How to do an egg shampoo

Is it just me, or does that title sound a little pompous?  As if my way were the only way, or the best way.  Well, maybe it is, but you and I don’t know that for sure.  Maybe I should have said, “How I do an egg shampoo.”  But then it sounds as if I don’t know what I’m doing and that could damage my reputation because we all know that I know it all.

That’s why you read my blog, right?  So you can be more like me?  I’m just kidding.  I know the truth.  When you’re having a bad day, you know you can always pop over here and read about my own days gone awry.  Poop, vomit, car trouble, water woes, kids you want to flush down the toilet: whatever your problem du jour is, there’s a fair chance we’ve had it worse.  Then you’ll feel better.  You know it’s true.

Anyway, I wanted to give you an update on my shampoo-free adventure.  I still can’t bring myself to say no-poo with a straight face, but you knew what I meant.

Parker was born during my baking soda and vinegar period.  After he was born, my hair seemed to change.  It got more and more oily, and the baking soda – even when added to boiled water – just didn’t seem to get it as clean as it used to.  I experimented with the amount of vinegar in my rinse, but just couldn’t get my hair to feel the way I wanted.

I didn’t want to go back to my old hair: flaky all the time and visibly oily within 24 hours of shampooing.  I started shampooing again, but this time I used just a dab on the crown every 3 days or so.  My hair never really felt clean, but I never let it get too oily either.  It was a delicate balance and I wasn’t entirely satisfied but it was the best I could think of.

After a month or two, I remembered my egg shampoo and switched back to that.  Back when I was trying to get my scalp to adjust to life without shampoo, I had worried that using an egg shampoo would be a setback.  This time, I looked forward to the results.

An egg with a bit of vinegar every 3 days left my hair soft and clean and kept my scalp healthy.  The only downside was that it was difficult to rinse thoroughly enough, especially if you like your shower nice and hot like I do.  Invariably, I found bits of egg white left in my hair.  They combed out easily enough, but still it was a little unsettling to say the least.

I finally stumbled across  the answer to that little problems in an email forwarded by a friend.  It was one of those “how times have changed” emails, contrasting everyday life today with that of 100 years ago.  One item in the list: women used to wash their hair once a month with egg yolk and borax.

I’m not ready for once a month washing and I know nothing about borax so I’m not about to put it in my hair.  But egg yolk?  No white, just yolk?  As Homer Simpson used to say, “Doh!”  Maybe he still says it.  Homer and I parted ways years ago, though I can’t help but remember him with some fondness.

Egg shampoo may not be frugal if you have to buy your eggs, but the feathered members of our family are producing well so that’s not a problem here.  I love my hair now.  Here’s what I do every 3 or 4 days:

Egg shampoo

  1. Crack one or two eggs, separating the yolk(s) into a cup.  Save the white for baking, breakfast, or a deserving dog.
  2. Add 1-2 tsp. of vinegar or lemon juice.  Add a bit of water if desired for a thinner mixture.  Mix with a fork.
  3. Wet hair thoroughly.
  4. Work egg mixture into scalp, massaging gently and thoroughly with fingertips.
  5. Wait a minute or two for the egg yolk to “capture” the oils, then rinse completely.

You shouldn’t need additional conditioner, as the vinegar accomplishes this.  In fact, I have found that even in dry winter weather this leaves my hair better conditioned and less static-y than the high dollar shampoos/conditioners that some of my daughters insist on buying for their personal use.  I only snitch those when the girls leave them in the shower and I forgot to prepare my egg yolk.  It’s ok.  I don’t think they read my blog.

Giveaway: Homestead Drying Racks

We dried our laundry exclusively on racks for nearly 2 years.  When our washer died a few weeks ago, we bought a used pair from friends so we have an electric dryer again, but much to my children’s chagrin we seldom use it.

It costs a lot to use an electric dryer for a big family, so I have rules and a jar.

  1. Want to use the dryer just because you don’t feel like hanging a load of laundry on the rack?  Get approval and put 50 cents in the jar.
  2. Ask first with a good reason – a sweater prone to lint, or a cotton article of clothing that has stretched – and it might be free.
  3. Use the dryer without permission?  The fee doubles to $1.

