Homemade Deodorant

The government does not regulate or test the ingredients that are found in personal care products. This means that deodorant, make-up, and hair product companies can put anything into their products, label it anything they want, and put it on the shelves for us to buy.

While it is impossible to avoid all chemicals and toxins in our modern society, there are small things I can do to prevent unhealthy amounts of exposure to things that are potentially harmful. No one knows if and how harmful they are because, like I said, they are not tested. I can go crazy thinking about these things–how they affect my health, my children’s health and the environment. I have tried over the last eight years or so to strike a healthy balance in the way that I think about eating and consuming responsibly. I’ve found that some areas are easier than others and that I need to be constantly checking my motives.

The truth of the matter is that in America we are allowed choices that most of the world does not have. Keeping that in mind, I am responsible to choose what is best for my family in the context that I live in.  Making my own deodorant in a very, very small way that I can reduce potentially harmful chemicals from my life and save money. It’s just that simple–I haven’t done enough research to try to convince you that Proctor and Gamble are trying to kill you. There are some who have. But the point of this is not to rebel against a corrupt system, because the very ingredients that I buy for my homemade deodorant come from the same system. The point is to encourage all of us to start with the small things that in the end, added up, will make a difference.

I found a recipe that I am so happy with–it is super simple and easy to make–and it works! You will sweat. This is not an antiperspirant. But you will not smell, have bacteria growing in your armpits or slowly accumulate aluminum in your pores!

Deo for you B.O.

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

4 TBS coconut oil

10 (or more) shakes of essential oil

-Mix together well, put in a small container, and refrigerate to set.

The ingredients listed can get somewhat expensive, but I have made four batches of this and still have plenty left. I think they will last me at least one year! I used grapefruit essential oil. You can use any scent you like, just make sure it blends with coconut. The scent is really mild and it wears off after putting it on. Let me know if you try it!

recipe via howaboutorange

Some People

Some people… Well, lots of people have something to say to me while I am grocery shopping.

I am often baffled by these comments and choose to believe that “it came out wrong”. Or maybe they lack a social tact filter that should be required upon entering public scenarios. I will share some of these comments with you, and maybe drop my filter for a minute and let you in on what sometimes goes through my head.

“You sure have your hands full!”

…Yes, creepy-single-guy, and so do you with your hair gel and light beer. I think technically I had my hands full when I had two kids, but who’s counting.

“You are a busy woman!”

…Being busy implies that there are times when my life is not like this. Grocery shopping is normal, sweet-middle-aged-woman-who-just-got-done-working-out, this IS my normal.

“Are they all yours?”

…This one baffles me the most. What is it? My kids’ hair color? My age? Listen, young-mom-with-one-toddler, you will quickly realize that no one picks up a couple of extra kids just to hit the market at five in the afternoon.

“Wow… Oh my…”

…It’s not a show. They’re just being kids, Ms. Employee-of-the-month.

And then there are all the gawkers. They don’t say anything, they just stare.

…Did someone leave the house without pants again?

And to be fair, there are plenty of “how cute” comments, but they are brief and in passing. I wonder what it’s like for my friends that REALLY have a lot of kids, like six or nine.

In reality, I smile and say “Sure do!” or  “Yes ma’am!” or something polite like that because I am trying to find the oatmeal in the baking aisle and one of my kids is filling my cart with chocolate chips. But sometimes, if I’m lucky, I will be stopped by someone who will say something to me like this:

“They are precious. Enjoy this time.”

“You are so blessed.”

“They grow up so fast. I’m so glad they are all with you.”

“You are brave.”

And my filters really do drop. As in, the filter that tells me not to shed a tear in public. Because nine times out of ten, these people are walking with a cane and filling prescriptions. They are the ones who have lived long enough to see the beauty in this picture. They are the ones who long for family and for noise and messy faces.

I always stop and talk to them. My kids talk to them. One of my boys will inevitably ask something embarrassing (why is your skin so wrinkly?) or I end up having to excuse myself to chase another down the aisle. They don’t mind. These people know that they are becoming increasingly dependent on someone else. And they smile because my children are a brief and loud reminder that someone they love once depended on them.

Surprising- part three

The story (part one) and more pictures (part two)!

