A Life Focused On Essentials!! – Lemons & Hair Care.

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As I declutter our home from all the plastic containers and packages, most of my products for household cleaning and personal hygiene were substituted by more natural options, like Dr. Bronner’s Soap Bar. … including Hair Care!

Whenever you use Soap Bar for your hair, its advised that after you should rinse your hair with a DIY diluted vinegar rinse as “conditioner”. I tried to use lemons instead of vinegar, and I loved it!

The combinations of Dr. Bronner’s Soap and my DIY Lemon Conditioner made such a difference in my hair since day one! My hair never felt better! … Silky and more manageable. I now don’t even need to wash my hair everyday and even so it looks and feels much better than before.

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Instructions

With a hammer and a nail I punctured a mason jar cap…  squeeze half of a lemon in a 1 1/2 cup mason jar and fill the rest of the jar with water. Add 1 or 2 drops of Lavender Essential Oils. Shake and use.

Make sure you rinse well and completely your hair after lathering with Dr. Bronner’s Soap Bar and before you use the Lemon Rinse.

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This is how my Bath/Shower products are organized now. As simple as that!!

And as my home shelves and cabinets change, I notice I’m changing too. My brain  is changing in the way I process, organize and prioritize my thoughts about every aspect of my life.

In my Pursue of a home with less waste, I’m finding a life more focused on essentials… Freeing myself from all the irrelevant weights we put upon ourselves.

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(Curious about how my kitchen sink looks like? … check Back in Harmony… All-One!)

“Go Green”… in Gold and Pink.

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Trying to be more mindful with the foods we consume and the garbage/waste we produce becomes more difficult if you are not living on your own.

A smooth transition to a “greener” life when you are married to a 50-year-old and are a mother of a pre-teen 11-year-old… it’s challenging! But it is also even more important! I am not just changing my habits… I have to give tools to my husband to change his habits… I have to be an example to my daughter.

My daughter always likes to carry around a “fancy” plastic water bottle. She carries it to the computer desk, to her side table in the bedroom, to her school in the lunch box. But It broke beyond repair!! “Buy a new one” would’ve been our old habit. But let’s try something new.

Do you recognize that glass bottle?

It used to be a small Heinz Vinegar glass bottle. It fits perfectly in Amber’s lunch box…  it fits perfectly in her hand… and glass makes everything taste better. She really, really likes it, and is proud to carry it around and to school.

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Amber moved to a new school two weeks ago… some notebooks from the old school could still be used, but we needed to buy a few more new notebooks. Amber’s old habits would make her choose notebooks with plastic hard covers, and golden/silver metallic spirals…but not this time. She has chosen completely biodegradable notebooks… and was proud of it.

🙂

A Feast for the Senses

Some days I feel I’m the luckiest person on Earth. I have many “little” reasons why I’m reminded frequently of how fortunate I am…today I was reminded by my Lilac Tree.

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I can’t think of a better way to spend my morning  in a Spring day like today than to go pick some Lilac flowers in my garden.

The blue ski, the birds chirping, the Spring breeze spreading waves of Lilac aroma… No better way!!! None!!! Awwww… look what I found! I can’t think of a better tree to build a nest on than a Lilac Tree! None, if I was a bird. No thoughts of fear or Danger! are possible when inhaling an aroma like this.

I decided to attempt doing some homemade Lilac Essential Oils… I’m using two different processes: oil and alcohol.

Homemade essential oils can not be used for therapeutic means… but it is great for anything else. I’m planning to use mine in making  homemade products for household cleaning and personal hygiene.

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I will have to wait one week to find out if I succeeded… but no result will diminish the pleasure of attempting it… it was a “Feast for the Senses”!

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And while I wait for the results, I’ll keep enjoying my Lilac flowers… in the garden and in the house…

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How lucky am I? ….None luckier than me. 😉

A Different Turn in Everyday’s Path

My Wanderlust desire is fulfilled with simple everyday things…

… Like taking a “right turn” instead of a left in the road traveled everyday.

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…Or just to step inside a place I have daily only driven by.

 

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My Neighborhood’s Craft Store

 

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My Neighborhood’s Craft Store

 

…Even doing the same “old” things, but in a much different way, or different season.

Wanderlust is not defined by the distance. It is the desire of living new experiences…and that can be found everyday right were you stand now.

Back in Harmony… All-One!

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As I proceed with my learnings and efforts in a more mindful approach to food consumption and garbage production, obviously I started to feel restless  and in conflict with my self when shopping for personal/household cleaning products. I initially planned to tackle new “Personal Hygiene” and “Household Cleaning” routines at a later stage of the process/transformation (to avoid feeling overwhelmed with so many new routines)… But, to find Harmony with my self again, I had to adapt sooner than later!!!

Therefor, our family is now using a bar of “Dr. Bronner’s All-One Pure Castile Soap” for personal hygiene. Our collection of bottles and containers in the bathroom is reduced to one (1) bar… for hands, and body, and hair, and shaving. That’s it! I won’t even waste your time describing the amount of plastic containers that used to live in my porcelain tub before…

I am also using bar “Dr. Bronner’s All-One Pure Castile Soap” for household cleaning… Not the liquid version suggested by the company for household cleaning! I don’t want to acquire  more plastic containers! I was Avid and almost fearful to give it a try at washing dishes. But, OH WHAT A SURPRISE…!!

