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:

Monday, February 16, 2015

DIY Cinnamon & Clove Mouthwash

I finally cut all of the yucky commercial products out of my oral care routine! I gave up toothpaste 3 months ago and opted to brush with coconut oil instead, because of its awesome benefits (antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial to name a few) (Source: Treatment of Dermal Infections With Topical Coconut Oil). I've also started oil pulling with coconut oil most mornings as well. (For more information about oil pulling, check out this article.)

I haven't used mouthwash in quite some time, but I did miss that squeaky clean feeling it gives me. After receiving a HUGE bottle of vodka for Christmas (to add to the already large bottle sitting on top of my fridge), I decided to search for ways to use it, other than drinking it. Let's face it... I'm not much of a drinker, so it's basically a lifetime supply for me.

After reading a lot of different recipes, I learned about the different herbs and their benefits. There are so many different combinations of herbs that can be used for mouthwash, but I used ingredients that I had on hand and are easily accessible (in my opinion). Easily accessible, to me, means that you can find it at the grocery store, and you don't need to do any running around or special ordering.

My oral care routine:
homemade toothpaste (coconut oil & clove)
& cinnamon/clove mouthwash

DIY Mouthwash Recipe


  1. Add 1 cup of water and the cinnamon stick to a small pot and bring to a boil. As the water heats up, prepare the the rest of the herbs by placing them in a measuring glass or mason jar (it must be a glass container).
  2. After the water comes to a rolling boil, pour it and the cinnamon stick into the glass with the herbs and allow it to steep for 5 minutes. 
  3. When the herbs are done steeping, strain the miture into a mason jar (or whatever glass container you'll be storing your mouthwash in) using a coffee filter. Add the last 1/2 cup of water and the vodka. Allow to cool completely before using.

The Finished Product

I was pleasantly surprised by the cinnamon/clove flavor, and I thought they complimented each other quite nicely. It even reminded me of a toned-downed version of Crest's cinnamon mouthwash! If you prefer a stronger flavor, simply leave the extra 1/2 cup of water out next time. If you need a sweeter flavor, try adding some honey or stevia. The beauty of this recipe is that there's room to play with it, depending on what herbs you have and the results you desire!

Obviously this mouthwash isn't kid-friendly because of the vodka, but if you wanted to make one for children you could easily leave that out. If you have fresh mint, you could also try using that in place of the cinnamon for a minty flavor. I plan on trying this soon!

Helpful Resources

This mouthwash wasn't adapted from one recipe in particular. I actually put this recipe together myself after a lot of research on the subject of homemade mouthwash. Here are some of the sources that were most helpful:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Minimize the Mess Part 2

Since the first Minimize the Mess post, I've been doing a lot more purging and decluttering and it feels great! I took a full carload of stuff to Goodwill yesterday, and as soon as it was gone I felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest.

When I first started this journey, everybody in the family was not completely on board. My 5 year old son was the easiest to convince since his room was so nice and neat after the original purge. I also told him he could keep a percentage of the money from whatever we sold, so I think that helped. My significant other was a little more resistant, but after seeing what's been accomplished he's coming around.

Some of the projects I've been working on since the last post:

Transferring all of the DVDs we own into a CD/DVD  Binder:

Sadly, the DVDs shown are only a fraction of the ones we own. We actually had to buy a special binder that has over 200 slots for CDs/DVDs. The small, black one pictured is now holding my 5 year old son's DVDs. This alone freed up a whole shelf on our bookshelf.
This is all almost all of the cases I threw away.

Creating digital copies of the recipes I use in my cookbooks:

Screenshot of my progress so far.
In my last Minimize the Mess post, I talked about scanning my son's artwork and keeping it digitally, rather than piles of paper sitting around the house. Well, it's the same concept for the cookbooks. I love cooking, so I get a lot of cookbooks as presents. While I greatly appreciate it, and even enjoy some of the recipes I come across, I don't enjoy having to search through 10 different cookbooks to find the recipe I'm looking for. I'm hoping to empty out another shelf on the bookshelf with this project, because I have plans for it after it's empty. I plan on converting these recipes to PDF files so that I can print them out if I wish to. 

