So fresh and so clean, clean

Hey friends! I have a quick lil’ post for you today. As you may have noticed I have yet again changed the look of the blog. It seems I am never satisfied and feel the need to perpetually strive for AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

At any rate, I’m digging the new, clean look. And what better to pair with a new clean blog than a recipe for you to get yourself a NEW CLEAN TOILET? Ok, maybe not new, but clean, ever so clean.

Unlike cleaning your tub, you don’t really have to get down and dirty with your toilet bowl in order to clean it properly (if you are, you are doing it wrong). However, a lot of products are marketed to make you feel like you have to exert little to no energy whatsoever in order to clean your toilet. But you know what, you should have to work a little. Not hard, but would like a few scrubs KILL YOU? No. It wouldn’t.

Of course with conventional toilet bowl cleaners you are looking at corrosive ingredients like chlorine bleach and hydrochloric acid, which can irritate your skin and eyes, and can be quite unpleasant/deadly if ingested. Aside from the conventional products there are a host of “eco-friendly” options that use plant and mineral based ingredients, are non-toxic, biodegradable, etc. I tend to be a little skeptical sometimes about a lot of these products, because there is an unhealthy amount of green-washing going around these days, and really, if you can make something that rivals, and/or out performs store-bought products, then why bother buying anything?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Combine.
  • Pour.
  • Scrub.
  • Done.

This recipe is SO EASY and works SO WELL that I promise that you will never use anything ever again.

{these are a few of my favorite things}

{these are a few of my favorite things}

{toilet volcano}

{toilet volcano}

{yep folks, that's where the magic happens}

{yep folks, that’s where the magic happens}

{pristine porcelain}

{pristine porcelain}

 

 

 

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Homespun Apothecary

I love the Internet for a multitude of reasons. These reasons include videos of sea otters doing cute things, all of buzzfeed, and finding rad folks who are making really lovely all-natural skin products. I stumbled upon a site called Homespun Apothecary, which is a blog and online store that sells handcrafted salves and balms for a variety of common maladies.  This lovely husband and wife team make a balm for nerve pain, achy body balm and a magic put-this-stuff-on-anything balm just to name a few. The descriptions of the products are delightfully in depth and cover everything from the story behind the product, to it’s intended uses and benefits, as well as a breakdown of why they used certain ingredients. Naturally I had to buy something and will likely buy EVERYTHING they make.

I went with That Healing Feeling Balm, which is the aforementioned put-this-stuff-on-anything balm. The main ingredient is Plantain, which is apparently some MAGICAL plant which is used throughout the world to treat a bevy of conditions. I chose this one in particular because of its suggested use for new tattoos and piercings. I have gotten a few tattoos in my day, and am in the process of getting a large piece on my arm re-worked. While I enjoy getting tattoos I have never found the perfect after-care treatment. I use the recommended three days of aquaphor, but I could do without that, it’s a goopy mess and you know, it’s like petroleum. Which may be weird? I don’t know. Anyway, I usually switch to something less goopy for the rest of the healing process, and this time around I have been using straight coconut oil. Which has provided a reasonable amount of moisture, but still, not a perfect solution. Anyone who has gotten a tattoo can appreciate the search for the perfect concoction that not only moisturizes but also maybe does something to soothe the you-look-like-you-might-have-scabies itching.

I ordered the balm through their online store and received the package a few business days later with a handwritten thank you note. Man, do I love a good handwritten thank you note. Goes a long way in my book. These folks are doing it right. The balm has a delightful consistency, and smells like sweet, sweet medicinal herbal goodness. Which is exactly what I want my medicine to smell like, plants. It should smell like plants.

We try to inspire you here with easy recipes to make some useful products on your own, but you know what, I am no herbalist. So when it comes to stuff like this, I am going to look elsewhere and support people who are making really great, all natural, and action-packed products, and you should too! Check out their site and use the coupon code NEWBIE at checkout to receive 10% off your first order!

{so much love in this jar!}

{so much love in this jar!}

When Your Shower Becomes a Bath

I’ll admit to it, I can go quite a while in a semi-gross bathroom situation before doing anything about it. For some reason, I feel as though even though I may be standing in a filthy bathtub, as long as I’m getting clean it’s fine, right?  Well, apparently even I have a breaking point. The fact is, even if you clean your tub semi-regularly, if you don’t clean your drain then eventually the water will drain more slowly, thus making it easier for buildup and hair to stick to the sides of your tub once the water has eventually drained (like 30 minutes later). You may notice just a little standing water at first, and then before you know it’s halfway up your shins and you just feel like the grossest/laziest/most complacent person that ever was.

I will spare you the photos for this post, mostly because I am legitimately embarrassed that things got so bad, and also because it’s just gross and while an impressive before and after, it’s not worth the heartache of actually having to see how the sausage is made.

