Curly Girl Update - 11/9/13

Hello, fellow curlies!  I've been having a run of pretty decent hair days lately, so I wanted to update you all.  I'm not currently using the products I mentioned in my last update.  AT. ALL.  Nope, I have a completely new line-up that I'm totally in love with.  I discovered the best conditioner on the planet. (Let's hope this doesn't jinx me... *knocks on wood*)

For those of you with short attention spans, here's a quick rundown of my routine.  If you want the product details, you'll have to keep on keepin' on.

  • Cleansing: use a shampoo bar every few days, and co-washing in between
  • Conditioner: use a combo of the two conditioners mentioned below, either every other day switching, or use both at the same time. Whichever feels right at the time. I rinse everything out completely. 
  • Leave-in:  apply a small amount of my leave-in until my hair feels slippery
  • Gel:  scrunch in some Alba Botanica Strong Hold Gel
  • Drying:  Scrunch with a flour sack towel, then blow dry with a diffuser

Still with me?  Ok, here are the fun details...

I was browsing Vitacost.com (btw, if you shop at vitacost through that link, we each get $10 off a purchse of $30!) and found a couple new conditioners I was interested in trying.  I was having a tough time narrowing it down, but after tedious ingredient scrutiny, I decided on Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell Conditioner and Avalon Organics Biotin B Complex Conditioner.  (Ingredient lists for both are posted at the end, if you're interested)

1: the conditioner

I decided on the Avalon because of the biotin.  Biotin is a B vitamin which is required for healthy hair, skin, nails, eyes, and liver. Since our hair, skin, and nails are the last to receive nutrients, it's fairly important to get some of this via conditioner for your hair.  It's also something I rarely see in the conditioners I've been using, so I thought I'd give it a try in an attempt to battle the brittle ends I've been experiencing. It also has aloe as the first ingredient, which I know my hair loves (although not always in conditioner), followed by a ton of fun oils.

I decided on the Acure Organics because of the argan oil, and the fact that it uses argan stem stem cells. I hear people raving about argan oil all the time, and have yet to try it. A few other ingredients of interest were the glycerin, protein, panthenol, and a few oils and butters. My hair doesn't like glycerin in large quantities, but when it's the ninth ingredient down, it's usually escaped hair-rebellion territory and entered the welcome-slip zone. Usually.  I also don't tend to like butters so much, but this was also very (very) low on the list.

2: the shampoo

The third new addition to my routine is a shampoo bar.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I was having a lot of trouble with limp roots when I was using the lower quality conditioners as co-washes (Suave, Tressemme, etc.). I was sort of in the midst of a hair crisis when I realized that the only thing, pretty much, that I hadn't tried was a shampoo bar. I had heard a lot of curlies talking about how they start off working, but eventually kill your hair, and blah blah blah.  But I also heard a lot of low-porosity curlies talking about how much they LOVE their shampoo bars. So I tried it. And I loved it. I'm still not 100% sure that I am going to stick with THIS shampoo bar, but I will continue using shampoo bars. (Currently I'm using a Nettle, Mint, and Goat Milk Bar from The Northwoods Goat on Etsy.)  I'm using this every other, or every third day.  In between I'm using Yes to Cucumbers as a co-wash.  I never liked it as a full on conditioner, but as a co-wash I'm really fond of it. Most of my products are unscented, so my hair rarely smells like anything, but this has a pleasant scent that lingers and keeps my hair smelling fresh on those in between days.

3: the leave-in

The fourth and final new addition to my routine is a leave-in conditioner. I was looking for something to mimic the Infusium-23 stuff I used to use before going silicone/sulfate free. I found something by a company I had never heard of before. Innersense Organic makes a lightweight leave-in called Sweet Spirit. It comes with a spritzer cap, so I thought it would be liquid. It's thicker than I expected, almost the consistency of a lightweight conditioner.  I think the spritzer cap keeps me from overdoing it, so I don't end up a looking like an oil factory.  In fact, once dry, my hair is nice and soft, not oily at all.  I'm super in love with this stuff. At least for summer use, anyway. We'll see how it stands up to Pennsylvania winters.

So, that's that.  This has been working for me for months now, so I have high hopes for it. I might have to switch it up and go back to using the Alba Styling Cream instead of gel. But I think this routine is pretty solid.

If you've ever used any of these products or have any shampoo bar recommendations, let me know in the comments section!

Happy Hair Days :)

Avalon Organics Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice(1), aqua (water), decyl glucoside, sodium coco-sulfate, coco-glucoside, sorbitol, xanthan gum, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract(1)*, calendula officinalis flower extract(1), chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract91), citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit extract, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract(1)*, persea gratissima (avocado) fruit extract(1)*, rubus idaeus (raspberry) fruit extract91)*, serenoa serrulata fruit extract(1)(2), solanum lycopersicum (tomato) fruit/leaf/stem extract(1)*, styrax benzoin resin extract, tanacetum vulgare extract, canarium luzonicum gum nonvolatiles, cedrus deodara wood oil, cedrus atlantica bark oil, citrus aurantifolia (lime) oil, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel oil, citrus limon (lemon) peel oil, copaifera officinalis (balsam copaiba) resin, coriandrum sativum oil, copaifera officinalis (balsam copaiba) resin, coriandrum sativum (coriander) fruit oil, eucalyptus citriodora oil, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, ferula galbaniflua (galbanum) resin oil, geranium maculatum oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil(1), lavandula angustifolia (lavendr) oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil(1), zingiber officinale (ginger) root oil, babassu oil polyglyceryl-4esters, bisabolol, citric acid, hydrolyzed wheat protein, inulin(1), sodium sulfate, tocopheryl acetate, alcohol(1), benzyl alcohol, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, limonene, linalool.1) Certified Organic Ingredient2) Saw Palmetto Extract*Known as Biotin carrier.

