DIY Herbal Facial Toner

Hate to harp on about it… but I hate single-use items. Things like plastic containers and wet-wipes. Things often found in cosmetics. So as I suggested in my DIY Cucumber and Coconut Facial Cleanser, the best place to start if you want to avoid these things is by making your own cosmetics.

I decided to make a herbal toner because my herb pots are going crazy at the moment. My first thought was to head for the mint but after a little research I discovered I was over-looking a herbal superstar in my sage plants.

Health Benefits of Sage

  1. Sage is rich in calcium and vitamin A which are needed for daily cell regeneration. In short it stimulates cell renewal and increases blood circulation which minimise the onset of wrinkles.
  2. Sage is high in Ursolic acid which acts as a natural exfoliant and antiseptic and treats acne, eczema and skin fungus.
  3. Sage has astringent properties which will help clear your skin and make it soft and smooth.
  4. Sage oil also assists in improving skin conditions like athlete’s foot and chapped skin as well as relieving symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
  5. Because it increases blood circulation it is the perfect weapon for cellulite. Weekly use of sage oil on cellulite affected areas has been shown to reduce it.
  6. The oil is great for brittle and dry hair.
  7. Tastes and feels nice and is a pretty colour.

Ingredients

  • 100 gms fresh sage leaves (or 40grams dried sage)
  • 400 mls boiling water
  • 400 mls Apple Cider Vinegar
Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Pug and Allen consider the health benefits of sage

Method

  • Place chopped fresh or dried sage leaves in a bowl.
  • Pour boiling water over the leaves.
  • Cover the infusion and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the liquid from the sage leaves and discard the leaves and pour the infusion into a measuring cup.
  • Pour an equal amount of cider vinegar into the measuring cup with the infusion and mix the liquids gently.
  • Pour it into a reused glass bottle and close tightly.

Storage

  • Store your sage facial toner in the refrigerator.
  • This toner will last a long time – a couple of months.

Application

  • Use your sage facial toner after cleansing.
  • Moisten a cloth with the toner and wipe gently over your face
  • Pat your skin with warm water.
If you have sensitive skin and it stings or shows irritation then stop using the toner. However, my husband has very sensitive skin and he was absolutely fine and actually loves the product.
Good luck and if you give it a go let me know! 

Make Your Own Toothpaste

My finished toothpaste

I discovered how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday and now I can categorically say that I won’t be turning back. In this previous post, I explained the reasons why you might want to look into this alternative rather than your average over-packaged, chemical-ridden, animal-tested varieties… But on top of that, there is something so fun about making it yourself! Getting your nutty professor on and testing out different mixes and scents.

The mix that Shani (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) showed us works well for me, but is also the first I have tried. She also gave two other recipes which I will try once I am up with this batch. But for now…this one works swell. Give it a try.

Ingredients

(For tips on where to get these ingredients, see Notes)

  • 4 tsp Bicarb Soda (aka Baking Soda)
  • 1 tsp Salt (table is fine, or crush sea salt)
  • Glycerine (or Glycerol) – as much as needed to make a paste
  • Recycled jar or container

Optional ingredients

  • Essential Oils (like peppermint, vanilla) – make sure they are food-grade!
  • Lemon or Lime peel (dried and ground)
  • Mint leaves – finely chopped
  • Stevia leaves – dried and ground

Method

  1. Mix the Bicarb soda and salt in your container with a spoon
  2. Add Glycerine bit by bit while stirring until you get a smooth paste
  3. Add one of the optional ingredients here and stir. I used Peppermint Oil and it was lovely. It gave the traditional toothpaste-y smell which is good when you are getting used to a new taste.

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

Note – Where to buy

  • Bicarb Soda – Found in supermarkets, deli’s  etc. Try and aim for bulk to reduce packaging – Planet Ark in Freo sells it in 5kg boxes
  • Sea salt – best found at stores like Kakula’s Brothers or Sisters where you can buy bulk herbs and spices for a low price.
  • Glycerine / Glycerol – can be bought at chemists.
  • Essential Oils – Food grade essential oils can be found at healthstores. Manna Wholefoods in Freo definitely stocks it.

Review

The most important thing you need to realise here is also a very obvious point – this is not your standard toothpaste. You don’t have the Sodium lauryl sulfate in there to make it all foamy, there aren’t artificial sweeteners to make it taste like an after dinner mint and you have put a teaspoon of salt in the mix! At first, I was a very excited…

Eager beaver…

There is definitely a salty tang to it but there is also a sweet minty taste too (if you used the oil, as I did). The Glycerol has quite a sweet taste to it and gives it the smooth pasty consistency which is quite nice – it almost feels like you are just brushing with a wet brush. The bicarb soda acts as the cleansing agent (you can actually feel that working) and the salt is the abrasive. All in all it is not bad. Whenever I felt myself noticing it I just imagined I was at the beach and asked myself if I would mind if a little salt water got in my mouth. Nope.

hmmm… Think about the beach….