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Filled the sink with warm water and dunk the soap bar for a couple of seconds… removed soap and started washing dishes and setting aside to be rinsed and stacked on the dish rack drainer (or just rub the bar in the damp face-cloth and start scrubbing and rinsing your dishes). All was sparkly squeaky clean! No odor or taste, no film or fogginess…! It’s marvelous!!!

***

This is how my kitchen sink looks now…

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We also ditched, almost a year ago, the sponges and plastic puffs for scrubbing and  lathering for personal hygiene and with household cleaning. We now use many, many, face-clothes designated to different tasks, that are used and washed and used again, infinite times.

I can breathe better now… Peace again!

The yellow soap in the picture…?? That’s my “Fels-Naptha” laundry soap.  Yes, I also removed the plastic containers out of our laundry routine… but that is material for another post, another day….

Have a marvelous week!!

Debora

The Evolution of Recipes – Heinz Chili Sauce

There is no such thing as a “small step” when you are transforming old habits…every decision you make and step you take will ripple many times over again and cause waves of more changes. …Just give it some time.

We went from everything being homemade… to everything being store-bought in jar, or can, or dry-mix version… to now everyone trying to get the most faithful recipe of the store-bought version of everything! …to be once again homemade, free of preservatives and unrecognizable ingredients.

What’s next on the evolution of recipes?? I don’t know… but by the title of my post, and if you have been following my blog, you must have guessed that I ran out of Heinz Chili Sauce!! You guessed it!!

In my efforts of losing weight, I’ve been relying on small portions of beans and chickpeas in my meals to keep me feeling full and better equipped to avoid the temptations of snacking on the wrong stuff.

My Chili Beans recipe is in my every other weekly rotation of meals… a tiny mason jar of it in my lunch box will keep me satisfied,  and hunger-free,  an entire very busy workday.

But my fastest and favorite Chili Beans recipe requires the Heinz Chili Sauce. Well, until I found out I already have home everything needed for a copycat version. I tried it today and… it is EXACTLY the same flavor!!

No preservatives… no unrecognizable list of  ingredients… no more jars or packages.

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Also, my Chili Beans recipe used to be cooked on the stove and use already cooked canned beans. But because I’m now reducing as much as possible the amount of garbage my household produces, I removed canned beans from our pantry and I’m buying bulk dry beans instead ( The Bag Lady… It takes courage. ). So now, even my simplest Chili Beans recipe undertook a complete makeover!

There is no such thing as a “small step” when you are transforming old habits…every decision you make and step you take will ripple many times over again and cause waves of more changes. …Just give it some time.

So my Chili Beans recipe still is mighty tasty, Spiked with lots of spices and flavors. Still is effortless, but now is cooked over night in a slow cooker.

Here’s how it goes…

Chili Beans

Ingredients:

– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

– 2 lbs  ground beef

– 2 cups dry red kidney beans

– 6 cups of water

– 1/2 cup of wine

– 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

– Heinz Chili Sauce ingredients in picture above (no need to simmer…just add to the recipe list of ingredients, with the exception of the water)

Instructions:

Add oil and onion to a Frying pan and cook the onion until soften. Add the pepper flakes and stir. Add the beef and cook, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown.

In a slow cooker add the dry beans,  water,  cooked beef, wine, cinnamon, and the ingredients in the Heinz Chili Sauce.

Cook in slow for 6 to 8 hours. Taste and add salt if needed.

It’s ready to be packed in my lunch box!!!

With Love, Debora.

I worked yesterday, and today… and will be working tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow… and besides all that, a lot has happened in the last week…

But you can’t really skip a holiday!… and there is no point in complaining and feeling Cranky about the lack of time and the succession of events that need your immediate attention all the time.

So today after work I raced home  before the rain and in time to pick up some flowers from our garden… my daughter colored the eggs… and I prepared ahead some dishes for tomorrow’s simple Easter dinner that I will be serving to my family when I return from work. It is now 11.43 pm and I just finished!   I’m proud! …every dish is ready for its final touch tomorrow… dessert is ready… the table is set… And I’m even taking a few minutes to wish all of you  “A Very Happy Easter”!!

With love,

Debora

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Homemade Mayonnaise

 

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As promised, here is the recipe for  the Homemade Mayonnaise.

Take this Base Recipe as a blank canvas… when you achieve the creamy luxurious consistency, your mayonnaise is done and it’s delicious! …but you can add so much more personality to it at this point.

In the picture above, the olive oil I used was very bitter, and therefore I added to the final result 1/2 tsp of sugar (I could’ve used raw honey… next time I’ll give it a try)… also 1 tsp of Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard, and 1 tsp of lemon juice, just because it goes so well with fish. It was divine!! My husband, that usually dislikes everything with store-bought mayonnaise in it, absolutely loves this kind.

And honestly, it takes less than 2 minutes to whip it up. Why pay for the store-bought kind filled with “God-knows-what”?

