Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Make Your Own Dish Soap and Face Wash

This week's DIY experiment: Dish Soap

1/2 cup soap shavings (just grate a bar of soap--preferably one with only a few ingredients)
4 cups water
2-4 Tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar (helps cut grease)
A few drops of lavender oil (or your favorite essential oil, for fragrance)

Slowly heat the water and soap shavings, stirring often until the soap is completely dissolved (don't let it boil!)  Let the mixture cool and add the other ingredients.  Pour it into an old dish soap container.

This photo has nothing to do with dish soap or face wash.  But a blog post without a photo is boring.  So here's Keira  and I getting ready to head to the market.  A friend gave me a "mei tai" (Chinese-style baby carrier) and I love it.
Last month's DIY experiment: Face Wash

About a month ago I started using the oil cleansing method (OCM) on my face.  It is awesome.  My face has never been so clear, and I don't even need to use a moisturizer any more.  You can read about how to do it here.  I make my face wash with olive oil, castor oil, and tea tree oil.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recent Visitors

Friends who have come to visit this month...

Louie and Lulu--she was in the first English class I ever taught in Taiwan
Michelle--a dear friend who came back to Taiwan from France for a visit
Mai-Li--the midwife who delivered Keira in our home
Evelyn, Joey, and Danny--friends from church, and I used to tutor the two boys
Ranim--born one day before Keira, also at home

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Like A Kid in a Chemical Store

I love making things instead of buying them.  However, I was discouraged that many of the ingredients I needed were not available in Taipei.

Or so I thought.

My husband found this store when he was searching for my Christmas present.  They have everything you need to make your own natural toiletries and cleaning products...at great prices!  The first floor has natural soaps, essential oils, shea butter, coconut oil, and other ingredients for cosmetics.

The second floor is like a high school chemistry teacher's supply closet.  If you look up the Chinese name or formula for the chemical you want, you can find it here.  I even found washing soda for our homemade laundry detergent!

This bottle of coconut oil (below) was 75元...or $2.59 US.

We were pretty excited about this discovery.  This month's homemade projects include: toothpaste, hair gel, shampoo, conditioner, and dish soap.  

If you're in Taipei and want to check it out the chemical store, here's the info:

First Chemical Works
TianShui Rd, #43, 2F
Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan

The nearest MRT is Zhongshan Station.
You can copy/paste this Chinese address into Google to see a map: 台灣台北市大同區天水路43號

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Keira: 3 Months Old

Keira is changing all the time, and we love learning new things about her as she grows.  For our friends and family who are far away, here's a quick post to help you get to know our sweet daughter.
(To view, click "show encrypted text" and enter the blog password.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cloth Diapering: 4 Things We've Learned

Here are four useful things we've started doing while using cloth diapers in Taiwan:

1. Making our own wool diaper covers
Our baby girl is already outgrowing her diaper covers that we brought over from America.  So I decided to try making some out of a thrift store wool sweater.   

 Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, waterproof, breathable, and even self-cleansing.  Plus, wool covers are much cuter than plastic ones.  :)

You can read more about the awesomeness of wool here.   

They weren't too hard to make, even for a novice sewer like me.  
I modified this free online pattern

 A friend recently gave me another wool sweater, and I can't wait to make more of these!

2. Washing diapers with HOT water

Washing machines in Taiwan are different than washers in the States.  For one thing, they only get cold water.  This is not so great for washing dirty diapers.  Fortunately, many washing machines in Taiwan are located in the bathroom right next to a removable shower head, which does get hot water.  (You can see the set-up in this picture from the archives...)

A few weeks ago a friend suggested I use the shower head to fill up the washing machine with hot water before starting the cycle.  Brilliant!  It definitely makes a difference.

3. Using a cloth wipes solution
It gets baby nice and clean.  Plus, it smells good!

2 C water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 drops tea tree oil
2 Tbsp. baby wash

(The oil and water separate, so just give it a shake before squirting on the wipe).

4. Making our own diaper detergent
It's hard to find a good cloth diaper detergent that's not super expensive.  So recently I experimented with making our own.  I've only been using it a few days, but so far it seems to be working really well.

1 cup baking soda (washing soda would be better, but I can't find it in Taiwan)
1 cup Borax (disodium tetraborate decahydrate, found at a chemical store on Nanjing E. Rd.)
1/2 cup "Vanish" (the Taiwanese equivalent of Oxiclean (sodium percarbonate)).

Hope these things we've learned can help someone else out there.  
Happy cloth diapering!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year's Weekend

We did a lot of chillin' out in our pajamas
Hanging out at a tea house with friends
Some new friends came over for dinner
We made our first-ever gluten-free gingerbread house
Our neighbor's daughter came over to help

We spent New Year's Eve with friends and watched fireworks from our roof.

Happy 2013, everyone!