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}

 

 

 

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.

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.

Chicken Skin, or Why I Don’t Wear Shorts Ever

Hello and welcome to another edition of: Ashlee’s body is weird, and here’s why. Keratosis Pilaris or “Chicken Skin” is a fairly common skin disorder among humans (40% of adults worldwide, WTF). It is described as a genetic follicular condition that is manifested by the appearance of rough, red bumps on the skin. It most commonly can be found on the backs of the arm and thighs, although many other places on the body may become affected. It occurs when the body produces excess keratin (a natural skin protein) that then becomes trapped in the hair follicles, and causes the formation of hard plugs (read: rough, red bumps).

ANYWAY. It’s unsightly. And I don’t wear shorts because of it. And there is seemingly nothing that can be done about it. Mine waxes and wanes, but I can’t seem to figure out any triggers that make it worse. When I initially asked a dermatologist what it was, she was like, oh yeah, Keratosis Pilaris, just exfoliate and moisturize. So you mean, just keep acting like a human woman, is what you are saying. Thanks doc.

It wasn’t until today when I stumbled upon a little something something that suggested coconut oil for the treatment of Keratosis Pilaris. Oh, coconut oil, what CAN’T you do?! The site claims that coconut oil accomplishes the following: soothes inflammation, reduces redness, moisturizes and sanitizes. All the things that are good for treating ya chicken skin.

The author of this article also had a few other tidbits to share in things that may aid in the treatment:

  • Exfoliate – Just like the doctor ordered, you can loofah the coconut oil right in to your skin in the shower.
  • Moisturize – Apply small amounts of coconut oil to damp skin after shower and wipe away excess.
  • Avoid Trans Fats – This is a no brainer, because you should be avoiding excessively oily foods anyway. Also eating foods that are lower on the glycemic index have been shown to improve KP.
  • Take Omega-3 Supplements – Omega-3 deficiency can apparently worsen KP, additionally the author suggests ingesting 1-3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily. And honestly, that’s super easy to do because the shit is delicious. I put it on some toast with a little bit of salt, oh yeah, so good.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals – Basically avoid all the nasty chemicals in soaps and body washes, you know the things that we yell about in this blog. Personally, I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap in Rose. I have definitely noticed an improvement since I made the switch to it a few months back.

So looking at all of the above, I do essentially all of them. Except where coconut oil is concerned. Perhaps it is the missing link towards turning my chicken skin, into lady skin. I would like to wear shorts. I hear they’re in fashion during some of the warmer months.

You can use coconut oil straight up without a chaser, or you can whip it up into something fun. I made a “lotion”.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • one tsp of honey (as an emulsifier)

Here’s What You’ll Do:

  1. Furiously mix together until you inevitably give up and angrily put in whatever container you can find.

This ended in disaster because I could not for the life of me get it to blend. Like I tried most things, whisk, hand mixer, fork, coddling. The only thing I didn’t bust out was the stick blender, and honestly that’s because I was just really lazy and didn’t want to clean it. Given that the coconut oil is basically fine on it’s own, and by the smell of it some of the vinegar joined the party I just dumped the excess vinegar and used it as is.

I rubbed it into the affected areas after my shower, and I must say they look better already. I’ll include a before picture below, and follow up in a couple weeks after having used the concoction everyday and employing some of the other tips as well.

Also, to anyone who reads this and CAN get the ingredients listed above to emulsify into one homogeneous substance, please document, and share. I will send you a prize. Really, because I don’t think it can be done.

{the fixings}

{the fixings}

{this is a disaster}

{this is a disaster}

{this is my chicken thigh}

{this is my chicken thigh}

{this is my chicken wing}

{this is my chicken wing}

When a Lotion Comes Along, You Must Whip it.

Well, it shouldn’t take long to realize what this post is going to be about. You guessed it (probably), whipped body lotion! Shea butter lotion to be exact. Oooooh yeah, this is some good business here. This is a super simple recipe that only has like 3-4 ingredients depending on your preferences. The one thing that it does absolutely require is a hand mixer. You know what else absolutely requires a hand mixer? Merengue, and probably all sorts of other stuff, like…um, buttercream?. So you know, go and get one if you don’t have one.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

Here’s What You’ll Do:

  1. Use a double boiler to melt the shea butter and coconut oil until they are liquid.
  2. Stir in sweet almond and olive oil. Here’s where you can add some essential oils if you would like, but be warned, no matter what you do, this lotion smells like chocolate. Which is of course, not a terrible thing. However, it seems pretty difficult to get a scent to stick. We used some sweet orange which brings a nice citrusy note to the chocolate party.
  3. Allow to set up in fridge until lotion is almost solid.
  4. Whip it (whip it good) with hand mixer until stiff peaks form (maybe 1-2 minutes).
  5. Transfer to receptacle of your choosing.
  6. Butter yourself up.
{the fixings}

{the fixings}

{shea butter takes a while to melt, be patient and stir often}

{shea butter takes a while to melt, be patient and stir often}

{the fun part}

{the fun part}

{couldn't you just eat that with a spoon? yes, technically you could.}

{couldn’t you just eat that with a spoon? yes, technically you could.}

This is a great post shave/shower lotion. It’s luxurious and rich and a little certainly goes a long way. Happy whipping!