Acure Organics Ingredients: Organic euterpe oleracea (acai) berry, organic rubus fruticosus (blackberry), organic rosa canina (rosehips), organic punica granatum (pomegranate), organic fair trade certified rooibos, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, stearylkonium chloride, vegetable glycerin, glucono delta lactone (fermented sugar), organic argania spinosa (argan) oil, cetearyl glucoside (from corn and glucose), guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (guar gum conditioner), glyceryl stearate (vegetable-derived), L-arginine (amino acid), organic fair trade certified theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, sorbitan olivate (from olives + sugar), panthenol (pro-vitamin B5), cellulose (plant derived), d-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin E), lactic acid (vegetable derived), hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) seed oil, organic curcubita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil, ubiquinone (CoQ10), argania spinosa (argan) stem cells, glycerophosphoinositol lysine (from sunflower), prunus dulcis (almond) extract, cinnamomum aromaticum (cassia bark) oil.

Yes to Cucumbers Ingredients: Water, (aqua), cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, cetyl esters, passiflora edulis seed oil, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, camillia sinensis leaf extract, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, spinacial oleracea (spinach) leaf extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract, glycoproteins, guar gydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, glycerin, fragrance (parfum), trimethylolpropane tricaprylate/tricaprate, potassium benzoate, citric acid, potassium sorbate, phenoxyethanol.


Meatball Recipe

It seems I spend every waking minute of my life in the kitchen.  I usually spend my weekend prepping our lunches for the upcoming week and cooking big elaborate meals which I don't have time for on weekdays.  My boyfriend and I usually pack soup and fresh veggie juice for lunch.  Last weekend I made pasta fagioli as our "soup of the week."  One of the meats in this soup is meatballs, so I decided to share my recipe for meatballs!

Look at those tasty meatballs swimming in that fagioli!

What you're gonna need:

large chunk of bread
2 lbs ground meat
2 eggs
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tbsp chipotle pepper powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Here we go.  Start off with a large chunk of bread (the size of your hand...ish).  Now get it soaking wet.  Yes, that's right.  We need wet bread.  Nice, soggy, dripping wet bread.  Whatever bread you have on hand will probably work, but I usually use a chunk from a fresh loaf of Italian or ciabatta.  Hold it up over the sink until it stops dripping, then squeeze out a little bit of the excess.  Now crumble that into a bowl until you have a pile of what looks like soggy bread crumbs.  I don't ever measure anything, but I suppose if you wanted to be really precise, this pile might be something like 1 heaping cup.

Now throw in your two pounds of ground meat, eggs, and spices.  I like to use 1 lb ground turkey thighs and 1 lb ground beef chuck roast.  Mash everything together.  Yay.  Squishy burger goo.  You're probably wondering why there are two pics of my squishy burger goo.  I forgot some stuff the in the first pic...and I decided to add more chipotle and paprika.  Things rarely go smoothly in my kitchen. Don't judge me.

Roll this squishy burger goo into little balls.  I like them to be this size...

Now place them on a lined baking pan.  Well, really, who am I to tell you what to do.  Line it or don't, but I highly recommend you do.  

Turn your oven on to the broil setting and put a rack in the top slot.  Slide the baking sheet of balls in, and broil those suckers for about 10 minutes.  When they're nice and golden brown and sizzly, take them out and flip them...or do whatever you can that's as close to flipping as possible.  These guys don't really like to flip.  They are balls, after all.

Then cook them for another 10 minutes or so, or until the other side is nice and golden brown and sizzly.  Then slice open one of the larger balls and make sure it's not pink inside.  If there are any signs of pinkness, throw them back in for a few more minutes.  Rinse and repeat until no more pinkness.  But, don't really rinse.  These are meatballs, and that's just a saying...

Now eat these delicious suckers!

What's your favorite way to eat meatballs??  I need some ideas!  I have extra and I'm not a big fan of meatball subs...


Paleo, Raw, or Gluten-Free?

I've been making a lot of changes to my diet lately. My journey into a healthy lifestyle of self-healing started out being very confusing and overwhelming.  Now I find myself almost back where I started years ago, but with a few tweaks.  Let me explain.  


I started my healing journey by converting to a mostly raw diet, which worked for me for quite a while, although I had cooked meats sometimes with dinner.  I was going whole hog with it.  Green smoothies for breakfast, fruits and veggie snacks throughout the day, a gigantic salad for lunch, raw dehydrator crackers and snacks, then another green smoothie for dinner, or whatever I was cooking for my family.  This was great for a while, but I was super bloated by the end of most days (I think I was eating too much fruit), and I was craving a lot of meat and soup.  


To combat the being bloated thing, I bought a juicer and started mixing up fresh veggie juices.  Somehow, I was on an almost completely liquid diet before I knew it.  I was drinking almost 48 oz of fresh juice per day, then coming home and eating a cooked meal for dinner, which consisted mainly of meat and veg, maybe some rice.  As crazy as it might sound, this was actually very satisfying.  I would snack on some nuts in between juices to keep me satisfied, but the juice was surprisingly filling.  Eventually, my boyfriend hopped on my juicing bandwagon, and I had to reduce my juice intake.  The grocery budget demanded it.  We simply could not afford the vegetables it was taking to produce 48 oz of juice per day for 2 people.  That's like $100+ just for juicing veggies per week.  Sorry Charlie, we just can't afford that.  

To compromise, I started making about 16-32 oz of juice for each of us per day, and taking soup for lunch, and nuts and fruit for snacks.  This was working well.  I was also by this time, unintentionally, not eating many grains.  I was pretty much not eating any processed foods, except for the occasional slices of bread for a sandwich here and there.  By "here and there" I mean something like 1 sandwich per week, usually eaten for lunch at the farmers market on the go while shopping with the fam.  


I was eating plenty of meat at this time, as well.  Lots of meat in my lunch soups, and plenty of meat with our dinners.  I had stopped buying CAFO meats from the grocery store and started buying healthy local meats from the farmers markets.  Yes, this is like 3x as expensive as meat from the grocery store, but trust me, it's totally worth it...flavor and quality-wise.  And, as and added bonus, it's way more environmentally friendly!  No more styrofoam trays!  Yay!  

