Apple Cider Vinegar as Facial Toner

You may have heard the old saying, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  I know I’ve heard it, and many clever variations on it, many times since I started using both honey and vinegar in my beauty routines!  First I started washing my hair with white vinegar, then I started washing my face with honey, and then I started using apple cider vinegar as a “toner” to control oily skin on my face.

Apple cider vinegar works at least as well as toners from the drugstore, and it costs a lot less.  Just buy a bottle at any grocery store (buy organic, if you can); pour half of it into an empty, clean bottle; and add water to dilute it to half strength.  You could use distilled or boiled water to be really careful, but because vinegar is great at killing germs you’re unlikely to have any problems from bacteria that might be in tap water–I haven’t.  Store it at room temperature.

To use the toner, soak a cotton ball or cloth wipe and rub it gently over your skin.  (I save the cotton from the tops of pill bottles to use with toner.  When I don’t have any of that, I use my cloth wipes.)  Let the vinegar dry on your skin.  The smell is intense at first but will go away in a few minutes.  I don’t think it smells any worse than commercial toners!

Apple cider vinegar reduces my oily, shiny look without making my skin too dry.  It’s very refreshing in summer when I feel sweaty.  It seems to help a little when my nose is redder than the rest of my face.  By killing bacteria on the skin, it helps to prevent blemishes.  Some days, I can see gray stuff on my cotton or cloth after applying toner, which did not come off when I washed my face with soap; I think those particles come from air pollution, and they can’t be good for my skin!

This toner also helps to calm the itching and stinging of bug bites and sunburn.  However, be careful applying it to really irritated or broken skin–it stings!

Apple cider vinegar as a facial toner works for me!  Visit Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways for more thrifty and earth-friendly tips!

Cloth Wipes for Bedroom, Bathroom, and More!

I am excited to be a contributing writer in the Green in 365 series at Live Renewed!

Check out my article on how to use cloth wipes instead of paper tissues to save trees, reduce pollution, save money, and just have a better experience in so many ways.  I mean, look, aren’t they pretty?


I’ve found that looking at a cute basket full of clean, soft cloths in assorted colors and prints makes me feel happy and cared for in a way that instant garbage just doesn’t.  It makes the small amount of extra work involved in laundering the cloths feel completely worthwhile.

Here are some links to related articles here at The Earthling’s Handbook:

Critical readers will notice that I have now posted a picture of my toilet paper on the Internet.  Not very classy, I’ll admit–but it’s for educational purposes!!

UPDATE: I received an email questioning why this post is in the Sex category, so I’ll explain a little less discreetly than I did at Live Renewed: Have you ever had an intimate moment interrupted by your lover picking shreds of toilet paper off of you?  It’s embarrassing–but hard to avoid when using a paper product that is designed to fall apart on contact with liquid on a part of your body that you can’t see!  Have you ever wished to remove sticky fluids from yourself and dabbed with a tissue which then bonded with said fluids and stuck to your skin and shredded apart, turning your postcoital languor into stressful confusion?  Those guys who grab something from the laundry pile to mop up with are actually on to something, ladies!  Cloth works better, and it does get clean in the washing machine.

Freezing Cheese

We love cheese!  However, with only three of us in the family, a block of cheese in the refrigerator can get moldy before we finish eating it.  We came up with a cheese storage method that reduces the risk of mold, but it wasn’t good enough for those times when we have either a large amount of cheese in open packages or some cheese that’s been handled or exposed to air (for example, left over from church coffee hour) so that it probably has more mold spores on it.

The obvious solution is to freeze excess cheese, killing the spores.  But when I tried it, I found that a thawed block of cheese has a different consistency than one that was never frozen–it’s much more crumbly and seems more likely to get condensation on the surface.  However, grated cheese survives freezing and thawing just fine!  Once thawed, it gets moldy or dried-out more quickly than a block of cheese because of the greater surface area.  (This is true of grated cheese that was never frozen, too, unless it’s the kind that’s sold pre-grated, which is usually sprayed with a mold inhibitor such as the antibiotic natamycin, which is thought to be safe, as well as some kind of anti-clumping powder such as potato starch that I’d just as soon avoid; I think home-grated cheese tastes better!)

To make the most efficient use of our cheese, I leave no more than 1/2 pound in the refrigerator after the package has been opened, unless we have immediate plans for it.  I grate the extra cheese and freeze it in portions we can use in recipes: 2 or 3 cups for a big batch of burritos, 1 1/2 cups for Cheesy Walnut Burgers, 1 cup for Stuffed Shells, 3/4 cup for Mac & Cheese.  As with our homemade frozen vegetables, having convenient ingredients ready to thaw helps us keep cooking at home even in busy times. Read more…

Easter: Is it just a believing?

