Toothpaste: Making your own {Pursuing True Community}

I’m a strange person. I sing The Lion King at the top of my lungs while blogging, my favorite book growing up was Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide, and now my newest self-sustainability rampage: toothpaste. This post from The Fewell Homestead Blog convinced me that I needed to make the switch.

The recipe is very straightforward- baking soda, coconut oil, salt, and essential oil. It took me about five minutes to make, not counting the coconut oil’s melting time.I basically put everything except for the EO in my jar, held it neck-deep in warm/hot water while stirring     (until the coconut oil melted), then added peppermint extract*. It set over the next day, but I went ahead and used it about four hours later, and it was fine.

Because I don’t have the essential oils, it tastes pretty awful, but I’ getting used to it. And it’s so worth it- I have had no plaque, no cold sores, healthily pink gums- I love it! It really doesn’t take a long time, especially if the oil is already melted. For anyone even considering to attempt to go down the sustainability path, making and using your own toothpaste is an easy way to test the waters.

Just-ahem- don’t forget to use edible EOs. 😀

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*I was stupid enough not to read the labels on the EO I bought, and realized at home that it was ‘external use only’. I had to substitute nearly all the peppermint extract that we have. Despite the jar smelling of it, the toothpaste only gives me the faintest hint of mint.

Self Sustainability {Pursuing True Community}

Recently I got the chance to travel to East Saint Louis with my church for a week-long missions trip. We got to work with the youth of a community center to build chess tables, computer tables, and hydroponics carts.

Often people see missions trips as this: a group of people take something they have to other people who lack that thing. It’s seen as a one-sided ‘benefit’. We tried to reverse that, and (at least I) believe that we succeeded. I took away so much from that trip- in fact, it’s probably the reason I’ve gone on this self-sustainability rampage.

So, in essence, what is self-sustainability? It is the practice of living independent from outside resources. Those of us who attempt to achieve it recognize the chemicals used in the making of the foods and products we use every day, and decide what we want and don’t want to have in our bodies. We spend a little bit of time each day working towards that goal, and finding that we don’t have to depend on products containing things we don’t recognize.

We don’t need mass-retailers. In fact, making your own products instead of buying them lets you stretch creativity to the max. Honestly, when was the last time you saw lemon-basil ice cream in the freezer case at WalMart? If previous experiences are any indication, probably never.

Self-sustainability gives you something stores can’t- choices. Before I tried making my own, I couldn’t take a box of dried pasta and decide if it was spaghetti or ravioli. I couldn’t take a loaf of bread and decide if it was a bag of rolls or a baguette. I can do that now, and so much more.

Most importantly, self-sustainability is about community (in fact, it shouldn’t have very much to do with ‘self’!). It allows you to have as little impact on the world as you want. Concerned about the environment? It addresses that. Have a child with severe allergies? You can be the one regulating their diet- not what’s stocked at the store. It allows communities to grow closer, and eventually, to depend on each other. Self-sustainability isn’t necessarily about independence- it’s about inter-dependance within the community.

I know people who do a little, I know people who do a lot. You might have the coworker who has a little potted basil plant on their windowsill. You might know someone (like the incredible Martin Wolske) who has backyard chickens, rabbits, and bees, along with an incredible garden. With the rising of the urban farm movement, more and more people are joining communities of urban food-producers.

It’s a bit late to change much with the garden, but I’m hoping to do some winter beds this year. I’m making homemade toothpaste (hopefully more on that later!), yogurt, cheese (sometimes), ice cream, pasta, et cetera. I’m doing my normal baking, and am hoping to cut processed foods from my diet. With the toothpaste especially I’ve noticed differences from the store-bought stuff- my homemade works so much better. I don’t have any essential oils, so it tastes awful, but I’m getting used to it, and I feel much better about it. Being able to choose what I want in my cabinet has taught me so much- once you get into it, you can go anywhere!

Where are you on the spectrum of self-sustainability? What are your thoughts on its relation to community?

Since then…

Well, I’ve been trying to post for about a month now. I’ve been working on the Peter blanket-

The Peter Blanket, The Lucille Tunic

-pattern for a while, but when I went to find the notebook I wrote it in, it was gone!  I’m still looking for it, so when I find it (note: when), I’ll post it right away! This past month has been quite interesting. I’ve had various vacations and activities going on, and I haven’t had much time to work on anything big. However, upon going through my email this afternoon, I found many of the pictures I meant to post.

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This one was a May picture, but it brought back good memories. When my parents were in London, I tried out many British recipes, including this bread-and-butter pudding. I made the mistake of thinking it was sweet, and adding sugar. It wasn’t awful, but it was certainly an interesting flavor combination. I did like the recipe, though, and I might try it again.

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Anyone who has read Harry Potter has heard all about the famous butterbeer, the favored drink of the heroes. Sometimes hot, sometimes iced, always butterscotch-y and delightful, it is a drink anyone would drool over.

Our family attempted to make it after hearing so much about it, and while a time-consuming endeavor, it was worth the struggle. Of course it isn’t a low-calorie drink, but it is delicious…

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The garden is coming along. The picture above is an old one, and all of those beets have long since been eaten (deer, alas!), but we have a steady stream of kale, broccoli, and zucchini. Every now and again we even get a few tomatoes (often a target for deer, unless we get there first). For a garden in a park reclaiming the prairie and the woods, I don’t think it’s excessively awful.

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Our herbs are coming along very nicely, and the other day I tried a lemon-basil ice cream. In the past we have shied away from ice cream recipes, since we have no ice cream maker, but I found a way to make one without and got away with using a brownie pan and a fork instead. It was definitely a savory ice cream, and an unconventional one too! I certainly fell in love with that recipe and will come back for it later!

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This week I’ve gotten the chance to be in the kitchen a lot, and today was no exception! Right after breakfast I made two more batches of yogurt (have I mentioned my yogurt-making endeavors yet?), and while that was setting, tried a batch of pasta. The last time I did homemade pasta, it didn’t turn out well- I was ten- and it was far too chewy. This time I dried the noodles, and made sure they were brittle before I put them away! We’ll see how they turn out, when cooked!

Hopefully I will be able to do more posts soon!

Katie