By this time, I was feeling GREAT.  Very little endometriosis related pain to speak of.  I'm sure it was everything (juicing, avoiding processed foods and sugars, healthy meats, raw foods, etc...), but for some reason at the time I attributed it mostly to the grain-free (which translated into gluten free, in my mind) eating habits I had recently acquired.  So I started avoiding gluten.  


Jump to last week, I was in a rush for breakfast foods because I didn't have time to juice, so I raid the cabinets, find some KIND granola and decide this will be a suitable, well rounded breakfast, paired with a banana and some raw milk.  After all, the child eats cereal every day for breakfast and she doesn't explode, so I figure I'll live.  

I get to work, figuring this day will be a misery of throbbing pelvis and cramped back... but no.  No pain to speak of for the entire day.  Hmmm...mysterious.  So I repeat the next day.  Same thing, no pain.  Super.  Repeat all week long...and I'm still feeling great.  I'm convinced it's the raw milk, but now I'm also convinced that I'm not as gluten sensitive as I had once thought.  But then again, perhaps 1 cup of "healthy" grains (not to quote the KIND slogan) per day isn't so bad.  *scratches head in confusion* 


To sum it all up, basically, I really don't know what the hell I am doing with my diet anymore.  I know I'm more discriminative about what I bring into my house to feed my family.  Although I thought I was healthy before, I feel completely different about "health food" now.  I look at food through a completely different lens now.

I thought I was raw/vegan, then I thought I was paleo, then I thought I was gluten free.  Then I realized I was some strange hybrid of all three.  I picked from each what worked for me, because honestly, I don't really think any of those things are for me.  At least not 100%.  I do look for paleo friendly recipes because I know that they are going to contain foods and ingredients that I'm actually comfortable feeding myself and my family.  I do cook my veggies with dinner (I know I'm killing the enzymes and I don't care).  I do not strictly adhere to any one diet.  I do what feels right and makes me feel good. Right now, eating the way I do, I feel great and effortlessly maintain a healthy body weight without counting calories or nutrition facts.  I've done a lot of research, read a lot of books, and studied nutrition endlessly for months on end.  After reading the China Study years ago, I was convinced meat caused cancer.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.  I know that I've read a lot on both sides of the meat debate and many other controversial dietary issues, and I'm now comfortable with my dietary choices, eating meat included.

Currently, I:

  • avoid processed junk
  • am careful with my omega 3/omega 6 ratio balancing
  • eat healthy, local meat
  • make bone broth
  • am eating more fresh vegetables than ever (through juicing and with dinner and snacks)
  • eat very little fruit (except in green smoothies)
  • eat tons of saturated fats and do NOT avoid cholesterol
  • avoid soy
  • eat sugar sparingly

Whatever you want to call that, I call it a healthy diet which makes me feel great.  


Curly Girl Update - March 2013

Anyone else out there having wacky unpredictable hair days lately?  Maybe it's the crazy weather here in Pennsylvania.  Warm one day, snowing the next.  The world may never know.

My hair days lately have been ranging from mildly acceptable to completely shitty.  From one day to the next, with the same exact products, my results have been completely unpredictable.  I have no idea what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks is going on in Heather's Hair Land.  

I've been using my same old products, in various combinations.  Nothing's really working for me. 

My current products

Kinky Curly Curling Custard (KCCC)
La Bella Super Hold + Ultra Shine
Biotera Styling Curl Creme
Lily of the Valley Aloe Gel

How I've been using them

Biotera as leave-in + La Bella Gel: Works sometimes, not others; very unpredictable combination

Biotera as leave-in + KCCC + La Bella Gel: Too crunchy and stringy

Biotera as leave-in + KCCC + Aloe + La Bella Gel: Decent results at times, but unpredictable

KCCC + Aloe + La Bella Gel: Better results than when using Biotera first, but still nothing to write home about

The verdict

The aloe definitely helps, regardless of what it's used with.  I've mentioned that before, and it seems to be holding true.  KCCC has it's days, but it seems to depend on what it's used with and how much of it I use. Four pea size globs seems to be the max amount of KCCC my hair will tolerate before betraying me.  I seem to need a firm hold gel, but La Bella doesn't seem to be the one for me. I had a gigantic tub of it, and I felt the need to exhaust the supply before buying something new.  Now that that's finally gone, I decided it's high time to shop around.     

In my hunt for a new gel, I read something in the CurlTalk forums about someone using coconut oil with their KCCC, then topping it off with strong hold gel.  Well, as we all know, I love coconut oil for almost all things...so needless to say I gave this a try!  I used equal amounts of KCCC + coconut oil emulsified in my palms then raked through, followed by a small amount of La Bella Gel.  I actually liked it quite a bit, although I don't want to jump the gun.  My hair was well defined, and soft, although it looked a little stringy until I scrunched it and puffed my roots.  Surprisingly, it didn't feel oily at all, which really surprised me as I'm usually SUPER easily weighed down by oils.  

I will continue to play with this combination, but as we can see, my results tend not to be consistent.  Only time will tell.  

In the meantime, I ordered some Alba Botanica products.  I read in the forums some people having really good results with their products.  Some people like the curl creme, some the gel, some the leave-in.  So I ordered all three :)  

*Fingers Crossed* that one of them works for me!  


How-To: Matting Your Own Art

I recently picked up some prints from a seller on Etsy.  I love the prints, but they were an unusual size.  I couldn't find any frames that fit them nicely, and I wasn't prepared to pay for custom framing.  So, as usual, I went the DIY route for framing and matting.  I'm pretty pleased with the results...

I picked up the supplies for this project for less than $40 total.  That was due in large part to the sale at the craft store.  My frames were marked down from $21.99 to $7.99!  Ummm, yes please!  The poster board ran me about $6.  Other than that, I had all the supplies needed on hand.

To create your own matting, you'll need:

  • frames 
  • poster board
  • art prints
  • pencil
  • X-acto knife
  • Omnigrid ruler
  • self healing mat

First things first, I used these float frames.  They are designed with two panes of glass, instead of one pane of glass and piece of backing.  I chose them by accident, because they were on sale.  But they worked out far better than expected because the matting ended up pressed snugly to the art print between the two panes of glass.  I did matte another set of prints with traditional frames, and the results were not nearly as polished.  The finished product with the float frames looks almost professional...from a distance at least!  When you get up close, you can see there is no depth to the matting, so it doesn't have QUITE the same effect, but damn close!  And I couldn't be happier, especially for just under $40!  

