Homemade Toothpaste

I have been making my own toothpaste for a little over a year now, and I must say that I like it so much more than conventional toothpaste. I got the idea from Susy over at Chiot’s Run.

I love the way this toothpaste works. I have always appreciated toothpaste with baking soda, but I never thought about making some myself. If you are used to a foaming toothpaste, it may take you some time to get accustomed to this kind, because it doesn’t foam, but it makes my mouth feel cleaner than a store bought toothpaste that foams. I find it difficult to use other toothpastes now because they seem too foamy.

The ingredients are very simple: baking soda, vegetable glycerin, salt, and essential oils.

To make the toothpaste, simply mix together the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or mineral salt
- 4-5 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
- 20 drops peppermint oil
- 20 drops citrus oil (orange, lemon, tangerine, etc)
- 10 drops eucalyptus oil

You should be able to find glycerin at any health food store, but you can always order it online. I just ordered this kind from vitacost. If you don’t want to use the vegetable glycerin, you can just omit it for a powdered toothpaste.

That usually makes me enough toothpaste for 2-3 months. I keep mine stored in a mason jar with a lid and leave in a little spoon to put some in my toothbrush.



Mountains-to-Sea Trail and Easy Chicken Dinner

I love when the days get longer.  It feels like we have so much more time.  Yesterday we went for a brief hike after work.  We hiked a few miles on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail near Beacon Heights.  

DSCN7341I love how the trees are in bloom!

DSCN7344 version 2Check out this cool little plant growing up between the rocks.  It almost looks like it would be a succulent. 

DSCN7340Ok, don't look at the goobers in this picture, but check out the mountains behind us.  That is where we live, and we love it!  It is such a blessing to be able to see so much of nature every single day. 

DSCN7350We didn't get home until after 7, so I threw some chicken in the oven for a quick roasted meal.  This has seriously got to be the easiest dinner you could ever make.  It takes a few minutes to throw together, but then you can just sit down and wait … or tackle that monstrous pile of laundry that you've been ignoring for days.  

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables



Olive Oil




Place cast skillet in oven and heat to 350. Wash chicken and remove any skin.  Pat dry and coat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and any spices or herbs on one side of chicken and rub to get it to stick.  I used some dried sage, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Remove skillet (carefully!) from oven, place chicken on skillet, and season other side.  Cook the chicken until you think it is about half way done (approximately 30 minutes for two large breasts or 15 for smaller pieces like thighs or drumsticks).  

While the chicken is cooking, chop up any vegetables suitable for roasting into large chunks. I often use this as a way to clean out the fridge from vegetables that won't last much longer.  For this particular dish, I used onions, garlic, zucchini, red and green peppers, and tomatoes.  You can pretty much roast anything.  Potatoes would be good to throw in if you have them.  Add a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs to your vegetables and give them a good mix. 

Once the chicken is about half way done, throw the vegetables into the skillet, around the chicken and put back in the oven. At this point I typically bump the heat up to 375 or 400. Stir the vegetables once or twice during the last cooking phase. Cook until the chicken registers 160 on a meat thermometer.  

Let the chicken and vegetables rest for 10 minutes, then throw the whole skillet on the table and let them dig in. 

*Note – all chicken cooks differently depending on the size and whether or not it is still partially frozen.  Keep a close eye to make sure it isn't getting overdone.  The government says breast pieces should reach 170, but if you wait until then to pull it out of the oven, the meat will be dry and falling off the bone.  If you let the meat rest when it comes out of the oven, it should rise another 10 degrees or so.  You have to decide for yourself if the chicken is cooked enough.  


Updated: Search Function

So apparently I'm way behind the times when it comes to my blog.  I've known for a long time that I didn't have a search function, and sometimes it was even hard for me to find older posts on my blog, but I assumed it was difficult to add a search.  Clearly I was wrong.  I did a little searching (no pun intended) and realized it was actually quite a simple thing to add. 

So, with no further delay, I give you a search. 

Teaberries_1270838238860See that search box under my picture?  Well from now on, it will always be there.  So if you decide you want to make chicken tortilla soup, and you remember seeing it on my blog a year and a half ago, you can now search and find it!  Woo-hoo!

*Update – I just read on Typepad's blog that the search feature was just released because of the difficulties of incorporating searches from third party applications.  I guess I'm not crazy afterall.


Do you know about Vitacost yet?   I've been meaning to tell you for quite a while, but it keeps slipping my mind. 

I first learned about Vitacost from my friend Lindsay.  It is basically a company that offers discount vitamins and supplements, but I use it mostly for ordering the all-natural health and beauty products that we use.  I've found it incredibly helpful for a number of reasons:

  • I place an order approximately every 3-4 months.  It has helped me streamline the products that we use on a regular basis, and I've learned to keep at least one back up for each product, so that we never run out.  That way we aren't running to Walgreens at midnight to buy Tom's toothpaste for $6 because we just ran out
  • They offer a flat $5 shipping for everything!
  • The prices are so much cheaper than most places retail stores I've looked at in Western NC.  I've found that you typically pay a fortune for natural or organic health and beauty products up here, and this allows us to use products that we are comfortable with, while not spending a fortune. 
  • If you buy the same things on a regular basis, you can easily duplicate previous orders or set up automatic orders. 

