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uses

Thrifty

Thrifty Beauty – Twelve uses from two essential ingredients

18 March, 2013

Hot on the heels of The Guardian’s 50 best beauty products, I trot, bearing news of great frugal joy. You don’t need 50 products, and in fact, you needn’t spend more than £10 all up. For here are THE two essential ingredients, that individually and paired can be everything you need. It is a magical combination that will massively reduce your beauty/ health bill AND eliminate a whole load of toxins from your life. In the name of everything eco and thrifty let me introduce you to coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda.Thrifty beauty tricks

Now, I may well be the last person you should heed when it comes to beauty advice. When I first became aware of “beauty” as a “thing” age ten, I promptly shaved my eyebrows off to try and get involved. Then there was that time in my late teens when I had dreadlocks that I dyed so much that one day they just fell right out of my head. And then last week I spent a whole evening out with a bright red chilli tucked between my two front teeth (CHEERS for that, husband. Hehe.) However, when it comes to questioning those hoodwinky pharmaceuticals,  saving money and opting for natural alternatives – and getting away-  with it I am a WHIZZ.

Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal  as it contains lots of lush caprylic, lauric and myristic acids. Yet it is also deeply nourishing and moisturising. It is SO good that you can eat it by the spoonful, replacing other cooking oils with it.

Bicarbonate of soda is also antibacterial yet has a texture that means you can use it as an alternative to other exfoliating type products. Here are twelve ways I use the two, both solo and together.

Deodorant When I get out of the shower I just swipe a layer of coconut oil and then a dusting of bicarb under my armpits. If you want something less drying just swipe a little coconut oil under there instead. If you want to unleash the full power of both of them, mix them together and let it set in a bowl which you can then up turn to make a perfect deoderant like dome.

Exfoliater Once a week I dab my fingers into some bicarb and gently rub it over my face. It is a perfect scrub, not too harsh but leaves my skin looking fresh.

Moisturiser I don’t really use any products super regularly as I tend to think our bodies should be mostly left to do their thing, to regulate their own oils. But when my face feels a bit dry I simply rub coconut oil into my face at night time and by the morning it is rejuvenated!

Make Up Remover NOTHING swipes mascara from your eye bags like coconut oil! And it feels so nice!

Toothpaste  Mix equal parts of bicarb with coconut oil for a quick and super effective toothpaste. (Add a mint oil if you want it to taste nicer!)

Tooth Whitener And for a natural tooth whitener – I mean this GENUINELY works amazingly, getting rid of a tea stain I had taken for a keeper- simply rub bicarb on your teeth and hold an electric toothbrush onto the stain. I haven’t charged my electric toothbrush for yonks (even though it was my 2012 New Years Resolution) so i just used a flannel and it worked fairly well. Don’t do this regularly though. Just a big night out treat, okay?

Shampoo and Dry Shampoo You probably don’t know, as I really hardly EVER mention it (PAHAHAHA) but I have been shampoo free for about 15 months. Bicarb is my total go-to. Mixing a spoon of it in half a cup of water and pouring on my wet hair, leaving for 5 minutes and massaging out, makes my hair squeaky clean. In a running out the door- greasy head emergency (of which I don’t have too many anymore) a sprinkle on the scalp and a good brush through rivals spray on dry shampoo anyday.

Conditioner Every time I clean my hair with bicarb I run half a teaspoon of coconut oil through the ends as it dries. Since I have begun doing this my hair feels in brilliant condition. Ramona isn’t a big fan of hairbrushing so she often develops a dreadlock on the back of her head (what kind of mama allows this, eh?!)  I rub a bit of coconut oil through it, wait for an hour or so and brush it out easy peasy. It doesn’t even need to get wet.

Lip Care Coconut Oil makes a lush lip balm, and sometimes I use bicarb as a little lip scrub before putting the coconut oil on too. (I once tried to make a tinted lip balm with coconut oil and food colouring. It, er, doesn’t work, okay? It will just mess your face up.)

Thrush Buster Coconut oil is a great treatment for oral thrush, which is super common in breastfeeding babies – mum and nursee can pass it back and forth. We had it when Ramona was 10 months old and I just gave her a few small teaspoons of coconut oil a day, and used it on my nipples and it effectively killed of the bacteria. (You also need to do other things like cut out sugar and up the probiotics in your diet.)

Nipple relief and wound healer Remember those early, painful breastfeeding days? Coconut oil on the nipples is a complete winner. Because of all of its germ fighting and soothing properties it is great on cuts and scratches too.