To start off, take the glass out of your frame.  Lay the glass down on top of your poster board.  I lined mine up in one of the corners so I only had to cut two sides.  Less room for user error is always good, imo.  Press down firmly in the center of the glass, and cut around the sides of the glass with your X-acto.  

You should then have a piece of poster board which fits your frame perfectly.  Move the glass and X-acto elsewhere.  Figure out how thick you want your matting borders to be.  If you're not sure, start off THICKER than you think you might want.  That way you will still have room to trim, if necessary. The top and bottom borders don't have to be the same thickness, just as long as it's visually appealing to you!  I made sure my prints were evenly framed by the matting, which ended up looking nicely symmetrical although my matting is thicker on the sides than top/bottom.  

Once you've determined how thick you want the matting, grab your Omnigrid ruler, lay it over the poster board at the desired measurement, and draw a line with your pencil.  Do this with all four sides. Now you have a nice, neat rectangle in the middle which you will be cutting out.  Now realign the Omnigrid with your lines, and use it to trace your pencil markings on each side.  You should end up with something looking like this:

Repeat these steps as many times as necessary for each print you have.

To assemble, lay down one of your glass panes, then lay the matting down on top of the glass, then line your print up on top of the matting (face down), and lay the back pane of glass down on top.  Carefully lift the panes and slide them into the frame.  And viola! You have a matted piece of art!

As I mentioned earlier, I do highly recommend getting the float frames for this project because the end result will be much more polished.  The prints I did with traditional frames were not pressed as tightly to the front pane of glass, and you could see some shadows where gaps formed between the print and the matting.  Nothing major, but I'm a perfectionist and it bothers me.  My boyfriend says he doesn't notice and they look fine.  Whatever.

Any questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments section!


Juicing, and how to make it last

Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve last posted. No, I’m not going to bore you with how busy I was or what was keeping me from the blog.  What I am going to do is talk about juicing. 

As you might have guessed, I finally got that juicer which I’ve been coveting for some time now.  You know the one.  The Omega J8005.  She’s a beauty. 

You might be wondering why I chose this one over, say, one of the ever-popular Breville’s or the Green Star.  Or you might now be wondering what the heck the Green Star is. 

Okay, okay.  Let me start from the beginning. 


I started off thinking I would, in fact, get a Breville centrifugal juicer.  The price seemed right, and hey, the Amazon ratings are pretty high, so how bad could it be?  Well, upon further research, I discovered that these centrifugal types are far more prone to oxidation than their masticating counterparts.  This is due to the way in which they work.  What they do, pretty much, is take the vegetables and spin them around and cut them up until the pulp is spun dry.  Then the pulp and juice are separated and ejected through their respective exits.  The problem with this is it’s not quite as efficient as most masticating juicers, which means waste.  If there’s anything in the world that I hate, it’s waste.  Immediately, my mind conjures up images of soggy pulp and wasted juice (and having to buy too much produce, and what that’s going to do to my grocery budget…and before I know it I’m in a full blown panic about going bankrupt.  All over soggy pulp.  My brain is a chaotic place…).  This is all extremely wasteful and I can’t really stomach that much waste (money, and food…and I guess nutrients, so TRIPLE NEGATIVE on these centrifugals), especially when I consider just how much I’m planning to juice.  The added expense over time of the wasted juice is simply not worth saving a few bucks right this second (the centrifugal juicers are typically much more “affordable” than the masticating juicers).  And apparently these suckers can be pur-itty loud.  I don’t know about you, but I have enough appliances trying to murder my ear drums.  I don’t think I need another. 


My next logical step, of course, was to begin looking into masticating juicers.  This is where I found the Omega line of juicers.  Also in this category is a brand called Champion.  Some people like them, but in my research I determined the Omega to be better (for my uses), for reasons I am now unable to recall.  Go figure.  The masticating juicers work slower, but juice much more efficiently than the centrifugal types.  I can handle throwing in a few extra minutes of my time if it means higher quality juice, and more of it.  The pulp coming out of my machine (the Omega J8005) is dry as a bone.  The only time it’s at all wet is if I’m pushing too much food through the chute, which means I’m not giving the machine enough time to work its magic on the pulp already in the auger.  If I’m patient, I can’t squeeze a single extra drop of juice from the ejected pulp.  That auger thing I mentioned, that’s the other difference between the two types if juicers.  The masticating juicers work with an auger, which rotates to push and squeeze the juice from the veggies, working the ever-dryer pulp toward the spout, while excreting the (almost) pulp-free juice out the bottom of the compartment.


There are also a few other models to choose from.  The Green Star, mentioned above, is basically the top of the line.  It can’t be beat as far as efficiency and juicing grasses and greens.  It also comes with a $500 price tag, so you get what you pay for here in the juicing realm.  Omega also makes an upright masticating juicer, which is sort of new technology on the juicing scene (or so I was to understand while doing my research).  I don’t really know too much about them, as I didn’t dig too deep into them.  The one I found was almost $400, so when I realized I could get everything I wanted for ~$250, I decided to quit while I was ahead and go with the Omega J8005 before I convinced myself that I did, indeed, need to spend $500 on a juicer. 

Juicing in Action

When I started talking to people about juicing, most people seem to share the opinion that juicing is too expensive.  So far, I beg to differ.  Let me give you a cost example for my most recent batch of juice.  I like a nice combo of cucumber, tomato, carrot, apple, parsley, and ginger.  I made a triple batch over the weekend to last me throughout the week.  Here’s what I used and what I estimate to be the cost of each:

(Keep in mind, it’s currently the dead of winter here in PA, so prices are a little higher than usual)

15 carrots:                           $0.90
4 green apples:                     $2.00
6 tomatoes:                          $5.50
3 large cucumbers:               $3.00
1 handful of parsley:             $0.15
2-3” chunk of ginger:            $0.25
TOTAL                              $11.80

This batch yielded 6 pint sized jars of juice.  For me, that equals 6 days’ worth of juice.  So that is less than $2 per pint of fresh vegetable juice.  I used to spend more than twice that amount on a 12 oz. mocha latte every day, so I count juicing as a bargain, both for my wallet and for my health. 

