Naturally Fight Cavities- From a Zero Waste Dental Hygienist

Valentine’s Day the focus can be on sweets! Sugar, sugar and more sugar. Oh yeah and loving the sweetie-pie(s) in your life. Back to chocolate, I love it as much as the next person. My husband and I have a tradition of baking extravagant and completely out of our comfort zone desserts for Valentine’s Day. It’s so fun and yummy (most of the time!). This years bakes are Vegan Fruit Snacks and Vegan Maple Bars. With these tips you can beat cavities all year long, but especially in times of sweet delights.

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Back to our health and teeth health specifically. The average person most likely knows that sugar can cause cavities. But there are a LOT of other factors that go into it; pH, saliva, stress, diet, sugar frequency vs quantity, oral hygiene homecare (i.e brushing, flossing, water-piking, tooth-picking, rinsing), water intake, fluoride exposure as a child, genetics etc.

What is a Cavity and How Do They Form?

In a nutshell, cavities are formed by decaying tooth structure (another term caries) that CAUSE an actual cavitation in the tooth’s enamel and underlying dentin. This process is caused by the acid that is released from the bacteria in our mouth/saliva. These bacteria take in sugar and release acids, therefore changing the pH of that surrounding area, resulting in loss of minerals that make our teeth hard (Source is my BS in Dental Hygiene, I am a Registered Dental Hygienist). I wont go in the details of hydrogen ions and pH but I will say that our saliva acts as a buffer to these acids as well as the fluctuation of acids we consume via food and drink throughout the day.

10 Tips to Avoid Cavities

The little things do add up

  1. Brush your teeth…..and FLOSS for gosh-sakes. I wont go into details, that’s a whole other post but consistent mechanical removal of plaque is one of your best defenses.
  2. Drink lots of water throughout the day, importantly with meals aka sugar and acid.
  3. If your going to have sweets/sugar, do it all in one sitting not slowly throughout the day. This gives your saliva a chance to catch up on its job rather than having sugar assault all day long. Frequency is more vital than quantity. Have a lot of sugar every now and again (like for Valentines Day) but don’t do it often and don’t stretch it throughout the day. Say a 20 minute setting eating cookies with your family rather than taking a bite of a cookies every 20 minutes for a whole day.
  4. Check the pH of your drinks. The lower the number the more acidic by 10 fold each point down. La Croix and most carbonated waters are around 4.5. Soda, energy drinks, juice and coffee is around 3. Water is neutral at 7. Our saliva is around 7.4. When these products have added sugar or your eating sugar or simple, refined carbs, it’s a cavity-causing bacteria hay day! Rule of frequency applies here too, same concept, your saliva needs a chance to buffer out the acids. Have a drink in a 20-60 minute setting, than have water the rest of the day rather than sipping a ‘milking’ a latte for the whole morning.
  5. Watch out for gum and mints. Not all are sugar-free. Like tictacs and small candies they are packed with sugar and are meant to sit in your mouth for long periods of time. OR you chew them up right away, till bad, your jamming the sugar into the small crevices of your teeth and sealing it in with their sticky hard mediums. I highly recommend NOT eating these multiple times a day if any at all. That is up to your personal overall health practices.
  6. Use natural pH buffers in foods or rinses. I like to recommend baking soda mixed in water to rinse with on days that you consume more sugar, acids or after vomiting (add xylitol and peppermint essential oil for a daily rinse). Foods that are high in minerals, especially phosphorus and calcium, are helpful in re-introducing the minerals that are lost with acids. See this list. 
  7. Use Xylitol, a natural alcohol sugar that not only adds sweetness but actually fights cavities from being formed. (Source). I get the crystals (kind of looks like more shiny white sugar) at stores with bulk sections and add it to homemade toothpaste and mouth rinse. I hope to make my own Ice Chips someday.
  8. Use Stevia and Erythritol in moderation, can be a great sweetener alternative. Like the occasional Lilys Vegan Stevia Chocolate. I stay away from artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors.
  9. Do your own asking around and research about fluoride. I wont go into it really because it should be an individual and customized conversation person to person. Ask your dentist, your physician, your naturopath or you can ask me privately if you want an all -natural, zero waste, dental hygienist’s perspective on your specific situation pertaining fluoride.
  10. Consume less DAILY sugar. This includes honey, agave, coconut nectar and maple syrup but do indulge every so often if your diet allows. This ALSO includes simple carbs (that eventually break down to glucose i.e. sugar ) like pretzels, bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers. Check the nutrition label they sneak sugar into a lot of ‘health’ foods like salad dressing, sauces, dips etc. My rule of frequency also applies here. (see tip #4)

