Friday, June 19, 2015

Minimize the Mess: Stuck in a Rut

My journey to live with less has not been moving along as quickly as I'd like. Items haven't been selling very quickly, so they've piled up. I haven't been donating as often as I should. Perhaps worst of all, too many things have been entering the house.

We haven't exactly been following the "one item in, one item out" rule very well, but it's hard when you live with other people who aren't on the same page as you in this journey. My significant other, and son's father, donates roughly 1 shirt for every 10 he brings in. However I can't force him to do anything, so I'll just focus on myself and what I can change. 

Tips for Breaking out of a Rut:

  • Set a timer for 20 minutes everyday, and use that time to declutter. When you've been accumulating things for years like our family has, there will be A LOT to go through; and when there is a lot, the idea of tackling it all can seem extremely overwhelming. Completing even a little each day won't be so overwhelming and you'll still be making progress. 
  • Make a game out of it! The Minimalist wrote this inspiring post, called Let's Play a Minimalism Game Together (click here to read it). At the beginning of any month you donate one item on the first, two on the second, and on you go until the end of the month. 

Tips to Keep Things From Piling Up:

  • If it doesn't sell in a week, donate it. Obviously this rule doesn't need to apply to everything. For example, if my coffee table didn't sell in a week I wouldn't donate it. 
  • Plan a weekly donation trip. Even if it's one box, I feel better getting it out of the house. I really can't stand the way it looks when I have boxes piling up by my front door. 
  • One item in, one item out. I've mentioned this rule a few times, because it's pretty important. We haven't been following this rule, and it lead to too much coming in and not enough leaving.

On the Bright Side!

I sold the coffee table finally! It was a great table, but it was a clutter trap (just like every other flat surface in my house). It was also disproportionately big compared to our living space. Without the table, there are no obstacles to walk around and it opens up the room, making it feel much larger. Getting it out of the house, and making an extra $40, was just the kick I needed to get motivated again!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

5 Uses for Leftover Whey

I love Greek yogurt! In fact, I wrote a detailed blog post all about how to make your own (click here to read Homemade Yogurt). If you've ever made homemade Greek yogurt, then you know whey is a byproduct of the straining process, and you can end up with quite a bit of it.

What should you do with it? Throwing it away is such a waste, considering there are so many ways to use it!

1) Marinate Meat in Whey

I haven't personally tried this one yet, but (from what I've read), the enzymes in whey help to tenderize the meat. I couldn't find any reputable sources however, only other blog posts. It makes sense to me, since whey is slightly acidic. Whey has a pH of "less than or equal to 5.1" (Source: Handbook of Dairy Foods and Nutrition); that is around the same acidity of apple cider vinegar, which is "4.25 to 5.0" (Source: Testing the Acidity of Vinegar).

Here is an interesting recipe for a whey marinade that I plan on trying soon: Whey Moroccan Chicken Marinade.

2) Boil Pasta and Rice in Whey

This one I have tried! I've read that it alters the flavor a bit, but I haven't noticed yet. Neither has anybody I've cooked noodles or rice for. The only difference I've noticed is that the pasta is a bit more tender.

3) Rinse Your Hair with Whey

This is probably my favorite one! Whenever I do this, it leaves my hair silky, shiny, and softer than ever. Even before I gave up commercial shampoo (check out Going No Poo if you're curious about that), I rinsed with whey a few times. Whenever I did, I didn't need to wash my hair for up to a few days. Of course now I don't wash my hair at all, but I still love a good whey rinse! Just be sure not to get it in your eyes or mouth while rinsing.

4) Use Whey as a Substitute for Buttermilk

I've successfully used whey in a cornbread recipe that called for buttermilk, and even for buttermilk pancakes! I love that I don't have to go out and buy buttermilk just for a few recipes; I can use the whey since I have it on hand. I seriously recommend making French toast with whey (beat some whey into the eggs you'll be dipping the bread into). It makes the French toast slightly sweeter in my opinion.

5) Mix Whey into Your Coffee 

I always mix a few tablespoons of whey into my iced lattes. It adds another depth of flavor as well as some helpful vitamins and probiotics. Adding it to hot coffee might kill the probiotics, but it will still have a yummy flavor!

Do you have any uses for whey that I haven't mentioned? If so, comment below!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Going No Poo: 6 Months (Water Only)

In just six short months (okay, they weren't that short), I've finally reached hair nirvana! In Going No Poo: 5 Months, I talked about attempting water only (WO) washes unsuccessfully. Well, I finally figured out the trick: I've been using water from our water filter to combat the hard water!