I can’t say much about making this bed without mentioning how incredibly helpful my parents were. My dad is a Renaissance man- he’s a doctor, he’s a professor, he’s a sailor, an artist and a craftsman. He did not hesitate when I asked him to help me, he never does, and the hours we spent in the garage sweating and making the bed are a treasure to me. My mother’s selfless love and service for her family are my inspiration- she really does everything as “unto the Lord.” She helped watch the kids while my dad and I worked. She’s amazing and I’m sure you will read much about her here in the future.

I found the plans for the bed on knock-offwood.com. It is the Farmhouse King size bed. I printed out all the Farmhouse beds plans because there are tips and instructions applicable to the process in each plan. After purchasing the wood we got to work!

Everything came together easily- the only hiccups we had were my fault! Ana does a great job making things simple- my only advise is to cut your pieces to fit your particular bed as you need them, not according to the measurements given.

I sanded and primed the bed- the hardest part was waiting for the coats to dry! We used an electric sander and water-based primer. I think what gives the bed a more professional finish is sanding it between coats.

I painted the bed with antique white by Glidden in semi-gloss. I bought a gallon which is way too much! Although we hesitated about distressing the bed, I am so glad we did. We sanded all the edges and corners and applied a mocha glaze that wipes off.  This made the wood showing through darker and the whole bed warmer.

The entire project cost about $150- not bad considering this.

This bed is heavy and sturdy. It has the feel of an heirloom piece of furniture and I am confident it will last for generations! Of course as soon as we set it up a little someone who shall remain nameless added some pencil artwork to the footboard… and it wiped right off! I wanted to paint the walls too but I have to say I am really loving the simplicity and light!

Everything about this project was a delight- from working with my dad to seeing the expression on Neil’s face.

Bunkbeds next?

Surprising- part two

Our first house was a 1922 bungalow that needed quite a bit of work. Our second house was a 1940 bungalow and we didn’t live there long enough to do much to it.  With this last house came a lot more room and more kids that needed beds to sleep on and chairs to sit on.  I’m guessing that is the reason why we have never purchased a bed for us. Other things always seemed to take priority.

So when I found out Neil was going to be out of town for our anniversary I started planning.  I wanted to accomplish two things- I wanted a bed for us and I wanted our bedroom to be simple, light and peaceful.  I knew that Neil wanted those things too. With limited time and a limited budget, and lots of help from my mom and dad, I am so happy with the result and Neil was SO surprised!

He was even more surprised when I told him that my dad and I MADE the bed!

Tomorrow I will share how we made it, and details on the rest of the bedroom!

Surprising- part one

While Neil was out of town for the first time after we were married, a quilt that I ordered arrived in the mail.  Since he does not leave our family very often, I took the opportunity and rearranged our bedroom and surprised him when he got home.  This set a precedent and every time he has to go out of town I try to scheme something up.

Most memorable was the time I arranged to have the little cove under the stairs of the 900 square foot house we lived in finished out and made into an office for him. There was enough room in there for his desk and a bookshelf. So what if he couldn’t stand up straight… he had a place to call his own! Surprise!

I really enjoy decorating our house- as a frustrated artist that lacks time for any other outlet, it is a way of expressing my creativity. But why I love surprising him every chance I get… that I don’t know. Surprising Neil is hard. It’s like he knows what I’m thinking and can guess what I’m up to. But the element of surprise is not uncommon in our marriage.  For one, he loves to scare me.  Like, hides in the dark and laughs when I scream.  It’s great.  What’s even better is that our children do it now too.

But more than just the silly, after nine years of marriage I still wake up every morning with the feeling of surprise and wonder- that God blessed me with this man, that he still makes me laugh, that he loves me like he does.  Surprised because it is so much better than I expected.  And surprised because I know I don’t deserve it.

This past week we celebrated 9 years of marriage and– you guessed it, he was out of town…

Part two (with pictures!) tomorrow!

Bean Art

We spend a lot of time at my parents’ house.  They live about half an hour away and my entire family gathers there every Sunday after church.  We also visit during the week, especially in the summer to go swimming!

The kids love it- Mamu (my mom) cooks the best food, Tata (my dad) tells the best stories and Mom (me!) is usually a little more laid back about sweets and cartoons!

