Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Looking For A Liquid Soap Alternative

I have to admit when I first saw this product I hated it (see my first post about this product)! I first found Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim in 2012.  At the Expo, they had only the tangerine citrus version and that didn't work for me. The citrus essential oil odor invoked nausea and a headache.  At that time, to my knowledge, Alaffia did not produce an unscented alternative. I  stayed clear.  

Now after moving eastward, I hadn't located any African stores in my locale as readily as in Southern California.  I was forced to find something else for my go-to hand soap.  When I went to Whole Foods... look what I found, an unscented version. Yeah!

A New Go-To Product For Me!

The first bottle I purchased is lighter in color than the second.  The product label states that it is handcrafted and that may account for the difference.  What I like best, of course, is I do not detect any offensive odor.  I like to add distilled water to thin the soap, then fill my hand soap container.  Now that there is an unscented version it is a go-to product in my home.  I admit, my first choice would be to use raw African black soap, however, for me this is the next best alternative.  

Alaffia's label states that this product it is handcrafted, Fair Trade, unscented, gluten free, no parabens, non-GMO, no SLS, biodegradable and no animal testing.  This fits most of my criteria and so is an all around winner for me!  The label also states that it can be used as body wash, facial cleaner, shaving soap, shampoo and more. Besides hand soap I do use it on my face and sometimes as a body wash.  Is non-drying to my dry skin. Check it out, give it a try! No Whole Foods in your area, here it is on Amazon! This is another product to assist you to be savvy and scent free!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Do you Cross Contaminate?

Many food allergen survivors are used to the food warning labels that typically read "processed in plant or shared on the same equipment with wheat, milk, egg, shellfish, tree nuts, soy, gluten, etc."  If you do not have a food allergy, you may wonder why I call us survivors.  Depending on the severity of the allergy every day can be a battle.  Even if we ourselves prepare the meal we have to be careful of cross contamination.

I was first made aware of the severity of this warning as my friend's son was anaphylactic to shellfish and pistachios. At a young age, he was highly aware of cross contamination.  He had a few close calls and for him it is a life and death challenge.

I never gave much thought to it with my own purchases until I had a bad reaction to Folger's coffee. Although the label reads 100% Columbian coffee, I absolutely can not stay awake after drinking a cup. This led me to believe that the coffee was processed  in a facility that used soy. Since then, it was brought to my attention that many companies spray their coffee beans with some sort of soy derivative. Whether Folger's sprays or not, I simply won't purchase it.

Have you check the warnings?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scent Free Remodeling

Space needing storage solution
Living scent free covers all aspects of your life. It doesn't only affect how a person reacts to fragrance in clothes, personal products, cigarette smoke, etc.  What if you need to remodel your home? Like me, if you are also chemical and fragrance sensitive, you have to consider the materials you will use. 

Are you affected by offgasing?  Off-gassing is the release of vapors that can be toxins, chemicals or odors from building products such as paint, glue, carpet, and types of wood used.  One of the chemicals that can have a high level of off-gassing is formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.  I found this OSHA Fact Sheet on formaldehyde interesting.  If you have an allergy or sensitivity to chemicals or fragrance what building materials you use matters. 

When I enter newly constructed buildings (even though the structures have been completed months past), I have headaches, breathing issues and the like. So I know that whatever the remodeling we do, I have to heavily consider what products I will use.  After all, I have to sleep here.  I know we have to tackle each project and room in sections.  This was an old house built in the 1930s; spatial proportions are limited.  For instance, there are limited closets.  When I say limited, I mean two (2) in the entire house.  So storage solutions are a prime concern.  

On the side wall, my husband made a wall hanging solution for coats/jackets.
This is the one of spaces needing an overhaul. It is under the stairs and a perfect place for a storage.  For some reason this beautiful buffet which I will paint (pictured below) was stored there.  
Buffet stored under the stairs.
If you have any ideas on how to make the most of this space, let me know what you think.  Currently, after removing the buffet, I stored my husband's bowling equipment, mop, vacuum cleaner, not well organized, but at least out of the way.   I also photographed a vintage drawer my mom used to store sewing patterns, fabric and notions.  It is too large for the sewing craft room so I was thinking to cut off the legs and use this as a bench under the stairs.  Before I cut the legs and paint, we have to do a dry run to see it will fit.  I would cover the bench with foam and material for seating when taking off boots and shoes.  

This space would still have the fit the bowling equipment, vacuum and mop.  Some of the bench drawers could be used for hats, flip flops, etc. 

I helped my husband on a paint job and we used a low VOC paint from Sherwin Williams.  This paint didn't cause a reaction so I know I will use again.  However, I will not be painting the space as there are other factors to consider.  Some of the current paint may have lead, flooring may have asbestos and that takes us to a another level of remodeling... so at this point this will not be a finished space, however, it must be usable.