It struck me one day as I was getting myself a drink of water: we use a water filter on our tap to remove chlorine, fluoride, and other unwanted minerals that affect taste. So why not use it on my hair?

Edit: I recently found out that our Pur water filter doesn't remove fluoride. Bummer!

Well, it worked! I've been very happy with the results over the last month.

How Exactly Do I Do It?

These WO washes were extremely easy! I simply take one of my son's plastic cups, fill it with filtered water from the tap, and take it into the bathroom with me. Next, I lean over the side of the tub and slowly pour the filtered water on my head, making sure to get all of the hair wet. After that, I massage my scalp and run my fingers through the length of my hair. If I'm getting a shower, I turn on the water and get in; otherwise I go about getting ready. I prefer to let my hair air dry or blow dry it on low heat followed by a blast of cool air.

Benefits to WO:

  • I don't need to spend any money on my hair, other than the cost of the filter and the water.
  • I can go WAY longer in between WO washes. Alternatively, there is no harm in using water everyday if I'd like.  

The highlight of my month was when a friend in my leasing office asked if I was still doing the whole No Poo thing, because she couldn't even tell!

I like to think there is a moral to this story: giving up shampoo is not for the faint of heart. However, if this is something you're considering for any number of reasons (maybe you have scalp problems like I did, or maybe you're worried about the nasty chemicals in commercial shampoos), and you aren't too intimidated by the transition process, then I say go for it!

I managed Going No Poo with things that I had on hand and easily accessible ingredients that you can find in any grocery store. Every scalp and head of hair is unique, though, so everybody's journey won't be the same as mine.

I'm a bit sad to say this will be the last post in the Going No Poo series, but I like to think that I'm leaving it off on a happy note. Even though I won't be writing this monthly series anymore, I will certainly update y'all with a new post if there are any surprises in my journey. I wish anybody who begins this journey for themselves the best of luck!

To read more of the Going No Poo series, click here:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Going No Poo: 5 Months (Deep Conditioning Mask & Egg Yolk Wash)

I can't believe it's been 5 months since I took the leap into No Poo, and gave up shampoo! I honestly cannot imagine ever using shampoo again!

I gave WO (water only) washes a try these last few weeks, pretty much out of sheer laziness. In my ideal world, I wouldn't need to do anything to my hair other than wet it. Well, it didn't work out so well. I have hard water, and after a while those minerals left my hair feeling stiff and dry. I could tell that my limp and lifeless hair needed some moisture, so I tried a deep conditioning honey/coconut oil mask. I followed my oil treatment with an egg yolk and honey wash to make sure my hair wasn't left feeling greasy. The results were fabulous!

Definitely one of my Top 3 best hair days
since Going No Poo!

Honey & Coconut Oil Deep Conditioning Mask

  • 2 Tablespoon Raw Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon  Coconut Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Filtered Water

Mix together all three ingredients in a container with a lid (a mason jar or a condiment dispenser, for example). Apply the lid (plugging the opening, if using a condiment dispenser) and shake, shake, shake! The goal is to combine the ingredients as best you can.

Apply the mixture to moistened hair (not dripping wet), making sure to massage into the scalp and pull it through the length of the hair. You'll definitely need something to contain this sticky, oily mess, like a shower cap. I just use an old long-sleeve shirt to wrap up my hair; the long sleeves wrap around my head nicely, and keep it in place. Leave the deep conditioning mask on for at least 30 minutes, or even longer if you like. I usually leave mine in for a few hours.

When you're ready to remove the deep conditioning mask, you'll need something more than water or diluted ACV (apple cider vinegar) to get the coconut oil out. If you use regular shampoo, you can remove the oil with that. However, if you've given up commercial shampoo already, an egg wash works wonders at removing oil! Read on for the egg yolk/honey wash recipe.

Egg Yolk & Honey "Shampoo"

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon Raw Honey

Mix the egg yolks and honey together thoroughly (use an immersion blender to quicken the job).

Rinse the honey/coconut oil mask from your hair as best you can. Apply the egg yolk/honey mixture to your hair, massaging into the scalp and pulling it through the length of the hair. You may need to double the recipe if you have long hair. Leave the wash in while you finish up your shower routine, or for about 5 minutes, and rinse it thoroughly with lukewarm water (you don't want to cook the egg yolks).

You may follow with a diluted ACV rinse if you wish, but it is not necessary.


You can do this deep conditioning treatment without a wash, but be prepared to walk around with oily hair for a day or two. I just recently tried skipping the wash, and it was pretty oily the first day, but my hair eventually absorbed it.

