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Taking Collagen? It’s Not Doing Much Without This

Taking Collagen? It’s Not Doing Much Without This

Are you thinking about taking collagen? It seems everybody’s doing it. From making bone broth to making natural gut-friendly gummies to stirring the supplement form of hydrolyzed collagen into tea and smoothies…collagen has a prime spot on the natural health trend train as of now, and for good reason. We need it, and when convenience cooking had a stronghold, the collagen sources from our food supply went out with it.

Thankfully, our uses for collagen make a little more sense now than they did a few short decades ago.

Ma’am, are you okay? Do you need an antihistamine?


Collagen supplementation is commonly used to support the structure of the skin and as part of a regimen to rebuild the intestinal membranes to decrease permeability. The folks who advise on leaky gut all seem to recommend collagen. Turns out, collagen serves a crucial structural role in the human body. It hangs out between cells and is found pretty much everywhere – in skin, bones, membranes, tendons, ligaments and more.

Dietary collagen shows promise as a bone loss prevention therapy – so far, it has successfully decreased bone loss in menopause-induced rodents. Additionally, it has improved osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) in humans. Collagen intake has been shown to increase the density of collagen fibrils in the dermal layer of pig skin, and similar results were shown with an increase in collagen in the skin of rats after a dietary collagen regimen.

Human tissues are structurally similar enough to that of rats and pigs that I’m paying attention.

So for healthy tissues and forever young skin, we want to to ingest as much collagen as possible, right?


No, not even close.

So, how much to take? I stir 2 tbsp into my morning tea and my afternoon tea. That gives me 22g of collagen protein, 11g each time. (I don’t know what your protein needs are – you may need to adjust.) In addition, I get collagen from bone broth and from slow-cooking bone-in meats.

I could stop there, but why not make sure my body can use it?

Now, it’s true that if we’re supplementing collagen, we’re ingesting the whole form, but we still digest it, which breaks it down into building blocks. So, our cells need to use those building blocks to put it back together into the collagen that strengthens our tissues. With a little research, I found something to help it along.

Are you taking collagen for hair, skin, or even leaky gut? You might need to add an easy supplement to help your body use it. Click through to read more! #collagen #gelatin #bonebroth #leakygut #antiaging #youngskin #longhair #strongnails #vitaminc

Enter Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required for your body to synthesize collagen using available amino acids, and studies have shown increased collagen density with the addition of vitamin C. With collagen intake through a powder supplement, bone broth or gelatin, we should have everything our cells are looking for to build it, but vitamin C is essential to this process.

Here’s another source of information on the collagen and vitamin C connection, just for fun.

So, how to get enough Vitamin C for collagen production?

There are plenty of food sources of vitamin C, but I supplement to make sure I get it every day. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, dove into the food-derived vitamin C vs. ascorbic acid issue in this article. That was enough for me switch to a whole food source. For now, I get these ones but they’re pricey. Once I get my hands on a capsule filler and mg scale, I plan to make my own using rosehips and acerola herb powders.

How long until we notice results?

There are so many factors that go into skin appearance and collagen production – diet, environment, age, genetics, etc. I noticed a big difference in about a month, especially around my eyes. Your mileage may vary.


Why I Think Screen Time Limits Make Kids Happier

Why I Think Screen Time Limits Make Kids Happier

We used to take the approach that once the kids get their homeschool and chores done, they could do what they want with their free time. For a million reasons, that wasn’t working, so recently we had to tweak our policy on that a little and institute screen time limits. Before you tell me how scary that sounds, let me tell you that we all had a rough two days, as they had to redirect their free time focus from TV, tablets and video games (and I had to receive the grievances). But now we’re all better off.

Here’s how our day typically goes. When Mister leaves for work, we all go to the table and get our homeschool day situated. We do not break for summer, so this has been our weekday routine for years. That is, until we were all down with flu. Somehow, I got hit the hardest and I was sick longer than anyone else, so I relied heavily on screens when I needed to recover. (Thank goodness we go all summer!)

Once we recovered, we had a heck of a time getting back to our school flow. Learning time and chores started to be treated as an interruption to their day, and they reached for the remote or tablet as their default activity. Although we got back to our school time routine, the screen habit had taken root and there were fireworks every time I asked them to do something else.