When you use your drying rack as much as we do, it’s important to have one that fits your needs and stands up to daily use.  A good design can be the difference between a money-saving piece of equipment and just another guilt-inducing piece of clutter.

I think the Homestead Drying Racks fit that description.  These beautiful handcrafted hardwood drying racks, created by a homesteading family of 7, are made to last a lifetime.

Shipping and insurance is included in the price of all their products.  I love having shipping included on big items like this: you don’t have to wonder and calculate how shipping will affect the total cost, because you know exactly what your cost will be.

The Giveaway

Homestead Drying Racks would like to give one Life in a Shoe reader a free Pioneer Drying Rack valued at $85!

For your first entry, leave a comment telling why you need one of these racks.  You must do this to enter.

For up to 7 additional entries, do any or all of the following:

  1. Post about this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter.  Leave a separate comment here for each place you share.
  2. Share a link to Homestead Drying Racks on facebook and/or twitter.  Again, leave a separate comment for each.
  3. Subscribe to Life in a Shoe.
  4. Share your favorite Life in a Shoe post on facebook.  Which one is it?

We’ll take entries for one week then choose a random winner.

Giveaway: Apple Valley Natural Soap

Have you ever made your own soaps?  I know many people who have talked about it, dreamed about it, studied the process, or just wished they had the time, motivation, knowledge and supplies.  But how many people have actually done it?  Not me.

Apple Valley is a business run by a family that really does it.  You won’t believe the variety of natural soaps that they have available, and all are cured 6 weeks for a silky smooth, long-lasting product.

Learn more about the Klejwa family and their business on their blog, or watch the video created by their very talented 17yo son.

The winner of this giveaway will receive abeautiful, luxurious triple soap stack in the flavor(s) of their choice.

There are many ways to enter, so increase your chance of winning by doing as many as possible!

For your first entry, visit Apple Valley Natural Soap and check out the dizzying array of choices.  Personally, I have my eye on the lip balms.  Bet you didn’t know they had those. Leave a comment telling us your favorite.  You must enter this way first.

For additional entries, do any or all of the following.  Remember to come back here and leave a separate comment for each entry.

  1. Subscribe to the Apple Valley blog.
  2. Subscribe to the Apple Valley newsletter (instructions in the right sidebar of their blog).
  3. “Like” Apple Valley on Facebook.
  4. Follow Apple Valley on Twitter.
  5. Blog about this giveaway.  Please provide a link to your post.
  6. Place an order of any size.  The February special is that if you purchase $20 or more of products, you get a free sample sized bar ($1.95 value).   Receive $6 flat rate shipping, and help support a good cause: 10% of all profits in 2011 will go toward their local crisis pregnancy center.

We’ll take entries through Tuesday, February 8 and will announce the winner soon after.

OK, who’s giggling at how vague I am about exactly when I will announce the winner?  Be honest.  I have a thick skin.  I can handle your mockery.  I promise not to eliminate you from the drawing.

That’s why they call it chicken

You know the game Chicken, right?  Whoever swerves first is the loser.  I always assumed the game was named because the loser was lacking in courage, but maybe not.  Yesterday I found myself playing chicken…with a chicken…and my 4,000 lb. van swerved before she did.  Maybe the game is named Chicken because they’re good at it.

Or maybe I just have some very special chickens.  They’re determined – I’ll grant them that.  They do their chicken thing with zest.  While others complain that chickens don’t lay in the winter, ours never seem to notice sub-freezing weather.  [Light is the key: keep a fluorescent bulb burning in the coop all night.]

The books say that chickens may quit laying for up to 10 weeks while they molt, but ours never even put in a request for vacation time.  They kept right on laying while they molted.  [Plenty of protein: provide high protein lay pellets or mash on demand for quick molts with little or no disruption in laying.]

They do get a little pushy when it comes to food.  Leghorns are good layers and light eaters, but there’s a downside.  I had read that Leghorns are flighty, skittish and difficult to tame.  But now that we finally added Leghorns to our flock, we have more visitors than ever on the deck.  They politely squeeze past me on their way up the steps, and peek inside the front door to inquire if we’ve forgotten to send out the leftovers.  I think they’re even friendlier than the other breeds.  Maybe it’s because they know they’re not good eating.  Like the goose that lays the golden egg, if you kill a Leghorn you’ve got nuthin’.