So it’s official.  I’m a juice convert, for sure.  I love having a fresh glass of juice every morning, ready and waiting in the fridge.  In case you’re wondering how I keep my juice for the entire week, I use my foodsaver with the widemouth jar attachment to “preserve” the juice.  I put preserve in quotes because it’s not technically preserving, since it still requires refrigeration, but this method will keep your juice fresh for at least a week.  A week is the longest I’ve let sealed containers of juice hang around, so I can’t yet speak to the quality of juice contained for longer periods of time.  I will bet that the juice will last longer, though, because I didn’t notice any degradation of flavor at the 6 day mark.  I do highly recommend sealing your juice in mason jars, as it saves a lot of time to prep, juice, and can a weeks’ worth of juice at once, instead of chopping and cleaning 7 days a week. 

Have any juicing know-how of your own to share?


Curly Girl update

I just can’t seem to make up my mind as far as what my hair wants, and what products I like.  Last time I talked about my hair, I mentioned that I had some new conditioners.  Funny thing about that, my favorite thing out of that purchase was the free sample of Curl Keeper!

I completely stopped using the Elucence shortly after trying it.  I just didn’t like the way it left my hair feeling. It just seemed to sit on top of my hair instead of actually sinking in and doing what it was there to do…moisturize.  Oh well.  Ya can’t win ‘em all.

Camille Rose Naturals SOYlicious was ok, but I didn’t love it by itself.  It wasn’t smooth enough.  I ended up buying another bottle of Deva One Conditioner shortly after, which I discovered mixes nicely with the CRN Soy.  Combined, they’re almost the perfect conditioner.  I just don’t think my hair is super in love with the protein in the CRN Soy. 

The Bee Mine Avocado Cream Balancing Conditioner, on the other hand, was lovely.  I really can’t say enough good things about this conditioner.  It was thick, creamy, and just a touch slippery.  Not slippery like Deva, but one of the closest I’ve tried so far.  It smells like yummy cupcakes.  I’m not one to enjoy smelling like candy, so the fact that I enjoyed a sweet fragrance is really remarkable. I ended up using this until it was gone.  After this was gone is when I picked up more Deva and started mixing it with the CRN Soy.  The only thing keeping me from buying this all the time is price.  I pay about $1/oz. for Deva One Conditioner, and I feel that’s reasonable.  I can’t really swallow paying much more than that on a regular basis since I use so much of it. I'll just have to wait for a Curl Mart sale ;)

Since I’ve last posted about my hair, I’ve stopped using KCCC on a regular basis. I found it too difficult to find a balance with it.  I found I usually had some really stringy, crunchy pieces, then some soft, frizzy pieces, then some perfectly styled pieces.  I thought after a while I would be able to find a balance, but I never did.  The best luck I had with it was diluting it with water and applying it that way.  It worked better, but I still wasn't able to obtain the crunch I was after.  I also tried using Deva Angel again.  I liked it for a while, then the glycerin overload caught up with me.  Glycerin in my conditioner, leave-in, AND gel was way, way, way too much glycerin. 

For now, it’s back to Deva One-C and a crunchy gel.  I’m currently searching for a nice protein-rich leave-in.  I’m thinking maybe I can get my moisture from Deva in the shower, then my protein throughout the day from a leave-in.  I’m on the fence between COLORFUL neutral protein filler (and adding it to whatever I’m using at the moment), and Curl Junkie Curl Fix Intense Hair Treatment.  Decisions, decisions…

Right now my routine is:

Co-wash with Deva One-C
Rinse out with Deva One-C
Pre-gel with Curl Keeper
Gel with LaBella Super Hold (the big blue tub, #10 hold)
Scrunch with a flower sack towel, diffuse dry

Oh, forgot to mention...since beginning the CG method, I've noticed more growth in the back than I've seen in years!  It's really incredible.  That was one of my reasons for starting CG.  I wanted to grow my hair out again, but my hair used to snap off before it ever got past shoulder length.  Not anymore. So if you're thinking about going CG for growth purposes, I say take the plunge!  :)


Matcha Green Tea Powder (and antioxidant rambling)

Prevention is pretty much my motivation for staying healthy.  Ever since the health problems I was having last year started going away, shortly after I began eating a high-raw diet, I'm now convinced that nutrients and antioxidants are responsible. Now that my health is a greater concern for me than ever before (I do NOT want that pain to come back), I'm trying earnestly to incorporate as many nutrient dense foods as possible. In my quest for healthy drinks, I came across matcha.  


Matcha is said to rate at 1300 units per gram by the ORAC rating, where other "superfoods" like blueberries only score 91 units, and pomegranates 105!  Not to discount the health properties of blueberries or pomegranates, but matcha is serious business when it comes to free radical ass-kicking!  

Matcha is so cool, I just can't get enough of it. I've been trying to drink at least one cup of matcha each day, sometimes more!  I mix it with ginger crystals and coconut butter.  I mix 1 full packet of ginger crystals with 1 tbsp. coconut butter and 1 tsp. matcha powder.  It's delicious. In case you're wondering about the coconut butter in a drink, I'm trying to include coconut-something in every "meal." Usually I use coconut oil, but I wasn't fond of sipping on an oil slick...

If you don't know about matcha, it's basically powdered green tea.  It's bright green in color, and creates a true "green" tea!  It's super healthy for all the same reasons as traditional green tea, but it's super potent because it's powdered.  So instead of just steeping the green tea leaves in water for a few minutes and removing them from the drink, you mix the powder with the water so you are actually consuming the entire leaf.  One glass of matcha is supposedly equivalent to 10 glasses of green tea, as far as nutrition and antioxidants are concerned.  

