Hooray for babies!

Yet another post about Poppy because I don’t have time for serious stuff! But my assignment is almost complete. I know that the family love hearing about Pops so I know they won’t complain. For the rest of you, stay tuned!

Poppy has been so happy today, it has made my studying much easier. I had plenty of breaks to play with her, and in doing so noticed a development which I hadn’t noticed before. We were playing peek-a-boo and Poppy started to pull my hands away from my eyes to find me! She has gone from looking away as soon as you cover your face, focusing on something else, to waiting and watching your hands, to understanding where I am hiding and knowing what to do to make me appear again! It might not be much, all babies do it, some much earlier, but I still think it is impressive. Not long after that I went to hang the washing outside, leaving the door half closed, meaning Poppy couldn’t see me. Within 30 seconds she had made her way around the door and was crawling into the garden towards me! It was the cutest. I disappeared from her sight but she knew I was still there. I like the idea that she can now picture me in her minds eye, maybe I am in her dreams right now!

Alongside this she is becoming more aware of cause and effect everyday. Yesterday she was playing a game with Tim; he put his head down and every time she tapped it with her hand he popped it up and and they laughed together! It was so lovely to watch as Poppy paused, smiled, tapped his head and then burst out laughing! Today she showed her understanding again when she copied me pressing the squeaky button on her toy telephone. Immediately after I did it she started bashing away laughing as it squeaked. She also has a toy that makes a funny noise as you shake it and she loves that she now knows how to do it on her own. And something she particularly enjoys is dropping food off of her high chair knowing and waiting for Oscar to come!

Sometimes it is these little things that we take for granted, we are so focused on the big milestones and physical abilities; when they roll, sit, crawl, eat, walk, talk…Babies are learning so much everyday, no adult is even nearly capable of processing the equivalent, and it all takes a lot of energy and brain power! I try to celebrate the smallest of achievements because for Poppy, it is huge!

After a busy day’s learning: I had to post this picture because I thought it looked a bit like she was rock and rolling in her sleep! 

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Sunday snapshots

Quick post just to share some more pics with family. The weekend has been spent juggling my essay, Poppy and house work, so not all that interesting! We took a break at our fave cafe yesterday though and Poppy did some people watching as you will see in the video below! It’s been a bit of a stressful weekend as she is rather clingy and so Tim can’t leave me to study as much as I would like, leaving him feeling frustrated too that he can’t help. He has work on his mind too, so there is a lot going on, but hopefully life will settle down again soon! (Click to enlarge photo’s)

Poppy at 7 months

I thought my family and friends were due an update on their favourite baby (sorry about the first blurry photo!) I have an essay due Tuesday so blogging is taking a back seat but seeing as said baby is curled up asleep on my lap and all I have to hand is my phone, I thought it was a good time to write.

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Firstly I am completely cherishing this moment; after spending the best part of Poppy’s life telling everyone that she is not the sort of baby who just falls asleep in my arms, she has done exactly that twice this week. The first time we were at a friends too, so plenty to distract her, but she happily breastfed to sleep without the usual fuss when she is tired but too interested in what’s going on around her! I tried again yesterday at another friends with no luck, she got all squirmy, but to be fair to Poppy her boyfriend was watching so she just couldn’t relax!!

P1020693She is in the process of dropping her late afternoon nap, completely of her own accord. Yesterday she was awake from 3pm and still had more energy than ever at 6.30, when she is normally exhausted! It changes often though, if she wakes any earlier than 2.30pm she doesn’t last until bedtime. She is coming to the village quiz with us tomorrow so I wonder how she will be! She did very well at Nan’s party, socialising until past 9pm (as you can see from the pic on the left she is going to follow in her Mummy’s footsteps!)

Weaning: Everyone loves to hear how the weaning is going, is she eating any more now? I’ll let you into a little secret: when we were ready to start baby led weaning, I thought she would just get the hang of it immediately…despite what I had read about it being a slow process. She was so interested in what we ate and she made chewing motions as she watched us, surely she wanted to gobble it up! But that hasn’t been the case at all! She plays with her food, although usually plays with the tray or spoon more, and she does put things to her mouth, but if she swallows even one teeny bit seemingly by accident I am amazed!