I have learned one hard lesson.  Next time I’m getting the brown leghorns.  If you have hawks, foxes or dogs with insatiable instincts to chase livestock and/or carry birds (whose idea was it to own an Aussie and a Golden Retriever?!), a little natural camouflage is a good thing.  A white leghorn may as well have a bull’s eye painted on its back.

Cooking oil choices and questions

First of all, I have to say that I am impressed.  So many of you are a wealth of knowledge about cooking oils!  Thanks for all the input.   You’ve given me some new questions and plenty of (warning: bad pun ahead) food for thought.

Here’s a summary of what we’re doing and my new questions.  I hope you help answer some of them.

Butter:

We have never used margarine in our house.  It’s always been butter.  I’ll be using it more than ever in baking now.  That’s an easy change to make.  It will be more expensive than vegetable oil, but not prohibitively so.

Question: How concerned should we be about hormones in the butter?

grapeseed oil from costcoGrapeseed oil:

We’re experimenting with grapeseed oil in baking as well.  In spite of the greenish tinge, it hasn’t turned any baked goods green yet and we don’t notice a change in flavor at all.  It’s roughly the same price as butter right now at Costco.

Question: Are there any advantages to using grapeseed oil over butter?  Is grapeseed oil good for making mayo?

extra virgin and light olive oil from costcoOlive oil:

We’re also experimenting with olive oil.  I understand that it doesn’t respond well to high heat so we should use it primarily for uncooked purposes, and maybe for light sauteeing.  We have used it in cheesy garlic biscuits and plan to use it in pizza crust as well in spite of the fact that it doesn’t seem to be recommended for cooking.

Questions: What are the benefits of extra virgin?  Is it bad to use olive oil in baked goods, or just less than ideal?  Some say olive oil separates when used in mayo; are there tips to avoid that problem?

Coconut oil:

I have a small container of refined stuff from WalMart.  I plan to add a small spoonful to our morning green smoothies, but I’m always so groggy I forget.   I would also like to try it as a substitute for shortening, which we really don’t use often.

Questions: If I don’t buy unrefined, are all health benefits lost?  Does it become just another saturated fat, or is it still a better choice than most?

Shelf life:

I have no problem buying in bulk on two conditions: the price is right, and shelf life allows it.

Questions: What is the shelf life of coconut oil, both refined and unrefined?  What about olive oil?  Can we expect anything like a normal shelf life in our south Texas climate?

Cost Comparison:

I did a quick cost comparison to help wrap my mind around the options, and here’s what I found.  I’m assuming that 1 gallon = 7 pounds (not 8, like water).

The prices below are rounded to the nearest dollar, recorded to the best of my memory, and include shipping if the source is online.   If you live outside of Texas, you’ll probably find that your own cost varies significantly.

If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll probably find plenty to complain about in my list below.  If you’re just curious about quick ‘n’ dirty cost comparison in a general sort of way, read on.

  • Coconut oil (unrefined,5 gallons from Mountain Rose): $42/gallon
  • Olive oil, extra virgin (2L from Costco): $19/gallon
  • Butter (4 lbs. from Costco): $18/gallon
  • Olive oil, extra light (4L from Costco): $17/gallon
  • Grapeseed oil (2L from Costco): $13/gallon
  • Coconut oil (refined, 50 lbs. from Soaper’s Choice): $13/gallon
  • Vegetable/corn/canola/soybean oil (5L from Costco): $5/gallon

Have you found better prices than these, local or otherwise?  Remember to factor in shipping if you’re buying online.  If so, I would love to know your source!

Granola, homeschooler style

Now that the weather is warmer we’re beginning to crave cold cereal again.  It’s a summertime tradition in our house, and summer lasts a loooong time here in south Texas.

But we’re also eating much healthier and cheaper these days, and I find myself choking a bit even on the very cheapest prepared cereals.  Besides, they just don’t keep a person full.  We find ourselves needing a second breakfast an hour later, and there’s nothing cheap about eating the same meal twice.

