Natural and Cheap Beauty Tips

Olio nuovo del Chianti - Italia.

The beauty industry will tell you anything to have you buy their product, and we all are fooled by the beautiful packaging. I admit I’m a sucker for the anticipation of opening a beauty product that promises beauty beyond imagination. Well, as we have all discovered, few of these products deliver on that promise. Here are a few ideas that I have actually tried, and really do work! They are cheap ideas, using what most people have in their cupboard, and they are non-toxic.

Hair. There are so many products out there promising to make your hair smooth and shiny. Most of these are very expensive, and are full of strange ingredients that we cannot pronounce. Well, here’s the secret that I’ve discovered and that really works. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Massage about 1/4 cup of it into your hair and scalp in the evening. Cover with a shower cap, and go to bed. For those of us who are married, I usually don’t do it when my husband’s home, since I smell a little olivey that night!  In the morning, shampoo with a natural shampoo. All done. Do this about once a week, and your hair will stay smooth and shiny. I’ve tried other oils, and have found the olive oil to be the best.

Face. Microdermabrasion is the face repair trend, and we can pay a bundle to have it done professionally. The cheaper way to go is a product that exfolliates the skin on the face. However, these products can still be around 5o dollars, and some brands contain aluminum. I use baking soda. I make a paste with water and baking soda, or with my facial cleanser and baking soda, and exfolliate my face with it. The fine texture of the baking soda is not too harsh for the sensitive facial skin, and of course baking soda is safe. Rinse your face, moisturize, and your skin will be so smooth and glowing.

Body. This one is similar to the face. Please do not hand out lots of money for expensive body scrubs and sugar scrubs! You can make your own. Use your own natural body wash, no chemicals please, and add either salt or sugar. Using a good Celtic sea salt will add vital minerals to the scrub, making it even better. When you shower, just scrub your body, or use as a pre-shave scrub. Just exfolliate your legs, ladies, before you shave, and your shave will be closer, and last longer.

Get your olive oil, baking soda, sugar and salt out, and give these ideas a try. Like I said, I use them all and they work. Save yourself some money and know exactly what ingredients are in your beauty products.

Make your Traditional Christmas Recipes Healthier

Keeping things healthy around Christmastime is very difficult. We all have our traditional recipes that we make every year, and it wouldn’t feel like the Holidays unless we served them. I’m not one to ditch a tradition, so here are some ideas to make a few of your favorite holiday recipes a little bit less of a guilty pleasure.

Pecan pie. I love pecan pie, however, the amount of sugar in it is frightening. Decrease the sugar by about 25%, and use real maple syrup instead of corn syrup. The maple flavor will knock your socks off, and it’s so much better for you.

Pastry crust. Never use shortening in your pie crust. Actually, never use shortening ever! It has the nutritional qualities of axle grease. Use butter or lard in your crust. Butter has the best flavor, and lard is super easy to work with. They are both great choices.

Pecan pie.

Toffee, caramel corn and other candies. Replace any recipe that calls for corn syrup with maple syrup. The real stuff.

Quick breads, muffins and cakes. Liquid oil makes any quick bread or cake super moist. Unfortunately,one of the only healthful liquid oils is extra virgin olive oil. This sounds gross, and it will smell a little strong in the batter, but once it is baked there will be no olive taste at all. The texture will be incredibly moist.

If you decrease the sugar in your recipes, replace some of the white sugar with other options such as maple syrup or honey, and replace bad fats with nutritional fats like butter, lard, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil, you will be making these holiday treats quite a bit more healthful, and in my opinion, they will taste even better.

3 Ways to Lose Weight without Hardly Trying

Water kefir crystals (also known as Tibicos). ...

water kefir grains

Everyone wants the no-effort diet that does not require us to move a muscle, or stop eating whatever we want. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. Here are three simple tricks to make losing weight seem effortless, however.

First, stop drinking anything that has sugar in it. If we knew how many calories we guzzle down, and how fast they’re gone, we’d weep! I figure, if I’m going to consume 400 calories in one sitting, it better be a nice size piece of cheesecake, and not one bottle of soda. Some people drink several sodas a day, so it’s possible to be drinking around 1000 calories a day, depending on how many drinks of course, and never even realize it. Need to kick the soda habit? Buy seltzer water, squeeze lemon into it, stir in a little honey, and just make the adjustment. Or even better for you, make your own soda with water kefir grains. Find out about this nutritious alternative that helps the good bacteria in your gut by going to http://nourishedkitchen.com/water-kefir/   Cut out sugary drinks and not only will your weight go down, but your health will improve. I must warn you that those who consume a lot of sugar will get headaches when you decrease the amount you intake. Sugar is addictive and these symptoms will stop after some time.