Antioxidant content is measured by ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units. An ORAC unit is essentially the antioxidant ability to absorb and neutralize free-radicals. Free radicals are what we get when we introduce pollution into our bodies (via environmental pollution, chemically laden foods, pesticides, etc.). When pollution is introduced, harmful free radical molecules are released into our system. These free radicals are unstable molecules lacking one or more electrons. With an unpaired electron, the molecule starts bouncing around our system to seek out a new electron or another molecule to bond with in order to create balance. We call them "free" because they travel around, freely, until they bond and become stable. Only, we don't have extra electrons just floating around, so it has to steal an electron from a healthy molecule.  That ends up creating a chain reaction, because the next molecule in line is now a free radical, and so on. If this chain reaction is left unchecked, the free radicals can begin to harm healthy cells.  

That's where antioxidants, and things like matcha, come into play.  Antioxidants are what keep the free radicals in check.  They do this by either providing the lacking electron, thereby stabilizing the radical, or by breaking it down entirely and rendering it harmless.  

According to this article,

"Research has shown that antioxidants can have an important impact on serious diseases. In one recent study, the addition of a polyphenol-rich blueberry gel to the diet of oral cancer patients prevented recurrence of the cancer. Another experiment demonstrated that increased levels of selenium in the diets of a group of HIV-positive patients significantly delayed progression of the disease."

If that's to be believed, then it's possible that with an antioxidant rich diet, we may be able to stave off illness and disease! That's pretty incredible. I realize every body is different, but free radicals are free radicals, and antioxidants are antioxidants...no matter who you are. I'm in no way trying to insinuate that antioxidants will cure cancer or anything, but it seems science is showing that they can, at least, aid in prevention.   

Do you have any fun ways to prevent illness, a favorite antioxidant powerhouse, or a new way for me to enjoy matcha? Please share!    

Oil Cleansing Progress - with Coconut Oil

Remember the other day when I talked about oil cleansing? Well, I took the plunge and tried it using pure coconut oil. I've been doing it for about 3 days now, and (gasp) I think I actually like it!

My greatest fear with trying the oil cleansing method was that my cystic acne would come back.  I've been acne-free for years now (since using coconut oil based soap and mineral makeup), but I still have extremely sensitive facial skin. I think the only thing that motivated me beyond my fear is the fact that I know my skin likes coconut oil in soap.

I have not yet noticed any breakouts that I feel are related to the coconut oil. What I mean by this is, I wake up with the occasional white head, and that happened yesterday morning, but, since this is "normal" for me, I don't feel it's a result of the coconut oil cleansing.    

I've had some blemishes that I've had trouble clearing for a while, and, since oil cleansing, one of them has miraculously gone away already!  The perpetual microscopic blackheads on my nose and chin are diminishing in appearance, and my pores seem to be shrinking.  I can't say for sure if these results will be lasting, as I've only been doing it for a very short time, but so far, my face is less oily to the touch than it has ever been in my adult life. My face is also softer than I ever remember it being without a moisturizer, and I don't have any flaky, dry skin anymore!

This is really amazing stuff.  Time will tell if this will be successful long term, but judging by the results lately, I have really high hopes!

Here's what I did:

I scooped some coconut oil into a small storage container to take up to the bathroom. While in the shower, I scooped out about 1/2 tsp with my finger and rubbed it all over my face, neck, and ears. I rubbed it in for a while, until I felt nice and smooth.

After that, I stood with my face in the hot water stream for a few seconds (to steam my pores open). Then I massaged my face and rinsed again. Then I stuck my head out of the shower and patted the excess oil off with my towel. Then I finished the rest of my shower routine, massaged and rinsed my face once more, then turned off the shower and dried off. 

Just a note...my shower floor was not slick AT ALL doing this in the shower using coconut oil. 

My face is not the least bit oily when I'm finished. I simply cannot believe the results.

If you are interested in trying this at the sink (instead of in the shower), there's a really great tutorial on that over at mommypotamus, which is where I originally stumbled upon this idea.  She includes a list of various oils, and their benefits, and also some oil "recipes."

There's also a really great article about oil cleansing at Wellness Mama.  I absolutely love her site, by the way.  There is a ton of great alternative health info over there!


Green (and Blue) Smoothies

I've been wanting to try parsley in a green drink for a while now, but haven't been brave enough to try it yet. Until today. I don't usually care much for parsley as a culinary herb, but I know it's super healthy and detoxifying, which is why it's so alluring as a green drink ingredient for me. I'm not alone here. Lots of people juice and make smoothies with it.

I wanted to go light on the parsley, just to test the waters. Here's roughly what I used today.

Parsley Cucumber Smoothie

1 kale leaf
2 sprigs of parsley
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 apple
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1" pc of ginger
2-4 tbsp flax seeds
Water to taste

Blend until smooth.  Serve over ice.

Although this is going to take some tweaking, I do think this combination has potential. It's a very bright, refreshing flavor. I definitely see this growing on me as a morning pick-me-up. The parsley, ginger, and lemon compliment one another really well. I might, however, add some mint and banana next time, and maybe use less lemon.

Overall, definitely not the worst thing I've created in my blender so far!

This delight pictured below does NOT contain parsley (or any green, for that matter).  But I made it today, too, and thought I'd share!

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 c. blueberries
1 banana
1 container vanilla yogurt
coconut milk to desired consistency
cinnamon to taste

Blend until smooth.  Serve over ice.

Yes, if you're wondering, I do practically live on smoothies! :D


Coconut oil. Best thing ever? (and the oil cleansing method)

There's a lot of controversy surrounding coconut oil, and I'm not going to get into any of that.  I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I am a person who consumes and uses coconut oil on a regular basis. What I can tell you from experience is that my body LOVES coconut oil. I've also read "The Coconut Oil Miracle," if you'd like to do some reading on the subject.

Coconut oil is also extremely versatile. Personally, I use it to lubricate pans while cooking, thicken smoothies, and it has a ton of raw applications. I moisturize my skin with it, and it's an ingredient in my favorite face soap! (Auromere Sandalwood Turmeric, for anyone interested.)

