Saturday, November 1, 2008

Using Your Kitchen to Keep You Beautiful

Cleopatra was known for her beauty as well as for her obsession to making herself beautiful. Modern manufacturers weren't around back then, so what did women use in the past to maintain and enhance their beauty that women today don't seem to know about?

There are some basics that you should learn when you are deciding on what you will try. Most of these ingredients are probably already in your kitchen and if they aren't, they are easily available. It is interesting to note that many of these exclusive spas are starting to go back to these natural ingredients. Take some time and experiment with the ingredients listed.

Just think of the money you can save and not leave the comfort of your own home. An added bonus is that you can do these any time - no special vacation needed!!


Helps to seal moisture in your skin.


A skin-clarifying herb

Tea Tree Oil

An antiseptic

Evening-primrose oil

Supports collagen synthesis with its gamma linoleic acid


Use it to add strength to damaged weakened hair. The high protein in the eggs will help to improve your hair's resilience and luster. Whisk 1 egg and 2 T coconut oil and 2 T sesame oil. Apply to dry hair. Wrap a hot, moist towel around your head and relax for 5 - 10 minutes. Wash, rinse and condition your hair as usual.


You can use walnuts to exfoliate your hands and feet. By blending shelled walnuts in a food processor they will be very gentle on your skin; it will also help the natural richness of the oil in the nut come out. Take 1/4 cup of walnuts, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 T of honey. Blend in food processor on a slow speed until well blended, but still somewhat "grainy". Work the mixture thoroughly over your skin for a couple of minutes then rinse with warm water.

Olive Oil

Olive oil helps add extra emollients to your skin and hair.
  • If you have dry skin, olive oil works wonders - just slather it on and massage it in (don't forget your elbows!).
    • If your hair is very dry, you might want to wash (or dampen) your hair with warm water, pour on olive oil and massage in your scalp. Place a plastic bag (like the kind you get your groceries packaged in) over your hair and tie the handles together so it doesn't slide off. If it is warm outside, go sit in the sun, close your eyes, and relax. Stay out as long as you wish. The heat from your head (and the sun) will help your hair follicles to absorb the moisture. When you are done, go shampoo your hair. Your hair will be smooth and silky!

    • Orange

      I live in Florida so oranges are easy to get all year. Oranges can be used to slough dry skin off heels, knees and elbows. The fruit acid loosens dead skin cells.

      Cut a fresh orange in half and squeeze the juice of half of it into a bowl. Add 1/4 C granulated sugar (I use dehydrated cane juice - it is what I already have in my kitchen but is also just a little more granular) and 1/4 C olive oil. Blend together.

      Rub the other half of the orange (cut side) over those extra dry areas of your skin (heels, elbows, etc.). Rub in the sugar mixture to slough off the dead skin. Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

      Not only does this work remarkably well, but it smells heavenly!


      My dad used to work for Quaker so we always had oatmeal in the house growing up.

      Oatmeal calms and softens your skin. It contains beta glucan, a soluble fiber that creates a thin, moisture-retaining film on the surface of your skin. This makes for a soothing and anti-inflammatory treatment. Who knew?

      Put a handful of rolled oats in a clean washcloth, using a rubber band to secure it. Immerse it in a sinkful of warm water and squeeze the bag 4 or 5 times. Once the water is cloudy, splash it on your face and then air dry (or pat-dry very gently).

      For a mask, make a paste from a little oatmeal and water. Apply to face and allow to dry. Gently wipe off with a damp wash cloth. A couple drops of peppermint to the water before you mix the paste adds a refreshing boost.

      Milk (whole milk or heavy cream is even better)

      Use it to sooth and soften dry, sensitive skin. The lactic acid in milk serves as a gentle skin exfoliant, while its natural fat content acts as a body moisturizer. If a sugar or salt scrub is too abrasive for your sensitive skin (or if you have eczema or psoriasis) this is a great alternative.

      Add 1 gallon to a tubful of warm water and soak. To make the soak even more relaxing, add 10 - 20 drops of lavender or your other favorite essential oil.

      Apple Cider Vinegar

      This can be used to fight breakouts. Teens aren't the only ones whose skin that gets blemishes. Stress can also make the situation worse. The high acid content makes skin inhospitable to blemish-causing bacteria.

      Place a handful of parsley in a bowl and cover it with 1/2 cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes. Take the back of a spoon (or the bottom of a glass) and "squish" the parsley. Let the mixture cool. Transfer to a spray bottle along with a splash of apple cider vinegar and 4 drops of tea tree oil, shake well, and spritz on your freshly cleansed face. Keep the spray bottle in the refrigerator.

      Avocado oil

      This can be used to repair dry, sensitive skin. Avocado oil's abundant fatty acids help balance skin's moisture levels, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E protect skin from further damage.
      Combine equal parts avocado oil and evening primrose oil in a sealable bottle and shake to blend. Massage 5 or 6 drops into clean skin, then cover your face with a warm washcloth for a minute to help the oils sink in.

      Make your own self-seal bag!

      Now I don't usually have things like chips in the house, but this is a great idea for sealing any bagged item - without a clip! What a simple idea. . .the best ones usually are!

      Saturday, October 18, 2008

      Living Frugally - One Day at a Time

      I was brought up to live frrugally. My father was a child during the Great Depression and his parents died when he was a teen. He moved out of the city (New York) to the midwest when he got married because he felt the country was a better place to bring up children.

      I have 2 younger brothers and a younger sister. All of us (although it is possible that my sister missed out on much of this since she was an ice skater and always at the rink) were expected to help out where needed. We were also expected to participate when dad gathered us together for some sort of "teaching moment". If a fuse blew out, "okay kids, time for a lesson about electricity". We learned about how to change the oil and spark plugs in a car, change the tractor equipment from mower to plow, cut down a tree, fire a gun, how to be successful at gardening, and a myriad of other things. He felt that if we learned many of these things as kids that they would become part of our common sense and would serve us well as adults.

      Fast forward. . .about five years ago I was convicted to quit my good-paying (with full health benefits) State of Florida job to stay home and homeschool my kids. Being a single parent, I knew that it wasn't going to be easy. I needed to make some lifestyle changes in order to make sure that my bills were paid. Since I no longer would have health insurance, I was also convicted about changing the way we ate. After all, I couldn't afford to get sick.

      The lessons learned as a kid were invaluable in this process. We had a 2 acre vegetable garden growing up (1 acre was sweet corn). In addition, we had grape vines, rhubarb, strawberries, and several fruit trees. We did a lot (yes - A LOT!) of canning and freezing of fruits and vegetables to last us through the winter. We made preserves (strawberry, strawberry/rhubarb, mulberry, blueberry, blackberry), pickles, sauces, and so much more. We were masters at shucking peas and ears of corn.

      Many of these skills I learned as a kid are becoming lost arts. I feel strongly that girls today should learn many of these skills. Not only are they good skills to learn, but will help them learn how to live frugally. Many of these skills should also serve them well when they get married and desire to be keepers of their home.

      My desire is that this will be a productive forum to share ideas so that more people can learn how to be thrifty and live frugally.