Under the stairs current use

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Soy Free Chocolate Experiments

Mayday mayday mayday... abort abort!  The chocolate chips have soy, having a reaction.  Mayday mayday mayday! There is much contradictory information about soy, soya, soybeans, soybean oil, soy protein whether it is good for you, safe, not safe, affects phytoestrogens, it will make your head spin. With the assistance of doctor, I found that soy, in any form, and eggs to be a source of many of my chronic issues.  I am not anaphylactic, as yet, but I have an extreme intolerance that effects my thyroid and thus I become extremely lethargic.  I affectionately name that reaction "my soy-induced coma".  After awakening an hour and half later, I still have body aches and pain. 

With my egg intolerance it induces extreme gut pain and body aches. At the recommendation of my, then, doctor and the aftereffects of my body, I avoid them.  If I have eaten soy I have trained my family that when I say "I have to go to sleep", usually at an inopportune time, they let me go.  After all, I have no choice. I absolutely can not stay awake.

Realizing that at least 90% or more of processed food contain some form of soy I have resorted to cooking from scratch.  For me, even using canned soup in a recipe is no longer an option as the majority of the canned soup contain either soy or eggs. 

My recipe experiments resulted in successes and some failures. In California, it was difficult to find "ready made" food I can eat although ingredients were easier to find locally.  With the move eastward and in the middle of soybean and GMO cornfields, the natural ingredients are more difficult to find.  

I am grateful that Trader Joe's, a California based company, is 20 minutes away.  There is also a Whole Foods and Costco in the same area. Yeah! Saved!  Remember that whatever you purchase, read the labels.  Learn the soy derivatives, the hidden meaning behind the words on the labels. The Soy Allergy Group on Facebook has been a blessing.  Yes we all have different reactions, however this resource, because of their different reactions, has been invaluable. Another great source is Maya of Maya's Happy Place who lists many of the derivatives on her January 2010 blog post.  Here's the LINK.

Learning to make chocolate!
I found that "natural flavors" on the label is an indication their may be soy in the product. This is what led to the "mayday call" in the beginning of this post.  The chocolate chips I used to make the cookies, although the label did not state "soy", it read "natural flavors".  I've been using the other ingredients in my baking and cooking and didn't get a reaction. This was the only "new" ingredient, thus my soy induced coma ensued. 

I'm learning to make my own chocolate or use the Enjoy Life brand, which are soy free and processed in a plant without the top allergens.  I found this egg free chocolate chip recipe at Bunch of Cooks and tweaked it to my liking.  I found I needed to add chilled water (a few tablespoons) for the cookie to melt as I had hoped.  I also replaced the white sugar with organic sugar.  I use Wholesome sweeteners Evaporated Cane Juice Organic Sugar which I purchased at Costco in the 10 lb. size.  Since the first few batches I will change a few other things.  I'll keep you posted on my progress and watch that timer or it will be too crunchy. 

Chocolate Bites
In the above photo I was a trying a chocolate recipe.  The chocolate recipe from the Coconut Mama blog gave me hope and let me know anything is possible in the world of making your own chocolate. I like using butter to cut the bitterness of the Trader Joe's cacao powder.  I also like using Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Powder along with the Trader Joe's brand.  Trader Joe's powder is a finer power than the Navitas Naturals.  Together they make the chocolate a thicker consistency.  I'll keep working at it. A big thanks to Bunch of Cooks and Coconut Mama.  At least I know now I'm not limited in my search for soy free chocolate.  I'm having fun making my own. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

How to Get Fragrance Out of Your Clothes

I mentioned in an earlier post, Cleaning Scent-Free Savvy Style, that baking soda, vinegar, and a natural lemon are my go to cleaning products.  These products not only clean burnt skillets but they are good for hard water stains and detoxing perfume and fragrance odors from clothing.

Often when you get "previously-used" clothing (hand-made downs) from friends or thrift shops they can retain perfume, fragrance, laundry detergent and cigarette smoke odors.  To get rid of these unwanted odors, I have soaked items in a combination of scent-free laundry detergent, baking soda and vinegar.  The more entrenched the smell, the longer you have to soak. After you have soaked for a day or so, then, run the wash as usual with unscented detergent, of course, and the smell should be gone.  If the odor is still in the fabric... soak some more.

If the material is white I add hydrogen peroxide.  It is best to soak items of similar colors together and not to use hydrogen peroxide on items that are not color fast.

I use a combination of baking soda, liquid dish soap, lemon and hydrogen peroxide to cut the grease on the collar stains of my husband's shirts.  Remember I am not a chemist so if you have concerns about the chemical combinations, it best not to proceed or do some "Googling" on the subject. Whatever you decide to do, be savvy and scent free.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Relentless Winter and What to Do

It is the end of March and it snowed overnight last week.  I have given in to television and devices for most of this winter.  After all, I was in my own mourning of the glimmering California sunshine and hot temperatures they have experienced this winter.  I knew, though, that we had to find other inside activities to do to as this relentless winter doesn't seem to end.