What do we regularly buy?


Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap

$5.37 for a three-pack.  ($8.97 suggested retail)


Jason Lavender Body Wash

$5.27 ($8.95 suggested retail)


Deep Steep Tangerine Melon Honey Bubble Bath *this is my big splurge item, and it is fabulous!

$11.21 ($19.50 suggested retail)


Tom's of Maine Peppermint Toothpaste *I first started using Vitacost because we go through so much of this toothpaste and it made me cringe every time I had to pay $6 for it!

$3.72 ($6.73 suggested retail)


Kiss My Face Shampoo

$4.67 ($7.95 suggested retail)

Kiss My Face Conditioner

$4.67 ($7.95 suggested retail)

New Chapter Every Woman's One Daily Vitamin *I LOVE these!

$37.17 for three months supply ($61.95 suggested retail)

Kiss My Face Foaming Soap

$4.07 ($6.95 suggested retail)

Burt's Bees Lip Balm *I probably go through a bazillion of these each winter!

$2.60 ($2.89)

So, there is a sneak peak into our personal hygiene!  Vitacost also sells natural, eco-friendly laundry detergents and household cleaners, and I plan to add those to my order next time!

Are you already a Vitacost user?

Grocery Shopping List

I love grocery shopping.  Seriously, it is one of my favorite things to do.  I love making a complete list of everything I need and walking up and down the aisles to fine what I'm looking for.  I HATE being rushed at the grocery store. I love the way grocery stores are so predictable.  I love the colors and smells in the produce section.  I love discovering products that are new to the store.

I almost started a grocery shopping business several years ago.  I was trying to figure out how I could get paid to do something I love … and I know there are tons of people in the area who need help shopping.  I even had an awesome name picked out … but I'm not going to tell you in case I decide to start the business later!

Anyway, because I love grocery shopping and I kept forgetting things, I found that I was going to Harris Teeter almost every day.  That is not good for the budget – not at all!  So I created a grocery shopping list that has the things that I buy most frequently.  I keep a copy on my refrigerator and mark off things as I finish them.  When I go to the store, I know exactly what I need, and the list even prompts me to remember things I might forget, like nutmeg, so that I don't have to make a late night run to the store when I'm in the middle of baking cookies!  It is organized by product section at the Harris Teeter in Boone, but you could rearrange the excel spreadsheet and add or delete items so that it is customized for your needs.
Grocery Shopping List - sm version

This is a quick snapshot of part of the list.  You can download it as a PDF or an excel spreadsheet.  Happy shopping!

Download grocery_shopping_list.pdf

Download grocery_shopping_list.xls

Simple Shoes

I just got a new pair of shoes … and I am absolutely in love with them!  They’re made by a company called Simple that strives to make 100% sustainable shoes.  For Simple, how their shoes are made is just as important as why their shoes are made.  They have a very fun little video on their website that tells their story. 

And now for the shoes … they’re called the GT Jane Organic Cotton. From the shoes themselves:

  • I contain no animal byproducts or even regular animal products. I am a vegan friendly and veggie friendly shoe.
  • I have certified organic cotton uppers
  • I am bamboo lined
  • I have coconut buttons
  • I have a natural latex pedbed with a certified organic cotton canvas cover
  • I have a natural crepe rubber midsole and a recycled car tire outsole
  • I am held together with water based cements
  • I have a 100% post consumer paper pulp foot forms


They’re a little bit casual for the office, but I’ve worn them a few times anyway.  They are probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, and I love them almost as much as my first pair of chacos.  I got the GT Jane’s on clearance from Backcountry, and I wish I had gotten a blue pair as well!

Am I losing my shirt or just my mind?

Today I went to
pick up Matt’s dry cleaning … and there was a bit of confusion as to
how many shirts he had dropped off.  The dry cleaners is pretty
notorious for losing items of clothing, so Matt is usually good about
remember how many items he drops off.  Well, today when I went to pick
everything up there were only 5 shirts and two pair of pants.  We think
that 7 shirts have been mysteriously swiped by the cleaners, but we
aren’t really sure.

One of my mottos is to be a solution-finder whenever possible.  So I
decided to develop a record keeping spreadsheet that Matt can keep in
his car.  This way he can check off the items that he leaves at the
cleaners so he can be sure to get all the items when he picks them up.
It may not keep the shirts from getting lost, but at least we’ll know
for sure when they are lost! One of my thoughts is to print out a copy,
put it in a sheet-protector, and leave it in the car.  When I’m at the
cleaners, I can check each of the items that I drop off so that I know
what I need to pick up.  The other option would be to keep a running
spreadsheet online in case you think you are missing something.  I
don’t think I would actually update that, so I’m going to try the
first method.


You can download the spreadsheet here.

Download dry_cleaning_record.xls