Posts tagged handmade

How to Make Your Own Natural, Non Toxic Shampoos

Although most people are happy with the huge array of choices we have in our department stores and find that most commercial products work well for them, there are many of us who find hair care challenging and difficult. For me, it’s an allergy to fragrances and a sensitivity to chemical additives. If I use the wrong shampoo, my head itches, flakes, gets a rash and sometimes burns for long periods of time, even as long it might take me to wash the residue out with another shampoo. So my search for shampoo has become a real challenge. I just can’t use whatever my sister leaves in the shower. Mine has to be fragrance free, without dyes or chemicals and usually has to have organic ingredients. Same for my hair color. I have found a few products that work for both purposes, dyeing and washing, but they are expensive and I have to order them online. In the meantime, I have come up with a lot of homemade alternatives and most of them are really good.

In my next post, I will give recipes for making homemade rinses and conditioners. I am also working on an ebook about homemade hair dyes and the methods for using them. Here, in this post, I want to share some of my recipes for homemade shampoos. These are safe, non toxic, hypoallergenic, easy to make and to make adjustments to. You will see when you get started on the recipes and after you use this stuff, you may be inclined to give up the commercial chemical based products you’ve been using most of your life.

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Crafting with Gourds

Every year the harvest of Gourds begins in the fall and fills the groceries and natural food shops with fresh Squash, Cucumbers, Luffas and Melons. There are also the Calabash Squash, which is the most common Gourd. Luffas and Calabash Squash have to be harvested very young to be edible. If they are harvested after they have dried out, there is nothing to eat but their skins make fantastic containers, scrubbers and other tools. The Loofah or Plant Sponge is often used in sandal making and other crafts. You know it because you’ve seen in the bath section of the department store, where it’s sold as a body scrubber. Loofahs are also used to make the sponges you use in the kitchen and have been used in certain types of constuction.

The Calabash Squash is the one you are most familiar with when you think of Gourds. They are often called Bottle Gourds because the older, larger ones have been used as containers for generations. You are familiar with a form of Gourd use through the use of Pumpkins as decorations at Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are a form of Squash that has Gourd properties. You can scrape out the Pumpkin and eat the insides but use the thick skin as a container for candles and you can carve it out in designs, the most popular being a face. This is a form of Gourding.

However, in short time, your Pumpkin wilts and shrinks and collapses and ends up in the trash. You cannot get a long lasting decorative collectible this way. So I suggest sticking with the hard, inedible, bitter Melons and Squashs that are referred to as “Ornamental Gourds”. These are a distinctively different variety than the edible Squash you see in the stores and they are never edible. They are purely for ornamental use. You will find them in the grocery stores, in the vegetable stands, in the craft shops and health food stores during the fall and winter season. They are there right now. So read this article and get an idea of what kind of Gourd you want to use for what project and then scoot on out and get it. You will be amazed at how fun this is and you will end up doing every year from now on.

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Natural Safe Ways to Freshen the Air

The smells inside our caves can get pretty rank, even if we’re really clean and neat. I am constantly cleaning myself and the trash alone makes the living room smell like a dumpster. And then there’s the cat boxes in the bedrooms, the left over lingering odor from several cooked meals a day, the smelly shoes that my sister loves to leave all over the place.. etc.. You get the picture. You know it in your own home. The temptation to grab the Lysol or the Febreze is almost overwhelming. I am guilty of this, too. When the cats make a mess or my father spills his coffee, I reach for a can. The couch actually smells like a Febreze factory. But I am a hypocrite because I am a believer and a promoter of natural living and this is a far cry from natural. Chemical fragrances are dangerous. I have already done a post on that and you can read it HERE. So why would I use them? Oh, they are convenient and I am so busy. It is much faster to grab a can and spray than it is to devise another solution at the moment. But it really isn’t all that hard to fix this problem and I am going to start doing it this weekend.

In the past, I have also turned to candles and incense. This has been a time honored international tradition that we borrowed from the Middle East and Asia. But it’s a dangerous one. The smoke from these burning scents are dangerous for our lungs, sinuses and overall health. I discovered my chronic sinus problems at the time were caused by the smoke from the incense I loved so much. So I just don’t recommend Incense. Candles have been proven to cause cancer in much the same way cigarettes do. It is not a good idea to stand around burning candles or to suck in the fragrance from a burning candle, no matter how lovely that fragrance is. So I am not going to recommend using candles or incense to solve odor problems.

But I do I have some great ideas for odor control. Some require recipes while others require a simple change of habit. Some of the things we get used to doing day after day make the matter worse. I, myself, get into habits and patterns that I am reluctant to change because I think it’s going to be hard or tiring or take up too much time. Don’t wait until you are sweating over the broom or the vacuum before thinking about making a change. Get started while you are sitting around or planning your day. The most important part of any change is making the mental note and the decision to do it. We gear up for change, toy with it in our minds, work up the energy and determination needed for it. But the decision to start is a big step. Once you focus yourself on the change needed, you will eventually find yourself just doing it. So let’s get started today!

