Top five posts of 2013

Happy New Year! I thought I’d do a quick round-up of my most popular posts during 2013, like so many others have done.

In ascending order:

5. My Grandpa

My Grandpa sadly died on January 8th, 2013, and this was my tribute to a wonderful man.

4. A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

I’ve fallen off the wagon slightly but I used to be very into natural and homemade products. I hope this post about making your own nasty-free deodorant has inspired some people to give it a try. I really ought to get back to this again.

3. About me

Ah, you must all be curious types – although, of course, this also serves as my homepage…

2. The secret meaning behind In The Night Garden’s opening words

It seems a lot of people – particularly in Australia, for some reason – are also wondering whether Iggle Piggle might be dead.

1. Where are the celebrities with epilepsy?

A hot question, and one I still can’t answer. I’d love to see someone famous “come out” in 2014 as having epilepsy as I think this would have a real impact on raising awareness and combatting stigma.


Homemade laundry detergent for your washing machine

As well as cutting down on chemicals in my personal care routine, I barely use any commercially-prepared cleaning products. White vinegar and baking soda are my friends! My son’s easy to clean highchair gets wiped down with a vinegar and water mix, as do the work surfaces and windows (although admittedly I haven’t quite perfected the no-streak window yet…). The bathroom comes up sparkling using a mixture of castile soap, baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil. A 1/4 cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar fizz away blockages in slow-draining plug holes.

My favourite homemade cleaning product is my laundry detergent. It’s another recipe from from the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of the blog Simple Mom.

Here’s what you need:

  • two parts soap flakes
  • one part washing soda
  • one part borax (or borax substitute)
  • a few drops of essential oil if desired

Mix them all together, store in a suitable lidded container and use one or two tablespoons in your washing machine. I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to use soap flakes in the detergent drawer as they can block the pipes, so I use one of those plastic dispenser ball things that you put into the drum. If I’m washing whites I often put a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer to give it all a boost.

I never use fabric conditioner – a good glug of white vinegar in the conditioner compartment does the trick nicely, as well as keeping the machine’s inner workings nice and clean. Any lingering vinegar smell disappears when the washing is dry.

My son has eczema and sensitive skin and this combination doesn’t irritate him at all.

The only time I use shop-bought laundry detergent is if our clothing is really dirty or if the whites need a bit of extra sparkle. I think most of the time our clothes don’t get dirty enough to need anything stronger that what I make. I’m still using disposable nappies on my son but once I bite the bullet and switch to cloth I will have to see how my homemade version fares.

A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

A homemade deodorant recipe that really works

When I was on maternity leave I decided to go chemical-free as much as possible. I tried a few natural methods of washing my face (the oil cleansing method and honey to name but a couple), used coconut oil as a moisturiser and Dr Bronner’s castile soap as a shower gel. I even washed my hair with bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar until an upcoming wedding made me question whether my hair was really looking as good as it could (or even socially acceptable). I really wish I’d kept that last one up and seen it through as I would love to be in the position where my hair more or less looked after itself. Maybe I’ll try it again, although I guess I need to look presentable in the office now.

I’m still using the Dr Bronner’s and I’ll go back to the coconut oil when I’ve used up a few of the things I’m trying to get my rosacea under control.

My favourite thing that I tried though was the homemade deodorant recipe from the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of the blog The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom). I love love love it! The only time I use traditional anti-perspirant is if I haven’t got time to let the homemade stuff dry.

Here’s what you need

  • 1/4 cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 to 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • Essential oil (optional)
  • Empty deodorant container

Mix the bicarbonate of soda and cornflour together, then add the coconut oil one tablespoon at a time until all the dry ingredients have been mixed in. You’ll feel like it’s never going to happen, but keep mixing and eventually the oil will start to melt and it will blend.

Add a few drops of essential oil if you’d like a fragrance (I’ve used rose absolute in my most recent batch).

Take a clean, empty stick deodorant container and spoon the mixture in, twisting down the inside as you go. I’ve found that the recipe above makes enough to fill one old deodorant container and a 150ml lidded yoghurt pot saved from our veg box days. I keep the leftovers in a cupboard and top up the container as required.

That’s it!

Coconut oil will melt at 24 °C so it may need to be kept in the fridge at times – but that makes it lovely and cooling. I really do find that it works, although it can be rather sticky when you first apply it. I don’t notice any odour and very little perspiration.

I’m definitely a fan of this natural approach, not just because of the potential implication of antiperspirants in the causes of breast cancer, but also because I know exactly what is in it and there’s no irritation. It’s non-toxic and quick and cheap to make. It’s also fun to make because of the way the dry ingredients blend with the melting oil.

I’ve started to find the smell of shop-bought antiperspirant deodorants quite overpowering, but using my own homemade deodorant is like a sweet little secret.