Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Uses for Old Things

"If you have ever wondered how to grow vegetables in an apartment, build a chicken coop, homebrew beer, or make you own soap from scratch -- this book is for you.  The essential guide to becoming a producer instead of a consumer, Making It is full of simple, ingenius projects for your home, your garden, and even your fire escape."  -- from the back cover of this amazing book by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen who operate a "1/12 acre farm in the heart of Los Angeles."

I am loving this book!  It's full of natural alternatives to store-bought items.  Obviously, I'm still handicapped following my surgery, so I can't do any hard-core experimentation right now, but we've already tried out 3 alternatives with great results. 

1.  Dry shampoo -- If you haven't already discovered dry shampoo, you're really missing out, and I'm so glad to be the one to clue you in.  The idea behind dry shampoo is that it absorbs hair oils allowing you to go longer between washing.  If you know much about caring for hair, you know that washing (and drying) and heat styling your hair are some of the worst things you can do for it, so a dry shampoo allows you to do those things less often.  I usually buy my dry shampoo from Sally's for about $6 a can.  When my hair was blonde, I could get away with baby powder as an alternative, but now that I'm wearing my hair darker, baby powder leaves a grayish residue -- not a look I'm going for.  This book presents brunettes with a great option:  unsweetened cocoa powder!  Find it on the baking aisle.  I've tried it and am a believer.  I'm thinking I'll get a pepper shaker to put it in for easy application.
2. Zit cream.  I've become increasingly weirded out about putting creams on open sores on my body when the cream's packaging has a big warning label complete with the poison control hotline number to be dialed in case of ingestion.  Natural alternatives are preferable . . . as long as they really do work.  So, since I still have the problem skin of a teenager, I quickly had opportunity to try out honey as a zit cream.  True to the book's claim, when applied directly to the pimple before bedtime, I awoke to find the redness gone and the swelling reduced.  If you have long hair, you should probably tie your hair back before bed; otherwise you may find it matted with honey when you wake.  One cool advantage to using honey as a zit cream:  once you've applied, just lick your finger ;)  While that does sound kinda gross, it's nice to know that I could do that if I wanted to (it's probably best not to try it with my OXY 10). 

3.  Try olive oil as a shaving cream.  John tried this out last night and said it worked great.  Because the oil is natural, it doesn't clog pores and should be fine to use even on acne-prone skin.  Also, the lower-grade olive oil works just as well as extra virgin as long as it's 100% olive oil, so you can save a buck there.  The book suggested adding some scented essential oil to mask the smell of the olive oil if it bothers you.  I have an orange oil that I will probably try because it seems more masculine than the rose or lavender oil I usually use to scent my homemade cleaning supplies.  I haven't yet had opportunity to use this shaving cream because of my surgery.  I'm not supposed to bend at the waist at an angle less than 90 degreees, which means I'm not supposed to do things like put on my own shoes or shave my legs.  It means that I feel like the epitome of lazy when, like the other day, I dropped a hairbrush on the floor, looked at it lying there, shrugged my shoulders, and crutched away, leaving it just lying there (just like I would fuss at the girls for doing). 

Is your interest piqued?  Pick up a copy of the book.  These are just a few of the great ideas contained there!

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