“Sparkle & Shine”

Wow! It has been way too long since I have taken the time to sit down and write a post to share with all of you. I’m still alive in case you were wondering! Life in Dakar is going well and I have been enjoying getting to know new friends and my surroundings better. I will try to post soon about some of the things I have been up to in the last few months. But for now I want to share with you a recipe for a chemical-free household cleaner I have been using.

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Do you ever get annoyed by those recipes or ideas you see on Facebook that don’t have a link to a website? You want to be able to Pin them to one of your Pinterest boards but can’t? Sometimes if there is a recipe that I really like I will save the picture to my computer so I can find it again, but that really isn’t as convenient as having it filed away on Pinterest…at least not to me.  The cleaner I want to share with you today is one of those Facebook finds.

When I saved this recipe to try I wasn’t sure how well it would really work, but I liked the basic ingredients it had in it. A big plus for me was that I have easy access to all the ingredients here in Dakar! So without further ado here is the recipe…

“Sparkle & Shine” – Chemical-free Cleaner

Into a spray bottle mix:
4 oz. Lemon Juice
8 oz. White Vinegar
10 oz. Water
2 oz. Dish-washing liquid

Now make your house sparkle!


I have to say that this cleaner worked far better than I anticipated. Some times I do have to spray and wipe my shower more than once to get the sparkle to return…but it does return and it really doesn’t take much elbow grease on my part! I really love how shiny it makes my bathroom sink, tub and toilet!

I did have a friend try this cleaner without as much success. I’m not sure exactly when it didn’t work as well for her, but I think one difference maybe that I use this spray in combination with a microfiber cleaning cloth. When I use just the cloth on its own or just the cleaner on its own I don’t get the same results. So you might want to consider that before making this cleaner for yourself. Also, remember that If your shower has a bad build-up of soap scum it may take a time or two of cleaning to get it sparkling!

Here are some pictures…sorry I didn’t think to get any before I cleaned!


*Please test it first before using on delicate surfaces, just to be safe!


Beautiful Lengths

Ever since I’ve been little my Mom and I have had this contest to see whose hair is longer…

It started when I was around 6 years old; two of my friends got their hair cut…and it was very short.  My Mom and Dad really didn’t want my hair that short, but I thought I really did want it cut like their’s.  So…my Mom decided to make it into a contest.  My hair was longer then her’s, but if I got it cut she would be winning!   The funniest thing about this story is that it worked!  I gave up my desire to cut my hair and didn’t get my first real haircut until I was 10.  In the many years since then my Mom and I have kept up our little competition (although it’s been mainly just for fun)!

As I have been preparing to leave for Senegal one thing on my to-do list has been to get a hair cut and not just a few inches.  A few months back I asked my Mom and my sister-in-law if they would be interested in us all cutting our hair together and donating it to “Locks of Love”.   They said, “yes”!  Once our hair is cut none of us will get it cut again until I come back from Senegal.

When they both said, “yes”, I looked up “Locks of Love” online to find out their requirements.  What I found was enough for me to look for other places to donate our hair…

So after doing some research we decided to donate our hair to Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths”.  I was very comfortable with their mission and reputation.  Here’s some info from their website

Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene® and the American Cancer Society®, the largest nonprofit health organization committed to saving lives from every cancer and improving the quality of life for people facing the disease. The role of Pantene is to help women grow long, strong*, beautiful hair and provide the funds to turn this hair into free, real-hair wigs for women with cancer. So far, Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks, which distribute wigs to cancer patients across the country. To see if you are eligible to receive a free wig or if there are wigs available in your area, please call the American Cancer Society’s Wig Bank Line at 1-877-227-1596.

Here are pictures of our pre-cut hair:




Here are the new looks:


IMG952014021195161149 IMG_20140211_164422 IMG_20140211_170843


So far I am really loving my new hair and I’ve been having fun trying new things that didn’t work with long hair!