We used to let the kids spend their free time how they wanted, but I found that screen time limits made them happier. Click through to read about what our balanced screen time approach looks like in our house. #parenting #kids #screentime #screentimelimits #kidsbehavior #add #adhd #tantrums #kidstv #tablets #happykids #discipline #happyfamily

Additionally, I saw subtle but building changes in their demeanor. My previously chill kids started to launch into full-throttle emotion at the teeniest issues, and we all took turns butting heads all day. It was not a happy time.

So, I saw three main problems in our house after our two weeks under the weather…
1. Reaching for screens to the exclusion of all else
2. A distorted sense of how daily responsibilities should be treated
3. Reduced emotional control

I figured #1 and #2 could be addressed with screen time limits. Another homeschool mom friend said she had to limit screen time to Friday through Sunday so that screen time would be completely off the table for those days. If it’s not an option, they will neither reach for it nor ask for it. Then, they would be forced to read, draw, play legos, pretend, kick the soccer ball…anything but sit there and vegetate in front of the TV or tablet. I borrowed her plan.

Imposing screen time limits also helped me start learning time and chores without much protest. I’m not saying the grumbles are gone–that’s just not realistic. But now it’s once again an assumed part of our day instead of an interruption to their Mario board or episode of Jessie.

As for emotional control, my chill kiddos have returned! I cannot say for sure whether or not their tantrums had anything to do with screen time, but I imagine the problem came from a combination of me nagging them to get through their to-do lists, from the overstimulation effects that electronics have on our neurons, and from the general sense that no matter what they were doing, they would rather be doing something else. The freakouts still happen, but the part of the brain that moderates all of that seems to have come out of its slumber.

Screen Time Limits – How We Do It

So, here’s what we’ve been doing for two weeks now, with more success than I could ever have imagined.

No screens before breakfast, ever. Mister and I recognized a year or two ago how much impact morning screen time has on our kids’ behavior.

No screens Sunday through Thursday. If it’s not an option, they don’t ask, I don’t have to say no, and there’s no negotiation and protest. It keeps things simple. We make exceptions for doctor’s waiting rooms and long car trips, because come on. Sanity.

Friday through Sunday screen time is earned throughout the week. We cannot do limitless, wild west style free time anymore, lest we end up re-training and pulling our hair out every Monday again. When school and chores go well, they can earn up to two hours per weekend day. When they do not go well, time goes down.

It may sound strict, but my kids are so much happier when they know what’s expected of them. Not to mention, as a homeschool family, we’re together a lot. Clearly defined expectations keep everything running much more smoothly.



How and Why to Do an Armpit Detox

How and Why to Do an Armpit Detox

Um, what? Did you just say armpit detox?

So one minute, we’re talking about something totally normal like journaling or making soup, and the next minute you want me to do what to my pits?

If you’ve never tried natural deodorant, an armpit detox might be a foreign topic to you.

If you’ve tried natural deodorant for more than a week or two, you know exactly what I mean by transition period, and you may be really glad you found this post.


What, did you think this natural personal care thing was all lavender and patchouli?

When we switch from commercial deodorants and especially antiperspirants to natural deodorant, we experience a rather smelly transition period. For those who are not expecting it, the transition period marks the time when they decide the natural deodorant option was a fail, and they may return to their good old standby commercial deodorant. It starts around day two or three and lasts a few weeks, then things even out and natural deodorant can keep us fresh all day after that.

But who wants to stink for one or two weeks?

There are a few, non-scientific proposed explanations for why this happens. One idea is that antiperspirants prevent sweating, a normal body function. After a few days off, the antiperspirant residues dislodge and let all of the backed up funk come out of the pores. Another possibility is that since your pores spent all these years being blocked from sweating, they produce excessive sweat until natural regulation mechanisms slow the process to a normal sweat production. I’ve also read that the skin’s microbiome has been disrupted by commercial products for so long, that it takes a few weeks to build a healthy ecosystem again. In the process, the undesirable pathogens die off, leaving toxins behind that cause odor.

What do I think is happening? I can’t say for sure, but what I do know is the process is unpleasant for those experiencing it and those close to us.

An asterisk (*) denotes an affiliate link. That means I will receive a small commission from a purchase made through a link on this site, at no additional cost to you. Opinions here are mine and purchasing decisions are yours to make!

Fortunately, you don’t have to go through all that. I found an armpit detox method that helped me go right from commercial deodorant to the stuff I mix up in my kitchen, without losing any friends.

Let’s mix some up and get to it!