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Easy Spring and Summer Flower Projects

Isn’t it just wonderful that Spring has finally arrived? If you are in a part of the country where Spring is taking it’s time, you will just have to get an early start on the melt! There is nothing more cheery and lovely about Spring and Summer than flowers. April brings the rains and May brings the flowers, or so goes the rhyme. There will be blooms everywhere, if not today then very soon. And those blooms need to be captured and made use of; don’t leave them to rot on the ground! I have great simple and cheap ideas for decorating your home with flowers for Spring and Summer. Bright yellows, blues, greens and whites. Lovely brash, happy colors to make your home just glow with cheery sunlight.

Be prepared for some very simple ideas and projects. These could actually cost you very little or even nothing at all if you have old containers in your home that are packed away and flowers growing in the garden outside. Otherwise, you can get containers and other items at the flea market or thrift store and pick flowers in the neighbor’s garden (with permission, of course!). So get out the floral supplies from last year and clear the winter decorations from the table.. you are about to make some great decorations that will help you welcome Spring with open arms.

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Handmade Egg Basket Easter Decoration

Full of spring flowers, bursting with bright colors and stuffed into a beautiful, big handwoven wicker egg basket! This is the consummate table decoration for Easter. It is also a big project so you should get started right away to have it ready for the big Sunday events at your home. The basket decoration is not hard to make in and of itself, it’s the expedition you will embark on first that takes the time and money. You will have to locate the precious flowers and plants that go into making this gorgeous creation. I have not included a picture of the final product because the true product will depend on you. I made one for myself following this recipe and found that it looked nothing like the original I had seen. You should not compare your project with anyone else’s because whatever you come up with will be fine. It will be yours.

The heart of this project are the beautiful flowers you will use in making it. Many can be found in the grocery store or florist and used fresh. Others will have to be used dried and are found at craft stores. Some will grow wild in your area and you can just go out and pick them. Perhaps you have flowers in your garden. If you have trouble finding one specific kind on the list, feel free to substitute to your liking. I have included vivid photos of the flowers that are called for in the ingredients list and a photo of the type of egg basket I used. You are free to use any kind you feel like using. I did not use the same type of basket that the original designer of this arrangement used. If you would like to see the original basket by the designer, you can find it in the book, Nature Crafts and you can see it and buy it HERE.

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Natural Cleaning for Spring

If you are like me, you are looking forward to Spring for the new blooming flowers, the heated sunshine, the wildlife emerging from their long hibernation and open windows ushering in fresh air. But when I open our windows I see dust flying. When the sunshine comes pouring in I see the dirt bunnies and the crumb stashes in the dark places. A lot of this stuff is leftover from the holidays! Boy does that sofa have some body oil stains on the arms! And I cannot believe there are old potato chips behind the entertainment center. All winter long our home is like a dark cave. Now the sunshine is revealing way too many blemishes and I am not looking forward to cleaning.

One of things I hate about spring cleaning is the cost of the new supplies. Floor cleaners, furniture wax, rug shampoo, upholstery cleaner, bathtub scrub, window wash and air fresheners! Not only does this stuff put a huge dent in my wallet but it ends up adding tons of chemicals to our home environment. I hate the residue. I have to wipe the furniture down every time I walk past it just because I can see that oily sheen. This year I am passing on air fresheners altogether. The effect is only temporary while the lingering spray ends up all over the house, on surfaces. And it makes me sneeze. So this year I am trying some new ideas. I thought I’d share them with you. Here are some great recipes for natural cleaning alternatives. Some of them will save you money, some won’t. But all of them will help detox your home after the long winter has passed.

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Natural Homemade Valentines Gifts

Valentines Day is just around the corner and that special someone in your life is expecting something special. Can you afford to go out and buy them something sparkly and gold? Have you already bought them something like this and now it’s time for something different? Have you ever considered giving them something you created yourself, as a special gift that takes thought and consideration? Is your special someone who would enjoy something special like this? If so, then consider making something sweet, lovely, warm and creative that will leave them with something they can use all year and perhaps think of you every time they do.

Most of these projects are very simple and require very few ingredients. The ingredients they do require are easy to find for the most part and where they aren’t, I either provide links or good leads on where to find them. Overall, I truly believe that making these items yourself not only saves you money but it also stimulates your creativity and craftiness. Once you see how nice the items are that you can make, you may be motivated to keep going. Natural products are safe, holistic, organic, cheaper, funner and more full of love! Only the most jaded lover or partner would reject these thoughtful, loving gifts because they weren’t made in China or came from Walmart! Remember the days when we used to be able to buy local, handmade arts and crafts that cost a bit more but had truly lasting value and were usually made here in the good old U.S.A? Well, it’s up to use to rekindle that kind of quality product. Give it a try. Who knows maybe you’ll be so good at it you’ll end up selling your product to your neighbors! At the very least, you will have given someone you love the ultimate expression of love: something you took the time and energy to make, just for them! Happy Valentines Day!

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