And so I’m trying my hand again at granola.  In typical homeschooler style, I can’t just find and follow a recipe.  I have to find 10 recipes and study the proportions of oats to other dry ingredients, dry ingredients to moist, oil to sweetener, etc.  Then I combine them to suit our taste, budget, pantry and whims.

Here is the recipe for what is now in my oven, preserved here for either repetition or mockery, depending upon the results. update: The recipe was a hit.  The amounts below have been tweaked slightly to make it even more perfect.

Granola

  • 8 cups oats
  • 2 cups nuts (slivered almonds and/or walnuts are what we use because they’re cheap at Costco)
  • 3 cups add’l dry ingredients such as flax seed (the first flax seed I’ve ever owned, bought just for granola),  TVP (bought on a whim at the bulk food store because it’s cheap, high in protein and looks a lot like the sort of thing you’d expect to find in granola), raw wheat germ, or just more oats.
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 cup honey (do you really think I measured this?)
  • 1 cup oil and/or butter
  • raisins, coconut or other dried fruit if desired (add after cooking & cooling)

Stir together dry ingredients.  Heat honey and oil together and add to dry ingredients, stirring to combine thoroughly.

Divide onto 2 large cookie sheets and cook 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring once or twice.  Cool on sheets, add dried fruit if desired, and store in an airtight container.

What do you think, granola makers of the world?  Will it work?  Smells good, looks good, tasted good before it went in the oven…but my kids still remember our last homemade granola.  It was hard as a rock, and I have no clue what recipe I used.

Cloth diapers questions from the mailbag

Since we made the switch from disposable diapers to cloth last year, I’ve received a lot of questions from other cloth newbies and mothers considering cloth.

Since the mothers who ask these questions thought my answers might be helpful, I’ve decided to share my answers here too.  Feel free to jump in if you have anything to add to my cloth diaper q&a.

Good drying rack for diapers?

I read that you don’t use an electric dryer.  I have one, but would like to air dry my diapers to make them last (for more children, hopefully!).  Do you have a suggestion for a sturdy/large-enough-to-hold-a-couple-day’s-worth-of-diapers drying rack? The one I had before was your run-of-the-mill Wal-Mart variety that ended up breaking on me and didn’t always hold my entire load of diapers at once.

answer:

For a drying rack, I love my 2 racks from IKEA.  One is nearly 6 feet tall and holds 2-3 loads of laundry – I can’t seem to find it on their website but it’s called the Antonius clothes dryer, and costs $37.99.

They also have a smaller drying rack that holds about as much as the walmart variety you mentioned but seems to hold up much better. It’s $6.99.  You can get one similar to the smaller model at The Container Store for about $20.  I know, that’s a huge price difference, but the quality is better and you’re more likely to have one nearby.  Even at $20, I think it’s well worth it – it’s a great, simple design that folds down flat in one second flat so you can store it behind the sofa, etc.

How to store dirty diapers?

What do you use to store your diapers in before you wash them.  Have you ever heard of/researched the type of bag I referred to above…Planet Wise Wet/dry bag?  It is 16.5 x 27 inches, which seems large, but maybe I am nuts for thinking this will work for everyday use at home??

answer:

We store our dirty diapers in one of those diaper genie buckets, found at a yard sale for $2.  🙂  I pulled out the insides, so it’s just a bucket with a flip-top lid.   A trash can with a flip top lid would do nicely too.

Many people are very happy with wetbags, so that’s certainly an option, though I’ve only used our wetbags in the diaper bag.  Make sure you get one that seals well to keep both wetness and odor inside.  Most can be turned inside out and tossed in the washer when you wash diapers.

My sister uses a standard 5 gallon bucket with the lid set loosely on top so it’s not a struggle every time.

Whatever you use, make sure it has plenty of room to hold all your diapers between washings.  You’ll probably find that you change a bit more often with cloth diapers than disposables, so it may take a little more room than you expect.  It’s also  important not to pack the diapers too firmly between washes.  Ventilation keeps them from developing extra stink that can be hard to remove.

How to keep the stink away?