As I was checking out Pinterest as I regularly do, I found a tie dye activity I thought my daughter would get excited about. I was excited too, because there would be less mess to clean up than the usual way of tie dying (it's fun too).   

By the way, did I mention I love Pinterest.  There are so many exciting delectable food temptations, fashion and craft ideas to explore. There are things I would not have discovered if it wasn't for this avenue of the Internet.  Here's my Pinterest page, come check it out.  

For this tie dye project, all you need is a t-shirt, Sharpies (permanent-not fabric Sharpies), rubber bands, rubbing alcohol and a couple of cups.  for this Fire Works shirt.  She tied the shirt around rubber bands on to a plastic water bottle (we cut in half).  In this way she was able to contain her design to the diameter of the cup.  Here's a Sharpie Tie-dye link on Pinterest. 

I love that my daughter is very creative.  I think she did a great job!

This project may not fall under the category of scent free because of the rubbing alcohol and if you have a sensitive sniffer like mine you will probably smell the odor of the Sharpies.  So it will be best to work in an area that is well ventilated or open windows if you are not still in temperatures under 40 degrees like we are. Have fun and do your best to be savvy and scent free. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Schaumburg, Il April 12-13, 2014

Do you have food allergies and intolerances or suspect that you have food allergies? I recently saw an advertisement in the Ultra Foods sales flyer for the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois April 12-13, 2014.  Schaumburg is just outside of Chicago, Illinois.

It can be upsetting to stand inside the grocery store deciding what you can or cannot eat, reading and dissecting food labels. After all, eating is not just a occasional past time.  Food is basic to our human survival.  However, when we feel that the food we eat is fighting against us and we play this continuous food game of Russian roulette, eating becomes a chore not a pleasure.

Last year in March 2013, I had the opportunity to attend the Natural Products Expo in Los Angeles as a media blogger.  It was fun, very insightful and informative.  I was able to move forward in my quest for soy free, dairy free and gluten free eating with many ideas spinning in my head. (See photo below of my haul of some soy free bars.)

So when I saw the  advertisement yesterday, I jumped at the opportunity to apply and attend as a blogger.  This event is open to the public.  If you are struggling to make the adjustment to gluten free or allergen free eating, this event may be your answer.  Usually at events like these you can sample and taste products you have been reluctant to purchase.

Check out http://gfafexpo.com for tickets and attend the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo in Schaumburg, Il April 12-13, 2014.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cleaning Scent-Free Savvy Style

Thick smoke filled the air.  I was making syrup for my daughter's french toast.  As usual, I started cooking and walked away from the stove.  I got distracted, smelled smoke and ran downstairs.  There it was, I burned another cooking skillet.  I mean I really burned the skillet with hot cane sugar, butter and jam. The syrup harden to a thick black substance. Oh no! I also now have to admit to my husband I burned another pan.  This was not the first time this scene played out in our household.  Usually I can save the pan, but this time even I was doubtful.  I posted the pan on Instagram and Facebook. I received many suggestions.  I has already put baking soda and white distilled vinegar on it.  These are my main go-to cleaning ingredients.

One person told me to use Bar Keeper's Friend.  I love Bar Keeper's Friend.  I use it to clean our white porcelain sink, tub and stainless steel pans and surfaces, however, I thought this was beyond its ability to clean this mess.  Another friend told me to warm the pan in the oven, spray oven cleaner on it and place it back in the warm oven for the designated time to heat the oven cleaner.   It sounded like a good idea only I knew I would not be able to tolerate the intense odor of the oven cleaner.   I decided to heat the pan with the baking soda, vinegar and lemon solution.  I then placed the pan on the stove and heated it.  To my surprise, it lifted most of the thick black burnt substance  (see second photo), I scraped the black pieces of burnt syrup with a spoon/butter knife.  I topped off my cleaning with Bar Keeper's Friend and juice from a lemon.  Yeah! I saved my Rachel Ray's skillet.  See the results below.

Join the Scent and Fragrance Allergy Board

I created a fragrance allergy board on Facebook.  This group was created out of the support and assistance I have received from the Facebook Soy Allergy Group. I found that many that with soy allergies are also allergic or intolerant to fragrance. So as not to interfere or go off topic of the soy allergy, I saw the need for a group to do same as that group has done for me that is to assist others cope with this challenge. This new group is the "Scent and Fragrance Allergy Board".  
This group is to encourage others confronted with this fragrance allergies or sensitivities. Whether you suffer with fragrance allergies or are a supporter of a friend, family member or colleague with this challenge please openly vent your frustrations, share your joys, tips, successes and fragrance free products with others of like challenges. 

If you would like to be added go to "Scent and Fragrance Allergy Board" and ask to be added.