Wrap-Up Part 2: Housecleaning Stuff

We also talked about making housecleaning products from household items, and basically it was an ode to baking soda and vinegar. SHOCK. Here are the recipes:

Annemarie’s Magical All-Purpose Cleaner

1 part water
1 part vinegar
a blob of dish soap (I use Sunlight)

Clean all the things!

More Complicated But Also Good All-Purpose Cleaner

-1 part vinegar
-1 part water
-dollop of dish soap
-3/4 c. Distilled White Vinegar
-1 c. Hydrogen Peroxide
-1 1/2 tsp. Castille Soap (Such as Dr. Bronner )
-30 drops Tea Tree Oil
-30 drops Essential Oil of choice (like lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, lemon verbena, spearmint, clove, cinnamon, anise, sage, grapefruit, lemon, or lime)
-water to fill
(Source)

Other Tips
-Use baking soda as an abrasive to scour stainless steel pots and sinks, and to scrub scum off your tub
-Use Borax to clean your toilet – buy it in the laundry aisle, bottom shelf, green box
-To clean cast iron, cover with kosher salt and scour with a dry sponge
-For musty odours (from thrifted stuff, foot/body odour in clothing, etc) cover in kitty litter and leave overnight (Source)
-Rub half a lemon on wooden cutting boards, counters, and sinks to clean and get rid of bacteria
-I flush my sinks with boiling water regularly, and sometimes dump baking soda down, then vinegar, and after it’s fizzed out, a big kettle of boiling water.
A Note On Vinegar
You can infuse your vinegar with citrus peels to improve the smell and add the grease-fighting power of citrus oil.
To make: Stuff the peelings of 4-6 oranges (or other citrus) into a glass quart canning jar. Cover with vinegar and seal with a lid. Shake every once in a while for 1-2 weeks. Strain out peelings. When finished the vinegar should be a dark orange/green/yellow color.
It is okay to start the jar with your first peelings and add more to the vinegar as you eat them. Just be sure to leave room in the jar for the peelings when you pour the vinegar.
Use this in any of the recipes below in the place of white vinegar.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
4 Litres warm water
1 Cup washing soda
1 Cup Borax
¼ Cup Baking Soda

Mix all ingredients together in a container (I use an old vinegar jug).
Use ½ Cup per load, mix before each use.

Diaper Stink
If you use disposable diapers cover the bottom of the garbage in baking soda and this will help get rid of the smell. You can pour more in if you need to.

If you are using cloth diapers you can soak them in ¼ Cup baking soda and/or ¼ Cup vinegar in 5 Litres of water.
Keep in mind that vinegar weakens the PUL covers and is really hard on the elastic.

Diaper Rash
Dissolve baking soda in the baby’s bathwater let the baby soak and then air out the bum as much as you can.
Use coconut oil to moisturize baby’s bottom before putting a diaper back on.

Baby Wipes
¼ Cup aloe vera gel
2 drops Tea Tree Oil
2 Cups hot water

Stir or shake until this recipe is well mixed. Don’t use until the mixture cools. Spritz on wipe before using if in spray bottle. Swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box.

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Wrap-Up: DIY Personal Care Stuff

This week’s session was obviously intriguing to a lot of people, judging by the number of questions! Coralee shared her expertise in making her own products for personal care, getting us hooked right away with her homemade deodorant. We shared tips and ideas and got a lot of good ideas.

If you’re not keen on going hardcore into making your own products, you could always make lotion or lip balm as cheap and fabulous stocking stuffers this Christmas. I just wanted to put that out there, even though the C-word might be a little intimidating after the gorgeous weather this week.

The recipes! I’ll break this into two posts for easier searching/reading/printing. This will be all the recipes and ideas for personal care, and definitely add your own tips or questions in the comments. I’ll post the cleaning products separately.

Deodorant

6-8 TBS Coconut oil (solid state)
¼ C Baking Soda
¼ C arrowroot powder (available at Bulk Barn) or Cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder.
  2. Slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon or hand blender until it maintains a firm but pliable texture. It should be about the same texture as commercial deodorant, solid but able to be applied easily. If it is too wet, add further arrowroot powder/cornstarch to thicken.
  3. You can either scoop this recipe into your old deodorant dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. Makes about 1 cup. This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

*I usually half this recipe and it makes a nice amount for one deodorant container.
Source

Shampoo and Conditioner
Dissolve about 1 tablespoon of baking soda in just enough water to make a paste. Apply this to your roots only; work it in and let it sit for a minute.

