This time of year, when the days turn cooler and the leaves have all fallen, my husband begins to hint that Russian Tea time is coming. I have no idea how this concoction got its name but it does seem to be a 'southern thing'...and my husband loves it! In all my travels around the world, no one who lives outside the southern US seems to have the foggiest what I'm referring to when I mention Russian Tea.
The Soviet Union does in fact drink their tea with additions such as sugar, lemon and even jam and candies but this recipe didn't likely originate in Russia. According to research, the earliest recorded instance of the recipe for this drink was in a 1925 American Cookbook.
There seems to be two different varieties of Russian Tea steeping in the recipe boxes of southern households. My mother always made the instant variety made with Tang Instant Breakfast Drink and instant tea and spices. My husband's mother always made the liquid, one pot variety using orange juice, pineapple juice and spices that are heated on the stove to somewhat 'mull' them. She only makes it on Christmas Day. I'm usually the natural approach girl when it comes to cooking but in this case, I like my mother's version best because the instant can be made ahead, stores well and lasts longer...therefore, can be enjoyed every few nights all through the winter. We just put the kettle on, add a few teaspoons to a cup of boiling water and we are enjoying a festive hot drink anytime the fancy strikes us.
Several have asked me to post this recipe after enjoying a cup of my Russian Tea this past week. I must confess that I cannot leave a recipe alone if I see opportunity to tweak it. When Lipton came out with Decaf Diet Instant Tea, I adjusted Mom's recipe a bit to accommodate. If you have a slightly different recipe, I'd love to hear from you!
Instant Russian Tea
1 - 20oz container of Tang Instant Breakfast Drink
2 cups instant pre-sweetened tea with lemon (I use Decaf Diet Lipton) (or) you can use 1 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup of instant unsweetened tea.
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp of ground cloves
Mix all ingredients together till blended and store in air tight container.
Add 4 tsp. mixture to one cup of hot water for a delicious seasonal drink.
grace and peace,
A melody of color
Crab Apples after the rain
A Sunburst of leaves
Dancing flames licking at the sky
Canopy of autumn color
Black-eyed Susan's last stand
A garland of maple front and center will soon give way to the deep green holly of winter's landscape
grace and peace,
Another favorite here at Grace House is my homemade French Onion soup. It's great when we want something warm and hearty but not heavy. It's a great lunch soup with sandwiches or an evening soup when something light but filling is needed to end the day.
I remember sitting in my friend's kitchen in Europe years ago when we lived there, and while she made this soup for dinner one evening I thought, "Just onions? That's all?" But the flavor grew on me! Then my mother took me to lunch on one of my trips home to the mountains of North Carolina and we ate at a place called the Red Onion. She said I couldn't eat at this restaurant and not try their French Onion soup. It was amazing and I was hooked! I went home to try my hand at making it myself!
Now, when I make this delicious soup, I never say, "Just onions?" I say, "How simple!"
5 ingredients are all that's needed...
for a wonderful, simple, delicious and inexpensive Old World favorite!
French Onion Soup
2 - 3 Medium Onions (I used Vidalias but yellow work just as well.)
2 TBS butter
8 cups of beef broth (beef bouillon works in a pinch too.)
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Melt butter in a heavy stock pot. Slice onions into rings and saute in butter until caramelized. Add the beef broth, salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes and just before serving, add a dash of Worcestershire Sauce to the pot. Believe me, it makes a difference.
To serve, ladle soup into oven safe mugs, add a thick slice of crusty french bread to the bowl and lay a slice of Swiss, Jarlesburg or smoked Gouda on the bread. Put mugs on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
grace and peace,
The things I share here are the things that I get asked about the most - things that people seem to really find good, helpful or inspiring.
I love fresh garden vegetables and love to cook most things from scratch...but that doesn't mean I want to spend hours in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove. Simple, healthy meals with fresh ingredients are what I'm after. The salad above came from my own garden today. Baby spinach and lettuces grown from seed and until the first freeze last week, the grape tomatoes were still going strong. In winter, it can be a little more difficult to find quality vegetables out of season...especially on a budget, so I try to eat what is in season locally if I can. We eat a lot of soups in fall and winter and one of our favorites is tomato soup.