Funk Stick

So here is another product that we would assume you use everyday. But hey, if you don’t that’s cool too. The thing about deodorant is it’s like heroin for your armpits (yes, HEROIN). Our armpits are like “hey man, just give me another hit, or I swear I will go through the DT’s and RUIN YOUR DAY” So we give in to our junky pits and slather the stuff on. If you’ve ever gone through a bout of weening your drug addled pits off the hard stuff you might notice that in time, your body begins to figure out that lovely little balance of stank eating bacteria that will keep you stank and even sweat free. But of course, this may come with a bit of an adjustment period (some have it, some don’t, it depends on your body really).

I for one have the problem of TERRIBLE pit stains. I could literally be freezing my ass off in negative 30 degree weather and be sweating PROFUSELY through my pits. For this reason I have tended to gravitate towards the antiperspirant type of deodorant. However, even using that doesn’t really keep me sweat free, and as many of you know the way that it keeps you from sweating is by clogging up your pores with aluminum. Which has been linked to the development of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, aluminum is also the culprit that leaves the gnarly crud in your shirts caused by a reaction of the aluminum and salts in the deodorant. There are a few other unsavory products lurking around in your deodorant, I will spare you the rant, but you can read about them here.

Still, even after knowing about MOST of those things. I still find it difficult to not use conventional products, because a.) I am not-so-secretly addicted to the smell of man deodorants and b.) I, like most women, am embarrassed if I can smell myself. Recently I made the switch to Tom’s of Maine Natural Antiperspirant. It is unscented which surprisingly is fine, I don’t smell. However, it still contains aluminum. So there’s that.

Cristiana has been using her own deodorant for some time now, and I can attest to her smell, or lack thereof. Making your own is STUPID easy, and I am ready and excited to take the leap forward. Deodorant was basically the last thing that I had to give up in my quest to discontinue the use of all chemical laden hygiene products. I am looking forward to sending my pits to the morphine clinic kicking and screaming, they will thank me for it in the long run I am sure.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup arrow root or corn starch
  • 2.5 tbs coconut oil
  • 5 drops of tea tree oil
  • Empty deodorant container (this is where you ask your friends like a creep if you can have their empties)

Here’s What You’ll Do:

  1. Put coconut oil in a microwave save container and zap if for about 15 seconds or until it’s completely liquid (or you can use the double boiler method).
  2. Mix together baking soda and arrow root or corn starch and mix in coconut oil. You should have a paste that is a bit crumbly, too much liquid and it will not apply well to your pits.
  3. Add in tea tree oil.
  4. Pack into your empty container and there you have it!

And of course you may be thinking, how does this even work? Mostly because baking soda is bad ass and it works to both absorb moisture as well as neutralize odors (instead of just covering them up). Arrow root and corn starch also work to absorb moisture. The coconut oil moisturizes and nourishes the skin. And of course, magical, medicinal, marvelous tea tree oil which is an: antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antiviral and immune stimulant! Huzzah!

Do it, you know you wanna.

{the fixings}

{the fixings}

{almost there}

{almost there}

{there you have it!}

{there you have it!}

{fill 'er up}

{fill ‘er up}

Disclaimer: There are two different types of deodorant packaging. Ones that use a screw (pictured above) and ones that use a plunger. The screw ones are a bit harder to fill because sometimes you can’t get the deodorant to pack as tightly around the screw as you would like it to. So, we recommend using a plunger type for maximum ease of use. 

Pore Strips!

For being tiny little pieces of paper, pore strips can cost a pretty penny. Some can even cost you over 50 cents, PER tiny piece of paper. Ours cost you basically nothing, and are stupidly easy to make. The only downside: they smell AWFUL. We aren’t going to sugar coat this one for you, gelatin has a pretty pungent odor, and when you mix it with milk, and then add heat, well…it’s just bad. We tried a few variations, and you can make the one that suits your gag reflex.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1.5 tsp milk or water
  • a few drops tea tree oil (to combat the stank, and to add a lovely tingly antiseptic feeling that is great for acne prone skin)
  • parchment or regular ol’ paper (if you would like to make your own strips)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Mix together gelatin and milk (or water), if using tea tree oil add a little less liquid and add tea tree oil before heating
  2. Heat in microwave for 15 seconds
  3. Slather it on wherever you desire clean pores, let dry and peel off. You can also spread in on parchment or regular paper, cut into strips and apply to face.

After trying a few variations there are a few things we know for sure: the mixture with just the gelatin and milk worked the best. We don’t know if it’s the lactic acid or an embodiment of the phrase “pain is beauty”, but that one really works. The water mixture works fine as well, and anything with the tea tree oil was just better smelling and fresher feeling. The nice thing is, this is so cheep to make in tiny little batches that you can experiment with what works for you.

{there's a whole lotta pore cleaning to be had in this little box}

{there’s a whole lotta pore cleaning to be had in this little box}

{at this point, it doesn't smell, wait for it}

{at this point, it doesn’t smell, wait for it}

{gags}

{gags}

{apply liberally to strip of your choice}

{apply liberally to strip of your choice}

{or just put straight on your face, so fun to peel!}

{or just put straight on your face, so fun to peel!}

{on a post-it}

{on a post-it}

{oh, so stylish}

{oh, so stylish}

Let us know if you come up with any variations that you like! Or if you somehow find a way to extract the funk. Happy peeling!

-Cristiana & Ashlee