But then… I lost my head. I swallowed a bit of the stuff. Shit got crazy…

DON’T SWALLOW THE TOOTHPASTE

I really did consider not putting that photo and tip in… and this is not only because of how physically flattering it is for my face (obviously). I wanted to be honest about the experience and not promise some amazing flavour just to get you to try it! This is not a reason to consider not trying it… It is no different to your average toothpaste: If you swallow it you are going to be met with a few fairly unpleasant sensations. Don’t swallow it. It tastes like salt. Imagining I was at the beach did nothing to help me then, although my husband (the photographer) thought it was the funniest thing he had seen all week.

After our first few teething problems I am truly sold on this DIY toothpaste. My husband has converted as well and we honestly feel that it does wonders. Our teeth look whiter and we have breath tested each other at different points throughout the day and passed with flying colours. It is also just a damn good feeling to know that you are not contributing to environmental damage, animal cruelty and an overall bad system every morning and afternoon. I hope you enjoy it.

Top 10 Tips For Saving Water

Gorgeous Image by Cathy Durden

Considering we are well into a hot dry, summer here in Perth I decided to focus my weekly article for Conservation Council of Western Australia on the best ways to save water.

Here Are My Top 10 Tips to Save Water

1) Use less

This is the principle at the root of all things ‘lower impact’. Apply this to every aspect of your life – take shorter showers, use less pressure when you do, only wash your dishes once a day, turn the tap off while brushing your teeth and don’t fill your saucepans right to the top. Every time you use water think about ways that you could use less.

2) Catch me if you can…

A heavy-handed tap user can waste litres and litres of H20 every day. There are easy ways to stop this liquid gold literally going down the gurgler.

  • Wash your dishes in a large stainless steel bowl in your sink. You can use the leftover water on your garden as long as you are using garden-safe dishwashing liquid or, better yet, make your own.
  • Rinse your fruit and veg in a bowl of water. Then, if you are cooking them, use that water in your saucepan or steamer.
  • Put a bucket at your feet while you shower to collect water. If you would prefer not do that, at least have it in there while you are waiting for the water to warm up.
  • Don’t rinse dishes and cups under a fast-flowing tap. Keep a bowl of water next to the sink to use throughout the day (great for the workplace).
  • When washing your face, use a small bowl instead of filling up the whole basin or using the running tap.

3) A Good toilet trick

On average, a single flush toilet uses around 12 litres of water per use. However, a four-star water efficient dual-flush toilet uses less than half this amount. So if you are installing a new toilet aim for one with a WELS rating, a smaller cistern, a flushing system toilet or all of the above. ­

If retrofitting isn’t an option you could try this handy tip – fill a soft drink container with some sand (to weigh it down), screw the lid back on the bottle and place it into the toilet tank. This will reduce the amount of water it takes to fill the cistern and therefore the amount that gets needlessly flushed away.

4) Switch to a water-efficient showerhead

This is one of those little retrofits that you can do even if you rent. The Water Corporation has a great incentive where you can swap up to two inefficient showerheads for efficient replacements absolutely free! If you rent make sure you check with your property manager before swapping – though I can’t imagine it being a problem. If you are not allowed to swap them you could always just buy a water saving showerhead that you take with you to each new rental. Just make sure you remember where you keep the old one!

5) Change your shower habits

How committed are you to saving water? After learning that 22% of total household water is used in the shower (plus heating which wastes power) I have decided that this is the next frontier for my household. The timer has been great and I have whittled my showers down to a maximum of two minutes, but now I will also try turning the water off while lathering hair or soap. If this is not really your thing, avoid doing things in the shower that can be done elsewhere, such as shaving or washing your face.

6) Wash settings save water, energy and money!

  1. Check to see if your washing machine has an ‘eco’ setting. This will vary on different machines. For some it will reduce the amount of water used in the rinse cycle and for others it will reduce from two rinse cycles to one.
  2. Manually set your water level to the lowest you can each time instead of letting the machine set automatically.
  3. Advance your time settings to a shorter (lighter) wash cycle where possible.
  4. Only wash when the machine is completely full and wash on cold to save energy.
  5. Avoid the permanent press cycle which uses more water on most machines.

7) Water-wise your garden

For existing gardens, ensure that you always apply a thick layer of mulch (5-10cms) around your plants roots to slow evaporation, reduce plant stress, protect your soil and reduce weeds. Only water during the coldest part of the day and pour the water directly over the root of the plant. Remember, less frequent deep soakings are better than lots of little sprays.

If you are planting new plants, choose drought resistant varieties and create a stunning native garden. A good rule of thumb is to look for plants with silvery leaves. The Water Corporation has this fantastic online resourcewhich helps you choose the best water-savvy plants for your region.

8) Cover your pool

If you have a pool, invest in a pool cover. The Water Corporation says that during summer, a cover can save up to 55 litres of water a day! Considering the popular Target 60 campaignsets a target of reducing your water use by 60 litres a day, a pool cover could just about get you over the line in one fell swoop.