If it has been a banner tomato growing season the previous summer, I will have canned my own tomatoes and use those...but in a pinch or a monsoon summer like we've had, canned tomatoes and canned tomato soup from the store are still a good option.
Last week, a bunch of us girlfriends gathered around my table for lunch and good conversation. Our topic for this season is learning to have good Godly boundaries - with our time, talents and finances. When we have gatherings like this, I want to concentrate on the wonderful women around me and the conversations we share. The food should be easy and simple fare...secondary but still healthy and satisfying. So, I decided to make this soup for the early November lunch gathering. And as has happened most every time I make it, I was asked to share the recipe. Since sharing is what we are all about, I thought why not share with everyone! Besides, it was at a small group gathering in our home years ago that this recipe was shared with me!
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
1 large can (26oz) Tomato Soup (yes, straight off the shelf!)
1 small can (14.5oz) Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Oregano and Garlic (I can my own when possible)
1 large soup can of milk (some use cream but I don't love to run enough to want to eat all those calories! I'd rather spend them on chocolate!)
Pour all 3 ingredients together in the pot and warm. Ladle into soup mugs or bowls. Grate some fresh Parmesan or Romano over the bowl , sprinkle with a crumble of dried basil leaves and serve with pita chips, crusty bread or grilled cheese wedges.
Recipe can be easily doubled to serve a crowd.
Thank you, Cynthia Brame, for sharing this quick and simple recipe with me all those years ago! It has graced my table many times over and has been passed along to a multitude of those who also loved it.
grace and peace,
First there was Grace...and now another gift...this time Peace. It was early in the summer this year that our little Gracie passed on. We grieved long over that enormous amount unconditional love wrapped in a teacup helping of apricot fur. The house was so quiet most days. No antics, no balls that needed throwing, no announcements that the delivery man was in the driveway, no one luring you outside for a daily run. No little lap warmer to lavish with a good ear scratch. We missed giving love as much as we missed the love we received in return. Healing takes time and yet we knew we were also waiting. Expectant...because we knew another would one day wiggle into to our arms and hearts
A puppy raised from near birth like Gracie is a special thing but to give a second chance to a rescued life is even more special. We knew a rescue was where our hearts lay long before my husband began looking. And at first, I had to pass over this little boy because he reminded me so much of little Grace. But he just kept surfacing in our occasional scans of the pet adoption services... and I finally gave in. I thought out loud one evening, "Maybe we could just ask about him." He's so cute, he's likely been adopted already anyhow." I said to my husband. The words weren't fully out of my mouth before he wholeheartedly agreed that yes, we definitely should ask about him.
He came to us much like I would assume many who are rescued... anxious and active, desperately craving love and attention. After just a couple of days with us, this nervous, attention starved ball of unsettled energy became docile and tranquil...at peace.
He's also filled our home once more with a pet's companionship, all full of frolic and inquisitive antics... and an unexpected peace…for all of us.
Our God is a god of comfort. He brings it in unexpected ways to all that He loves... if we are willing to open our eyes, hearts and hands to receive it. And just as we suspected, this little boy named himself after just a few days here with us. Shiloh \sh(i)-loh\ is pronounced SHYE-loh. It is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Shiloh is "His gift". Also "peace".
He loves to run and play, to kayak, sail and swim.... and JUMP! Oh my how he can jump! - something little Gracie was never allowed (and often unable) to do because of her little fragile spine. As my husband said, he will surely keep us young with his energy and playful attitude.
The house is somehow FULL again...3 times as full to be exact! Little Gracie topped the scales at just 3 lbs and this boy is nearly 10 lbs, all lamb-like legs and gangly! Same apricot color and sweet, loyal, fun-loving disposition.
So in this season between our own child all grown up, living a life of his own, and the grandchildren we pray are coming one day, we have been blessed with so much from our Father in Heaven…
His unfathomable grace and peace…
Even delivered in the form of little dogs to love and keep us company.
Gracie ... and Shiloh.
Welcome sweet little gift of peace!
Lavender in my garden
It's a recipe that takes only 30 seconds to make and costs about a penny per bottle! If you were to ask me to choose the most favored, most pleasurable, most decadent recipe from my own kitchen, it wouldn't be food.