Have you ever tried natural deodorant? By the end of the day, you probably decided that it wasn't for you. This easy detox takes care of the smelly transition days between conventional deodorant and natural deodorant. #detox #deodorant #naturalpersonalcare #diydeodorant

Armpit Detox Recipe and Method

2 tbsp bentonite clay     Get it here*
raw organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
1 drop lavender, tea tree or geranium essential oil (optional)

Put your bentonite clay in a cup or bowl. Using a plastic or wooden spoon, mix in a little apple cider vinegar at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of pudding. Add no more than one drop of essential oil.

Apply a thin layer to underarms. Allow to dry, and wait for up to 20 minutes. Rinse or remove with a wet washcloth.

Try your natural deodorant the next day. If the odor persists, repeat the armpit detox for as many days as needed. Most people report that once the odor is out, it’s out, only to return after illness or other detox circumstance.

Now are we ready to try natural deodorant again?

The Best Natural Deodorant Recipe (and I’ve tried all the DIY deodorant)

The Best Natural Deodorant Recipe (and I’ve tried all the DIY deodorant)

Show of hands, but don’t raise ’em to high if we’re in the early stages of this experiment. How many of us tried either a store-bought natural deodorant or a natural deodorant recipe as a first step in the healthier living transition?

And let me guess, after day two, we were feeling as free as her?


The first few natural deodorant recipes I tried left me smelling like a high school wrestling room by mid-afternoon. The absolute worst one I tried was a DIY natural deodorant that had bentonite clay in the recipe. Generally, bentonite clay is good stuff but not a great deodorant ingredient. It seemed to draw all the funk to the surface, putting all the nasty nose notes on display.

Tune in to the next post to learn about a better armpit use for bentonite clay! You’re itching to know, aren’t you?

After my many fails, I asked my essential oil enthusiast friend Kendra what she uses. She too said she tried several natural deodorant recipes with not-so-fresh results, and finally found this one that works.

As a bonus, you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now, so you can mix some up whenever you feel like it!

After many many natural deodorant fails, I found one that actually does the job. You probably have the ingredients already, so go grab the recipe now! #diy #naturaldeodorant #essentialoils #selfcare #personalcare #nontoxic #detox #naturalliving #healthyalternative

Because your personal hygiene is more a favor to me than it is to you, I’m sharing the recipe. You know, for my own personal benefit.

Just kidding, it’s for you.

An asterisk (*) denotes an affiliate link. That means I will receive a small commission from a purchase made through a link on this site, at no additional cost to you. Opinions here are mine and purchasing decisions are yours to make!

Natural Deodorant Recipe

4 T coconut oil
4 T cornstarch
1 T Baking Soda
12 drops essential oils (see below)

Mom’s essential oil deodorant blend

5 drops tea tree*
5 drops lavender* or clary sage*
2 drops geranium*

Dad’s essential oil deodorant blend

5 drops tea tree
5 drops vetiver*
5 drops orange*

I keep this in a glass jelly jar in the bathroom. I started out applying with a craft popsicle stick but I eventually ditched it. Plain old fingies get the job done.

If you’re a first-time natural deodorant user, you may have heard about one- or two-week transition period that happens as your pits unload all of the junk that has been lodged in your pores by antiperspirant use. Well, I have something that worked for me-I had no transition period and I didn’t experience any of the irritation that some people report with baking soda deodorants. You’ll have to pop back on Thursday to see what that is.

Did I just declare an unofficial armpit week here?

How I Make My DIY Vitamin C Serum

How I Make My DIY Vitamin C Serum

I’m new at this skincare thing. Not long ago, I was a warm-washcloth-in-the-morning-and-go person, but now I have a legitimate cleanser, moisturizer and my trusty DIY vitamin C serum in my bathroom cabinet, like a good thirty-something should.

The glorious thirties! No tiny humans in my abdomen, no diapers to change, no baby weight (woohoo!), no more pregnant-nursing-reset-repeat hormone surges controlling my hair follicles, bra size of the minute, or the landscape of my face.

Ladies, we have arrived. Wait, what are those dark spots, and yes, I was smiling but now I’m not and that crease is still there and you aren’t going to go away, Mister Crease, are you?

We have arrived, all right. We’ve arrived at the point where a quick splash of water no longer counts as a skincare routine. We need a real one, before Mister Crease becomes Mister Canyon.

All content on this site is for informational and/or discussion purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content in this site neither contains nor acts as a substitute for medical advice. All health matters should be discussed with a qualified physician.