In order to stimulate blood flow, clean your pores and get off built up grime, use your finger tips to scrub your scalp. Start by making a circle on the top of your head in the area you’d wear a crown. Focus on the back of this circle to begin with. Next, fill in the circle. This is where your part will be; grease here affects the way your hair looks. Trace while still scrubbing with your fingertips around the bottom edge of the circle. Keep making scrubbing circles underneath each one, drawing lines in circles around your head.
Lastly, scrub the back of your skull and your temples/sideburns. This will result in less grease and more growth. After doing this, your scalp will feel alive. Many women swear their hair grows faster after a visit to the salon — it does, and this massage method is why.

When scrubbing, you’re actually rubbing your fingers back and forth in short movements. Be gentle; you don’t want to break your hair. Next, pour about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a cup and add water. (I keep two plastic 12-ounce cups in my shower and just mix when I get in.) After you rinse the baking soda out, pour the apple cider vinegar over the ends of your hair, let it sit for a minute and then rinse it out. That’s all there is to it!

Troubleshooting

Remember, there is a transition period from two weeks to two months depending on the person. Here are a few tips:
• If your hair becomes frizzy, try using less baking soda or leaving it on for a shorter period of time. Adding honey may also help.
• If your hair becomes greasy, try using less apple cider vinegar, switching to lemon or lime juice, leaving out the honey, and/or using a comb instead of a brush. Also, make sure you’re applying the apple cider vinegar just to the ends of your hair.
• If your scalp itches, try the following essential oils; tea tree, lavender, rosemary. If your hair becomes dry, try a tiny bit of oil (any oil, I use olive) smoothed on bottom of hair.
Source

Lip Balm
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Beeswax
15 drops Essential Oil
A few drops of Vitamin E Oil (optional, but recommended)

Lip balm preparation: Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax, butter, and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax and butters have melted. Once melted, remove from the stovetop and add essential oils and Vitamin E Oil. Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm containers. You can purchase lip balm tubes and jars, or you can reuse glass or plastic containers. Allow to cool completely before placing caps onto the lip balm containers. Your lip balm is finished! You can now add labels, ribbons, twine, or any other decorative elements. Makes approximately 1.5 oz of lip balm, enough to fill 10 lip balm tubes, 6 of our 1/4 oz plastic jars, or 3 1/2 oz tins or plastic jars.

Experimenting with Lip Balm
It’s fun to concoct lip balm recipes using your favorite botanical ingredients and essential oils! As a general rule, use 3 parts of carrier oil to 1 part of beeswax (omit butters from your calculations since they are solid at room temperature). If you feel as though your lip balm is too soft, re-melt it and add more beeswax and if it is too hard, re-melt and add more oil. You can also adjust your recipes with the seasons: harder lip balms are better for warm summer weather and softer lip balms during cold fall and winter months. Add essential oils at your discretion, a general amount is 2 drops per container, but this varies depending upon the essential oil used. Less is better when it comes to essential oils; you don’t want to end up with lip balm that will sting or irritate your lips.
Source

Exfoliating Face Wash
Make a past with baking soda and water and rub gently on your face then rinse off.
Use coconut oil after your face is dry as a moisturizer

Oil Cleansing Method
Using an oil of your choice (coconut oil for crazy-dry skin, olive oil, or a combination of olive oil and castor oil for oily skin – you can add a drop of tea tree oil if you are prone to breakouts), massage your face thoroughly with your clean fingertips. Put a damp washcloth that is as hot as you can stand on your face and let it steam for a moment, then gently wipe off the oil and gick.
Source and tips

Lotion
6 oz oil (peanut, canola, jojoba, olive, apricot kernel, hemp, avocado grapeseed, rosehip seed)
3 oz coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter
1 oz beeswax
6 oz distilled water
3 oz aloe vera gel
19 drops grapefruit seed extract
40 drops essential oil of your choice for scent

Pour your liquid oils into a 16 oz heat proof measuring cup
Add pieces of solid oils until volume reaches 9 oz mark.
Add pieces of beeswax until volume reaches 10 oz mark.
Place measuring cup in a pan of gently simmering water and heat until solid oils are just melted.
Remove measuring cup from water and let sit until oils reach body temperature. Test by placing the measuring cup on wrist. When it feels neither warm nor cold it is body temperature. Stir occasionally as it cools.
Make sure distilled water is body temperature. You can simply place the water into another heat proof measuring cup and into the pan of hot water used for heating the oils.
Pour the water and aloe into a blender and add grapefruit seed extract.
Process at high speed. If you have a powerful blender process at low speed. You can use a hand mixer but it will take longer.
Slowly add the oil mixture into the water
It will begin to thicken and sputter. In a high powered mixer this can be as quick as 30 seconds. With a hand mixer it will take 15 minutes at highest speed.
Continue until you have a thick, creamy liquid.
Add essential oils and stir in well by hand.
Scoop into clean sterilized jars. Makes 19 oz.

Lotion recipes contain water which will result in a shorter shelf life. You can store the extra jars in the fridge or give away as gifts.

