DIY Natural Hair Care

Since I have been trying to be nicer to my lovely locks, I’ve also been trying out various hair care methods. Everything from changing up shampoo/conditioner to less frequent washing. I’m not sure that I can go fully ‘no-poo,’ but I have managed to get to a point where I’m only washing about twice a week. It seemed impossible, but now that I’m past the “my hair looks dirty and awful” phase, I absolutely love it!

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DIY Rope Rug

The transition to a “minimalist” lifestyle isn’t only about limiting the number of physical items you possess, it’s also about working to minimize your footprint on this planet. Oftentimes decluttering belongings, such as clothing and appliances, is the easiest and most logical place to start. But what happens when those tried-and-true possessions are solidified? Is your minimalist journey over?!?

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3 Allergen-Free Oils

So you just discovered you have some food allergies. Bummer! Since you can no longer eat like a normal person — kidding! — you’re right to think that your diet might get a little complicated. You ask yourself if you can do this? Well, yes. Yes, you can! Many of us are always trying to be a bit healthier, so I did a little research to find which oils are allergen-safe.

Education is my friend, and yours! Although I don’t need to swap oils, maybe I can help you transition into this new, über healthful life. All the oils should be easy to find at any local grocery store (I could find them all on Wal-Mart’s website).

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Meals for 2: Shopping & Cooking

After working all day, cooking can feel like a hassle, so there’s no need to make it a bigger burden than necessary. My man and I do weekly meal planning because we find that it makes life easier and keeps us from going to the store all the time, which we both greatly appreciate. Shopping and cooking for two sounds sooo simple, but I think most of my peers can attest to the fact that Mac-n-Cheese or ordering take-out is often far easier.

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Minimizing: Personal Library

I’ve been reading for almost as long as I can remember. As a child, I had Hooked-on-Phonics at an early age when my mom noticed my interest in books and storytime. She was smart enough to feed that interest and it grew as I did.

In high school, I was one of few friends who still read for fun. This trend continued into college, sometimes to the detriment of my actual coursework.

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Herbal Face Food: A Review

Last year there was an increased interest in natural and organic skincare due to interest amongst women about what goes into the products that we, willingly, slather onto our skin every day. Sometimes, two or three times a day. In 2017, we’re likely to continue to see this sector of the beauty industry grow (thank goodness!), especially with products containing beneficial bacteria and superfoods.

Natural vs. Organic Skincare

In order to understand what we’re buying, we first need to understand how products are labeled and marketed.

A product labeled “natural” is not regulated by the FDA and may be nothing more than a marketing plow. But, generally, it means that products have been made with some, if not all, natural ingredients. Organic products, on the other hand, are strictly regulated and are composed of ingredients that are 100% organically produced — without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs.

Is one better than the other? I’m not sure, and it will vary depending on who you chat with, your preferences in products and your skin type. In my experience, I’ve tried natural products, such as Bare Minerals, and loved them. Then had hit-or-miss success with other natural brands, like Honeybee Gardens, depending on the product I was using. When I looked into Herbal Face Food, I was a bit skeptical…even though they had plenty of great reviews.

A post shared by Ashley Houk (@dinkerdwn) on Jan 17, 2017 at 2:16pm PST


Super-Antioxidant Skin Serum Ingredients

  • Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Extract
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (English Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract
  • Origanum Vulgaris (Oregano) Flower Extract
  • Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove)
  • Thymus Vulgaris (Garden Thyme) Flower/Leaf Extract
  • Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Leaf/Cell Extract
  • Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/Leaf Extract
  • Vetiveria Zizanioides (Vetiver)
  • Cananga Odorata (Ylang-ylang) Leaf Oil
  • Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Leaf Extract
  • Santalum Album (Indian Sandalwood) Extract
  • Elettaria Cardamomum (True Cardamom) Seed Extract
  • Citrus Nobilis (Tangor)
  • Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Leaf Peel Stem

Ingredients for all products, along with application instructions, can be readily found on the Herbal Face Food website.