I decided last month that I needed to start taking a walk at least twice a week…but due a busy schedule, bad weather, etc, etc, I failed to begin my weekly walks.

My desire to start walking comes from a desire to be healthier.  During my senior year of college (2008) I spent evenings working out with a number of my friends.  We would lift weights, run around the gym or up and down the stairs, do crunches during movies, all which added up to me being the healthiest I have been as an adult.

In the past five years my exercise habits and hence my health has had its ups and downs.  This winter I began to feel especially sluggish, so this spring I began to realized that I really need to be more motivated to take care of my health.  Thus the bi-weekly walks.  Beyond my physical need to get out and walk, is my spiritual need to get out and walk.

One of my favorite ways to connect with God is to spend time surrounded by beauty of His creation!

Yesterday, I made the first of hopefully many walks this summer.  I didn’t walk as far as I hoped I would…but I’ll get better!  It was really nice to get outside, exercise, spend sometime talking with God and soaking in the beauty God has placed all around me!

Here are a few pictures remind you of some of God’s simple blessings in our lives.




What are some of your favorite ways to connect with God?

DIY Toothpaste

This isn’t my toothbrush!

Happy Easter! How thankful I am that we have a reason to celebrate! Everything I believe is based on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago…it’s the joy of the ages!! Jesus is Lord and has power over death and the grave!

Here the recipe for a simple toothpaste I have been using for the last year or so. Before I made this, I searched around the Internet looking for a good recipe for homemade toothpaste. The following recipe is a mix of some that I liked the best and has been adjusted over the past year. We like it and I think it works well.

Actually, after I had been using it for just a month or two I went to the dentist. Normally I have a lot of plague, but it seemed better this time. So I asked my hygienist about it and she agreed, then I told her about my homemade toothpaste, which she found interesting. I’m looking forward to going back in a few weeks, I’m curious how my teeth/gums are holding up after a year of no commercial toothpaste.

DIY Toothpaste:
2 Tbsp. Coconut oil
3 Tbsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Xylitol or Stevia
10-15 drops Essential oil
1 tsp. vegetable glycine (optional)
1 Tbsp. Hydrogen Peroxide (optional)

– Measure and soften coconut oil. If it’s a hot day the coconut oil should already be soft enough.
– Stir in the sweetener. I use xylitol which is supposed to be really great for your teeth, but stevia is a good alternative.
– Add essential oils of your liking, you may need more drops depending on how strong you want your toothpaste to be. Peppermint and cinnamon are classic toothpaste flavors, but don’t be afraid to try something new! I’ve thought about making an orange-peppermint flavor for kids. Or, if you have sensitive teeth or gums adding some clove oil may help.
– The glycerine and peroxide are optional, but they do add something to the feel of the toothpaste. The glycerin helps the toothpaste be a little more smooth, but I’ve made it with and without. For me the peroxide is a must! It makes the toothpaste foam ever so slightly as you use it, which makes it have that bubbly cleaning feeling of commercial toothpaste.
– Now comes the fun part…try it out! I never get tired of trying out my newest batch of toothpaste.

This makes right around 1/2 cup. I store mine in a “Glad” container with a lid that is easy to remove. I would love to keep it in a cute little jar, but since it’s in the bathroom I would be afraid of it falling on the floor and breaking. This seems to last quite well, although sometimes I have to add a drop or two of oil near the end, as the flavor dissipates a little.





Well, I hope you have fun trying this out and I you have any questions or suggestions feel free to share! Oh, just a reminder, I’m in no way trained in dental health so you may want to research homemade toothpaste for yourself.

Here is a link to one of the main recipes I started with.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything, I have a list of things I’ve been wanting to share with you. I’m hoping to have some time in the next few weeks to catch up.