My mom always comes up with something crafty and creative for them to do, and we leave it out on the kitchen table for the kids to explore as they please.  Sometimes she gives them a little bit of direction and then lets them go for it.

Last week, they drew pictures, traced them with glue and placed different colored beans and lentils on top of the glue.

Antonella was very deliberate in the placement of the beans.  She carefully chose colors and sizes. Long after the boys had come and gone, she worked.

I love the bee buzzing around!

Sam created a Star Wars themed piece. He’s never seen Star Wars.

Jeremiah’s monster truck was re-visited several times to make the tires larger and larger.

And August… fed the beans to his horses.

I don’t trust him with the glue yet!

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)


When we read a book aloud to the kids, the story becomes part of our daily lives. We love to incorporate what we are reading about into our activities, meals, art and playtime. I’d like to keep track of the books here, but I will have to back track and  cover some of the favorites from the past year. Hopefully you’ll find a few ideas and some inspiration to enjoy literature!

Peter Pan has been by far my favorite book that we’ve read aloud to the kids. The story captured their thoughts and activities for months. They played pirates, they pretended they could fly, they drew mermaids and indians, and somehow seemed to realize how beautiful it is to be a child. The enchanting tale has all the ingredients for a delicious narrative- a witty hero, an endearing caretaker, a despicable villain, and a plot full of adventure and delight. The book is so beautifully written I struggled to choose one quote!

Jeremiah drew this picture. That’s Peter Pan on the left, the tree trunk house in the middle (with the bear skin rug for Peter’s door) and the lost boys on the right.

We pretended to eat a big feast, just like the Lost Boys do.

We made Peter Pan hats and daggers out of felt. You can see the hat here, but not too well. (Just felt, scissors and a hot glue gun!)

We bought Peter Pan peanut butter.

We found England on the map.

We learned where the name “Wendy” came from.

We played this game

We researched J.M. Barrie and learned the background of the story.

We learned the meaning of the words “lagoon,” “mortal,” “cod fish,” “sinister” and many more

We had six chapters left when the kids came down with a stomach bug and we had to spend a Saturday indoors. My husband challenged them to a reading marathon and told them they could watch the movie when we finished the book. Grant it, they were not feeling well, but those kids sat through the last six chapters of the book in one day! We celebrated with a gameshow-style quiz complete with trick questions, suspense, “lifelines” and lots of cheering.

We discussed many things from the book with the kids, especially the desire to never grow up. What started with the question of why Peter didn’t want to grow up developed into a discussion about responsibility,  maturity, and enjoying the seasons of life. And I think the kids learned, like Wendy,  that “never is an awfully long time!”

I came across this post about the importance of reading the classics to children and love the second quote in italics by Michael Clay Thompson, where he uses Peter Pan vocabulary as an example.

I have a feeling we will pull this one off the shelf again when August is old enough to sit and listen!

First Fruits

The people who lived in this house before us planted a fig tree. We were surprised the first summer we were here that it produced so many figs. I tried my hand at canning and experimented with strawberry-fig jam.            

This year, it is covered in fruit and I’m hoping to get to it before the birds do. The thing that I love about this tree is that, apart from reinforcing the trunk after our boys climbed on it too much… We haven’t done anything! It just grows and produces every year as if it was in a lush farm or exotic forest and not our mostly-barren-half-dead backyard.  It sits in the corner and does it’s thing without a second thought to the dying squash plant or scorching heat.  This tree tugs at my heart because my grandparents had a huge fig tree at their farm in Argentina.  It was so big that my cousins and I could build forts and castles underneath its branches and be protected from the sun and the boys in its canopy.  We spent hours under there and never once did I think about the fruit it gave us. It was simply an enchanting place to play.                                                                                              

Our fig tree is not quite that big yet. But just like we are enjoying the fruit of something that we did not plant or work for, I think that is true in my life.                                                                                                                                                                  

I am enjoying the fruit of my grandparent’s faithfulness and prayers.  They planted and pruned and watered and, as I hope to do for my children, trusted that the harvest would be worth it.  And because of their life, and my parents’ life, I know that it is worth it.  I know that Jesus is faithful and blesses generations. The harvest is everlasting and although flowers and trees wither and die, He endures.