Second, I think most of us know that to lose weight you have to eat breakfast. This is true, but it depends on what you are eating for breakfast. I make my own yogurt, serve myself about one cup, put it in a large glass, fill the glass the rest of the way with milk,  stir it and drink it down. If you take vitamins this is the perfect consistency to make it easier. That’s it, that’s my breakfast and it keeps me full until lunch. I actually eat a smaller lunch when I have this for breakfast.

Third, always eat your vegetables and meat first at mealtimes. After this, you probably won’t have a bunch of room for the carbs and sweet dessert. If you do, you’ll eat less of them. White breads, rices, other grains and sugar are empty calories with no nutritional value, and actually harmful to your health.

Give these simple ideas a try, and make them a part of your lifestyle. Adjusting calorie intake alone will help you lose weight. If you add some of the exercises I mentioned in an earlier blog, you will be well on your way to a new you for the new year!

Exercises for Moms

Curso de Instructor de Pilates

I know we moms are always running around getting someone something, carrying the baby, the groceries, running to the stove to save dinner, its endless. As much as we do all day, its hard for us to find time to actually exercise. For those of us on a limited income, buying the super expensive Bow Flex might not be an option, and in the winter, jogging in the snow does not sound fun, and who can with little kids in the house anyways.

Strengthening our core, or midsection, and toning our muscles is a good way to start. Pilates, in my opinion, are ideal. I use the Winsor Pilates videos, and I love them. I am a busy mom who does not have the opportunity to excercise outside much, don’t have money for an expensive machine, and have children, so the gym is not an option. With these Pilates videos, all you need is a VCR or DVD player, TV and the floor. Who doesn’t have those? These Pilates are strengthening my midsection, making me super flexible, and I assure you, you will be able to accomplish all of the moves within a couple of weeks. My two daughters remind me all the time to do my Pilates, and they lie on the floor next to me and do the exercises, so cute! Your children will learn everything right along with you, and hopefully will continue it later into their lives.

So what about cardio? Oh, my least favorite. Like I mentioned before, having children who are young may keep you from being able to run or jog outside. What is my solution? I assure you it’s cheap and easy. I run up and down the stairs. Now I’m aware that not everyone has stairs, or some of you have dangerous stairs, but for those who have safe stairs, this is super effective. It works your backside, legs, and gets your heart pumping. You could even carry weights for a workout for your arms. I start at ten times up and down. It’s a challenge, you will be puffing if you are like me. Increase by one more time everyday, and before you know it, it will be easy!

As moms, our time is limited, money may be tight, and sometimes we just can’t get away from our kids. These ideas are the perfect solution, so we no longer have the excuse to not feel and look our best. Even mommys can be sexy!

Why Buy Organic Cotton?

cotton plant, Texas, 1996, after chemical haul...

Some of us may have been there, standing in an aisle in the clothing store, trying to decide whether to buy the regular cotton t-shirts or the organic ones. The organic t-shirts cost several dollars more. Is it worth it? Is it worth spending more money on organic cotton products? There are many reasons that it is important to use organic cotton. The biggest reason is the amount of chemicals used in non-organic cotton and the effect they have on one’s health.

First of all, what is so bad about regular cotton and how it is grown? Regular, non-organic cotton is grown using synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Growing cotton uses up more than 25% of the insecticides used in the entire world, and about 10% of the pesticides used. About one third of a pound of agricultural chemicals is used in the making of one cotton shirt. About 1.25 pounds of chemicals are used in the production of a queen size sheet set. After a cotton shirt or cotton bedding is made, it is then treated with formaldehyde to make it resist wrinkling.

So those are the chemicals used in making non-organic cotton products. Are these chemicals bad for one’s health? Studies confirm that breathing in .1 parts per million of formaldehyde over a period of time causes headaches, dizziness, scratchy eyes and throat, nasal congestion, immune system and nervous system problems. Exposure to wrinkle resistant cotton shirts or sheets treated with formaldehyde can release up to 500 parts per million. It is possible that people have been living with health issues that have been blamed on other things, when the dangerous chemicals in the cotton they use every day, is the real culprit. If still not convinced that these chemicals are harmful, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classed the chemicals used in the growth and production of cotton, as some of the most toxic substances on earth.

Now that one knows that these chemicals are harmful to one’s health, how is one actually taking in these substances, when not consuming them?  People wear cotton next to their bodies all day. Most people wear cotton undergarments, cotton shirts and other articles of clothing. However, that is not all. One spends one third of his or her life with their bodies pressed against cotton bedding. The chemicals are breathed in, and also are leached into the skin on contact. As one can see, it is possible for a person to be in constant exposure to the chemicals used in the production of non-organic cotton.