I started by cleaning the tub using a variation of the recipe from the Scrubbing Troubles post. Once the tub was clean I got to work on the drain. There are a few factors that make this drain particularly difficult. 1. It has an extremely shallow basin directly under the tub and then slopes under at this really unfortunate angle, meaning that everything sort of sits right under the drain, and slowly makes its way down into the abyss where it becomes impossible to snake out due to its angles. 2. The shower is shared by three humans and a dog with varying hair/fur length, so there is a lot of potential for clogged-ness.

I feel like an asshole for what I’m about to say, only because I feel like a broken record sometimes with these posts. HOWEVER, guess what unclogs drains? If you guessed baking soda and vinegar, you would be right. Ugh, I know guys, but really, it’s just magical.

Let’s examine the alternative though for a moment. There are three types of chemical drain cleaners:

  • Caustic Drain Cleaners: Work using lye and caustic potash. They essentially lend electrons to your clogs and the hydroxide ions in the chemicals create heat and turn clogs into a soap-like substance that becomes easier to dissolve. Probably mostly used for kitchen sink drains where your buildups are of the greasy variety.
  • Oxidizing Drain Cleaners: Contain chemicals such as bleach, peroxides and nitrates. The chemicals react with the organic materials in the clog, causing them to loose electrons and oxidize.
  • Acid Drain Cleaners: The heavy-duty shit, mostly only used by trained plumbing professionals. Contain high levels of sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. Hydronium ions react with the clog, and attract electrons which releases heat, which then like obliterates anything in it’s path.

So now let’s examine what that means for you and your pipes:

Since most of these products generate heat they may damage older, metal pipes. Which if you live in New York and are of limited means like we are, are the only kind of pipes you get. If you live in a more modern setup, you are likely to have PVC pipes, which the reaction from the chemicals can soften and damage over time.

If these products can like, MELT PLASTIC and shit it’s probably safe to assume they aren’t great for you or the Earth. See label. I’m sorry label; did you imply that you can cause EXPLOSIONS, and that you want me to wear an encapsulated chemical suit to clean my tub?

{um, no thanks}

{cool story, label}

No thanks. I’ll stick with the natural shit. Baking soda and vinegar create a chemical reaction when mixed together as well, by creating carbon dioxide bubbles as it fizzes up, it likely loosens up whatever is desperately clinging to your drains.

Now I didn’t simply pack my drain with baking soda and vinegar and expect it to evaporate all of the shit that is down there. There was quite a bit of hair that could be pulled up, and when I say quite a bit, what I mean is that I almost vomited in my mouth. What couldn’t be pulled out was likely loosened and flushed down with the baking soda and vinegar.

I used:

  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • ½ Cup White Vinegar

First I packed as much of the baking soda as I could into the drain, trying to leave room for the vinegar to escape through it a bit so that it moved down the drain and didn’t just sit there. I then poured the vinegar over the baking soda and immediately covered the drain. I left it to sit for about 30 minutes, flushed it out with hot water for two minutes. AND VOILA! Showers are showers again.

Cleaning your tub drain is not a pretty job, but somebody has got to do it. Hopefully you feel emboldened to tackle that drain naturally, whilst being confident that you will not melt your skin, clothes, and/or brain using volatile chemicals.

CH, CH, CH, CHIA (& flax seed crackers)

I ended up on an internet downward spiral today, and stumbled upon this recipe for flax and chia seed crackers. They are vegan, gluten free and kosher! However, most importantly they are delicious and chocked full of fiber, iron, omega-3s and protein. So you know, it’s like a superfood gut punch of EPICNESS. I’ll keep this to the point, and the point being that you should probably make these. The raw ingredients can get a bit pricey, but you can get a lot of crackers (and plenty of other things) out of them.

The only other warning I have is that they take THREE HOURS to bake. Which is kind of like that time that I set out to make croissants because I was an idiot and thought, hey, I can bake bread, why not croissants? Why? Because if you decide you want to make croissants you are saying, I want croissants sometime within the next 24-48 hours, I also want to cry over 7 sticks of butter whilst realizing there are 7 sticks of butter in the recipe. But I digress…

There are two tricky things in the following recipe, one is called Za’atar which is a middle eastern condiment comprised of dried herbs, sesame seeds and spices, and it varies depending on the region. Being that I live in Brooklyn, I’m sure that I could have found it fairly easily, but I was lazy, so I decided to make (some version of) it myself. The other possibly tricky thing is the date syrup, which was sadly missing amongst all the wackadoo syrups and sweeteners at hippy grocery store. So I went ahead and made that too. Feel free to wing it with whatever syrupy sweetener you fancy, I’m sure they would be just as delicious with honey or agave, or perhaps coconut syrup (which I didn’t know was a thing until surveying the many aforementioned wackadoo syrups and sweeteners).