Recently, I came across The Oil Cleaning Method (OCM) while perusing a new blog. If you, too, are new to this, let me explain. It's the concept of cleansing your face with nothing but pure oil. Sounds repulsive, right? I mean, we're taught that oil is bad for our skin, and to avoid it in facial products at all costs (especially if your acne prone!). So what the hell?

Being acne prone myself, I know from personal experience that oil is not the bad guy it's cracked up to be. As I've mentioned, I use soap on my face which includes coconut oil as a main ingredient. I discovered coconut oil for the face by happy accident years ago and haven't turned back (to oil free) since. If your still on the anti-oil-on-the-face side of the fence, I urge you to at least try a new soap with coconut oil!

Or watch this video and look at this person's amazing skin!  Coconut oil FTW!

Using coconut oil as a lip balm!  Genius!  (And for oil pulling, too!)  I usually use Dr. Bronner's or Burt's Bees, but I'm sold on coconut oil already!  And for oil pulling, it must be delicious!

Although I'm no stranger to oil as an ingredient in my facial care products, the thought of putting pure oil on my face is just disgusting! But there's science behind it. And who am I to argue with science? The idea is that oil breaks down oil. So slathering oil on your face is actually dissolving the grime on your face, instead of adding more. Then, because there's (clean) oil on your face maintaining a moisture balance, your body doesn't create more...so no clogged pores!

I'm a little nervous, bit I'm going to give it a try soon. Maybe tomorrow...

Anyone already doing the oil cleansing method?  Have you tried coconut oil?  Prefer another oil?  Do share!



If you're anything like me, you may be a little daunted by the idea of gardening.  Sprouting is in the gardening category, and I have little experience with gardening.  Try as I might, I kill most plant life.

I've recently started looking into sprouting and it doesn't look all that difficult.  I found this video of a man growing sprouts and wheatgrass in his truck!  Very inspiring stuff.  If he can manage on the road, there is no excuse for me to not try sprouting in my kitchen! Check it out.

Sprouting doesn't take many supplies at all. In fact, seeds and a sprouting device are all you'll need.  You may already have what you need waiting for you in your kitchen!

To begin sprouting, all you need are:

  • Seeds
  • Mason jars
  • Lid rings for the jars
  • Screen, cheesecloth, or flour sack towels

What I'm using:
  • 2 pint mason jars with metal rings
  • flour sack towels
  • 1/2 c. adzuki beans (1/4 c. per jar)

If you have organic quinoa, beans, or lentils, they'll probably sprout. I happen to have some adzuki beans  in the pantry at the moment, so that's what I'm experimenting with.  I don't have any of the larger mason jars like in the video, so I'll be using two pint jars.

As far as soaking, I've read mixed information about preferred water/bean ratios.  Some say double the water for how many beans/seeds you have; some say use as much as four times the water as beans/seeds. Some people put very little seeds/beans in their jars; some people seem to fill it almost halfway with seeds/beans!


Since I'm not really sure what to expect here, and I'm going to finish sprouting in the jar (instead of soaking in the jar, then dumping in a dedicated sprouting device), I'm going to go light on the beans and heavy on the water.  I think I'm just going to fill the jar with water.

Put your towel or screen on the jar, and screw the ring on.  Sit the jar (now full of 1/4 c. beans and water) on the counter and allow to soak for 8-12 hours.

If you're trying something other than beans or lentils, I recommend doing a little research to figure out your soak time and optimal seed/water ratios.  Not everything sprouts in the same amount of time.  Some things, like grains, apparently, only take about 20 minutes to soak, and 3 days to sprout.

After the soak, dump the water out (just turn the jar upside down over your sink).  Fill back up, rinse and agitate the beans a little by swirling the jar.  Drain well.  Repeat this a few times until the seeds/beans are rinsed well (until the water isn't foggy?).  Sit the jar on the counter again for another 8-12 hours.

Repeat the rinsing and waiting process a few more times, and you should have sprouts!

Here's another video I found demonstrating the soaking and rinsing process, including a time-lapse of the soak!

If you have a favorite thing to sprout, or method of sprouting, I'd love to hear about it!


Corn & Black Bean Salsa (and a raw update)

I'm not sure if I've discussed this previously, but a secondary reason for me to try a raw diet was indigestion. Before I tried going raw, I was experiencing terrible indigestion in the morning. I was throwing up clear puddles of acidic liquid each morning. It got so bad that I thought i was pregnant (morning sickness), and eventually I had blood work done. It turned out I was not pregnant, so the doctor recommended I take an antacid. Long story short, the antacids didn't work, but the raw diet did.

I tell you this because today, approximately 1.5 months back on a non-raw diet (I've been eating non-raw since about thanksgiving), and its happening again. Granted, I did have spaghetti for dinner last night, which isn't helping.  I usually try to avoid tomato based sauces.  Either way, this is motivation for me to get back on track. My finances are pretty much back to normal, so I thought there is no better time than the present to bring raw back into my life.

Last time I started sliding into a raw diet, I started off by drinking green smoothies. But last time, I quickly got overwhelmed by all the fun gadgets and recipes, and started trying to make tons of "gourmet" dishes. This is where I went wrong financially. For me, it was just too expensive and too time consuming to buy so many different fruits and vegetables and prep them for the recipes I had planned for the week. For one, fruits and vegetables are more expensive than other groceries; second, I found I was wasting a lot of produce at the end of the week. This was either because I had more on hand than I needed for my recipe, or simply because I ended up not using it.  Plain and simple, it was poor menu planning on my part.

This time around, I'm taking a more laid back approach. I'm still doing a green smoothie each day, but I'm not going to obsess over making a ton of recipes. I also realized that I like to have a salsa available which includes avocado. If nothing else, I will be sure to make a salsa each week.  I made this really tasty corn & black bean salsa recipe this week.  I was inspired by a picture I saw somewhere.  Probably on Pinterest...  The picture was a huge bowl of corn, tomato, and red peppers with cilantro.  I took that a step farther and added avocado, onion, and beans.  It's heartier and far more satisfying this way.  