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I am making much more effort to give her two meals a day now instead of just offering her bits and bobs. She has porridge or fruit for brekky and whatever I have for lunch, or leftovers from dinner the night before. Her milk feeds haven’t reduced at all, because she really isn’t eating anything! But I am not concerned, I know she will get the hang of it sooner or later, when she is ready. I can already tell that she is very independent and will not be told what to do!

Anyway, here is a video of lunch yesterday, which pretty much sums up our meal times. If you are wondering where all the food is, it is on the floor. The bouncing lasted a good ten minutes at least.

 

On the move: Poppy has recently discovered that she can crawl to me, rather than just to retrieve toys or objects she shouldn’t have, such as my camera. It is really quite sweet when I leave the room and seconds later Poppy is frantically making her way towards me. I am sure the novelty will end soon! I have definitely noticed an increase in her separation anxiety in the last couple of weeks, but that is natural at this age, and a sign that she is securely attached… go us! Unfortunately it is very noticeable during the evenings after putting Poppy to bed on her own. I know that I should just continue to settle her back to sleep each time she wakes and she should learn that although I am not right there I am still there. But as we know from the last post, I can be a tad lazy at times and have ended up bringing her downstairs on several occasions to allow myself to relax!

She has been pulling herself up on anything and everything, the sofa, the printer, the stool, me and Tim, other babies…I have a bad feeling that I will be the mum constantly pulling my child away from poor victims at baby groups as she claws at their faces and tries to sit on their laps…in a ‘let’s be friends’ kind of way of course. She is constantly wanting to stand up and can get very grumpy if you insist it is sitting down time. I thought tantrums came much later?! She had to pause in this video to chew the sofa, and she is a bit whiney as she is tired and wants to get her hands on that copy of Juno on the sofa, which she has already eaten the corner of (she will eat that but not my delicious cooking?!)

 

Potty power: Today is the second day we have had a completely dry nappy having caught all wee’s!! (so far) I am so proud of myself and Poppy, but also feel a bit frustrated with myself that I am so inconsistent. Being home all day and focusing on Poppy so much shows me just how capable she is of cueing us, but when we are out and about I hardly bother trying. I am starting to wonder if this inconsistency is worse than not doing anything at all. Maybe she is cueing me on those busy days too and I just don’t notice? Or maybe she gives up because she doesn’t expect us to take her. This morning I started off taking her regularly to see if she needed it, and by lunch time she was clearly signaling by starting to fuss during her play, and sure enough I took her every time and she went, every time! I am going to start taking a potty in the car at least so that we can give her the chance to go more often when we are out of the house. At least I know that she definitely understands the concept, and I know that in the long run it is going to make life so much easier. Poppy isn’t the one who needs to improve, we are. But we are certainly heading in the right direction…

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Socialite: We have been busy meeting up with other babies and friends as most of you will have seen on my facebook, our social calender is always full! We know a few people with babies of a similar age to Poppy, and we still go to baby groups when we get a chance. We are also hoping to meet some more home educators soon as there is a good community around here. Yesterday we went to Aylesbury to visit Mia and Noah and Poppy and her (boy)friend Noah were properly chatting to each other. One of them would say something whilst the other listened and then either giggled back or responded with babbling! It was the cutest thing. I love this age, she is just becoming such a sociable baby, she ‘talks’ to me and Tim all day long.

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Pearly whites: Her first tooth seems to be taking things slow. It has definitely fully cut through the gum but barely noticeable still. Her gums seem swollen again, so I wonder if there is another on the way? Oh and for anyone who wonders what breastfeeding is like with teeth (I get asked what I am going ‘to do’ when she has teeth quite a lot!) – so far so good, despite the fact that the toothy peg is insanely sharp!