Condensing my wardrobe and the laundry in general:

Less clothes = less laundry. Like the dishes in the last Minimalism post, I recently realized I have too many clothes. Do you know how I figured it out? The clean clothes pile became so overwhelming, that I dreaded hanging them up. I'm going by the "60 day rule" on this one, meaning that if I haven't warn it in 60 days it gets donated. We also have too many towels, for some reason. I'd like to get it down to 2 towels per person. 

Transferring the board games into gallon storage bags:

This was perhaps my favorite of the projects I accomplished. I freed up a shelf on the wall, and put a stop to the board game box eyesore! For this project, I simply cut out the cover of the board game and put them in a gallon size storage bags with zip tops, along with the board itself and all of the pieces. Some of the box covers needed to be trimmed down a bit to fit into the bag. All but one of the boards were small enough to fit into the bag, so I'm thinking about just replacing it with a travel-size version.

I was inspired by a pin on Pinterest for this project. Check it out here, if you like.

Decluttering & Purging the Spice Cabinet:

After throwing away what was expired, and giving away the doubles and spices we hadn't used in the last few months, I was left with a better organized and easily accessible spice cabinet. This will probably be something that I do every month.

One item in, one item out

Since we seem to be accumulating so many things without ever getting rid of anything (until recently), I decided to start employing this popular rule in the minimalist community: for every item you bring into the house, one has to leave. For example, if you get a new shirt you have to donate one. This small step should help keep things from getting to cluttered in the future.

This is still an ongoing process, and the apartment is nowhere near how I'd like it to look yet, but every box donated is one step closer!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Going No Poo - Week 12 (& Herbal Hibiscus Rinse)

In the spirit of minimalism, I've decided to minimize my stress and workload by making the Going No Poo series a monthly post rather than a weekly one. To be honest my scalp is so normalized that there isn't really anything new going on.

One of my main goals when starting this blog was to help others feel beautiful naturally, without having to conform to societies mainstream notion of what beauty is. I can honestly say that after three months without commercial shampoo, my perspective on hair has changed quite a bit. For example, my hair looked somewhat oily yesterday, and rather than think it was "gross," I thought: "my hair is softer than the the softest puppy I've ever felt!" Yes, that was my exact thought. I hope this blog inspires even one other person to feel the same way, rather than worry about what everybody else will think.

My monthly No Poo progress.
Check out those natural waves happening!

One thing that I have noticed is that my hair does not like to settle into a routine. As soon as I find something that works wonderfully, my hair decides it's time to switch it up. For the last few weeks, I've been alternating between an apple cider vinegar rinse and a coffee/herbal tea rinse. I've finally gotten my tea rinse to the perfect ratios (for me), so here it is:

Herbal Hibiscus Rinse

For my herbal tea rinse, I simply mix all of the ingredients together and pour it over my head. Applying this rinse over the sink (onto dry hair*) is the easiest method for me. I put a large mixing bowl in the sink to catch most of what I pour over my head, that way a little rinse goes a long way.

I also add a drizzle of honey occasionally (about a teaspoon), particularly if any irritation pops up (like during the winter months).

*I apply the mixture to dry hair, rather than wet, because of hard water issues. 

For the Hibiscus Tea:

I boiled 2 hibiscus tea bags in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes, and then let it steep for about 30 more minutes. Mine reduced to a 1/2 cup by the time all the boiling/steeping was done, but you can save the leftovers in the fridge if you wind up with more than half a cup.

For the Rosemary/Ginger Tea:

I boiled a fresh piece of ginger (about an inch long), 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary, and a teaspoon of ground turmeric in about 2 cups of water for 5 minutes, and then let it steep for 30 minutes. Since this herbal tea has loose herbs, it's best to strain with a coffee filter before using. As with the hibiscus tea, you can store the leftovers in the fridge.

Strongly brewed coffee can be used in place of espresso. 

Behold my healthy scalp, free of irritation and/or dandruff!

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Minimize the Mess

I've been a bit out of sorts lately. I've been behind on my school work, and on my blog posts! It took me a while to figure out it was ugly house syndrome. Have you ever experienced it? Sometimes an untidy or unorganized home can leave one feeling a bit sluggish, or even depressed. In my case, we have a tiny apartment yet we've accumulated a lot of stuff junk. So much, in fact, that some of it was just sitting in boxes, taking up our living room! What is the point in having so much stuff, if it just becomes an eyesore that doesn't even get used?