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Happy Treat Eating. You’ll be a cavity-beating warrior if you follow these tips! Sadly, and legally,  no guarantees my friends. Consult your dentist and doctor for more information regarding your overall and dental health.

 

Compost Logistics for Beginners

A Quick Rundown of Logistics for Composting as a Beginner, Featuring Vancouver, WA, USA Options.

Hello, I recently have gotten a few people asking me about how I compost. Well its most likely all different for everyone. I am not an expert! I have little experience, but I tried a few of these methods and read into them a bit. Composting is a crucial element for sustainability. It’s a beautiful thing that God created for organic matter to be re-purposed, re-used and honored. It becomes something else in creation that we all need, food for our food made from our food.

Options for in the home and the main compost bin/pile (pick one of each)

In the home/Kitchen: for the initial disposal of scraps/compostables: On kitchen counter, under kitchen sink, right outside kitchen on patio in:Ice bucket with lid (pretty)

  • Ice Bucket with lid
  • Large mason jar, glass jar with lid
  • old tin, coffee, nut, yogurt container with lid (ugly but inexpensive)
  • Any kitchen compost pale or bucket, they come in stainless steel, bamboo, ceramic, wood and more! 

From the kitchen to the compost bin/pile:

  • Live in a place that has curb side pick-up, how awesome Portland, Seattle and more!
  • Have animals that eat food scraps like pigs and chickens
  • Hire a pick-up service. Vancouver, WA: 
  • contact a farm that you can drop off scraps
  • Drop off at your friendly compost-friendly neighbors house
  • if you live near a large forest or ravine, ditch it there, it’ll decompose!
  • Pile- pick a corner or area of your yard to be your designated compost pile, you can set up 3 sides if you want it more container and cleaner looking. They also sell these – just look up Wood composter or something like that. You’ll need a pitch fork or good shovel.
  • Spinner, Rotating, tumbler compost bin
    • or you could DIY your own 
  • Worm composting, I have never tried it, but it sounds like a fun. I believe the process of composting goes faster. Downsides are you must be mindful that the worms don’t freeze, and you order the worms online (kind of weird?)
    • Usually called Worm Factory, or Tray Worm Compost bin, there are DIY versions with plastic tubs, I am not a fan of plastic but at least the Worm Factory ones are recycled plastic, the upside to plastic ones is its light to ship, store, move. here’s one website Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm
  • There are wood box style bins or even tumblers to buy on Esty
  • Youtube to make your own
  • Bury method- no turns needed. You just collect scraps and bury them at least 12 inches in your ground. good for if you are preparing a section for gardening. The slugs and worms will have at it and your soil with be nutrient rich for gardening
  • Aerating method. this person built there own and let nature do its thing with since (like the forest ground) things will compost with oxygen and bacteria- they are everywhere and free. 
  • Electronic (pricey one-time fee) like this. 
    • never tried but seems awesome! for those who aren’t too garden-y/outdoorsy, get-your-hands-dirty people
  • Stacking Terracotta composter like this 
    • Terracotta Solar Composter. This is the one where you bury the bottom, it looks pretty and you don’t really need to mix it, it may fill up depending on how much food scraps you produce,/size of composter.