Nappy cream Coconut Oil is the only thing we use when Ramona has a sore bum nowadays and we will rely on it with the newborn too. An IMMENSELY thrifty option for nappy rash cream. These are the ways that coconut oil and bicarb have become pretty much the only two essentials I have in my beauty box. But if you liked the sound of these than do check out the million other uses out there – this post by the awesome Hybrid Rasta Mama is epic! So yeah, dudes! Head over to Ethical Superstore and buy them both in bulk right away!

What are your thrifty beauty tips and tricks?

Craftiness, Thrifty

Ten new uses for old teacups

22 April, 2012

What IS it that is so tantalising about a vintage tea cup? Is it its daintiness, a fragility that makes you feel kind of feminine? Is it the beautifully detailed roses, or bright, retro colours?

The love of tea cups has gone pretty mainstream now. I am surprised they are not selling them in Oliver Bonas,  made in a ginormous factory, flown on to shelves, packaged up as “unique!” and “vintage-like!” and “shabby-chic!“, The Apprentice style.

I think this is why we love them so much – it is simply their antiquity. A tea cup evokes an old world, where ladies in beehives spun tales together. When you sip from a perfectly curved patterned rim you know your Nana and her generation dunked their digestives in it. You imagine a tea party, china clinking on china, neighbourly solidarity, rum slipped in, laughter cackling, biscuits crumbling.  Perhaps drinking from a proper old tea cup helps you see this new world through a lens of nostalgia, rose tinted tea-steam.

But still, despite all that history and all those memories, you won’t catch me paying more than a pound for one.

I love the vivid blue rose one most. Do blue roses even exist?

Because everyone loves a nice tea cup they can be tricky to find, but I have rescued these four (the four nearest the camera)  from various charity shop shelves in the last few weeks to add to my collection. Each one cost exactly £1.

They are sitting on a cute little wooden shelf thing we found on the street last week. I think I will paint it up with a bit of white, or maybe grey. The years have ravaged this old thing and keeping it as plain wood only emphasises it.

I always nab a tea cup when I see it so over the years have gathered a list of ideas for them other than tea drinking, some I have yet to do. Please do add to this list!

Ten Uses for Old Teacups

1– Feed the birds, tuppence a tea cup. How cute do they look in the garden? How much do you reckon those birds are enjoying getting their food out of a vintage tea cup? I have lazily stuck one of our ready made shop balls in one, and even more lazily just hung it on a hook on our back wall. But I suspect you are not half as lazy as me, so you could go all out and whip up your own feed to stick in there OR, as the excellent and thrifty Mrs Syder has done, get a giant tea cup and drill it on to a stick.

2– Plant bulbs in them. These look amazing—as you can see here. It is just a case of drilling a hole in  the bottom with a 10cm diamond coated drill bit and planting then nurturing your bulb.  *Looks around at all the dead plants in my wake* *Smile to myself knowing that readers of my blog can not know this*

If you are not hugely green fingered  – yes, it’s true- there ARE some people who kill plants, you might want to read this for more on that nurturing bit.

3– Serve desert in them. Have you ever baked a microwave mug cake? I can testify, we did it in a lunch break a couple of years ago, despite only taking 3 minutes they are delicious! Halving the recipe and doing it in tea cups would be Next Level and look totes marvellous. Mind you don’t use tea cups with gilt though, sparks will fly.

4– They make beautiful fairy lights. I have tried this as you can see below. I felt they didst look stunning. The light shone right through them in the most gorgeous way. String them up, knotting around the handles, securing in place with tape. Make sure they are at the right angle so that the flame reaches past the rim.

I do suggest you do this with caution.  They get really hot. Stringing up teacups of fire around a party is a bit risky.  I may not be the best model. I used to make candles with keys, leaves, flowers, random crap etc, melted  in them. Lovely looking they were. I made one for Tim as a gift while we were long distance fiancés and he lit it at dinner with his folks and all the family and right then and there it self combusted and  caught fire to the table.

5– So, perhaps the SAFER alternative, and this still looks beautiful, is to either melt wax and add a wick to make a permanent (but not swinging from the walls fairy lights styles) candle. If you are less keen for the permanence (personally that is me—this week I chipped out a candle from a beautiful vintage mug that someone had gifted me so I could use it for drinking) then just fill your teacups up with water and use floating candles. (Remember floating candles? So nineties! But, c’mon, they look The Biz.)

6– Use them for sorting. They have revolutionised my dressing table where they are now home to my bobby pins and jewelry. Ideal for tiny little craft extras like buttons. If I’d known organising could be so pretty I’d have done it yonks ago.