More pictures on this luxurious Mayonnaise – Pain and Small Victories

Pain and Small Victories

It was one hard week!

 …Between many hours in the job… dealing with my daughter’s school struggles and visiting (with a heavy heart) possible new schools for her… the unexpected death of my dearest patient (my sweet Rita…) … and the never stopping rain and glooming skies, once in a while brightened by thunders and lightning… It was a very bad week!

In weeks like these it’s easy to fall into the temptation of giving up on things or slaking on the goals you’ve been working on.

Many times I felt like ignoring my low-carb diet and dunk my face in a pile of pancakes… other times I felt the need to make things easier on myself by going ahead and buying processed foods or food options that were packed with plastic…

BUT…and because I had done some planning and prepping in the previous week, I was able to keep myself in track, taking breaks here and there to shed privately some tears.

Felling overwhelmed I still kept my food shopping free of plastic bags/packages. I even drove to a small farm to buy some beautiful eggs. Look at their colors! With beautiful pastel greens like these, I don’t thing we need to color eggs for Easter this year.  😉

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 Made some more butter…

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And because we ran out of Hellmann’s mayonnaise I made some homemade mayonnaise with one of the farm’s eggs.

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We also ran out of paper napkins, so I made with leftover fabric our own fabric napkins.

It was a very hard week but, my goal of a more mindful approach to food consumption and garbage production in our household was kept on track… and so was my diet.

***

Today is Friday. It still rains and the sky is still grey…but Time is a good friend. Time softens the edges, it Heals the pain… everything feels much better today:

…My sweet daughter found her “big girl’s voice” and defended herself from her class “frenemies”… I reached my goal weight of 120 pounds… And I’m having this weekend off and will start it celebrating by eating some bread… like this!

A fish sandwich! Cod Fish my husband caught in Cape Cod. I haven’t had any kind of bread in so long!! – Beer Battered Cod Fish Sandwich with Homemade mayonnaise. …It’s the little things!

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After a week like this I really deserve  “a pat on the back”… I’m putting on some pajamas and enjoying this sandwich in bed, alone, while watching the news of the world.

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Tomorrow I’ll go back to my diet… Tomorrow I’ll also share the recipe for the homemade mayonnaise and instructions for the napkins. But for today… it’s Good Night and Happy Weekend!

Homemade mayonnaise recipe next – Homemade Mayonnaise

Rainy Weekend – “Cook Up a Storm!”

Being a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) full-time at a Nursing Center, I work every other weekend. Lately during my weekends off  I’ve been visiting Winter Farmers Markets around my area… learning what they offer in Winter months (?), which markets offers more varieties (?)…

I’m realizing that if I want to make my food shopping mostly local and as healthy as possible, I will have to purchase from the farms during the Summer months and learn ways to efficiently store it for the Winter/Spring. Winter Markets’ vegetables choices in my area are VERY reduced and extremely expensive.  But I’m enjoying this learning process and making the most out of my wintery trips to the Farms and their Markets.

It has been an adventure to travel and find their creative “shelters” for the winter months. This weekend’s Farmers Market was in a Vineyard – Newport Vineyards. How wonderful!!!   http://www.newportvineyards.com/

The property is gorgeous and the building is outstanding, tasteful and vibrant with families and different events spread out through the entire location.

I followed the “Farmers Market” chalk signs through halls of cathedral wood ceilings. The live acoustic guitar sounds became louder and louder until I found the crowd of families carrying canvas bags… The market!

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I walked the corridor of several Farmers’ Stands nestled between very large and very high columns of Wine Steel Barrels and in front of  huge walls covered by Wine Wood Barrels. It took me a while to get over the surprise and beauty of this location and focus on what products where available at each farmers exhibit.

The products were of great quality and variety, but the vegetable choices were of only mushrooms, spinach, parsnip and pea sprouts. Well, beside some grass-fed and free-range meats and eggs, I also got some spinach and decided to try for the first time parsnip and pea sprouts.

At Saturday night I prepared some milk for my homemade fresh cheese and left it during the night setting in its cheese containers.

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Sunday morning the fresh cheese was ready. Another rainy day! Rainy weekends make me want to “cook up a storm”!!!

When I started to cook the usual Sunday’s brunch of pancakes, bacon and eggs for my daughter, I adventured myself by preparing something more healthy and gourmet for me and my husband (my daughter would never give this dish a try…I’m still waiting for her “picky-eater” habits to mature).

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I cooked hash brown with the parsnip, sweet potatoes, onions and bacon… and a sunny-side-up fried egg on top of it. Seasoned the pea sprouts with a homemade vinaigrette and some pieces of the homemade fresh cheese.

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Oh, the sweetness of the root vegetables with the salty bacon, the crunchy bitter salad with the velvety fresh cheese, and the warm runny egg yolk… the perfect Symbiosis of tastes and textures. It was divine!

 

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Now off I go to cook some dinner – Finish the butternut squash soup,  roast the “free-range/hormone-free” chicken I bought at the market, make some stuffing, and roast  carrots, parsnip and brussels sprouts. It’s almost dinner time.