Most of us have a favorite cleanser and moisturizer by now, but what about the in-between steps? You could opt for toner, exfoliant, mask, eye cream, peel…but I don’t want to get too crazy with it. Mister Crease and I only have a few minutes in the mornings to duke it out.

Gah, missed the perfect opportunity to say face-off. Oh well, next time there will be puns.

When I get overwhelmed with things, I quit. So I wanted to add just one step – one that would give me the most bang for my buck as far as effort goes. After researching all the lotions and potions I decided to go with a Vitamin C serum.

Do you have an antioxidant serum in your skincare routine? Here's a DIY Vitamin C Serum recipe made with only 3 ingredients. Click through to grab the recipe, and to read up on skin and vitamin c! #vitaminc #skincare #skincareroutine #beauty #diy #diybeauty

Why did I pick vitamin C serum?

First off, vitamin C is essential to building collagen, and collagen is what keeps skin tight and plump. It works to lighten those dark spots, it brightens and livens your complexion, it penetrates the skin and binds free radicals before they can cause trouble, it is anti-inflammatory, it heals damage, it helps with those visible signs of aging (Source).

What was I saying about bang for your buck? Vitamin C is some high-performance miracle potion, IMO.

My first instinct was to log into Amazon and find some. But here’s the deal…

I don’t buy it

It’s not that you can’t buy it. Actually, it’s easy to find vitamin C serum. Companies are more than happy to take your money for it. But the vitamin C degrades quickly – I’m talking several half lives burnt up in the shipping truck. Knowing this, why would you pay cosmetic counter prices for something that has lost a lot of its oomph by the time it gets to you? And costs pennies to make? And takes about three minutes to throw together?

Some companies keep their vitamin C fresh with preservatives, but you know how I feel about those by now.

So, I make it instead

But first, a few caveats…

After researching a few recipes, I found the simplest one that seems to do the trick for me, so I’m sharing it with you. That said, please do your own research. The more diehard DIY cosmetics enthusiasts will tell you my recipe is incomplete, that it needs a preservative, an antioxidant, a buffer, a solvent…but this recipe works for my needs and I had no reactions. Your mileage may vary!

I know how this works on my skin, not yours. Everyone’s chemistry is different, and my crystal ball is in the shop so I can’t predict how your skin will react to vitamin C or this recipe! As with any new skincare product, it’s always a good idea to patch test before slathering it all over.

An asterisk (*) next to a link lets you know that it’s an affiliate link. That means I earn a small commission on purchases made through this link. Opinions are mine, prices are the same for you, and purchasing decisions are yours, as always!


Finally, the Vitamin C Serum Recipe

This recipe is for an approximate 20% concentration. At first I started at 5% and worked my way up to 20% over months of use. If you have young skin, mature skin, or skin issues, anything you try on your skin should be approved by a qualified dermatologist first.

Up to 2 tsp fine-ground, LAA ascorbic acid  Get it here*
If you’re a vitamin C serum newbie, start with 1/2tsp, then work your way up to 2 tsp (20% concentration) over a few weeks of use
7 tsp warm distilled water (I’ve been using filtered tap water with similar results)
1 tsp vegetable glycerin  Get it here*
2oz dark glass dropper bottle Get it here*
plastic or stainless steel spoon for mixing


Dissolve ascorbic acid in water by stirring with a plastic or stainless steel spoon. This can take a while, so be patient while you stir, stir, stir. Once you can no longer see granules, mix in the glycerin.

Since we’re not measuring by weight and our LAA powder granules aren’t standardized, strength can vary. We need to test pH so we don’t accidentally make an acid peel and burn our faces off. Dunk a pH test strip (get them here* or at the pharmacy). Your result should be no lower than 3, ideally 3.5. If it dips too low, you can mix in a little baking soda at a time until you get it up to 3.5.

If the LAA is stubborn and not mixing well, you can add one drop of high-proof vodka to help it dissolve.

Once you’re all mixed up and your pH is in range, you can pour it into your dropper bottle. How easy was that?

Remember, DIY vitamin C serum is unstable! I store mine in a dark glass container and I keep it chilled in the fridge. I mix up a a batch every other week.

How to Use Vitamin C serum

After cleansing or exfoliating, apply a drop or two of serum to each section of the face and neck, and spread it evenly with your fingers. Avoid the eye area – it will burn if it gets in your eyes. Leave it on undisturbed for at least 20 minutes. After the 20-minute mark, use your normal sunscreens and moisturizers as you usually do.

