affects him, too. But he was such an encourager to me. Thankfully when all I could see was doom and gloom, my hubby could see the light at the end of the tunnel and was able to share that with me. Also, last week, a good, long-time friend got a spiritual nudge to call, give me a phone-hug, and invite me out for some girl time. What a blessing! I hope she knows how much that meant. I am so thankful that they allowed God to use them. I pray that I can hear God's nudge to be used in such a way, too.