After hearing the negative aspects of non-organic cotton, what are the benefits of organic cotton? To be certified organic by the USDA, the cotton must be raised without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers and not sprayed with formaldehyde. The seeds used to grow the cotton must not be genetically modified organisms, in accordance with the laws of what is organic. In many cases, cotton raised organically, is raised in a manner that is more beneficial to the soil, and the earth in general. Organic cotton is also less likely to be produced using child-labor, which is a prevalent practice in some countries.

In conclusion, there are some serious health risks involved in our bodies being in contact with non-organic cotton products, mainly clothing and bedding. Our breathing, immune system, nervous system, and overall good health may be in danger from these deadly chemicals. So, everyone must decide, is it worth the extra money to be on the path to riding chemicals from one’s life? Good health and peace of mind is what some would call priceless.

How do I Get my Kids to Eat Healthier?

Eating Shiva

The best way to get your kids to eat healthier is to start when they are just beginning to eat solid food. Eating healthy is just like any other habit. If you start young and do it regularly, it forms a habit and could be part of your life for the entirety of your life. Most kids are started off on a diet of zero nutrition powdered cereal, sweet fruit sauces, Cheerios and other such things. The key is to develop a taste for foods that are not sweet, foods that expand their horizons, and foods that are nutrition packed. Egg yolk, pureed liver, mashed organic vegetables, yogurt, raw milk and a limited amount of pureed organic fruits would be the ideal diet for a baby just starting to eat solids.

As your kids get older and are sitting on their own at the table, start serving meals in courses.  When kids sit down to eat they are hungry of course, because wise mom has not let them eat snacks between meals. Start by serving the course that may be their least favorite, or is the most healthful. For example, do start with the salad course, the hungry kids are more likely to eat it, and follow with the meat and vegetables, and if they have any room left in their tummies, a small piece of bread and a small amount of dessert for a treat. If you serve them a big plate full of salad, bread, and main course what do you think the typical child will do? They will eat the bread, pick at the meat and vegetables, and leave the salad.

Kids also like to get involved in the preparation of the food. It takes some patience on the part of the parents, but let your kids stand on a chair and watch, or scatter the carrots into the salads, or sprinkle the salt and pepper on the steak, or stir the pasta sauce. It is exciting for them, gets them excited about food and preparation, and if they learn to cook they are less likely to resort to pre-packaged food in their future lives.

What we feed our children will affect them until they die. It will determine their quality of life, what diseases they will acquire or avoid, and teach and train them to make good, healthy choices that will benefit them, and their progeny for future generations.

5 Ways to De-Clutter Your Life

We all have clutter. We all have baggage. Doesn’t it weigh you down? It does me, and few things give me more peace  than de-cluttering. Of course, there are two forms of clutter, material and emotional, both of which are capable of dragging us down. Why not get rid of both forms?

1. The first way to de-clutter your life is to think before you shop. When I shop, and see something I like, before I put it in a cart, or put it in a cyber cart, I think to myself, “am I going to love this item forever? Can I see myself wishing I could re-sell it and get my money back for it?” If I think I am not going to love it forever, or want my money back a couple of months down the road, I just don’t buy it. Money is saved, and there is less clutter in my life.

2. The second way to de-clutter your life stems from the first. Why not surround ourselves with things that we LOVE? Instead of a houseful of things that we like, strategically place a few items in our homes that are important to us, and make us happy. Make your decor, closet, etc., be full of pieces that make your life more simple. If you use it once a week at least, then it has earned it’s keep.

3. The third way to de-clutter is to get rid of the stuff we already bought, and don’t love. Get yourself an Ebay account, and start selling! It is very easy, takes little time, and will make you some money. If that is not an option, take your unwanted stuff to a consignment store and make a little money, or just donate it to Salvation Army or Goodwill. What you donate counts as charity and you can write it off for taxes!

4. The fourth way to de-clutter is to make a list of items you really want to own. Make it a list of quality items that will last, and that make you happy. They will cost more money than a bunch of cheap junk, but you are more likely to take care of something that costs more. An example would be instead of buying five pairs of cubic zirconia earrings, save your money and buy a pair of real diamond earrings! That is less clutter, and you now own a quality item that you will take care of.

5. The fifth way to de-clutter your life is to get rid of emotional baggage. We all have it, and there is probably no way to get rid of all of it, but at least start. When you lie awake at night, what worries comes to mind? Those are the things you need to make better. Is there someone out there who you have grudge against, or maybe has a grudge against you? Call that person up, smooth it out, and you wouldn’t believe the peace of mind you will have.

Peace of mind is priceless! No material goods or grudge we’ve been nursing can take the place of it. Do what you have to do to reach a point in your life where things and worries are not weighing you down. De-clutter your life, and you will be well on your way.