I received a sample of Herbal Face Food’s Super-Antioxidant Skin Serum as part of the interview process for a remote position with the company, however, I’m not being compensated for this review. I simply wanted to share my experience and information about the product.

I was super-excited when it arrived in the mail! When I ripped open the package, the sweet smell of herbs wafted out and I got even more excited. Now, some people may not enjoy the earthy, natural scent…I get that.Plus, the packaging is simple and recyclable; the serum comes in a small, glass bottle with a dropper top.

Herbal Face Food products are organic, raw and edible, and entirely plant-based. Since I’ve been trying to green my beauty routine for quite some time, these facts pleased me, so the trial began!

My Experience

I have, what I would consider, fairly sensitive skin which seems to have become more sensitive as I’ve gotten older.

Upon application you will feel a hot, burning, stimulating sensation and can be accompanied by temporary facial flushing. This hot sensation is a sign that the product is working and will last a few minutes.

Upon discovering that there would be a “hot, burning” sensation, which should dissipate over time with continued use, I was concerned that this might not be the product for me. Luckily, I was able to ask the company’s founder if it was safe (or recommended) for sensitive skin. In short, his answer was…Yes, but it may take longer for my skin to be less stimulated.

My first use was…not great. I applied the instructed “quarter-sized” amount before bed and my face felt like it was on, literal, fire. The next morning, I reduced this to a nickel-sized amount and found it was still too intense. When I washed my face before bed, the amount was, once again, reduced to dime-size and was still a little too spicy. Finally, on the fourth application, I found my sweet spot of 4-5 drops.

I’m, admittedly, not the most stringent about my skincare routine. I try to wash and moisturize twice a day, but more often than not it only happens once. (I know, I know…shun the non-believer.) BUT, the times I have dedicated myself to washing and moisturizing twice a day, my skin definitely improves. For the 10 days-worth of serum I had, I made it a point to wash and serum every morning and every night.

The Results

Herbal Face Food is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-aging, non-allergenic, and chemical free. It can be used to address the 10 most common signs of aging, including fine lines, large pores, firmness and discoloration. It can also treat acne, eczema and other skin issues.

Now, I’m only 31, so I don’t have too many signs of aging. Sure, I have smile lines and forehead wrinkles and, maybe, a touch of crow’s feet, but nothing major so I didn’t see much change in these areas.

I do, however, have fairly large pores, regular breakouts and a small discolored area near my hairline. The very first thing that was clear about the Skin Serum was that it definitely combats acne…and fast!

When I started the trial, I had a few pimples on my chin and forehead. Typically, they like to stay red longer than I want, and Herbal Face Food did reduce their redness, soreness and helped clear them up in a day or two. Acne? Check! Redness? Check!

Large pores are the worst, in my opinion. It may not be true or I may be looking too closely, but it feels like everyone can see them from a mile away. Try as I might with face masks and exfoliants, they never seem to really get smaller or go away. But after a handful of days using Herbal Face Food, they seemed to be going away…even in my magnifying mirror! Large pores? Check! Firmness…could smaller/tighter pores equal firmer skin? Maybe.

Since I have used all my Skin Serum, breakouts are taking longer to go away and tend to be redder than I’d like; my pores are back to their usual, annoyingly obvious size; but the discoloration/uneven skin tone has yet to return. The one thing that has changed since using Herbal Face Food, and helped reduce breakouts, is being in the habit of washing and moisturizing my face twice a day!

3 Tried-and-True Home Remedies

A friend of mine recently shared a post about home remedies that she loves, which got me thinking about some of my favorite remedies. I can attest to the salt water gargle she mentioned. I hate it. It tastes bad and it never really makes the soreness go away, as she states. My usual treatment plan is to gargle once in the morning and before bed — the times when my throat seems to be at peak soreness. While it may not remedy your sore throat entirely, it does help clear chest congestion, phlegm, or mucus that built up. This is particularly useful as your head cold sometimes turns to chest cold before you know it!