When using a jar, use a popsicle stick or other tool to scoop the lotion out of the jar. This will prevent contamination and make the lotion last longer.

Source

Breast Health Info + Resources

We had some GREAT questions after last Thursday’s session and I spent some time this week on the internet and on the phone with some lovely people at CancerCare Manitoba, collecting more information for our group on breast health.

We probably all know – or know of – people our age who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s unnerving. But I got some interesting stats from CancerCare Manitoba this week. They let me know that the 1 in 9 risk rate we all hear about all the time refers to the number of Canadian women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer by their 85th birthday. The numbers for 25 year old women are 1 in almost 20,000. You can extrapolate and make an educated guess about your own risk based on your own age.

If someone in your family has had breast cancer, I definitely understand that there is more to think (and maybe worry) about. There is information available about risk rates based on type of cancer, age of cancer, number of relatives affected, degree of relatives affected, etc. It’s a complicated science (mixed with a bit of art) and it’s best to talk to your doctor.

We used to hear a lot about doing regular monthly self-exams, and that’s not really recommended anymore – but not because it’s not important. It is. But research has shown that this very rigid, scheduled kind of ‘exam’ isn’t as effective as it should be. Instead, we should all be familiar with our own breasts and very aware of any lumps or changes going on. But just because you note something unusual, there might not be a reason to hit the panic button right away. There are many reasons for changes in our breasts – and even lumps – and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it for a week or two and see if something changes. It could be the time of month that you checked. It could be mastitis or a plugged milk duct. It could be lots of things. But, yes, it could be an honest to goodness (dreaded) lump. Of course, trust your gut. No doctor in the world is going to be mad at you for scheduling an appointment if you’re truly concerned. And if the unusual changes you’ve noted hang around, definitely make an appointment.

The answers I received about self exams while breastfeeding were along the same lines… While we’re breastfeeding, it can be harder than usual to note changes – because those changes are happening CONSTANTLY. But it’s our job to be aware, to try treating more obvious causes first (like warm compresses for plugged ducts), and to trust our instincts which includes following up with your doctor if you’re concerned about ANY changes with your breasts.

Yes, it’s harder to stay on top of these things when we’re busy with babies. But it’s FOR our babies. And I know I don’t have to tell you that.

There are SO MANY great resources online if you’d like to know more – and CancerCare Manitoba will be sending out information on how to do an effective self-exam that we’ll have at MOMs when it comes in.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation offers this advice for being ‘breast aware’:

1. Know how your breasts normally look and feel.
2. Know what changes to look for.
3. Look and feel for changes.
4. Report any changes to a doctor.
5. Go for a free mammogram if you are of the appropriate age or if recommended by a doctor.

There’s more information about risk factors here. The truth is that there are some things on the list that you can affect and others you can’t – and at the end of the day, there’s no magical combination of checklist items that can absolutely guarantee that you won’t get breast cancer (or that you will).

A lot of information, I know – but hopefully there will be a few useful tidbits in here for everyone!

– Lindsay

Wrap-Up: How To Support a Friend

Sorry this post is so late in going up… but it’s going up today! So hoorah.

Last Thursday we had Lindsay’s mom, Sherri Hildebrandt, share with us about her experience with breast cancer. It’s not fun to think about, but her story and her tips on how to be a good support to someone going through a difficult time (like cancer, or any other physically or emotionally challenging period) were extremely valuable.

To summarize, she said that friends can help by:

  • giving a few words of encouragement and a GENTLE hug – someone going through cancer, surgery, or another physical illness is going to be very sensitive and you don’t want to hurt them
  • instead of asking what you can do to help, make suggestions, or if you know it will be well-received, just do it. It can be too overwhelming to think of ideas. Also, be sensitive that little things like cooking smells in their home could be overwhelming. Help in ways that will make their lives easier.
  • stop, relax, and think. Try to be tactful; don’t tell horror stories; offering encouragement that comes from the heart is more than enough.
  • unless you are very close to them, consider emailing or messaging on facebook instead of phoning. That way, they can respond when they feel up to it, instead of having to give the same answers to the same questions.
  • Sherri received an encouragement book filled with prayers, verses, song lyrics, and notes from her friends and family that helped her feel loved and cared for – it was like a eulogy, but she got to read it.
  • praying isn’t a cop-out. It can be too hard to pray during treatment or emotional upheaval and knowing that others are praying can make all the difference. Sherri said she could feel everyone’s prayers for their family and it made a world of difference.

If you’d still like to buy a copy of Sherri’s book, it’s available through her website or our local bookstores.

What were your reactions to the session? Do you have any tips on getting through rough times, either from personal experience or someone you know? Comment away!

