Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waste Not, Part Two: Homemade Facial Cleanser

Homemade Facial Cleanser

Castor Oil
Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Normal skin: 1-to-1 ratio of castor oil and EVOO
Dry Skin: 1 part castor oil, 3 parts EVOO
Oily Skin: 3 parts castor, 1 part EVOO

Mix together, pour a quarter-sized amount into palm, massage onto dry skin (do not rub).
Wet a washcloth with hot water and place on face until cloth is room temp.
Rinse cloth and gently wipe off oil.

I have very weird skin. It's super dry but I still tend to break out. I really don't fall into any specific skin-type category, so I just went with the original recipe and figured I could easily tweak it later on.

Anyways, I got to try this out with my housemate, Jocelyn. It turned into quite the adventure!

So we applied it...

...and sat for a minute with the washcloth...

...and LOVED the results.

My skin felt soft, smooth, and this morning, it was clearer than the day before. I am so excited to find such a cheaper, simpler, less wasteful way to wash my face.

Obviously, I give this recipe 5 out of 5 stars.

I stocked up on borax and washing soda for laundry and dish detergent, but we're pretty much set for the time being. So it may be a couple more months before I make something again. I am interested, however, in the homemade shampoo and conditioner, albeit hesitant. Has anyone tried homemade shampoo/conditioner? I might end up trying it out just for kicks.

Credit where credit is due:
These recipes are from this lovely woman who published this lovely book.
I highly recommend purchasing it and supporting her!

Waste Not, Part One: Homemade Toothpaste

Well, I promised you that I would start making our own household supplies once the current supplies ran out. And so first up: toothpaste.

I really wanted to try out the toothpaste recipe because I have a huge jar of coconut oil taking up space in my kitchen cabinet. I got it one day because I heard that a little bit of coconut oil helps ease water retention, and then I decided that was an old wive's tale.

I wanted to try out the facial cleanser because I was fascinated by the LACK of ingredients. And I thought Tsh of had a good point: using so many chemicals on our skin will strip our skin of its natural oils.

So the other night, I took these common household items...

...and started mixing!

Homemade Toothpaste

2 tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 tbsp. baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Stevia powder

Mix all ingredient together thoroughly.

So I mixed...

...and rinsed...

...and the verdict:

Ok, I don't know what temperature YOUR bathroom is at, but OUR bathroom is definitely above the melting point of coconut oil (about 75 degrees). This means that the toothpaste is liquid. My housemates and husband recommended putting it in the fridge, but it's a bit of a hassle to go to the fridge every time I want to brush my teeth.

But hey, I'm not that stubborn. So into the fridge it went.
And out of the fridge it came.
Turns out freezing coconut oil makes it way too solid. So it appears there will be no happy medium until it's cooler aka October.

The other thing is that it's extremely salty. Once we get out to a natural food store, I'm going to get some essential peppermint oil. If you're not used to weird-o natural-type stuff (ahem- husband, I'm taking about you!), you'll definitely want some sort of essential oil in the toothpaste (Tsh recommends peppermint, lemon, clove, lime, cinnamon, eucalyptus, or licorice, as not all oils are safe to ingest internally). The Stevia powder does nothing to make it palpable.

But overall, my teeth got super clean and there was no awful aftertaste.
No, but seriously, we need peppermint oil for this one.

So I give this recipe 3 out of 5 stars.
(points taken off for taste)

Credit where credit is due:
These recipes are from this lovely woman who published this lovely book.
I highly recommend purchasing it and supporting her!

Read on!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waste Not, Intro: What I Can't Wait to Try

Sparked by my minimalist/moving post, my friend Samantha from Sam Still Seeking recommended the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of SimpleMom.Net. It seemed right up my alley, so when my husband informed me I could pick out a few books for my birthday, it was on the top of my list.

The subtitle is "The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living." Oh, man - this subtitle makes the dorky-homemaker bottled up inside me all sorts of giddy. Could there BE a more perfect book out there for this stage in life? Here I am - living intentionally in community with three other adults. And, as you can imagine, we certainly have enough stuff between the three of us to fill up our three-bedroom home. Clutter-free is definitely the magic word!