In other news she is blowing raspberries non stop and showering us all in spit. Happy Friday! ❤

Piña colada smoothie

Ingredients:

2 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut (I liked the texture but you could use fresh coconut if you prefer)

1/4 pineapple

Coconut milk

1 heaped tablespoon of nut butter of your choice (I try to add peanut butter to a lot of my smoothies because healthy fats are essential when breastfeeding)

1 heaped teaspoon maca powder

Ice

Blend! Easy and delicious!

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Attachment parenting is lazy parenting

No you did not misread that. But let me explain myself.

A few things that people have said to me since I have become a Mum:

“You give so much to Poppy but what about you?”

“I worry about you because you do so much.”

“When do you get any time to yourself?”

“I couldn’t do what you do, I don’t have the time/patience/energy.”

“How do you manage to stay so positive and energetic?”

“She will be fine if you leave her to cry for a bit, you need to rest.”

“She still wakes that many times a night? You must be shattered!”

I thought about this the other day when my lovely Mother In Law said she worried about me, and I couldn’t explain why but I told her that 99% of the time I feel great, despite still feeding at night, carrying Poppy for all of her naps, breastfeeding on demand, scheduling our life around her and not ever having a break…

Well I understand why that is after Poppy and I became sick last week, and I was completely exhausted. Poppy was crying, clingy, irritable, restless, tired and I was losing patience. Now that she has recovered I have suddenly realised that she is happy almost all of the time. Unless of course she is tired or hungry, she is generally smiling and laughing and our days are stress free. I started to appreciate how easy my parenting choices have made my everyday life.

ImageParenting is tiring full stop, and yes I have days where I feel particularly shattered. But what is the alternative? Let me look at a few different scenarios. The easiest one to explain is our sleeping arrangement. We co sleep and Poppy wakes up on average 3 times a night to comfort feed. She has always slept amazingly well during the night since birth though, meaning she will not fully wake up and she will fall back into a deep sleep very quickly, allowing her to get 12 hours sleep each night. By lying right next to her I simply roll over, let her latch on and we both fall back to sleep within minutes. In the morning I can hardly remember if I woke up at all in the night.. Of course I look forward to the day Poppy is sleeping through in her own room, but aside from the fact that I don’t feel comfortable with sleep training methods, I actually just cannot be bothered to even try to encourage the transition. Not now and possibly not ever. She will choose to go into her own room eventually, definitely by the time she is bringing boys home! Our current arrangement means that we are both well rested and happy the next day. I am sure I could find a suitable no cry method in the future that may result in Poppy sleeping in her own bed after a few weeks, but even just a few weeks of implementing that is too much effort for me to be tempted! See, pretty lazy of me!
How about the baby wearing during the day? Poppy used to go down for naps in bed every now and then, until I became super lazy and decided that the half an hour it took me to get her to sleep that way really bored me. Now she has every nap in the sling or carrier, because I can carry on with what I am doing and most of the time she will drift off peacefully all by herself. She also sleeps for much longer in there so I am getting a longer break and she is getting more valuable sleep and wakes up happier! Doesn’t my back hurt? Sometimes, yes. Enough to make me want to go to the effort of ‘teaching’ her to sleep longer on her own? No.

ImageBreastfeeding. I plan to breastfeed for a long time. A large reason for this is definitely the health benefits. But also…you guessed it…I can’t be bothered to wean her! I have no problem with our current arrangement and Poppy loves it! So why would I go out of my way to try to put and end to it, potentially leaving Poppy feeling confused and upset which in turn presents daily challenges and could leave us both exhausted? I have heard of Mum’s who have multiple children who have said that they simply do not have the time to even consider weaning their babies, so they just let them wean themselves and barely notice that it is happening. When I merely think about the process of fully weaning Poppy I am filled with anxiety and stress at the prospect of such a difficult process; I wouldn’t even know where to start. This is especially true of night weaning, considering Poppy is only settled by me during the night I can’t even begin to imagine the impact of night weaning on our general sense of happiness! Of course lots of Mum’s wean with no problems and there are times when you can take advantage of your babies natural reduced interest in breastfeeding. You can gently encourage it, but that still involves a considerable amount more effort than doing nothing at all. So I choose the latter.