I do not want to bleach my diapers this time around, but I am worried that the stink will eventually overtake them.  I can hang them out in the sun for the first few months (baby’s due in July), but even here in northern Georgia – it gets too cold in the winter to be hanging the diapers out all the time.  Does Charlie’s Soap truly keep the stink away? I thought I read that you had to seek out other ways to deter it.  What tricks have you learned?

answer:

I did (and do) have problems with stink, but I blame our extremely hard water and our washer, which is definitely having issues.  If we prewash with cold, then wash twice in hot with just a bit of detergent, and if we wash every 2 days and don’t let the bucket get packed too full, we do alright.

Best diaper cover?

What diaper cover have you been most satisfied with (please don’t tell me about any that you’ve sewn yourself… remember – I’m not there yet! 🙂

answer:

Regarding my favorite diaper cover, I think Proraps are probably the best buy and most people prefer velcro to snaps, which is exactly what Proraps offer.  But honestly – we have trouble with velcro in our house.  I prefer anything with snaps.  The fit isn’t so infinitely adjustable, but it’s good enough for us and far more durable.

We started out with prefolds, snappies and Prorap covers. They worked very well for us aside from the fuzzies in the velcro, but since I’m pregnant and we always wind up with 2 in diapers, I decided to switch to Coolababy all-in-one pocket diapers from ebay.  They fit newborn through toddler so we won’t need 2 separate diaper stashes. There are certainly other nicer choices, but these are very affordable (especially if you buy 24 at a time) and very easy to use.

Got questions?  I’m no expert, but I’ll try to answer them.

Backyard Homestead for half price today!

Every day Vision Forum has a Deal Of The Day in the sidebar of their website.   Today it’s a good ‘un!

Back when Vision Forum first started carrying The Backyard Homestead, it was new to me.  I grabbed  a copy as soon as I saw it!  It’s packed full of very helpful info to help you make the most of your resources – even on a modest city lot.

It’s not just about gardening, although that is certainly included.  You will also learn about fruit trees and berries, and livestock appropriate for city or suburban settings, like chickens, rabbits, goats and even bees.

There are recipes for an easy homemade mozzarella-type cheese (I need to try that!), complete instructions for making yogurt, tips on growing sprouts,  bread recipes and more.

And…I think there’s more, but…we I can’t find my copy.  I think we accidentally sold my copy on our For Sale page…grrr…

Guess I should pick one up while it’s half price.

tip: although the deal of the day will disappear and be replaced by another deal, it might be available for another day.  Most seem to stay valid for 48 hours instead of just the 24 that you see it in the sidebar.

I have happy kefir

Our kefir grains have been growing and thriving in store-bought homogenized milk with absolutely no pampering.  I might not be able to keep a green plant alive, but my kefir grains love me.  We’ve been able to share with 4 people so far, and have enough to make a half gallon at a time now.

We’re making our half gallon about 3 times/week, but we got a little ahead of ourselves over the weekend.  Hubby and I forgot to drink it every morning and evening, and the kids forgot to drink it entirely.  We gave some to the chickens today because it was several days old and the flavor and consistency had changed – it was getting thin, yeasty and carbonated.

If you’re more experienced in kefir than I am, you know how foolish this was.

A little googling today taught me that kefir can be substituted for buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt in nearly any recipe.  I had heard this already and we’re not afraid to tinker with recipes (recipe? what’s a recipe?), but somehow it failed to sink in.

This means it can be used in bread dough (we make all our own bread), pancakes (we love pancakes), cornbread and other quick breads (we make quick breads all the time), banana smoothies (I have 2 or 3 gallons of ripe bananas in the freezer)…

Here are more recipes than I’ll ever try: Got Kefir?

If I ever pour kefir in the compost bucket again, somebody smack me.

Cloth diaper giveaway!

Thanks Mama is giving away 3 Kissaluv cloth diapering items on their blog!  There are 10 ways to enter so do as many as possible to really increase your odds of winning.

They’re also having a great sale on Thirsties, and shipping is always free on orders over $60.

I couldn’t help but notice that they also carry my favorite-ever baby carrier, the Ergo, at a competitive price. It’s not cheap, but so worth it! I love mine, and it’s so ergonomically well-designed that my skinny 8yo can adjust it to fit herself in seconds, and can carry the 35 lb. boy in it with ease. It’s truly amazing!

Too many temptations?  Use the code below to save 5% on your order and remember that orders over $60 get free shipping.  Be sure to tell them KimC sent you.

5% off promo code: mama