This book is great for anyone who wants to live more simply and intentionally. You don't have to be in tight quarters or in community to garner a wealth of inspiration (and practical advice) from this book.

But hey, I'm not really a book reviewer. I'm all about practical implementation.

So Tsh gives a whole slew of recipes for making household items, such as laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Sure, you can probably find a whole bunch of these on the internet, but I love how she splits it up in a shopping list (what you'll need) and simple recipes (what you'll do).

I'm super excited about trying some of these out. As we fill up trash bag after trash bag in our home, I've been scratching my head trying to think of ways to cut down on our contribution to the local landfill. So as we run out of important items (such as toothpaste and facial cleanser), instead of running to the store to buy yet another plastic tube of convenience, I'm going to try out some of her recipes and give you some feedback on the results. Once I post these results, I'd love to get your own recipes/input! Excited yet?? If you aren't, then you aren't in touch with your inner dorky-homemaker and I just feel sorry for you. :-p

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Part 2: From Ice Cream to Chicken

Continued from Part 1.

And so now we officially begin our lives in a new community -- this one a little more intentional than un-intentional.

We have begun full-steam-ahead: breakfasts together, dinners together, dog-walks together, more shared space, even less privacy, talks of intentional prayer and Bible study and baby-watching and clothes-sharing.

It didn't take us more than a few hours for my husband and I realize that this community will be extremely different than the last community, but this does not make one community better or worse than the other. Just like people and relationships, they are different. Each has their season, and this is a new season.

We are all looking forward to this new season. We want our home to be God-centered and we want to be intentional -- first about each other, and then about the neighborhood. We want to impact each other in the name of the Lord, and we want to love our neighbors with the love of Jesus. We want the Lord to use this home -- our new family -- to His glory.

And so as we break bread cook chicken and sing hymns play games (although I'm sure the hymn-singing is on its way), we lift our eyes to the Lord and say:

Thank you for providing.
Thank you for stretching us.
Thank you for this new family.

Here we are.
Please use us.

Part 1: From Ice Cream to Chicken

"Ya-Ya want to get ice creeeeeeeeam?" My nephew's two-year-old plea is too joyful to refuse, and so we go -- the four adults, the two twin toddlers, and one baby in utero -- to get, as Micah calls it, "ice creeeeeeeeam."

We have lived together for two years and two weeks exactly, in a row house in South Philadelphia. Our family life has settled into an easy, knowable, and comfortable rhythm.

We call ourselves an "Un-Intentional Community." Yes, we live in community -- sharing common space and lives. But we have no shared structured discipleship or vision for the surrounding neighborhood. We just live and see God working out the discipleship on His own: the Sunday night debriefs about life and ministry, the hymns sung after dinner with the baby boys, the prayers together and requests for intercession, the bearing of one another's burdens.

But on this one night, out for ice cream, we realize it is the last night. We don't really dwell on it, but instead blissfully laugh together as the twins dip their faces into the cups of ice cream, white beards forming on their small faces.

The next day -- after the packing is over, after the moving is complete -- it hits us all, one by one. And suddenly, it is very hard to process.

There is no book of rules for living in community. Well, ok. Actually, there are plenty, but what I mean is that living in community (un-intentional or intentional) is like any other relationship. Each has its own quirks, its own joys, its own idiosyncrasies. I can't tell you what should be done for every single community. But what I can tell you is that leave-taking should have its place. It is very different to move out of a private apartment after a two-year lease and leaving a two-year community. I was treating the latter like the former, and the result was nearly devastating. If I were to do it all over again, I would have made it a priority to articulate the blessings that came from the last two years to each person. I would have made a point to say goodbye -- not in the craziness of the move, but in the stillness of an ice cream outing.

This is (part of) what should have been said:

Sometimes, God's ways don't make logical sense. There were many that told us we were foolish to move in with a family as newlyweds. There were many that warned us and had concerns. But we sensed the Lord's leading, and we couldn't imagine what we would have lost had we had moved out on our own. The blessings God gave us through the last two years in your home have been insurmountable. We wouldn't trade the last two years for all the privacy or quiet nights or extra space in the world.