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Baby led weaning is an interesting one, as most people think you are super patient for doing this and putting up with the mess. Me, I think it is really lazy. I don’t have to prepare any purees for a start. And at the moment because Poppy isn’t all that bothered about swallowing her food, and is still getting all of her nutrition through milk, it is incredibly easy to skip a meal if we are busy or out of the house one day. Obviously this is not going to last for long! But my point is that I don’t have any worry about whether she is eating enough, or that she has suddenly lost interest in food, or that the health visitor says she should be on this many meals, or she won’t take the spoon, or when I am going to fit in meal times, or what I will do when we go to someone else’s house at lunch time. I can’t really be bothered to spend half an hour each meal time trying to shovel food down her throat, I would rather enjoy my own lunch, because we all know I love my food, whilst she makes a mess and I can worry about that later, like when she is in bed. It only takes a few minutes to wipe the high chair and the floor, and it probably balances out when you think that I don’t have extra washing up from making the baby food in the first place.

ImageAs for elimination communication, leaving them nappy free helps everyone get the hang of it, but sometimes I admit she is really nappy free because it seems easier than getting a fresh one and getting her all dressed again, and I am definitely too lazy to be washing nappies more than once a week. Now that she goes so often in the potty I have less washing, and barely have to wipe a stinky bum from one day to the next. It really doesn’t require that much effort of my part and will certainly make the complete potty training transition one big lazy fest for me because one day she will just be 100% ‘trained’ without me doing anything different from now.

There is a theme that is very apparent when you are responsive to your babies every need, all around the clock. They are happy! Seems obvious but I have seen in the past Mum’s despairing because they feel their baby should be putting themselves to sleep, sleeping through the night, eating three meals a day, playing happily on their own…whatever they have read or heard from the ‘experts’ or interfering friends and family. The result of those concerns has been for Mum to get extra stressed trying to implement a sleeping routine that just doesn’t seem to be working, leaving baby stressed and crying and Mum tearing her hair out and feeling like a failure. Truth is that Mum is far more tired and giving way more in terms of her energy, sanity and independence than I am. She is burnt out, and baby is too. When baby is over tired or confused about what Mum is trying to achieve, they are not happy. And an unhappy baby is much harder to look after. And so the cycle continues. Stressful nights follow challenging days, because you don’t have the energy or patience to deal with a grumpy baby, and the more inconsistent you are during the day the more clingy your baby is likely to become. In the long run you become exhausted and resentful.

By ‘spoiling’ Poppy I am keeping her well rested and happy. She is happy enough that I don’t feel I am constantly seeing to her or cheering her up. A happy baby is a healthy baby and enjoyable and easy to look after. Which means I am not stressed out, or feeling unconfident about my parenting abilities or resentful about why my baby is the only baby who doesn’t seem to conform to what the textbooks say. Maybe she would be fine if I left her to cry a bit, but she would probably just cry more, and that isn’t my idea of ‘me time’. Yes I do give a lot to Poppy, but no more than any other parent, and I probably give less of my time and effort than a lot of parents who put everything into getting their babies into a routine in the hope that life will become easier. Mine is already easy and will get even easier but a lot more slowly. No I don’t get any time to myself, because the cost of it is not worth it. An unhappy baby makes an unhappy Mummy. Overall our well being is pretty positive and our quality of life is great. So until that changes, I will carry on being lazy and enjoy every minute!

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Hope you have all been enjoying the sunshine like Poppy has! I am not managing to fit much blogging in lately between studying, but I will definitely be posting about my super exciting weekend next week! 

Super Saturday Breakfast

ImagePoppy’s tooth still hasn’t cut through, and she was up a lot in the night. Nothing will settle her, not even Mummy’s milk, so I was feeling very sad for her. She woke up this morning in a slightly better mood. I, however, am feeling rubbish! This lack of sleep definitely isn’t helping my body fight the ickyness, so I needed a good breakfast to give it a helping hand. I am hoping this fresh juice and delicious porridge will do the trick, with the juice boosting my immune system and the porridge pushing me through my day of studying!