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

2 tomatoes, dices
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 thick slices of red onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
cilantro to taste
couple splashes of vinegar
1 can of corn (use fresh if in season!)
1 can of black beans

  1. Toss together all of the diced veggies.
  2. Rinse canned ingredients well, and add to veggies. 
  3. Add cilantro and a couple splashes of vinegar.  (The recipe I found called for lime juice, but I didn't have lime juice, so I used vinegar.  Feel free to use lime juice if you have it.  It would probably be better.)  I used garlic flavored rice wine vinegar.  It's just what I had on hand. I'm sure any mild vinegar would be fine.  
  4. Scoop into bibb lettuce for veggie tacos (pictured above), or eat it with tortilla chips.  
I'm sure this would be really great with garlic and jalapeno, if you care for a more intense flavor.  If this is a little bland for you, you could easily dress it up with a little bit of greek dressing, or even your favorite homemade dressing!    

Other than eating salsa and green smoothies, I'm going to try to include more whole foods in general into my diet. Easy on-the-go stuff like apples, bananas, grapes, and cherries.  At least at first.  

And speaking of smoothies, I just made an awesome smoothie this morning.  Kale, strawberries, bananas, coconut oil, and hemp seeds.  The coconut oil and hemp seeds really leveled it out and kept me full all morning!  If your smoothies haven't been keeping you full, try adding some seeds and/or oil! 

Oh, and I also think I'm going to start juicing. I've been doing a lot of research on the topic lately, and I'm starting to think it may be the only way to be really successful long term with a raw diet. See, I've also realized that there are a lot of vegetables that I don't care for in their raw form. Sure, I could cook them instead, but wheres the fun in that? I'm a  little off put by the potential strong flavor, but many people claim fresh veg juice doesn't taste at all like what you expect it to. I know that's vague, but I kinda see what they probably mean. So I plan to save up for a juicer over the near future. I'm leaning toward a masticating juicer, but well talk more about that another day! 


DIY All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

I bought a book full of eco-friendly recipes a while ago called Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan.  My main reason for doing so is, obviously, to make more eco-friendly products.  I recently watched a documentary on Netflix (Chemercial: Redifining clean for a new generation) about a family who gave up all chemicals.  They had the air quality within their home tested before they changed products, and had alarmingly high rates of VOC's in the air. After they had converted to homemade eco-products for some time, they had their air quality tested again, and the VOC rate was next to nothing. Watching this documentary got me thinking about all the pollution that I probably have within my own home.  

My second motivation for making my own products is to save money.  Who doesn't want to save money?  Seriously?  For the most part, most of these ecofriendly products can be made with a combination of vinegar, baking soda, borax, and castile soap. My preferred castile soap is Dr. Bronner's.  These are all inexpensive and easily attainable products. I happen to already have all of these things on hand, but I'm pretty sure you can pick them all up for less than $25. If you are willing to spend more initially, you can buy larger quantities and save money in the long run. But, if you just want to dip your toe into making your own products, you can get small quantities of all these products for an affordable price. 

Now, dont get me wrong, it's not like I hadnt thought about going green before seeing this documentary. Of course I have already thought about it, and I even tried replacing my usual cleaning products with their eco-friendly counterparts years ago, but I found them to not be nearly as effective. Also, I found it to be MORE wastefule to use the eco products since I had to use more to get the same results, which then caused more plastic waste and more spending. 

Since I've resolved to make 2013 a healthier year, I figured there is no better time than now to whip out this book and make something!  The first thing I made was all purpose cleaner.  It only took the 3 simple ingredients, plus some hot water!  Quick and easy!  Check it out...

Oh, and don't mind the bowl of baking soda in the picture. I put that in the line-up by accident, and didn't feel like taking a new picture once I realized!  Yes, I can count, and no the recipe below is NOT lacking a measurement for baking soda :)

All Purpose Cleaner

24 oz. spray bottle
1/2 tsp. borax
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Hot water up to ~20 oz. fill line
1/2 c. castile soap (I used Dr. B's peppermint)
10 drops essential oil (optional for fragrance)
  1. Combine borax and vinegar in the spray bottle, then fill bottle up to the 20 oz fill line. Shake until borax is dissolved.  Then pour in the castile soap and essential oil and shake gently to combine.  
  2. Clean some shit!  Enjoy knowing that your skin won't melt off!

It's really that easy to have a homemade, eco-friendly all purpose cleaner!  It literally took me less than 5 minutes to make this.  The best part is that it actually works!  And I don't have to worry about getting bleach on my clothes if I bump against the counter while I'm cleaning.  Maybe it's just me, but I used to ruin a lot of shirts that way.  Yea, probably just me...


Berries and Kale Smoothie, and a healthy new year

I've been lethargic and foggy-headed lately.  I can only blame the food I've been eating lately.  My body is sad and it misses fruits and veggies.  I haven’t really been sticking to a raw diet lately, and my body is rebelling.  A bunch of things sort of came to a head over the holidays which prevented me from sticking to the raw food, but now that the holidays are over and my finances are getting back on track, I’m looking forward to a getting back to a healthy lifestyle.  The two main things that prevented me from maintaining a raw lifestyle are finances and time.  

Let’s face it, raw food is expensive and it can be time consuming to prepare.  Between everything that life throws our way, it can be really easy to let our health take a back-burner to some of the seemingly more pressing issues we face daily.  Life is full of enough stresses as it is; food shouldn't be one of them.  

I’m not a person who makes resolutions when the new year rolls around, but this year I am determined to find a way to make healthier decisions without breaking the bank or dedicating all of my spare time to cutting fruit.  I am determined to find an affordable way to maintain a whole-foods, plant-based diet.  I plan to explore juicing, among other things.  But for now, I may just have to stick to daily green smoothies.  

Speaking of green smoothies, here’s one that I really like.  

Berries and Kale Smoothie

1/2 c. grapes
6 strawberries
3/4 c. pineapple
1/4 c. citrus
1/4 c. blueberries
2 large kale leaves
Water to desired consistency

Combine in the blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!