The smaller tumbler could work with small yards or patios. If you only think in-home will work for you than a small electrical or solar powered. Check the last few out on this list for small in-home ones.

If I were you….

I personally am going to contact the pick-up people! But if I were you and I had the space I would make my own like the very first picture (because it’s the least expensive). If I didn’t have the space and I wanted it to look nicer I would do one similar to the terracotta solar composter. If I didn’t have space and I could spend the money I’d do one of the smaller in-home electric/solar ones. If I had kids and I was trying to teach them about waste and gardening I would do a worm bin. If it was all too overwhelming for me or I didn’t have space (studio apartment) but I wanted to care about the environment I’d do a pick-up service. The Vancouver Landscaping business that does food scrap pick up doesn’t say the price, but they give you a free estimate (maybe neighbors could go in together).

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What to Compost

  • all food scraps except meat, cheese, highly processed and oily stuff (we don’t eat much of that)
  • cotton (like the top of vitamins, cotton scraps from sewing, ripped up socks, thread, twine, unbleached paper towel/napkins shredded up a bit)
  • coffee grounds with filters, tea bags, plant matter like house plant trimmings or flowers I bought for a vase, plant decor.
  • cardboard (limited dye), paper bags, newspaper, un-glossy paper again with minimal dye (paper stickers only, no plastic coating or foil coated stuff) (just tear it up a bit, or reuse it til it literally falls apart)
  • Compostable cellophane (very little of it), those stupid compostable straws, utensils (this is for my experimentation because some need to be industrial composting but I am annoyed at all of them and want to see if they break down)
  • small wood chips, wood things like chopsticks, toothpicks, skewer sticks

Compost needs some moisture (comes from veggie most likely), turning/stirring (unless stated otherwise with specific bin) and more brown than green material Carbon/nitrogen, browns are (usually brown colored) wood matter, paper, coffee grounds, eggshells, and green is veggie scraps (the colorful wet goopy stuff).

Clear as Compost?

You are encouraged to comment on any advice that I missed or stories you have had with composting. Contact me or comment with questions and how it all goes for you. Thanks!

Easy Christmas Decor: DIY Snowflakes From Paper Doilies

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I like to fully embrace the Christmas season starting the day after Thanksgiving, some people it’s the first of December, if your a department store its July. In celebration of our new place, my husband and I are hosting an all-apartment complex party- don’t worry its only 30 units rather than 100’s. With that, we are trying to go all out for decorations. 

While I was going through my craft box to find white printer paper to cut out snowflakes, I came across my paper doilies that I have had a knack for hoarding a bit. I grabbed them and did a quick google search. I came across this wonderful YouTube video! So easy and quick, whereas snowflakes from plain paper is really hard, well for me at least! This is a good one for kids too.

DIY Snowflakes from Paper Doilies

Directions

Use any size you want! Fold 3 times (4 times for an extra little challenge and intricacy). Cut different shapes out along the folded edge. The more you make the more you learn and explore different shapes and styles. I kind of went crazy. It was a blast. I hung them from my ceiling with sewing thread. They are 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable. Have fun! 

Below is the video I referenced. 

My Anti-Black Friday Accident

I’m super anti-Black Friday. Sorry if you are for it but I just feel it takes away from togetherness with family and abuses the holiday season by pushing impulse and excessive consumerism. People wait in lines out in the cold at crazy times of the night to get a ‘deal’. I know this because I’ve done this a few times. It’s not fun and I don’t believe worth it but I’m also trying to live simply and minimally and buy more sustainably and ethically.

My Wonderful Anti-Black Friday Accident

I got this at my doorstep this morning, not wanting to see or hear any commercials, buy anything or go shopping today. So this amazing broom is my accidental anti-Black Friday purchase that I actually purchased a few weeks ago.

A BROOM! It’s a handmade-in-Washington, all-natural, corn husk broom from American Broom Shop! Moving into a studio and trying to have fewer electronics, we don’t have a vacuum so this was needed. I don’t even know where all this dust and stuff on the floor comes from!