Immune boosting juice:

1 or 2 apples

1/2 cucumber

A good chunk of ginger (for all it’s immune boosting super powers!)

1/2 a lemon

2 or 3 carrots (for their vitamin C)

Put all of the ingredients through a juicer and enjoy! The ginger is very strong so if you are not fighting illness you can use less of this, but I needed it’s goodness today.

Super Porridge:

Organic porridge oats (I blitz mine in a mini blender because I prefer them finer which makes a creamier, comforting porridge!)

Coconut milk

1 big teaspoon coconut oil (melted in when heating)

1 tablespoon honey

2 dates and 2 dried apricots, chopped

Cacao nibs

Chopped pecans

Shelled hemp seeds

Milled flaxseed

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Put all of the ingredients into the pan and heat slowly, stirring often. I haven’t put quantities as you can just put as much or as little as you like and of course you can leave out anything you don’t like or add extras such as different dried fruits or nuts.

But this combo was absolutely delish!

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Gradually Going Green – Part 2 – Bathroom

I promised I would write a post about our natural bathroom products, but I have been so busy time has disappeared. Poppy was poorly too, which was horrible and then I was fighting it. Now she is teething and crying 90% of the day, so I have barely had a chance to sit down and write. I should be doing my essay now, and considering I just wrote this post once and it deleted all by itself, I am feeling pretty fed up, so I am going to write this quickly. Apologies for any typos and a lack of creativity in my writing!

When buying bath and shower products try to make sure they are certified organic or at least read and understand the labels well. Many mainstream brands claim to be natural and use enticing phrases such as ‘Plant power’ and ‘Mother nature’ but they are still full of the nasty chemicals you want to avoid. Call me sad but if I am unsure on an ingredient I google it!

P1020575Shower gel: I use Urtekram Brown Sugar shower gel and I love it. I was bought 2 bottles for Christmas and have just under 3/4 of one bottle left. It is more expensive than average shower gels but a little goes a long way. It feels lovely, smells good and produces a good lather. 500ml costs around £7.50. Again I am ashamed to say I usually look on Amazon for good prices, but natural shower gels are available all over the internet or in health stores.

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Shampoo and conditioner: I have Urtekram shampoo and conditioner too, but have recently bought some Faith in Nature shampoo because it was a ridiculously good price at the time (£2.50 for 500ml). The Urtekram comes in 250ml bottles and you can find those for around £4.50, whilst the Faith in Nature is usually only slightly more expensive for double the amount. However, I must admit I prefer the Urtekram shampoo! It lasted me 3 months so I don’t think cost is too bad.

Bath smellies: There are natural bubble baths out there I’m sure, I just haven’t got round to trying them. But I do love love love natural bath melts! Tim got me some for Christmas and I have been addicted ever since. My Christmas ones were relaxing lavender and gorgeous patchouli. They leave your skin feeling amazingly silky, but they are oily so you might not want to wash your hair in the bath when using them. Alternatively you could just add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your bath. This is a great idea for baby, it will create a stronger association between bath and bedtime, especially if you put a drop on their pillow at night too. I also love this idea because when you can’t fit in their bedtime bath the familiar scent on their bedding will ensure they still understand it is time to drift off because of that association. Use lavender or chamomile to relax them and send them into the peaceful land of nod.

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Toothpaste: We use green people toothpaste. It contains no fluoride, no nasties. It is more pricey than big brand toothpastes; I managed to get 2 tubes for £3.50 but it is usually £3.50 per tube, and they are not that big. It doesn’t taste half as minty as normal toothpastes but your teeth feel just as squeaky clean afterwards. I have also started oil pulling, which is a way of eliminating toxins from you mouth. You basically swish oil (coconut is good) around your mouth for a good 15 minutes and then spit it into the bin, rinse with salt water and clean your teeth. Sounds bizarre but apparently it is a brilliant way to detox with people claiming all sorts of amazing results, it can whiten your teeth and can even cure a hangover!!!