7- Keep your body scrub in it. A little while ago I posted the How To for my favourite body scrub with three kitchen ingredients. I now have said body scrub in a little tea cup in our bathroom. Sweetness alright. Hmmm, actually, this would make an EXCELLENT gift…

8- Speaking of gifts… Give as a gift!  Yaawwn! No really, stay with me.  It is what you put in it, and how you present it, that makes these extra special. Fill with sweets, or with little sewing bits and bobs, or make some cookie dough and put it in there. Put the saucer on top and tie a bow.

9-  Use them as vases, particularly for blossoms and berries, or full heads of roses. They look utterly delightful on the dining table and you don’t have to do the normal peer-over-huge-vase- meerkat-neck to talk to someone.

10- Hold a tea party in a surreal place. When I was a youthworker we took a whole bunch of young ‘uns dressed in their glad rags to Macdonalds but set up the tables with candles and fine dining wares.   It added a huge element of fun to a pretty basic burger and fries.  Always take your tea cups on your picnics in the park this summer, they will add the magic!

Soooo. Set fire to anything lately? Got a favourite tea cup use? All this talk of vintage tea cups making you feel nostalgic or just ill with twee-ity?

PS What a bummer it’d be if you missed a post of mine, eh? Follow through Facebook or Bloglovin or even just enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!

Green things, Thrifty

This post really is about Bicarbonate of Soda

19 January, 2012

Just a warning, this could be the most boring blog post you read for a while. Feel free to stop.

It is about Bicarbonate of Soda and not washing my hair.

It is an ode to Bicarbonate of Soda, to be specific. And a bit of info about how I have stopped washing my hair.

I know:  Worst. Post. Evs.

So, Bicarbonate of Soda. It is just so GREAT, this wizardly white powder that costs tiny pennies. I can’t get over it. It has slashed our cleaning budget and removed a host of toxins from the prying hands of our little tot. I buy it in bulk from Ethical Superstore (along with my coconut oil and apple cider vinegar) and use it for EVERYTHING!!!

For a few years now I have used it as deodorant – yup, dip your fingers in and dust it over your just showered pits and it keeps you dry and stink-free all day. And I am totally not a naturally, smells like roses kind of a girl. I have been trying out more natural deodorants for sometime, like the mineral crystal shizzle, but with no luck.

I have also begun using it for cleaning – sprinkle it’s antibacterial self around the mucky bits of your bathroom, mix with water and spray onto the surfaces of your kitchen.

I use it as a gentle face scrub.

I also, as of last week, use it instead of shampoo.

You see, I am weaning off shampoo. I am 10 days in and so far I only look like I have missed one shampoo wash. It is a little oily, but not stay-in-isolation- oily.

I read recently that women on average put over 500 chemicals into their bodies everyday just through their skin and healthcare regimes.  What the? This is madness! I am sure no one would do this knowingly. This is a rubbish fact for both women and the environment.

I also have a (maybe naive) conviction that, for the most part, our bodies were created to cope sufficiently on their own, and that too much interfering can mess with the body’s natural ability to do it’s thing.

Shampoo is a good example – we strip it of it’s natural oils every time we wash, so it goes on overdrive creating more oils, but then we have to wash it more, until we are on a once a day hair wash rhythm. Meanwhile we are also drying it out, putting random
chemicals on our scalp, and rinsing this chemical cocktail down the plug into the system again. Ramona shows this to be true- 15 months old and we’ve only shampooed her hair a handful of times. So although I use an organic shampoo I have still decided to try “no poo” out on my own locks. I did it once before, mostly out of curiosity, but my hair was cropped, it was summer and I didn’t have a job – it was okay to look a little, um, au natural. It lasted a couple of months and didn’t really revolutionise my hair care.

This time I have just begun back at work (first week back has been excellent, although I do miss Ramona  still) so need a certain hair standard and my hair is long, but I do have a few more tricks up my sleeve to do this effectively:

  • Bicarbonate of Soda – whenever it starts looking a bit needy just make a little paste up and put it on scalp, rinse and Ta-daaa!
  • Lots of “No-Poo” forum and websites for support and tips
  • A bristle brush – I am currently looking for one of these, do you have one? It helps distribute the oils. It means I have to start brushing my hair though, rather than back combing it. I am yet unclear as to how this will effect my quiff, long term. 🙂

Soooo.

There it is.

I will let you know how I get on, as I know you are particularly riveted by this most riveting of subjects!