It would, hands down, be the linen spray I make. It gets used every single day, all year long and just makes the whole room seem a little more luxurious. I pass through the bedroom numerous times a day and every single time the fresh, lingering scent brings a smile.
It's not overpowering...just a fresh, calming aroma. When we snuggle under our down duvet 'clouds' at night, the sheets and covers feel and smell fresh laundered - like they'd been hung to dry on a crisp, cool morning in a field of sun-drenched lavender.
Oh and did I happen to mention, it's not only so, so easy to make - it's so, so inexpensive too!? Yes, this linen spray costs truly only a penny or two a bottle. Compare that to 'Crabapple & Envy'! Essentially the same ingredients, just less of them and all identifiable,...oh, and the high end brands charge a much higher price because they must pay their marketers, resellers, etc... with your money. I'd rather save it for a mission trip or a new pair of boots! (smile)
Once you begin using this, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!
We use the European way of bed making in our home. We find it saves time, money and is easier and more comfortable than the way we Americans normally make a bed. I'm all about simple so it sold me on that point alone but there are so many reasons to appreciate this back to basics way to make a bed that I'll have to expound upon it in a future post! Every morning, I shake out the down duvets fold them back, lightly spray the fitted sheet and run my hand over it to press out the wrinkles as I tuck it firmly under. It doesn't take much of a spritz, just a light misting that'll dry in less than a minute or so. I spritz the pillows and the duvets, then lightly smooth and fold the duvets into place and toss on the throw pillows.
Done. Takes me less than 3 minutes to make the bed and freshen the linens. When we climb in at night, it's like heaven! And it is even more refreshing in those fall and winter months where opening windows and airing out the house isn't possible for weeks at a time.
Grace House Linen Spray
You'll Need a 32 oz Spray Bottle for this recipe. I go through one bottle a month using it every day. I get my essential oils online via Amazon and use them for lots of other home crafted household cleaning and beauty products. One bottle lasts several years.
2 TBSP Rubbing Alcohol
30 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil
Add alcohol and essential oils to the bottle. Fill to top with regular tap water. That's it!
grace and peace,
I went surfing last week...for the first time in more than 30 years!
Yeah, that's what I said, surfing.
No, not the web...on waves...in the ocean!
I know. You think I'm crazy to even ponder such an idea. But I learned to surf (a little) when my family lived on the coast...a lonnnggg time ago. Growing up, I had a skateboard permanently attached to my foot and so surfing came pretty naturally when we moved to the beach while I was still in high school. I never became very good at it because I just didn't go that often. Even then, life seemed to get in the way...school, work and family obligations were always more important. I went when the right waves coincided with the right time for me, which wasn't often. But I had friends who'd skip class in a heartbeat if the surf report on the way to school that morning had forecast good wave action that day!
After high school, I moved away to go to college. Then came marriage and that fella I married whisked me away to wonderful, foreign lands...but lands that were far from warm, sunny beaches. Time marched on and I left my love for surfing behind. We live many hours from the coast now but return there as often as we can.
I started thinking about surfing again last year. What would it be like to do that one more time?
What in the world was I waiting for?
Looking like an idiot hasn't really stopped me from trying things in the past.
And before I die, or (worse) get too old and HAVE to watch everyone else enjoy things
I can't physically do anymore,
I want to experience this one more time!
Surfing will teach you a lot about life if you look for it. Here's what I learned last week.
#1 - Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow might not come.
I knew I had to somehow put a stake in the sand... to say that this would happen this year. I needed something that would ensure I wouldn't back out.
If you know me even a little bit, you know I hate to waste anything. If you buy something and don't use it, it's a waste of good resources. So, I did what any woman like me would do. I went shopping!
I got online, found a super great sale on the best rashguard made for serious surfers...and ordered it! Now, I was locked in. (The practical side of me was still secretly thinking ahead how I might use that rashguard later. It's rated 50 SPF, it'll be good for kayaking and aboard the sailboat and will be great in the lake when the water is cold.)
Then, the day before we left for vacation, I got an email from Patagonia.com. The embedded video of the week was about - you guessed it,
No, HUGE SURF!