If you’re looking for a few more natural remedies to try out, these are a few of my frequently used.

Photo by Liz West/Flickr.


Use: Poison Ivy

I’m very allergic to poison ivy. I’ve tried calamine lotion, in all varieties, and oatmeal baths to end the misery. Nothing ever seems to work well, except, jewelweed (aka, Touch-Me-Not).

Jewelweed, of the impatiens family, is a natural remedy for poison ivy. It prefers to grow in humid woodlands often near poison ivy.  It is by far the most effective treatment I’ve ever used! Simply ask someone to venture into the wood to retrieve some, cut open the stems, and rub the juice directly on the affected area. Viola!

We would collect a bunch, juice it, and store in a mason jar in the fridge. The liquid can remain potent for up to a year! I highly recommend washing the area thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible after contact — the oil takes about 8 hours to take effect.

In more recent years, I’ve opted for jewelweed soap from the local natural health food store. It works wonders and smells nice!

Photo via The Hostess Diary.

Small Glass Bottles

Use: Splinter removal

Vanilla and peppermint extract can usually be found in small, amber bottles in the baking section at most grocery stores. Once you’ve used it up baking, wash the empty bottle for later. Place it in your medicine cabinet for those pesky splinters that are too difficult to get with tweezers.

I clearly recall being held down on a counter by my Dad, Mom, Uncle, and Grandpa as my Grandma tried to remove a splinter I had gotten in my toe. I screamed and cried as if they were amputating without anesthesia. No parent wants a repeat of that experience. This little trick will keep crying to a minimum and painlessly remove splinters of all kinds!

Nearly fill the bottle with hot water and place the opening over the splinter. Let it sit to creating steam and a vacuum that will extract the splinter. Easy, painless splinter removal!

Alternative method: Light a match, drop it in. The flame will use up the oxygen thus creating a vacuum.

Photo by Pixabay/stevepb.


Use: Sore Throat/Colds

Lemon and vinegar are staples in any home apothecary. Another recommendation: honey. Oftentimes “natural” honey isn’t really much better than the commercial brands, and I’ve found that they’re usually equal in price. Honey can be added to tea for soothing sore throats or concocted into a tincture of sorts.

My grandmother always drank a small glass of vinegar, lemon, and honey (diluted with water, of course) in the mornings if she felt a cold coming on. She swore by this remedy! As my dad got older, he adopted it too. I’ve read that cayenne pepper can be added to the lemon/vinegar mix — or used like salt water gargle.

Originally written for the WordPress blog Taste for Two.
Featured image by kerdkanno/Pixabay.

What Do We Want? Feminism!

When do we want it? Now!

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme for the beginning of this post, but maybe not. Feminism, as a movement, has a vital history and it’s something we’re still working toward in 2017.


A year or two ago, you would have never heard me call myself a feminist. I didn’t consider myself educated enough to place that label on myself, yet I found myself constantly reading blogs and articles and magazines that were filled with feminist ideas or blatantly feminist publications. Eventually, I found Bitch Media.

I subscribed to the magazine, then renewed. I gave the gift of Bitch to a friend and renewed my subscription, once again. I joined the b-hive and made small, monthly donations.


After moving, I missed several issues. Once I got my address change verified, they kindly extended my subscription to make up for the missing issues. Once I received the Chaos Issue, after a few short articles, I realized how much I had missed, not only the magazine itself but any similar content.

Why I had stopped trolling feminist blogs and websites? I’m not sure. Life probably got busy with moving, then job hunting and, by that point, I didn’t even realize I was missing feminist media.

Was it possible my various feeds were devoid of such content? It seems unlikely given my group of friends. Then again, I don’t religiously my check social networks.

The fact of the matter was that, in a matter of months, I had forgotten how positive, motivated, and alive the ideas and information in Bitch — and other sources — make me feel. Although I still wouldn’t consider myself super-well-educated on such topics, I do know that I love feminism and need more of it in my life!

Featured image by dimitrisvetsikas1969/Pixabay.