So far I love it!! It’s beautiful, supposedly will last years and years, plastic-free made and shipped, handmade, local, sturdy, small business supporting and importantly cleans like no other broom I’ve swept with. It gets in all the cracks and crevices easily with its flexible bristles. It ALSO is rigid enough to grab stuff and hold onto it instead of just move it around and leave a trail of goodies. Now a dust pan…

Don’t know what review blog posts are but I think I just did one. Have a great day everyone.

DIY Vegan, Naturally-Colored Candy Corn

Happy Halloweeeeeeen………month!

On a whim, I bought a candy thermometer and decided to go for homemade, vegan, food-dyed candy corn again (last year’s was a droopy fail since the recipe I followed didn’t cook the syrup). I’m excited! Are you ready?

I fully intended on this being a very difficult, long, messy process. I had intentions of having to scientifically add a ‘wax’ of some sort or agar as a solidifier and GUESS WHAT?! It never got close to that point. One try and done, literally. Nothing complicated. Yeah they’re not the cutest or realistic in size but they are fun and easy to make not to mention vegan, naturally colored and yummy: triple bonus! The more I practice the more store-bought they’ll look, even though that’s not necessarily always the goal.

Tools/equipment:

  • Stove and pot
  • Candy thermometer
  • Cutting board or non-stick/scratch surface
  • Pizza cutter or knife
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups powder sugar (separated)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/6 cup or 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • Turmeric powder
  • Beet root powder

Instructions:

  • Stir together oil, corn syrup and sugar in pot on stove on medium heat. Once stirred leave alone to cook. Stick the candy thermometer in and wait for temperature to rise to 245-250 degrees F, the mixture should be bubbling. This will take 1-6 minutes depending on stove.
  • Immediately take off heat once at desired temperature (my candy thermometer had a hard and soft ball marker near 245-250 so I did in between). Stir in vanilla, it will bubble and is HOT so wear protective clothes and try not to be too aggressive with stirring.
  • Add powder sugar a bit at a time while stirring until a dough ball that’s not too sticky or wet looking. It may not need all the powder sugar or it may need more. It will be squishy because it’s hot. Put the dough ball aside on a plate or a surface to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Once it’s cool enough to work with your hands but not cold and rock hard, divide into three parts. Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to one ball. Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of beet root powder to the other, leaving the third one white. Work in with hands careful not to stain clothes (this is where kids could come in!)
  • Roll out into snakes and line the colors up. Use a kid safe knife or have an adult pizza cut the strips into triangles resembling candy corn. It dries and hardens as you go so speed is of the essence (10-15 minutes) but still have fun!
  • Once all dough is rolled and cut use your fingers to round edges and shape to your liking.
  • Let dry overnight. Mix with peanuts, jar them up for display, serve on a cupcake and/or eat! Store in bowl (if you have self control) out for all your creepy guests!!

Example of strips and the recipe I used for inspiration and tweaking Here. They have great troubleshooting as well, I just didn’t come across any so hopefully you don’t too!

In conclusion: I am definitely adding this to our yearly October tradition. Would be a great activity with kids who love candy, play-dough, crafts and baking. As I am a giant kid, as we all should be ESPECIALLY during Halloween, all should enjoy this treat. Half the fun is making it! No Tricks here just Treats. Have fun and let me know how yours turn out.

Zero Waste DIY: Rose/Floral Water

I love using rose water as a tonic face spray! So naturally I started to research how to make it myself….Rose water in my opinion is one of the “Super Fruits” of skin products. Rose water has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It can reduce redness and excess oil, control your skin’s acidity levels and give you a moisturized, fresh look without using any heavy chemicals. (Source)

This recipe is zero waste, easy, fun and frugal!