Surf I'll never see nor attempt.
But I watched in wonder at the beauty of it. When the feature video was over, I scrolled down the page and another video caught my attention. A much more beautiful story captured on film. The woman in this video, her story and her willingness to overcome major obstacles in order to live a seemingly lost dream inspired me even more! There was no turning back for me now.
I KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, I WAS going to try... one more time... to catch a wave.
#2 - Don't let fear or doubt rule your dreams.
I felt giddy every time I thought about the week ahead. I'd dreamed about surfing for weeks and the moment of truth was coming up fast in the window.
But I don't want to be caught one day, old and sitting by that window in a rocker,
and say, "I wish I'd..."
So, I got up early on the first day, went to the local surf shop and rented a board for the whole week. As I walked along the beach that first morning, looking for a sweet spot of long, curling waves on the incoming tide, I felt 16 years old again. (Mind you, I knew I'd feel 96 the next morning and would be praying then just to be able to get out of bed!)
Fighting one's way through the waves, against the current, cross currents and rip tides, in a 7 to 10 mph wind carrying or paddling an 8 foot 'airplane wing' is probably the hardest part of surfing....and keeping the ankle tether from getting tangled around your legs. Oh, and always anticipating where that board is headed once you let go of it under the water so it doesn't hit you in the back and knock the breath out of you or hit you in the head...and knock you out cold. There's a reason you see surfers sitting on their boards beyond the breakers. It's not just watching for that perfect wave to ride. It's also resting and catching your breath from the fight through the surf to get out there.
#3 - Take time to breathe. Work hard toward your goals but take time to rest and restore yourself before tackling the next big thing.
And after a breather, sitting out beyond the breakers watching dolphins at play beyond me, I turned and paddled to catch that first good wave...and just couldn't get ahead of it. If at first you don't succeed...
Another was coming behind it...maybe this one. Paddle, paddle...
Small victories...I'm up!
And can stand!
And can turn a bit!
Up on the second wave attempt. I couldn't believe it!!!!!
I rode all morning long...until I was so tired I couldn't lift my body to stand up on the board anymore.
But I was stoked! Totally.
(Sorry, old surfer speak. (smile))
I surfed everyday but one.
It was just too choppy for any good waves that day. Besides, I needed a re-coop day! I run several miles a few days a week but this kind of exercise will make you feel like you were run over by a truck.
A big question once you are up riding a good, powerful wave is just how far you can ride the wave before the water gets too shallow. Most of the time you can turn behind the wave or just step off the back of the board and let it pop up in the air when you've gone as far as you can. It'll fall behind the broken wave you just rode and you can turn, grab the board and head back out to catch another.
But if you lose your balance inshore in shallow water, you've set yourself up for being rolled and tumbled against the sea floor and up onto the beach... with the board and leash tethered and tangled in your legs and banging into you with every roll in the sand and surf.
#4 - Surfing is all about taking chances. Like life, there's highs and lows and seasons. You have to know when it's best to let go of one thing and move on to the next.
I got rolled only once last week while trying to eek out every inch of ride. I'd post photos of it here but thankfully no one captured any. I'm sure everyone who saw it said, "Oh man, I know that hurt." You just get up, laugh at yourself and go right back out there after the next one before you lose your nerve...if you can still walk, that is.
#5 - Truly living life to the fullest is not without risk. You'll make mistakes and get some bumps and bruises along the way. It's worth it!
And oh my yes, I have some bumps, lots of bruises, various scrapes and knee abrasions...and a jellyfish sting and some spines in my foot from stepping on a sea urchin...all expected occasional 'casualties' of being in the water. And they were so well worth it. (But no rash burns where the aforementioned rashguard did an awesome job protecting me.)
The exhilaration of balancing atop the rushing, rolling wave as it reaches toward the shore is, like truly living life to the full, well worth the risk... for me anyhow.
My husband took some of these pictures with his iPhone and he emailed them to me as a surprise after the first day out. But someone else was also taking photos too...and neither of us knew it because no one was on the beach that early in the morning.
Waves aren't always good every day. Incoming tides (usually bringing the best waves) sometimes come at less than desirable hours and in not such good weather. You've got to be willing to go even when its not the most comfortable. No, I'll never surf during hurricanes but I did hit the water just barely after sunrise a few days last week (and once with an east wind that makes the inshore water very, very cold) in order to catch the best waves of the day!
About mid-week, a man walked down to the beach and was talking to my husband while I surfed. The man had been taking photos of me surfing from the back deck of his house because he thought it looked like a lot of fun. He wanted to share his photos with us! He said he'd been coming to this same part of the island for 7 years and I was the first person he'd seen actually catch and ride waves. Thanks to Ron Preston for capturing me in these beautiful morning seascapes about an hour after sunrise.
And there were other surprises too. When I'd come out of the water and walk back up the beach, I didn't realize how many people had stopped to watch...and they'd come over and talk to me. Another surprise. They were mostly women! Women who were my age or older or little girls. We'd talk a bit and I'd like to think they all went away inspired somehow...to reach for some seemingly impossible goal. To live life more fully.
#6 - You never know who's watching - to see how you live your life. Maybe your actions will inspire others to step out there.
What would you do if you let go of your fears? Of what people might say? Of what you'd regret not doing someday?
LIVE SIMPLY | LOVE DEEPLY | SHARE CREATIVELY !!!!
grace and peace,
Are you 'summer sun deficient' this year? What a weird summer for those of us in the southern United States. We've had very few sultry hot days this year...but we were certainly blessed with a lot of rain! August looked more like May with lush bright green fields and wildflowers still blooming happily. No need for watering gardens or grass around here!
But better late than never and not to be totally absent this season, September has arrived and with it a bit of 'summer sun'. This has my husband and I eeking out what little is left of our quickly fading window of evening swims at the dock. The dock chairs didn't get a lot of use this summer but fortunately we've managed to squeeze out a few evening sunsets after a refreshing dip in the unusually cool water of the lake.
I've always been told to count the blessings around me rather than complain about what I don't have. And as I try to develop more of my writing and photography skills, I'm told over and over to capture what's happening around me...whatever that happens to be. It's special and valuable...to me. Others will likely find it special too.
I love sunsets. We catch as many as we can. It's a peaceful, reflective time for us
I love that magical hour of the day when the sun is slipping beneath the horizon to wake the world on the other side.
Sometimes, it is a simple, soft whisper and a gentle, warm afterglow against the mellow softening sky.
Other evenings, it is a thunderous symphony of rolling melodies and riffs that crash to the water's edge and then soar once again to the heavens such that we must lie on our backs to capture all of its wondrous canvas of color.
Crescendo after crescendo draws your heart into this dramatic rolling of heavenly surf as the sun ebbs and flows behind the billows and feathers that drift on the sea of an evening sky.
And as that liquid ball of light slowly dips out of sight, the images of what we've witnessed linger....
Mere fleeting impressions, proved true by the fading light and our sun-kissed, still warm faces that have just basked in the glow of such a glorious farewell to the day.
I challenge you to take the time to enjoy a sunset or two. It's relaxing. It takes no effort. And it's free!
grace and peace,
(Update: - Sorry all, the comments section was closed on this post when I published it weeks ago. Thank you for the Facebook likes instead! Issue is resolved now!)
It's been two weeks now...and I can only count one day in all those that I've not cried.
How can 3 tiny pounds of joy fill a whole house, a whole community and span half a dozen countries with love? And these past weeks, much of that love has been returned to us by those who were touched by a little bit of Grace.
A tragic accident some might say. Numbered days. She was here and then in seconds she was gone. So tiny and yet she left a cavernous void in our lives. She toddled after me everywhere I went, sat beside me, lay in my lap or nestled in a ball next to my heart when I slowed down enough for her little legs to catch me..and yes, she slept in the crook of my arm every night, though we tried for 3 months to get her to sleep in her own bed. She won. She was my constant companion. But that's not what made her special. She was quite intelligent and very intuitive...and learned the rhythms of our lives so well that without her we feel disoriented. But that's not what made her special.
Have you ever known complete and utter unconditional love? The kind of love that greets you with unbridled affection even when you go away and leave it...alone, in the dark? The kind of love that climbs into your lap or your arms and puts a head under your chin and just wants to be still with you. The kind of love that listens to every word you say and never tries to tell you that you're wrong? The kind of love that remembers EVERYTHING you did or forgot to do but chooses to forgive all? Our children are that way when they are small...before the world has a chance to disappoint them. She was all that and then some.
But it wasn't just me who knew she was special. It wasn't just me who fell in love with her at first sight. Maybe it was because she ran straight to every person she met, every time, and always loved them first...not waiting to see if they'd reject her or judge her. And she didn't judge either. She unashamedly poured out every ounce of joy for every single person she met. No favorites. It never even occurred to her that someone might not like her. And they ALL loved her. They asked about her at the bank, at the post office and at church and ballgames. They would call out to us along our running route because for years she ran the 4 miles right beside us...and wanted to keep going! When she went with us on trips, she got up from my lap at every stoplight and scratched on the window, waving to the people in the cars next to us. They always waved back. We often said she was given the spiritual gift of hospitality. She announced every visitor to our home and happily waved through the low windows...until the delivery men began to peck on the glass back to her each time they came to bring a package to the door. When the door opened she ran to paw at their leg to be picked up. When she didn't come to greet the FedEx man last week, his first question was where was my little sidekick. I burst into tears right in front of him.
She lived her life for the pure joy of loving others. She knew when to rest, when to play, when to announce that danger was lurking. She even knew when something was strangely out of place...a birthday cake hidden away in a dark corner of a room. She was a fearless hunter of lizards, crickets and baby frogs - the few things smaller than her to chase. Still, her pint size didn't stop her from running every squirrel or rabbit that crossed her path - many twice her size. And she was the most optimistic fisherman - every time you reeled the line in, she expected a fish to be on the end of it. EVERY time. And, I know she sensed when you needed a good cry and just wanted someone to hug. She would sit quietly in her bed and just wait for you to slow down. Then there she'd be, one tiny foot on top of yours, that said, "Got time for me?" Her 'Elevator UP, please' button.
Grace - def: undeserved favor
As we buried her in the garden two weeks ago tonight, I sang Amazing Grace over her tiny lifeless body. My prayers were that we'd meet again in Heaven. The next morning I searched for proof of what I'd always been told and found comfort in Isaiah 11. If wolves, lions and lambs are peacefully living with us in the new heaven, then surely these loyal and loving animals will be too. It didn't occur to me that I needed any more encouragement than that. But as I busied myself watering flowers on the porch the next morning, I spotted something.
Years ago, my mother gave me a Resurrection Lily and I planted it in flowerbed near the water faucet. It is a plant with a mind of its own. The foliage comes up in the spring. Just leaves. No stalk. And then it dies...until there is no evidence it was even there. Then sometimes...never on a scheduled month or even every year... a stalk with buds will appear literally overnight and it will bloom that very day. I'd found a photo of this Resurrection Lily while preparing a blog post a few hours before little Gracie died. I had purposely gone to look for it in the garden that Thursday. Nothing.
On Friday morning, I sat on the front deck because I couldn't bear to sit in our usual spot for my morning quiet time. I noticed that the flower pots on the porch needed a little water and went to the outside faucet to get the watering can...and there it was. In full bloom. No leaves. Just a crown of six pale trumpets at the top of a 2 foot stem. And I heard as clearly as if someone stood beside me, "She's not dead. She's here with me."
I am blessed to have people who love me just as I am. I am more blessed to have a Father in heaven who loves me and has given me ultimate Grace. We are thankful for what this little dog taught us about loving...and we are honored to have been chosen to be the guardians of such preciousness. We were the ones who were blessed - to receive yes but more so, to witness her love. She WAS unconditional love in one of the purest forms I've seen on earth.
I will never forget what that kind of love feels like.
I rarely get too hot and it's rare for me to break out in a sweat...well, except maybe on mission trips to Mexico or the Dominican Republic in the hottest part of the summer. But that's the kind of heat you gladly take on, where hot is just a part of life for everyone!