What is minimalism? The basic concept is "less is more!" We live in a consumer-driven society, and many of us (myself included) feel obligated to buy something just because it's cheap or on sale. There is a lot of confusion between needs and wants these days. For example, do we need 20 plates in a three-person family? Does my significant other need that new Nerf gun to add to his already huge collection? Does my son need that new toy he sees in the store? No, no, and no! Those are all wants.

While this journey is still ongoing, it all started when I discovered a minimalist group on Facebook. I was so inspired by everybody's posts and beautiful photos that I immediately began sorting through our "stuff" to determine what was a need and what was a want.

Make a Plan

The first thing I did was take a look at the apartment and determine the "catch-all" areas and problem spots. In my household, these included the kitchen table, the coffee table, and the kitchen counters... basically any flat surface. One of the worst spots in the house, other than those already mentioned, was my 5 year old son's room; therefore his room was the first to get "purged." Goodness, that kid has too many toys. So far it's the only room completely done, so I'll give y'all the breakdown of the plan for his room.

The Plan

  • Go through EVERYTHING!
  • Determine what needs to be purged. Has it been played with in the last 6 months? Are there multiples of the same item (3 Spiderman action figures, for example)?
  • Sort into 4 different categories: Sell, Donate, Trash, and Keep.
  • Don't get ahead of yourself and get rid of something you actually need. If there is something you're unsure about, try putting it in a "test box" that is out of sight. If you can make it a predetermined amount of time without using it, then get rid of the item. 
  • Don't expect to be done overnight. This is an ongoing journey for us, happening a little bit at a time. 


No, I wasn't out on the one night a year that all crime is legal. Purging, in the minimalist community, refers to getting rid of all of the unused, unneeded things, so you can get down to the items you really need, love, and appreciate.

Before the purge, my son's room always looked like it had just been hit by a hurricane. It didn't matter if there were toy boxes, he dumped all of the toys on the floor. To escape the mess, he often dragged toys out into the living room to play with them, and that only lead to more clutter. He still has a lot of toys put up in the closet, but he now has no more than 20 toys in his room. Cleanup time is no problem for him now, as opposed to before. Does "I need help! I can't do it by myself!" sound familiar?

These are the toys purged from my son's room. Now imagine them spread all over the floor.

Other than my son's room, I've also gotten around to the never-ending dishes. After going through all of the plates, silverware, and cups, I've gotten it down to enough for five people. That's more than enough for a family of three, considering we use paper plates and utensils when we have guests and my son has his own kid-friendly dinnerware.

My current project is reducing a stack of my son's artwork (about a foot high) by scanning most of it, and only keeping hard copies of extremely special projects. Now we'll have all of it saved digitally, without the clutter of stacks of paper or a dozen three-ring-binders taking up space! You could save them to your computer or another device, but I saved them to Dropbox (download it here!). IT's a "cloud" type service, meaning I can access them from anywhere.

Screenshot of Dropbox. Click here to download it!

Benefits of Minimalism

  • Less stuff = less mess. Let's be honest... there are only so many ways to organize. Do I really want need 10 different boxes of toys taking up space in the closet? Rotating toys works for some families, but not this one. Same with the dishes I mentioned already. The more dishes there are, the more I have to wash. I can say, without a doubt, that cleanup (in the kitchen and my son's room) has been a breeze since.
  • Discovering what's really important. How can we truly appreciate what we have, when most of it is just taking up space? Going through everything gave me a chance to judge what was really meaningful, and what was just in the way. Going through artwork especially brought back some valuable memories and allowed me to reminisce about my son's younger days. 
  • It honestly just looks nicer. Although our home is not even close to being completely done, I know it will look more open and inviting than it did packed to the gills with stuff.

I will definitely keep y'all updated as this project goes on. I'll remember to take some "before" pictures for the next post as well!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Double-Duty Orange-Infused Vinegar: Hair Rinse & Household Cleaner!

This post was originally inspired by a Facebook post (click here to see it).