Try not to wash with egg yolks more than once a week, and no more than once a month for the whole egg. They contain a lot of protein, and too much protein can lead to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily. If you suspect protein overload in your hair, moisturizing is the only option.

Bye-Bye BBB

In the last month, I've given up the BBB (boar bristle brush), for the most part. I just can stand how often it needs to be cleaned, and how rough it is on my hair. I just purchased a cheap wooden comb off of eBay (seriously, it was only 80 cents), and so far it's working well. It moves sebum a bit better than a regular old plastic comb, without damaging my hair like the BBB did.

To read about the rest of my journey, click here:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Minimize the Mess: Simplify Easter

During my journey to Minimize the Mess, I've learned that the only way to get rid of clutter, and keep it gone, is to stop bringing things into the house (obviously, you may need to bring some new things in; the point is not to bring useless/unneeded items into the home). Most years we aimed for a full Easter basket, and that meant getting a lot of useless trinkets that get tossed after a while (or just added to the clutter). We're trying to celebrate differently this year, without all of the candy and toys.

What are we doing differently this year?

Ditching the Traditional Easter Basket

I'm the type of person who saves things. I saved gift bags to reuse them. I even saved Trick or Treat buckets and Easter baskets. No wonder my house ended up so cluttered! I ditched all of the baskets along with all of the other "just in case" items, and never looked back. This year we've opted for a beach pail. Since we live in Florida, I'm sure it will get plenty of use all year long!

Other alternatives to Easter baskets, that can be used all year, include bike baskets, tote bags, and decorative baskets (that can be used as small toy boxes).

Avoiding Sweets

  • Fruit - I've never been big on candy and sweets, and I prefer for my son not to expect candy at every holidays, so we've always tried to give him fruit instead. Apples, oranges, and bananas fill out a basket nicely, and the best part is that they get eaten and don't add to the clutter! 
  • Books - While they do count as "bringing something in," I am a bit more lenient on books. We'll just have to keep practicing our "one in, one out" rule. 
  • Something Needed - Something they need doesn't sound like much fun, but I like to "cute it up" by getting something with one of my son's favorite cartoon characters, such as a pair of socks, a washcloth, or a toothbrush. Other items like this include: a flashlight, some flash cards, or pencils and crayons.
  • The Fun Item - I like to throw in at least one fun item, so I got some glow sticks this year. I love that they're one use, and then they go in the trash. Sidewalk chalk is another fun items, as well as bubbles. 

Dying & Hunting Easter  Eggs

I know dying and hunting eggs are usually a given, but we really focus on that aspect of Easter, especially since we're downplaying the Easter basket this year. I also think it's important to focus on the good experiences (fun with friends and family) rather than getting gifts. We always do a prize for the child who gets the most Easter eggs, but maybe this year we'll add a contest for the colored eggs: silliest egg, scariest egg, most colorful, etc.

Tell me about some of your holiday traditions!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Minimize the Mess Part 3

Welcome to the third post in the Minimize the Mess series! Since the last post I've taken two more carloads of things to Goodwill. Now that I've donated about a quarter of our unused and unneeded things, I finally feel ready to start selling some of it! Before purging 25% of the junk, the thought of dealing with eBay, Craigslist, and local buy/sell Facebook groups (as well as having everything just taking up space until it sold) nearly gave me a panic attack! I don't know if you've ever tried to sell things online, but sometimes buyers can just be... well, hostile is the nicest term I can think of.

How/where have I been selling things?

  • Resale/Consignment Shops - My first choice when selling things is to take them to local resale shops. My favorite place to sell my son's old clothes, toys, and baby gear (yes, I still have some 5 years later) is a local used children's clothing and toy store. They buy recent styles at a percentage of what they're worth and resell them. I don't get as much as I would selling them online, but it's easier than waiting for someone to come to my house, and change their mind or try to (aggressively) haggle me down. They make an offer, and I accept or don't - it's that simple. 
  • Facebook Buy/Sell Groups - I know I didn't make the local buy/sell groups sound like much fun, but it's definitely easier than dealing with eBay. I post pictures with descriptions and prices of the items, and arrange to meet the buyer somewhere locally. However, after a few times of wasting gas because of no-shows, I decided to just have people come to my apartment complex to look at the items. Because it's all local, I don't have to deal with any postage, shipping, or returns and refunds. If they don't like the item after seeing it in person, they just don't buy it. 
  • eBay - eBay is my last choice for selling things, because it's tedious. You have to list every detail about the item, there are seller fees, and it's a pain to deal with refunds and returns if the buyer isn't happy. 