Here’s what you’ll need (for the crackers)

  • 1 Cup Flax Seeds
  • 3 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 3 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
  • 3 tbsp Sunflower Seeds
  • 1½ tsp Salt (or to taste)
  • 3 tbsp Za’atar*
  • 1 tbsp date syrup**

*For the Za’atar I mortar and pestle-d toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, dried oregano, cumin, coriander and sea salt. Having never consciously tasted za’atar I am not sure what it is really supposed to taste like, however, the flavor combination was delightful and certainly reminiscent of something I had tasted before.

** For the date syrup I took 15 medjool dates and soaked them in warm water for about 30 minutes. I then drained the water and blended them together with 1¼ cup filtered water and 1½ tsps of lemon juice. My syrup was a bit on the thicker side, but it worked really well with the recipe and I figured I could always thin it out with some water if need be in the future. Side note: date syrup is a REVELATION. Seriously, I think it changed my life a little bit. I’m fixing to put it on/in/around everything I eat from here on out.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat oven to 200° F and line large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat
  • Soak flax and chia seeds in water 15-20 minutes (the seeds with absorb most of the water)
  • Add rest of ingredients and mix well
  • Spread evenly on to baking sheet*** and bake for an hour and a half flip over, and bake for ANOTHER hour and a half.  (waaaaiiiyaaaating is the hardest part—Tom Petty on flax and chia seed crackers)
  • Once your three hours of baking is up, turn off the oven, and let cool completely inside
  • Break into free form pieces (or you can score the dough ahead of time if you want more uniformed crackers)

***I sprinkled a little kosher salt on top before baking because I am a salt addict.

So despite these things taking so damn long, they were well worth it, and really a generally easy recipe overall. I’m looking forward to various seeds being scattered about my desk tomorrow morning as I ravenously make my way through these crackers.

Happy crunching!

{golden flax seeds of the gods}

{golden flax seeds of the gods}

{the seeds a soakin'}

{the seeds a soakin’}

{it comes together like a lumpy dough}

{it comes together like a lumpy dough}

{try to spread it as evenly as possible, and somewhat thinly across your baking sheet}

{try to spread it as evenly as possible, and somewhat thinly across your baking sheet}

{so much crunchy, crunchy health}

{so much crunchy, crunchy health}

Vinegar, how I love thee.

We’ve said it before, and we will certainly say it many times again. We LOVE vinegar. Like for serious, love it. We have used it on our faces, hair, bathtubs, etc… Yesterday, I used it on my clothes, which were whimsically speckled with my own blood.

As the story goes, I went to get another hole poked into my nose, and basically ended up bleeding out a little bit all over my shirt and jeans. No big deal (and if you were wondering, yes, it looks rad). I was pretty breezy about being covered in my own blood, but you know, one tends to look a little crazy when walking around town like that. So I headed to a bar next door and asked the barkeep for two fingers of white vinegar and some napkins, he obliged despite being visibly confused/annoyed. I dabbed it onto the stains and they all but magically evaporated! Had I gotten to them sooner, I might have been able to eliminate them completely (there was only a slight faintness of them that I am sure would have come out with a bit more elbow grease/will definitely come out in the wash).

I did a bit more research and discovered that vinegar gets just about ANYTHING out. There are tons of homemade stain removers that you can explore here. However, I can be lazy and sometimes when I spill/hemmorage I just want to throw something on it immediately. For your convenience (and my amusement) I have made a handy little flow-chart for some common stains that you can use white vinegar on.

{I love flow charts ALMOST as much as I love vinegar}

{I love flow charts ALMOST as much as I love vinegar}

There will likely be more posts in the future about the perils of stains, but I just wanted to share this quick little one because I was so goddamned amazed (as always) by vinegar. Really, it’s just the best.

Adventures in Oral Hygiene

Oh hello friends, we are back! Cristiana and I had a lovely Sunday of catching up and making all sorts of fun things for you folks to take a crack at, so keep an eye out in the next few days for a barrage of blog posts. This first recipe may be one of my favorite things that we have made thus far. Homemade mouthwash! The recipe was essentially lifted straight from here (with a few small adaptations). We love her blog by the way, tons of fantastic recipes!

Admittedly, I don’t have the best oral hygiene regimen (go ahead, JUDGE ME). I don’t floss (ain’t nobody got time for that, although apparently some people find time for that).  I brush twice a day, sure. However, I’ve been plagued by some bad gum recession on a few of my teeth. Dentists have never been outright ALARMED by it, however, they also aren’t super helpful with telling me what to do about it. They just seem to mark it on their little chart and move on with their lives. However, since I value keeping my teeth in my face I am trying to be more proactive about taking steps towards gum health (still probably not going to floss, sorry, I’m not sorry).