I've mentioned before that I love double-duty DIY products! Reusing tea bags and leftover coffee for conditioning hair rinses, and old coffee grounds as a facial scrub are just some examples. Well, I was peeling a mandarin orange for my son one day and I thought, "These smell too delicious to just throw down the garbage disposal!" (Although, that is one way to repurpose orange peels and freshen up your disposal. Can you say "double-duty?") I then remembered that my mom had shared a post to my Facebook page about soaking orange peels in vinegar for 2 weeks to create your own orange-infused vinegar! I had everything I needed, so I went ahead and tried it.

Basic Concept:

The instructions for this project were quite simple: fill a jar with orange peels, cover the orange peels with vinegar, and let them soak for 2 weeks.

I actually made two different batches. I decided to add rosemary and a cinnamon stick to one jar, because of their benefits to hair. A week later, and one sniff, let me know that the cinnamon/rosemary one will only be for cleaning! The cinnamon smell was so strong I wouldn't even dream of trying it on my scalp. Some folks actually experience a burning sensation with cinnamon, so I didn't want to risk it - especially considering how strongly it smelled. Thankfully, I had made one normal batch that could still be used for my hair.

Straining the Vinegar:

Strain the vinegar before using it (trust me, the rosemary and orange peels will clog your spray bottle). Simply place a strainer over a bowl or measuring glass, and pour the orange-infused vinegar into the strainer. You may need a fork to get all of the orange pieces out. I suggest letting them sit for awhile so that the excess vinegar can drip down.

I only took pictures while straining the vinegar with the orange peels.

The final product is orange-colored.
Save the orange peels and use them again!

For Cleaning:

If you're using your orange-infused vinegar for cleaning, like the rosemary/cinnamon one I created, then you only need to dilute it to  50% with water. Mine smelled incredibly strong because I used a whole stick of cinnamon (too much, by the way), so my ratio was more like 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar. I seriously recommend using a very small amount of cinnamon or just leaving it out all together.  Nobody in my household was a big fan. However, it was pretty great at removing hard water stains.

Add it to a spray bottle or squirt bottle to make cleaning easier.

For Hair:

If you've read any of my Going No Poo post, you might know that I'm a big fan of using apple cider vinegar as a conditioner. This orange-infused vinegar (you can use white vinegar or ACV) can also be used on hair! Dilute it to your preferred vinegar rinse solution. If you're a first-timer, you should start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the orange-infused vinegar per 1 cup of water. The orange peels are great at removing excess oil, so you definitely don't want to overdo and remove too much of your natural sebum.

After You're Done:

Don't toss those orange peels yet! You can use the same orange peels and repeat the process all over again! I've only reused them once so far, but I'll definitely try it again after the second batch is done.

My Experience:

I absolutely loved the orange-infused vinegar! The orange, rosemary, and cinnamon one... not so much. It came in handy when the newest fur baby in our house had an accident on the carpet though - it definitely covered up the urine smell. Adding the cinnamon was a fail, in my opinion, but there was no way I was going to let it go to waste.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Going No Poo - Week 9 (& Honey/Coconut Oil Mask for Dry Scalp)

How is everybody fairing during these winter months? This back-and-fourth, Florida weather is driving me a bit crazy. I know I should't complain, because some people are in the teens and twenties! It just bothers me that Florida can't make up it's mind. Seriously, how can it be 90 degrees one day and 60 degrees the next? Okay, I'm done complaining...

With the winter months comes dry scalp for a lot of people. It even got me this winter, here in Florida! I did another Moisturizing Honey Mask to soothe my dry, irritated scalp, but this one was just a bit different from my last one.

For this mask I used only 3 ingredients: honey, water, and coconut oil.

Honey/Coconut Oil Mask for Dry Scalp

  • 2 Tbsp Raw Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1/8 tsp Coconut Oil


  1. Mix all the ingredients together. 
  2. Apply the mask to the scalp, and work through to the ends of the hair. You may need to double the recipe if you have long hair. Using a squirt bottle (like a hair dye applicator) makes the process a lot easier, as does standing over the sink. 
  3. Wrap hair with an old, clean T-shirt or a shower cap, and leave the mask on for at least 30 minutes. The longer you leave it on, the better it soothes and heals scalp irritation. 
  4. Rinse with water. You can follow up with an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse if you'd like, but it's completely optional.