~Annemarie

Weekend Family Fun

There are LOTS of things going on around Winnipeg this weekend for you + your kiddos to check out. And the forecast is GORGEOUS, so there’s really no excuse to sit at home and be bored!

Assiniboine Park Zoo – FREE ZOO WEEKEND
Sat Sep 24 + Sun Sep 25
Cost: FREE (that’s kind of the point)
This weekend, bring your family to the zoo for free. This event has usually happened on Canada Day and it’s popular (to put it mildly) so the Zoo has moved it to September and stretched it over two days to make it more family friendly. Hours are as usual (10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday).
http://www.zoosociety.com/index.php

Manitoba Children’s Museum – Stories in September
Sat Sep 24 + Sun Sep 25
Cost: Free with Museum Admission
All month long, the Children’s Museum has been hosting special events to promote literacy. In this final weekend, special guest storytellers will be on hand as some ‘bonus’ entertainment during your visit to the museum. (The Story Fairy will also make an appearance on Mon Sep 26.)
http://childrensmuseum.com/visit/calendar/stories-in-september

Oak Hammock Marsh – Migration Festival
Sat Sep 24 + Sun Sep 25
Cost: Unknown
I’m scared to death of birds, so this sounds more like a form of torture to me… But if it’s your thing, there are lots of bird-related activities for the whole family including songbird banding demonstrations, birds of prey shows, a movie about bird migration, and the ‘rooftop fly-in’ where ‘thousands of geese make their way back to the safety of the marsh for the night.’
http://www.oakhammockmarsh.ca/

FortWhyte Alive – Fall Family Festival
Sun Sep 25 from 10 AM to 3 PM
Cost: $3/person or $10/carload
Lots of family friendly activities including a farmer’s market, carnival games, face painting, pony rides, guided walks, and more.
http://www.fortwhyte.org/calendar/279/1316926800

If you’ve been to one of these events before and have a review or tips to share, please comment! And if you know of anything else we can add to this list, let us know…

Have a great weekend!

– Lindsay

Thinking About: Support on Tough Days

Annemarie will be doing her regular recap of yesterday’s MOMs soon, but I wanted to jump in quickly and say thank you to all of you who came out on Thursday.

I know that my mom’s story of her journey through breast cancer can be difficult to hear – especially if you or someone close to you has been through cancer or another life-threatening illness. It was obvious that many in the room were affected by it… Whatever you do, please don’t process everything you’re feeling alone. Reach out and talk to someone, okay? I think that was a powerful takeaway from yesterday – the whole idea that tough days are easier when you’re sharing them with people who love and support you.

HUGS.

I *loved* the questions that were asked yesterday, and I’m doing my best to dig up some additional information to share here over the coming days – including the latest recommendations for breast self-exams and hopefully some information for screening in breastfeeding mothers (because I know there are LOTS of people in the group who will find that information relevant!).

If there’s anything else that’s on your mind, please share it here or send me an email. I have some great connections at CancerCare Manitoba and I’ll do my best to find good answers for you.

– Lindsay

A Couple of Blog Posts

One of the decidedly NON-crunchy hippie granola mom blogs I read is A Cup of Jo. She’s a NYC mom who writes for magazines and her blog is mostly about style and design, but she has a series called Motherhood Mondays that I just love. She doesn’t push a philosophy or agenda, and she seems like such a sweet person (she calls her thousands of readers “my lovelies”). Today she posted two great reads: a list of her top picks for new parent gifts (great ideas) and a post on the practice in Denmark of having babies nap outside, even while their moms are having lunch. Check them out, and tell us what you think!  Would you let your baby nap outside… while you were in a restaurant?

~Annemarie

First Trip to the Dentist

It’s time for me to book my daughter’s first trip to the dentist… I want to get it done before she turns three (hey, may as well take advantage of a free dental appointment – that will never happen again!). I can’t decide between just taking her to my regular dentist – who is totally fine with pint-sized patients – or one of the specialty dentists for kids.

I’m guessing that most of the people in MOMs with kids 2+ have been here – and if you haven’t yet, you will be soon!

So I’m curious to know… What did you decide to do?

– Lindsay

Next Session: Supporting a Sister

Please join us on Thursday, September 22 @ 09.00 as we REALLY get things started… Our first guest speaker of the year will be on hand, and it promises to be a thought-provoking morning.

Sherri Hildebrandt is a breast cancer survivor who recently published a book about her experience titled More Than Enough. She’ll be talking about her journey, and some real lessons learned about how to support a friend who’s going through a tough time.

She’ll also have her book for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to CancerCare Manitoba. Books are $18.99, but feel free to round it up to $20.00 and she’ll add the $1.01 to your donation.

If you had to miss our kickoff/registration morning this past week, DON’T WORRY! You can jump in any time it works for you.

See you on Thursday!

– Lindsay