How Much have I Made?

Items Sold
$$ Earned
Baby Items
& Toys
Misc. Items

Although we've made more than $100 selling things, my fear that things will be sitting around for a long time until they're sold is coming true! Since the whole point of this is to get rid of things, I've actually started giving things away for free and donating them. Any money we make is really just a bonus.

These piles of things waiting to be sold are about
to turn into things that are getting donated. 

The Decluttering Continues

I mentioned already we've taken 2 more carloads to Goodwill, making 3 in total. My family may not have been completely on board at first, but they've definitely come around now that we're making some money out of it. In fact, here is a picture of my son helping by picking out toys that he doesn't play with anymore!

What a great helper!

Kitchen Items 

I mentioned in Part One of Minimize the Mess that I had donated all but two (per person) of all the plates, cups, and silverware. I've trimmed it down a bit more since then by being rid of all my son's plastic plates and utensils. At five years old, he's already proved that he's responsible enough to eat off of glass plates. You'd be surprised by how much space that has cleared up.

There is still one cabinet that annoys me when I look at it though. The dreaded Tupperware/container cabinet! Those lids are a pain to contain (mind the pun). I'm seriously considering switching to mason jars, since I already have them.


In the past, our closets have been a place for hiding clutter. Can't find a place for it? Just shove it in the closet. I've actually stumbled across items that I thought were long-lost, or that I'd just completely forgotten about. That got me to thinking: how could I be hanging on to all these things without even remembering what all I had? If everything is important, than is anything really important?

In the process of cleaning out my closet, I found a lot of old baby items and maternity shirts. I remember thinking at the time that I'll need them if I have another baby. Well, 4 years later and still no baby! It wasn't even hard to get rid of these items.

Among the baby things in the closet, I also found some old baby clothes that I'd set aside because I wanted to make a quilt out of them. Again, 4 years have gone by and I'm still no better at sewing than I was when I put these in the closet. I decided to find somebody to make the quilt for me, or just donate or sell the clothes.

Now I have this, rather than a bag of onesies.
Thanks, Quilts By Donna!

There is plenty more to be decluttered, and who knows if I'll ever really be done. As my journey continues, my perspective on what's really important changes; I'm starting to value experiences over items, and I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Going No Poo - 4 Months

So I've been a bit behind on my blog posts again. I'm not going to beat myself up about it though, because I managed to stay on top of my schoolwork, declutter a ton of stuff, and even start a new hobby (brewing kombucha)!

No Poo Haircut

I finally got another haircut, making it my second one since going no poo. I had the same stylist, and she was still super supportive of my crunchy antics. I was definitely due for one though. You can see in the picture above, it was getting a bit wild.

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment!

One thing I've learned throughout this journey is to experiment! I seriously cannot say it enough. After being acid only (AO) for the last 3 months, I decided to switch it up a bit. I felt like my hair was getting weighed down again (similar to what I was experiencing before switching from honey to AO). I swear my hair just does not want to settle into a routine.

I knew I wanted to try some sort of sebum removing wash, because I suspected my hair was heavy due to buildup (most likely from sebum). It also needed to be something I had on hand, because I refuse to order something special unless I absolutely must. It came down to baking soda and egg. Egg seemed like the gentler and easier option, so I went with that.

Egg Wash

For my egg wash, I simply beat a whole egg with an 1/8 teaspoon of coconut oil. I applied it in the shower, left it on for the rest of my shower routine (about 5 minutes), rinsed with cold water (hot water will cook the egg, and it will be hard to get out), and finally a diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse. The egg wash is the most sebum removing wash I've done since switching from commercial shampoo, so in hindsight a teaspoon of coconut oil probably would've been better. I only left the egg in for five minutes to avoid any smell issues; I also rinsed with ACV for the same reason.

You can see the difference the egg wash made in the picture above. Look at that lift and body! I sort of wish I'd done the egg wash before my haircut, but oh well. In my first ever post about giving up shampoo, Going No Poo - Week 1, I mentioned egg washes as one alternative to shampoo. While egg is great at cleansing and removing sebum, it can lead to protein overload if used more than once a month (the white or the yolk can be used weekly though). I'll probably try doing my egg wash bimonthly and see if I need to increase frequency from there. If I can push it even farther, that's even better!

What's Next?

Since I've been brewing my own kombucha, I plan on trying a kombucha rinse soon! I'll write about it next month and let y'all know how it worked.

To read about the rest of my journey, click here: