29 April 2011

Special Series: How It All Began

The How

I delved a little into how I got to this point in the last post.  Mainly, I found the courage to let us run out of basic household supplies, creating a necessity to figure out simpler and less toxic alternatives.  And although some of those strategies have evolved over the years (i.e. I haven't been fully satisfied with window cleaners until I started using microfiber cloths), the basic strategy has been the same.

Even still, it took some digging to find the alternatives, and to convince myself I could do it.  Below is a list of basic supplies and tools, along with some of my favorite resources.  They're grouped by category, in case you are more of a cook and want to start there, or are ready for a switch in your beauty routine.  Some of these things I've mentioned in previous posts, but hopefully this will be a nice one stop resource for you to find your passion and how to get there.

For Cleaning
Basic tools:  
spray bottles (don't assume you need new ones...that window cleaner bottle might work just fine)
funnel (for stuff like laundry detergent)
microfiber cloths
old toothbrushes (soak in bleach or equivalent, wrap duct tape around the handle to mark it as a house cleaner rather than a tooth cleaner)
old plastic jars, containers, laundry detergent bottles, etc.

Basic supplies:
Baking soda
essential oils
for laundry detergent:  borax, washing soda, Fels Naptha soap (borax is also a good multi-purpose cleaner; you should be able to find these products at your grocery, but they are also available online)

Favorite resources:  
baking soda and vinegar books by Vicki Lansky

For Cooking
Basic tools:  
multipurpose cookware such as a dutch oven, cast iron skillet, etc.
immersion blender (regular blender works fine but adds another step and more to clean)
jars for freezing sauces

Basic supplies:
A well stocked pantry is essential for a diet of whole, natural food.  Having things on hand reduces the temptation to stop at a drive through or order pizza 3 or more times a week.
See here for a list of basic pantry items
As for our pantry, we keep supplies for bread baking and sauce making (canned tomatoes, sauce, etc.), as well as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for snacks.  We eat a lot of rice (many will tell you to stay away from white rice, but our time in Japan influenced our cooking dramatically), quinoa, and beans.  We always have cheese, milk, and eggs on hand as well.  We buy fresh fruits and veggies from an open air market, buying as locally and seasonally as possible.

Favorite resources:
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day  -my absolute favorite book in the kitchen.  Once I realized I could bake bread, I was inspired to make other things from scratch as well.
Kitchen Stewardship -I use regular recipe search sites, like www.food.com and allrecipe.com, but my #1 is hands down the Kitchen Stewardship blog.  It is full of great recipes, plus lots of educational articles, lists, and more.  If you are really, truly ready to take the plunge, check out their handy chart for information, in categories, on what to eat and what to avoid.  We don't follow it exactly (for instance, I still use canned tomatoes, corn, and black beans), but I've learned a lot from this simple tool.

For Personal Care

This is still new for me, but I can recommend this website as a place to start.  You can search for your favorite products to see how safe they are, or you can browse a category to find something safe.  The rating is based on the individual ingredients in the products reviewed.  I've used it for sunscreen, shampoo, soap, and makeup.

So far, we have swapped out all our soap for castile (I like Dr Bronner's), I wash my face with oil and use jojoba oil as moisturizer.  I make my own deodorant with baking soda, corn starch, and coconut oil.  

Well, I hope that's a good start for you on your own journey.  If you have any tips I haven't listed, feel free to share.  I'm still learning too, so I'm always looking for good ideas.

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