9) Check for wasteful leaks

A leaky toilet can waste up to 25 litres of water every day! To find the leak put a few drops of food colouring into the tank and if colour appears in the bowl without flushing then there is a leak!

If you suspect any other leaks though, The Water Corporation again comes to the rescue with this guide on how to Seek A Leak, and what to do if you find one.

10) Change your diet

Amazingly an average meat eater’s diet uses between 3 and 15 times as much water as a plant-based diet every year, which can add up to approximately 5 million litres per year1. Abbatoir run-off and effluence (heavily associated with piggeries) can also play a critical role in polluting scarce freshwater sources. If, however, you or someone in your household is not willing to try a vegetarian or vegan diet you could possibly try just reducing your consumption of animal products. If you want to give it a go try Meat Free Mondays, a campaign created by legendary Beatle and animal rights advocate Paul McCartney. Good Luck!

While doing a bit of research I found this gorgeous French advert that the WWF released as part of its water saving campaign. Oh so cute…

If you are looking for even more ways to save water, I wrote this post which also has some simple tips that can help you save.

Enjoy.

Thai Citrus Pumpkin Curry

Vegan – Vegetarian – Gluten Free

Preparation – 20minutes; Cook time – 10minutes
Serves 6

This curry was fresh, delicious and made completely from scratch within half an hour. As I mentioned in my Green Curry Paste recipe, I hate using premade curry pastes or sauces. They rarely taste the same and are often hiding preservatives and/or animal products. So I am super excited that this quick curry sauce is so easy to make! As well as being made from all fresh ingredients this curry has some vegetable super heroes in it. All the orange fruits and veg are full of beta-carotene, minerals (like magnesium and iron) as well as vitamins A, B and C. All in all it is a fragrant curry that was easy to make and I am really chuffed to add it to my repertoire. Give it a go…

Ingredients

Curry Sauce

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies (can use green or 2 teaspoons sambal oelek)
  • 1 can coconut cream (reduced fat is fine)
  • 2½  tablespoons of fresh lime juice
  • 2½ tablespoons Tamari (or soy if you use it)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • Juice of a medium orange (keep the peel to use the zest later on)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 red onion, roughly chopped

Curry

  • ½ small Kent pumpkin OR 1 small butternut pumpkin
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1 capsicum, sliced (pick your fave colour – I used green)
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • ½ can chickpeas (make sure you rinse!)
  • 2 tablespoon orange zest
  • Brown rice or Quinoa
  • OPTIONAL GARNISH: Basil, coriander, roasted pepitas or nasturtium flowers

Method

Simple Curry Sauce

  • So simple. Place all curry ingredients into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Voila!
  • Set aside.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine.

Curry

  • Put your base on (rice or quinoa)
  • Peel and cube the pumpkin, sweet potato. Save the pumpkin seeds for roasting later if you like! (they take about 30 minutes to roast so you will have to save these for another meal)
  • Slice the carrot and capsicum. Rinse the cherry tomatoes (slice some in half if you like)
  • Put your wok on high heat and add sauce, pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot
  • As soon as the sauce starts to boil reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables have softened (took about 10 minutes)
  • Add the capsicum, cherry tomatoes, chick peas and orange zest and stir
  • Simmer for 2 more minutes
  • Taste test and balance the flavours with soy, chilli, sugar or lime. I like my curries quite fragrant so I added an extra squeeze of lime.
  • Serve! I garnished mine with fresh basil leaves from the garden and some pappadums (my husbands’ fave). You could also serve with roasted pepitas, chopped coriander or even a simple vegan sour cream or raita. Try new things each time.

Notes

  • It was an absolutely delicious curry but next time I must admit I will use less root vegetables so it is a bit lighter. I would substitute the sweet potato for broccoli and would probably leave out the cherry tomatoes too. But hey, it’s all down to your preferences.
  • I can see the curry sauce becoming a stalwart in my house. I will in future make it in bulk and then freeze half (for up to 3 months).
  • Grated cauliflower as faux rice works a treat and it quadruples your fibre content!

Easy Pad Thai

VEGAN – VEGETARIAN – GLUTEN FREE OPTION

Easy Vegan Pad Thai

 

Takes approx 20 minutes
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

This Pad Thai is a simple dish that is health, cheap and quick to whip up if you are having people for dinner. And – unlike a lot of takeaway versions – it is not laden with fat. I do not use as much oil as I have seen other recipes suggest and I think it tastes all the better for it. Also looks really amazing if served on a platter. Continue reading

A Simple Eco Christmas Ornament

It has been so exciting this year to peruse the interwebs and see so many fabulous creative minds making earth-friendly ornaments. I have seen some great ones made out of natural organic materials (hemp, felt) and the even better option – people using supplies that had otherwise been condemned to the bin (old magazines, newspapers, worn down office supplies). Considering I had a fairly lazy Sunday planned, I decided to try make my own.

My first little Paisley Snowflake!

Continue reading