Homestead Blessings – The Art of Soapmaking

How many of you have ever wanted to make homemade soap like our ancestors did? For many years I have loved the idea, mostly because I enjoy history and connecting with the past, but this past week I finally took the leap!
Since becoming more concerned about the various chemicals and additives in most health and beauty products I have been using homemade soap that I bought at the farmers market. But I finished my last bar of chemical free soap a few weeks ago and decided it was time to make my own my own. So, my mom and I, along with a few good friends got together last Monday and made soap.
I would like to share with you our experience. This won’t be a step-by-step tutorial, but you can find a great tutorial on the basics of soap making here at offbeat + inspired.
For our soap making experience we followed the recipe and instructions from the Homestead Blessings – The Art of Soap Making (DVD). The Homestead Blessings DVDs are a wonderful series that cover many old-fashion skills that have slowly been forgotten by our society, they are a great resource for anyone seeking to be more self-sufficient!
It was truly a blessing to be able to work alongside other ladies in the process of making soap. Even though we each used the same ingredients, the process and end results varied slightly, so it was helpful to be able to compare as we went along.

The recipe:
48 oz shortening
32 oz coconut oil
16 oz olive oil
4 cups water
12 oz lye

> The process begins by slowly pouring the lye into the water and mixing. Even though we were all trying to be careful not to breath in the fumes, we all ended up coughing and stepping away from the pots for a moment. It would be ideal to do this part of the process outside, but it was too cold here.
> Next we carefully added the oils, one at a time.
> Then you stir and stir and stir some more. The goal is to break up or dissolve all the pieces of coconut oil and shortening. We tried to accomplish this with just a spoon. Then at the very end we decided to try a metal whisk…next time we’ll start off with the whisk.
> After all the oils are melted your soap should begin to look like a thin pudding. Once it “traces” (check out the tutorial) you are ready to pour your product into a mold.
> Make sure your mold is lined with freezer paper or well-greased.
> Once you pour your soap into the mold put a cover on it, then wrap it in a blanket.
> Your soap will be ready to cut into bars within 2-24 hours. Why such a variation in the time? We found that if your mold is deeper it will take much longer to set. Just keep checking it. They are ready to cut when the knife cuts through easily, but also comes out mostly clean.

I wish I had a picture of the process to show you, but my camera didn’t want to corporate that night. It was fun how unique each of the soaps turned out in the end. My mom and I added oatmeal, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and cinnamon essential oil to our soap before pouring it into the mold. One of the gals left hers as the basic recipe and the other gal added lavender to one mold and cilantro and lime to another mold. They all looked beautiful! It was such a fun evening, spending time together and learning a new skill. One of the best parts is that of us came away more confident about soap making and excited about trying new recipes!

Have you ever tried making your own soap? How did it go? Do you have any ideas or words advice to share with a beginner? Please share you thoughts!

Delightfully Simple Body Butter

For the last few years I have been on a journey to detach myself from commercial beauty care products.  I can’t remember exactly what started me down this road, but I believe it was two things:
1)Saving money – I love making things and saving money at the same time.
2)Living healthier – Knowing that I’m eliminating chemicals and other potentially harmful ingredients is a great feeling.

A while back I pinned a recipe on Pinterest for making your own body butter and I finally made a batch a few weeks ago!  The original recipe came from Jillee at One Good Thing.  Although, I did tweak some of the measurements based on the supplies I had on hand.

What you will need:

1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup Shea butter
1/2 cup olive oil
Essential oil

I measured all my oils and poured them into a metal KitchenAid mixing bowl and than placed the bowl over a saucepan. This worked great as a double boiler. Mix the oils to speed up the melting time. Once the oils have melted place the bowl in the fridge, once they are the consistency of soft butter remove from fridge. Now use the whip attachment on your mixer and whip until the mixture looks like amazing vanilla frosting! Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. If it isn’t whipping up it may be too warm, simply put it back in fridge for a little longer. Now add in any essential oils you want, lavender is great for you skin. That’s it! I hope this works great for you! If you want to see a photo tutorial check out the link above.

I’ll try to post some pictures soon!