What we gained through the "sacrifice" of space was far more precious. Thank you for letting us in. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of watching and partaking in the lives of two little 4-month-old babies as they transformed day-by-day into two still-little-but-slightly-larger 2-year-old toddlers -- with their songs and hellos and questions and games and abundant love. Thank you for the ministry of your marriage and lives and for being so influential as brother and sister to both of us -- both through flesh and blood and through Christ. Thank you for walking with us through life.

And although I am the only one writing, I can say this with confidence:

we love you immensely, and will never forget the last two years.

Continue reading about From Ice Cream to Chicken in Part 2.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Moving Makes Me Want to be a Minimalist

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy nor where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-20

When I was in college, we cleaned out my mom-mom's house. At that point, she hadn't passed away, but had relocated to a nursing home in upstate NY. So my extended family caravanned off to Long Island and cleaned out her 4-bedroom house.

It was an experience I would never forget.

This was her life encapsulated in one space, and we had the job of judges -- deciding what would stay and what would go. Let's put it this way: we rented a massive garbage dump and it was overflowing. We also took multiple trips to the local Salvation Army.

In the end, not much was salvaged. Mainly, we kept large pieces of furniture, the paintings, and other "major" things. But the "minor" things -- the important newspaper clippings, the sentimental notes, the small momentos -- were just tossed aside. It wasn't as if we didn't want to honor what she deemed important -- even we felt connected to these peeks into the past -- but there was just no way for us to save 85+ years of memories.

And so, in the end, we threw it all away.

"...where moth and rust destroy..."

The memory of cleaning my mom-mom's house burned itself deeply into my brain. I used to be incredibly sentimental when it came to saving things, but after that experience, I try to be very choosy about what I decide to keep.

But lately, I've been thinking that maybe I need to take it a step further. Instead of merely letting go of things that would cause needless clutter or even idolatry, I think I need to be more choosy about what I decide to buy or collect or even take for free. I need to be more choosy about what items are necessary and what items I am holding onto because I can't let go. When accumulating more stuff, I should start asking, "Why do I need this? How long will I need this for? Will I be throwing it away the next time we move?" I need to be more choosy about what types of things I buy and how throwing it away (or even throwing its packaging away) will affect the ever-growing landfills. When out shopping, I should start asking, "Is all this packaging necessary? Could I buy this from somewhere else that would be more environmentally-friendly?"

I am addressing two important issues here:

1) We ought to guard our hearts from being too connected to the things of this world.

"Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:62

It's not sinful to want to remember and have momentos -- God takes delight when we find His joy through our experiences. But we can't let these things become too important to us; we must hold on to them with a loose grip.

2) We ought to take our jobs to take care of the earth seriously.

"And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"
Genesis 1:28

God told us to have dominion over all the earth. How often do we consciously live out this cultural mandate? It ought to affect every area of life -- even beyond the environment. How do we -- as mothers, as students, as business people, as bloggers, as baristas -- fulfill the call to restore the earth for the Lord? Shouldn't we, as Christians, be leading the way in the name of the Lord?

And so as we pack up our lives and face our move tomorrow, I want to move ahead conscientious of what I am accumulating and why. I don't want to move ever year or two only to throw out garbage bag after garbage bag of stuff. I don't want things to collect dust and must and sit in a basement, largely unused and only existing "just in case" we may need it someday. I want to move forward with a loose grip on the things I already have, and with a critical eye of the things I am obtaining from hereon out.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Building a House

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain."
Psalm 127:1

And so the question is not, "What kind of house are we trying to build?"
but rather, "Who is building our house?"

I spend so much time going over every detail, trying to empty out the needless junk and distractions from a dresser drawer my life.

I try to fit things into neat little boxes, but things are always spilling over. I find myself thinking, "I was not prepared for this. I am not equipped. I can't handle it."

When will I ever learn I'm not the one in control?

I have to stop trying to take things into my own hands--
I have to be present to the Spirit's work--
to leave my own agenda first and foremost every single morning--
to let God do his building.

I hear him whisper to me...
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for [I] give sleep to [my] beloved."
Psalm 127:2

You have indeed given me rest and peace.
You have indeed provided.
Help me remember, and live daily in such remembrances.
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