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Ingredients:

  • Water that your comfortable with; Distilled, filtered, tap etc.
  • Rose/Flower of choice Pedals- fresh with NO pesticides is best. I used a pink/purple Rose of Sharon bush, that isn’t actually a rose- who’da thunk. It’s in the hibiscus family but still has anti-inflammatory properties. You can also use dried pedals as well if you don’t have access to any fresh but make sure their safe for cosmetic purposes.
  • Spray Bottle

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Instructions:

  1. Pick flowers and collect the pedals. This is the relaxing, get-outside-kind-of fun part. The less blemished or dried out ones the purer the rose water will be (I tried to use old crusty ones and it turned the water black AH!).
  2. Rinse with cold water. In a stainless steel pot, place a heat-safe clean bowl filled with water in the middle of pot, this weighs the bowl down.
  3. Put pedals around the bowl (make sure the bowl is taller than the level of pedals. Add your water that will be the rose water to just covers the pedals (see photos below for steps 2-6 below).
  4. Turn stove on medium/low and wait until flowers get wilty and discolored. When this happens put a larger but flatter bowl on top of middle bowl and put the pot’s lid on pot upside down
  5. Wait a few minutes until you can see or hear the water simmering. Once simmering add ice in the small concave part of the upside down lid to induce more condensation on the inside of pot (that will be your rose water).
  6. The rose water (distilled version) will drip from lid to the top bowl. Let this happen for 15 minutes. If your like me and apt to forget, set a timer. You may have to add more ice and empty the lid basin if it melts (this is tricky, a suction/dropper may be easiest because I tried to grab and pour the melted ice into another container and spilled all over and burnt my finger a bit).
  7. Once timer is done, turn off stove and let cool. Collect rose water from the top bowl and pour in spray bottle. Let cool completely before use.

TIPS

  • 1 cup pedals + 2 cups water = 1/2 cup rose water
  • Use as a spritzer before you moisturize your face and body daily
  • Keep in fridge for longer shelf life (this is where I keep the extra for refill when I run out in the sprayer)
  • If not using really fragrant flowers like I did, you can add a drop of your favorite essential oil, like Lavender, Frankincense ect. I did DragonTime by YL. Be careful with putting certain essential oils on your face due to sunlight exposure and sensitivities, also avoid the eyes.

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Resource used: Thanks to the internet, and Dulce Delight for Dulce Delight’s YouTube How to make Rose Water – Incredible and concentrated recipe

Disclaimer: I am not a herbalist, cosmetologist, dermatologist, or anything else that is medical that ends in ‘ist’ for that matter. These are just fun suggestions and are not guaranteed to cure diseases. Use recipe at own risk. I don’t even know what to say for this or if I have to, hope y’all don’t take advantage of that 🙂

Just days in of June: A Month of Zero Makeup

Not a lot beats some sunshine in a grassy field, makeup or not.

May 31- Taking advantage of my “last day” to wear makeup

June 1- Day 1 of June: A Month of Zero Makeup

Thoughts Lessons Emotions Questions

Only 6 days in and I’ve already learned a lot about myself. For one, its not as climactic and exciting as I thought, not a lot of people notice or say anything if they do. I guess its not ‘proper’ to ask why someone isn’t wearing makeup. Funny, because I would gladly tell ya! Maybe now I will start complimenting people when I notice that they aren’t wearing gobs of makeup, they usually look like themselves more anyway! Better yet, complimenting peoples smiles and achievements rather than go for the superficial stuff first. A weakness I have found is that I find myself envying peoples hair color, texture and style. Maybe it has to do with frustration that the world is full of toxic options for the earth and our bodies, and those are the norm! That I choose not be ignorant and use chemicals, dyes, waste, fragrances and plastics. I thought I was going to be nervous to go to work, where it’s assumed that one will wear makeup to seem more ‘professional’, but surprisingly it hasn’t really phased me that much. With that said my acne has been a tad bit more controlled so that makes it easier. I also have gotten used to not doing my makeup for my getting ready routine. It’s kind of nice to take that decision out of my day. It’s just in the beginning so we’ll see what else is in store these next few weeks. Will I just go back to my same exact feelings and routine at the end of this?