I noticed a difference after just a week. Have you tried Vitamin C serum?


DIY Bug Spray with Research-backed Tick Ingredients

DIY Bug Spray with Research-backed Tick Ingredients

We wouldn’t be surprised if we saw another round or two of snow up here on our mountain, but I’m already gathering supplies for my summer to-make list. I have my water-resistant sunblock recipe ready to go (glad you asked…yes I’ll share the recipe soon!), my favorite SPF lip balm melt and mix is ready to roll, and I made it a point to update my DIY bug spray to include ingredients that ticks absolutely hate.

Prevalence of tick-borne illness including Lyme is increasing with no sign of slowing down. If you’re interested, you can compare maps from 2001 to 2015 (maps here) – it’s a little alarming when you’re smack in the middle of a blue zone.

A few years ago, my then four-year-old son came down with a high fever and extreme fatigue in the middle of summer. He rarely caught colds, and after a day or so we noticed a peculiar red circle rash pattern forming all over his body. We took him to the doctor, who thought the notion of Lyme was ridiculous and he begrudgingly ordered the tests I requested. Results came in confirming Lyme, and fortunately we caught it early enough to clear it completely with antibiotics.

We’re among the lucky ones. Not everyone gets the rash or fever – a large portion of infected individuals show no symptoms at all. That means if they didn’t notice a poppyseed-sized nymph embedded on their scalp, they will not realize they’ve been infected until it is too late to clear the infection.

All content on this site is for informational and/or discussion purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content in this site neither contains nor acts as a substitute for medical advice. All health matters should be discussed with a qualified physician.

Lesson learned – we need better prevention. Since the tick bite, we started our unofficial protocol when we come in from hiking trails and wooded parks.

  • keep a comb in the car and do thorough tick checks on the kids, ourselves, and each other after spending time in wooded or brushy areas
  • thoroughly check any gear we took along
  • look for ticks on clothing
  • keep the dog’s hair short in the summer so we can check her for hitchhikers

Where’s the bug spray in our prevention list? Well, I refused to use bug spray on any of us because of the main active ingredient, DEET. It has been somewhat publicized that there can be adverse effects in children, but I’m also finding information about its effects on adults that I’d rather not deal with. Manic psychosis? Seizures that power through anti-convulsants? Cardiovascular effects? Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and skip it, thanks.

Once I started exploring plant properties, I learned that there are essential oils out there that bugs simply do not like. For a while there, my DIY bug spray was made of half witch hazel and half water mixed with citronella essential oil to keep the mosquitoes away. We smelled like tiki torches but hey, no bites!

Now, I’m finding that ticks have very specific distastes. In addition to repellant promise, I’ve found that some essential oils such as tea tree, geranium and eucalyptus can even be lethal to ticks (tea tree study, geranium and eucalyptus study).

An asterisk * denotes an affiliate link. That means I will receive a small commission from a purchase made through a link on this site, at no additional cost to you. Opinions here are mine and purchasing decisions are yours to make!

Armed with new information and a small arsenal of essential oils, I decided to reformulate my basic citronella DIY bug spray with targeted ingredients. The lineup…

Lemon eucalyptus
Studies such as this one have shown it has strong tick repellant properties, comparable to DEET.

Lavender & Geranium
The same study showed weaker but still somewhat repellant properties of lavender and geranium. I opted to include them because it makes the formula smell so much better (bye bye, eau de tiki torch) and both offer a little extra protection.

Tea tree
Tea tree essential oil has been shown to actually kill ticks

Because I still don’t like mosquitoes

Don’t you love scrolling and scrolling through a never-ending soliloquy when all you want is the recipe already? Here you go.

DIY Bug Spray Recipe

1/4c water
1/4c witch hazel
10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil     Get it here*
5 drops geranium essential oil     Get it here*
5 drops lavender essential oil     Get it here*
10 drops citronella essential oil     Get it here*
10 drops tea tree essential oil     Get it here*

Combine all ingredients in a dark glass spray bottle*. That’s it! Since the essential oils tend to float on top, give it a good shake every time you apply.

While I wish I could claim this spray will make us all invincible against ticks, lions, light sabers, et cetera, I cannot. We still go through our tick check, after hanging out in areas with trees and brush.

Ready to play outside?

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