Huh, why am I still talking about Easter on May fifteenth?  Everybody knows Easter was way back in March this year!  Well, yes, Easter Sunday, the commemoration of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, was on March 31, but Easter actually is a season that lasts seven weeks in the Episcopal Church and some other denominations.  Our Easter celebration doesn’t end until Pentecost, next Sunday.  Alleluia!

A few years ago at this time, when my son Nicholas was four, he suddenly asked me, “Is it really true that Jesus got killed dead and then came back alive again, or is that just a believing?”

I was shaken.  I had been so impressed at his developing faith and thought I had done a good job telling the Easter story so that he could understand it, yet he was doubting.  Did he think it was just another story like “Cinderella”?  On the other hand, the fact is that believing is the main point here; we believe because we believe, because we have faith, not because we have scientific proof.  Hmmm, how to answer? Read more…

Healthy Alternative to French Onion Dip for Veggies or Chips

Meatless MondayI served this dip at coffee hour last Sunday and got many questions about the ingredients and requests for the recipe, so here it is!  I actually developed this recipe for a coffee hour not long after I joined my church in 1996, when I was not as much into healthy eating as I am now–I had been planning to make the standard “stir a packet of onion soup mix into a pint of sour cream” dip, but then I found that one of my housemates had used the soup mix that I thought was in the pantry, so I had to come up with something….

This dip is healthier than one made with packaged soup mix because it’s much lower in sodium and doesn’t contain artificial flavor, artificial color, or preservatives.  The yeast adds some extra protein and B vitamins–though probably only a trace amount per serving.  UPDATE: I looked up the ingredients of America’s most popular onion soup mix and realized that it would be off-limits for people with several of the most common food sensitivities: It contains wheat, corn (probably genetically modified), soy (also probably GMO), and monosodium glutamate.  Furthermore, the soybean oil is partially hydrogenated=trans fat, and the mix also contains carcinogenic caramel coloring.  Yum yum.  I’m glad I discovered this alternative!

I usually make it with yogurt rather than sour cream because these days I eat lots of yogurt and always have it on hand.  Make sure to read the label of yogurt or sour cream; some brands contain surprising additives.  Buy organic if you can.  I like the organic yogurt from Trader Joe’s, and it’s reasonably priced. To make a large bowl of dip, suitable for a party, you will need:

  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. dried minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes (Read more about them here!)
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • a squirt of yellow mustard (optional; I add this if the dip seems too bland)
  • dash of soy sauce (GMO-free), or salt to taste

Mix thoroughly at least 1 hour before serving, to give the onions time to soften.  Taste it and adjust the seasoning if desired.

For once, I served a quantity of veggies that was almost perfect to satisfy the crowd and use up most of the dip, so here’s my suggestion for a veggie tray to accompany this dip:

  • 5 enormous carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into sticks
  • 3 bell peppers of assorted colors, cored and cut into strips

Visit the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop and Real Food Friday for more healthy recipes!  Visit Works-for-Me Wednesday and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday for more great tips!

Saying “No!” to Toddlers

Today I received email responding to my recent article on child discipline and asking me to take a look at this article: 10 Alternatives to Saying No to Your Child.  That’s some good advice!  I’m glad to see it on a site that helps people find jobs as au pairs (childcare providers who live with the family, usually in another country) because I know that many people in that line of work have limited experience working with young children, so they need good, detailed strategies.  I agree with all the basic ideas in the article, but I also have a few tips on the subject to share.

The idea of “alternatives to saying No” is not that it’s bad to tell a child what she shouldn’t do.  There are many times when it’s necessary to stop a certain behavior.  The idea is to do it in a positive way when you can, instead of just hollering, “No!!” all the time.

Imagine living in a place where you don’t know the language or customs.  Dozens of times a day, people say a certain short word to you.  You hear this word in lots of different situations.  How long would it take you to understand what the word means?

That’s how it is for babies and toddlers.  It takes them a long time to understand that “No” sometimes means, “Stop pulling my hair!” and sometimes means, “Stay out of the kitchen!” and sometimes means, “Don’t sit on the cat!” and so on and so forth.  Using more specific words helps them to understand which word means what.  You can see this in a toddler’s response to a negative command that uses words he recognizes: You say, “No, you can’t have a cookie,” and he grabs a cookie–not because he is willfully defiant but because “cookie” is the only word in that sentence that has a clear meaning to him, so he’s thinking you just acknowledged his desire for a cookie.  Tell the kid what you want, not what you don’t want. Read more…