A few things that you can do to promote good gum health and healing is by making sure you are chock full of Calcium, and Vitamins A, E, and C as well as folic acid. So you know, eat right or take a multi vitamin (check). Other things include using a soft bristled brush or an electric toothbrush to make sure that you remove all of the plaque without irritating the gum line. And of course, there is flossing (ugh).

Studies have shown that another great treatment for things like bad breath, oral candidiasis, gingivitis, inflamed gums and plaque, is…wait for it….TEA TREE OIL! Betcha thought I would say baking soda, which is of course magical and also in this recipe, and also great for promoting gum growth (making a paste of baking soda and water and massaging it into gums is thought to increase circulation and promote growth).

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One cup filtered or bottled water (if using tap, make sure to boil it first)
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 4 drops lemon essential oil
  • 4 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 4 drops birch essential oil
  • ½ tsp xylitol (optional: to sweeten, you can also use a packet of stevia)
  • A mason jar (because you know, what’s more obnoxiously Brooklyn than your own homemade mouthwash in a mason jar?)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Mix that business up, shake and enjoy! Make sure you shake it every time you use it to get all of the ingredients properly mixed.

I’ve only been using it for a few days and already my mouth feels cleaner. It’s such a refreshingly minty and wonderful rinse and I am really looking forward to seeing what effects it has on my ailing gums.

That’s all for today folks, stay tuned for more fun things to come, including but not limited to: toilet bowl cleaner! And dry shampoo that doubles as a foundation (what?!)

Happy swishing.

{the fixins'}

{the fixins’}

{add whatever flavors you like best, and feel free to wing it if you want it more pepperminty, or perhaps more lemony}

{add whatever flavors you like best, and feel free to wing it if you want it more pepperminty, or perhaps more lemony}

{somebody get this girl in a mouthwash commercial quick!}

{somebody get this girl in a mouthwash commercial quick!}

{the final product. warn your roommate that it exists so he/she doesn't think you are saving a jar of your own urine.}

{the final product. warn your roommate that it exists so he/she doesn’t think you are saving a jar of your own urine.}

Let’s Talk About Suds Baby, Let’s Talk About You and Me

Sincerest apologies for falling off the face of the internets for a few months. Cristiana and I have been busy little bees. However, I have recently seen her and we have confirmed that we are still friends who do in fact make a blog together (and enjoy doing so!)

In the meantime I thought I would write a little ditty about something near and dear to my heart: Dr. Bronner’s MAGIC soap. You’ve probably seen it at the store in the “hippy soap section” near to Burt and Tom. It is recognizable by the outrageously hard to read label, that if you ever take the time to read will leave you more confused the longer you continue to read it.

{A little light reading while you shower?}

{A little light reading while you shower?}

But I digress.

Real talk: This stuff is legit.

A little background on the magic: it comes from a family owned soap company that was founded by Rabbi Emmanuel Bronner in 1948. Now if we ignore the fact that Dr. Bronner looks like a mad scientist and may or may not have written a lengthy manifesto about something he calls ALL-ONE-GOD-FAITH, the fact remains that this company epitomizes environmental sustainability. Which I don’t care how crazy you look/seem/are, I can get on board with your product. For example, Dr. Bronner’s only uses Fair Trade, organic and biodegradable ingredients, eco-friendly packaging and avoids things like parabens, phthalates, and sodium laryl sulfates.

Personally, I am a fan of the liquid castile soap, which I use straight, as well as mix in to a lot of my cleaning recipes (like the ones I use to scrub the shit outta my tub/toilet/sink/stove). The liquid castile soap is a vegetable based concoction that contains no harsh preservatives, synthetic foaming agents or thickeners. And you can use this elixir of the ALL-IN-ONE GOD on EVERYTHING. It is said to be suitable for at least 18 uses. I have found uses for at LEAST 4. However, it can be used for the following: body, hair, dishes, clothes, teeth, animals, and erm…contraceptive douche (according to older labels), among other things. Pretty much if you clean it, you can use Dr. Bronners on it. The FAQ section of their website (if you can wade through the wack) provides helpful tips on dilutions and uses.

As many of you know, I do the no-poo thing. However, sometimes a girl wants a bubble or two in their life. When I feel that urge, I use some Dr. Bronner’s. Otherwise I just use it as a daily body wash, or like I mentioned earlier, in cleaning mixtures.

I could ramble for days about this stuff, but I’ll spare your precious eyes (after all, I am sure you tried in vein to get through that entire label, you brave person you). And if any of you guys have uses for it I didn’t mention, let us know! Otherwise, give it a try! Your body and planet thank you in advance.