Success! This Mask did exactly what it was meant to do: soothed and
healed my scalp irritation without leaving my hair oily.

What else is new this week?

I finally got around to trying a hibiscus tea rinse! You may remember me mentioning hibiscus tea in my post about Herbal Tea Rinses. In case you don't, it is great for auburn/red hair and for bringing out natural red tones. I don't really have auburn hair anymore, but part of me hopped for reddish tones after using it. There haven't been any noticeable changes after 2 applications, although it does smell great! I'm still using my espresso rinses as well - in fact, I even mixed it with the hibiscus tea to produce a darker red.

Good "hair days" are a lot more common these days than they used to be. Even my bad hair days aren't really that bad. For comparison, I've posted a picture of the best hair day I've had this week along with a picture of the worst. Even at my worst, I didn't feel gross or greasy. I even went out with a friend... in public! *gasp*

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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Going No Poo - Week 8 (Children & No Poo)

It's been 2 months since I've used commercial shampoo! I love to bring it up in conversation, and watch the expression on people's faces go from disgust to curiosity, and then to amazement at the fact that my hair looks, feels, and smells clean (yes, I do encourage touching and smelling).

I'm still using an espresso rinse, usually with some whey and rosemary/ginger herbal tea mixed in. I sometimes add a drizzle of honey as well. Right now I'm rinsing every other day. I may try experimenting with some other rinses soon, but for now I'm happy with my current routine!

Children & No Poo

My 5 year old son has been No Poo for about as long as I have, give or take a week. He's pretty much water only (WO), with an occasional apple juice rinse. That's the only thing he'll let me put on his head other than water, but he's come to love it - and even request it! It might have something to do with me allowing him to squirt the leftovers in his mouth and drink it after...

Look at his beautiful, shiny hair and healthy scalp!

If you're a parent already, you may know that washing a child's hair everyday is completely unnecessary, and can actually dry their scalp out. Before making the switch to No Poo myself, I was only washing my 5 year old's hair about once a week. After I stopped using all those yucky, chemical-laden shampoos on my hair, how could I go and slather it on his head? That's when we decided to ditch the 'poo for him as well! 

He has short hair and he doesn't sweat very much yet, so WO was the route we went with him. His short hair and healthy scalp made the switch a breeze; he didn't even go through any transition! 

I'd never force him to put anything on his hair that he didn't want to, so I started making suggestions about possible rinses we could use on him. Apple juice came up and he liked the sound of it! He really doesn't need the apple juice for his hair... it's more of a special treat for him. We dilute it to a ratio of 1 part apple juice to 1 part warm water (warm or room temperature water feels better going on than cold).

Why Apple Juice?

While raw apple juice is ideal, we simply used the processed stuff because it's all we had. Bonus points if you own a juicer and can extract the juice from your own apples!

  • Dandruff remedy - although my son doesn't have any dandruff problems, apple juice does contain malic acid and amylase, which help to exfoliate and remove dead skin and dandruff flakes (Source: hair buddha).
  • Soft, lustrous hair - much like apple cider vinegar (ACV), the acidity of apple juice helps remove product buildup and residue, helps distribute the sebum down the length of the hair shaft, and closes the cuticle (leaving hair shinier). 
  • Balances & maintains pH - the natural pH of the scalp is between 4.5 and 5.5 (which is acidic) and the pH of apple juice is between 3.3 and 4. Since the apple juice pH is so similar to our scalp (as opposed to commercial shampoos), it helps to maintain the natural acidic pH which hinders the growth of bacteria and fungus (Source: hair buddha & pH Values of Common Foods and Ingredients).

Benefits of No Poo

  • Softer hair - my son's hair is now unbelievably soft and silky. I honestly can't help myself sometimes... I love to touch and smell his hair.
  • Clear scalp - I didn't even realize that scalp irritation was a problem for my son until the switch. He'd never let me run my fingers through his hair before; he always said "ouchy," but I figured he just didn't want Mommy touching his hair. Since giving up shampoo, touching his scalp or hair isn't a problem. The first time he let me touch it without protesting I asked him if touching his head hurt anymore, and thankfully the answer was no. He loves his hair touched and scalp rubbed now!

Happy New Year from the No Poo Hippy Family!

To read about the rest of my journey, click here:
Going No Poo