Hand soap: Our local health food shop stocks loads of natural hand soap and I picked some up the other day for £1.90. Before this I had some seaweed and dead sea salt soap from Wikaniko which I really liked. I chose it because I used to use dead sea salt for my eczema as a child, and now the only place I ever get eczema is my hands so I thought it might help. Despite my expectations the soap was surprisingly creamy. It cost £4 a bar so was quite a lot but I would still recommend it.

P1020588Deodorant: Deodorants are awful. There are strong links between deodorants and breast cancer, and the chemicals inhaled from spray deodorants or anti-perspirants are scary. In fact I was interested to discover after Tim had been in hospital with an irregular heartbeat, that the ingredients of his daily anti-perspirant was known to cause heart problems and even heart attack. Needless to say he no longer uses it. There are a few brands that do crystal salt deodorants. It is roll on but you apply it to wet skin, or wet the stick first and it lasts for months and months! It is unscented which takes some getting used to, but I will be making my own natural perfume when I have the time!

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Moisturiser: I use coconut oil on my skin and Poppy’s too. I even use it to remove my make up! Ocassionally I pinch a bit of Poppy’s organic baby lotion if I need to get off stubborn eye make up, but I will be doing a separate post on baby products soon. You can invest in all sorts of lovely natural lotions, but in my opinion it is unnecessary when coconut oil has a million and one uses!

I think that is it for bathroom. When cleaning the bathroom I use all of the same stuff I posted in my kitchen post! I will be writing posts on my beauty products and baby products soon so stay tuned! For now it is time for me to open a bottle of…I mean open my textbook!

 

 

Thai squash soup

P1020343I often use up leftover veggies in soups, and rarely know what it’s going to turn out like. Every now and then I discover something wonderful, and this was certainly one of those times. This veggie soup is absolutely divine, Tim said it was my best soup ever, and I make A LOT of soup!

I have called it thai squash soup simply because of the flavour the coconut milk and coriander give it, but apart from that it isn’t all that thai at all. It is very healthy of course, so simple and perfect for a grey day like today.

Ingredients:

(I used half these amounts as that’s what was left in our fridge, this will make a lot of soup)

1 Butternut squash

1 Swede

6 large tomatoes

1 large white onion

Medium madras curry powder (or your own choice of curry powder)

1 can coconut milk

Bunch of coriander

Enough veggie stock to cover the veggies in the pan (I use marigold bouillon for plenty of flavour and less salt and additives)

1 clove garlic (optional)

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Method:

Roast the butternut squash and swede in chunks, lightly coated with rapeseed oil and sprinkled generously with curry powder.

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Meanwhile fry the onion until soft and add some more curry powder (1 tsp) to this. Once soft add the garlic, chopped, and the tomatoes, chopped into quarters roughly, and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Once the squash and swede are roasted add them to the pan and mix all the ingredients well.

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Pour over the stock and simmer for 5 minutes or so (Because the veg are all cooked you are only really combining flavours and making sure it is nice and hot!)

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Pour over coconut milk and stir through. Blitz it all up with the coriander, saving some to garnish.

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Enjoy!

 

Gradually Going Green – Part 1 – Chemical Free Kitchen/Utility

I am going to be writing several posts about the everyday products we use in our house. The things that most of us use on a daily basis are full of nasty chemicals, and it can be overwhelming trying to make the change to a greener lifestyle. I have done it one step at a time, replacing things when they run out, with healthier, organic or chemical free versions. I hope these posts will make it easier for you to do the same, without feeling totally confused. There are loads of organic cleaning products out there, but you really don’t need to spend a fortune on anything special. So here is my list of kitchen essentials for the beginner:

ImageWashing up liquid: This is one I am thinking of changing. I have been using Ecover, which is a better option for a beginner, however it does contain SLES (Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate) which is something you really want to avoid. Apparently it hasn’t always contained this and people who have used their products for a long time are very disappointed as it is clearly advertising itself as an eco friendly green product. Once I have replaced it (soon as we have almost run out!) I will let you know. But if you want to make a better choice than your standard options this is available at major supermarkets and is good value.