Summertime usually has me carrying a sweater or jacket everywhere there's air conditioning. My husband and I have two separate down duvets on our bed because I prefer a 'winter weight' down even in summer. (It's actually a super simple bedding solution, works seasonally and if you love EASY, you'd love it.) But back to my being cold-natured. Unfortunately, most of my adult life, when I did get hot enough to perspire, like after a run,....(ok, TMI here)...there was a time when I'm sure I could have held my own with the 'burly-ist' brute when it came to BO. 'Could' being the key word here. I thought this was just something I would always have to live with, until...
A few years back, with goals
to be more healthy, reduce the outflow of finances and be a better steward of our environment , I recognized personal hygiene as an area of opportunity. Our culture spends a lot of money on health and beauty products, many of which aren't good for us and at the very least show minimal positive results. My first plunge into the natural world of alternatives came while trying to find a better way to care for my hair
. I researched, tested and fine tuned an alternative to regular hair care and was extremely satisfied with the results - and still am, after more than 2 years. I began to think more and more about all the chemicals we put on and in our bodies...and how well they work (or not)...and the cost of these products that often didn't work so well. I'm sure you've also heard rumblings of recent studies claiming the main ingredient in commercially produced antiperspirant could be harmful. It's being debated as research continues. And have you noticed that deodorant (without the antiperspirant factor) is extremely hard to find now.
With a more healthy, cost effective, environmentally friendly haircare regimen success under my belt, I began to search for a similar alternative to commercial deodorant. As I've mentioned in other writings, my desire and experimentation with natural hair and skincare goes back a long way. Salt crystal deodorant was the first natural deodorant I tried as a 20 something...and it worked okay. It is a purchased rock of crystallized mineral salts that you run water over and rub under your arms. It lasted forever. But it just wasn't great, you know?
Homemade concoctions are not new to me either. Having grown up in the Appalachian mountain region, I remember many natural home remedies, cleaning solutions and beauty 'recipes'...like rinsing your hair in beer, yogurt facial masks, a 'tea' of some herb or root for every ailment (many of which worked really well.) My husband would tease me when we first got married about being a 'wildcrafting girl' in the modern world. What doctors and scientists are finding now is that many of these natural remedies really work quite well and are much better for us and the environment. Imagine that. After experimenting for a few months to get a blend that worked and had a good consistency, fragrance and
feel, this is the recipe that I've landed on:
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Trader Joe's Organic is my favorite. It smells so coconuty!)
4 Tbsp Baking Soda
4 Tbsp Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder)
30 Drops Essential Oil with antibacterial properties (Tea Tree Oil, Lemon, Lavender, Clove, Orange, Peppermint, etc..)
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and the consistency of cake icing. Only takes a minute or two start to finish.
Coconut oil is a solid but melts into a liquid around 80 degrees. I store mine in a glass jar in the bathroom cupboard and it doesn't melt. If you travel, make sure the lid is secure to prevent spills. I also keep a small disposable spreading tool (think small cheese spread knife) in the jar. A small spoon would work well too. It only takes a small amount, about the size of a dime, massaged into the underarm until it disappears.
Here are 3 scent combinations I've developed and come to love:
Keep in mind, just as when I stopped using regular shampoo, I found it takes a bit for your body get used to not having chemicals sitting on top of the skin and being absorbed into it. If you are an antiperspirant/deodorant user, you'll find that for a short period of time (different for each individual), you may perspire more than usual. Be patient. I was quite surprised to find that it regulates itself (unless you have been diagnosed with a medical condition for this issue). This deodorant not only works for me, it works better than any product I've ever used...and I don't have 'manly' BO any longer. It has had some other surprising benefits. Coconut oil is a natural skin conditioner. If you are a runner like me, chaffing under your arms might no longer be an issue.
- Year Round - 10 drops each - Clove, Tea Tree, Lavender
- Year Round - 10 drops Clove, 10 Orange, 6 Peppermint, 2 Tea Tree, 2 Jasmine
- Summer - 20 Orange, 10 Jasmine
Oh...and it costs only a few cents per ounce.
Have you delved into the world of DIY recipes for health and beauty products? Any insights, failures or successes you'd like to share? Chime in below and tell us what you think. If you decide to test this recipe, come back and tell us about it.
grace and peace,