 

All surface cleaner: I use white vinegar for every surface in the house. Because it is acidic it kills germs and bacteria and despite what you may think it won’t leave any scent after a few minutes. It is really cheap and I just pour it into a spray bottle to use all around the house. For a quick wipe down of kitchen work tops I will just use vinegar on it’s own, but you can add other things listed below for a more substantial clean. I also use vinegar to clean the fridge, and wash the shelves in hot water with washing up liquid.

Stubborn work top grime and cooker gunk: White vinegar with bicarbonate of soda. You can sprinkle the bicarb onto the muck first and then spray the vinegar over. I leave it to fizz for a few mins before wiping clean. Use a scourer for more stubborn dirt, but bicarb is very effective at cutting through grease and grime. I found it hard at first to find large boxes of bicarb but you can buy bigger boxes from Wikaniko (online or through a distributor) and it is cheap. The stuff you buy for baking works exactly the same though! Image

Sink: Again I often use more of a paste on the sink by mixing the vinegar and bicarb. This also works well on taps with limescale. For the plug hole you can get rid of nasty smells using half hot water and half bicarb. It should be quite thick to help unblock the pipes.

Floor: White vinegar, hot water and lemon juice. Lemon is another great natural cleaner as it is a disinfectant, is acidic so kills germs, has a mild bleaching effect and smells lovely! Neat lemon juice is great for stains (even on fabric with a little salt!) and grease. There are plenty of uses for lemons in your cleaning regime, and I would use them more but to keep costs down I keep things simple.

Essential oils: If you want to make your house smell nice then adding essential oils to your cleaner is a brilliant idea. Lavender or orange are both lovely, whilst tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and may be preferable if you like that familiar clinical clean smell that comes with chemical filled cleaning products!

Oven: For inside your oven, where it gets really mucky, bicarb is a must. I hate to think of using oven cleaning products from a bottle,  which will leave a chemical residue which will then be heated along with your dinner, not nice. Again a nice thick paste with white vinegar and a scourer does the job. I told you that you really don’t need much variety in your cleaning cupboard!

ImageWashing machine: I have recently started using soap nuts and I am very impressed. They release a natural soapy residue and are also a natural softener, so you don’t need to use a separate fabric softener (although I never did anyway.) No, they don’t get every single tough stain out, but you can find instructions on google for making your own detergent with them and using that on stains before washing as normal. I haven’t tried yet but will do soon. They are about £9 for 1kg, and you only need 4-6 soap nut halves in each wash. I think it works out as something like 350 washes, so excellent value. They do not give your clothes that freshly washed smell, but again we have only become accustomed to that because of all the rubbish in normal detergents. You can use essential oils in your wash if you miss the smell, but I have got used to it quickly.

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Soap: I like a liquid soap in the kitchen, and because of the fact that you are preparing food it should be naturally antibacterial. So once again tea tree comes up trumps. This soap is by Faith and they have a great range of products, at reasonable prices. I always recommend looking online, because as much as I hate to admit it amazon do usually have the best prices. You can get these products in good health shops but you may pay a little bit more.

Coming up next will be part 2 – Chemical Free Bathroom! All of you everyday bath and shower products, but greener!

Peanut butter and banana smoothie

ImageI love creamy smoothies and shakes, but of course shop bought are made with cows milk or yoghurt and milkshake places are all ice cream and milk. So I made this beauty at the weekend instead. The honey is to sweeten, peanut butter is full of healthy fats (just make sure it has no added sugar, organic is best) and I added maca powder and oats for a nutritional boost. Maca powder comes from a root found in Peru, and contains lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential amino acids. It is also a natural hormone regulator so may be particularly useful for PMS or menopause. It is a good source of calcium (if you are going dairy free and concerned about calcium read this post) and gives a great energy boost. Try having one of these in place of your morning coffee!

Ingredients:

1 X Banana (You can freeze bananas without their skins on which are great for adding to smoothies)

Coconut milk (or almond, rice or soy milk)

1 large tablespoon peanut butter

1 handful oats

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon maca powder

A few ice cubes

Blitz all of the ingredients and enjoy!