Thursday, March 29, 2012

DIY Deodorant (Yes, Deodorant)

The metals that are present in purchased deodorants are frightening. Now that I have eliminated lotions, toothpaste and lip care products from my list of "to-buy" I decided it was time for deodorant.

Here it is in all of it's glory. Don't be put off by the color, you can have an all white deodorant just like you are used to, I used an optional (but very good for you) ingredient and it made mine turn kind of murky looking. I'll take murky looking over toxic any day, thank you very much.

So, I do what I always do when I need a new recipe for something. I Googled it. Honestly, Google has turned me on to some of my all time favorite blogs and this is another one that I just love. Keeper of the Home is a fantastic blog and is filled with a wealth of information, since I found it so helpful I thought I should pass it on to you. The recipe we are going to make comes from the fantastic blog and can be found here. I did change it just ever so slightly to reflect some ingredients that I wanted to add, but I'll put those in parenthesis so you can see what I did vs the original and decide for yourself.

A word of caution: sometimes going to an all natural product will cause you to go through an adjustment period. Don't be scared of trying something because of the adjustment period. Give it a month or so before you decide if you like it or not. If you've ever done the No Poo Challenge for your hair, you'll know what I'm talking about.

It couldn't be easier.

1/8 cup arrowroot (I used Bentonite Clay)
1/8 cup baking soda
2 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 heaping Tablespoon beeswax
8 drops Tea Tree essential oil
8 drops Lavender Essential oil (I used all Tea tree)
8-10 drops other essential oil for scent purposes (totally optional)

Mix everything except the essential oils in a small saucepan and heat over low until it melts. Take it off the heat and add in the essential oil and give it a nice stir. Pour it into your used (clean) deodorant container and let it set up. Now you have deodorant :)

She does caution that you do not want to turn the deodorant up very high when you are using it because it isn't as hard as a commercial deodorant and it will squish over the edges. If your house gets really, really warm you may have to put it into the fridge to keep it firm, but other than that you should be good to go.

I wonder what else I can make?  Hmm.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY Lotion Recipe

I'm pretty much a newby to making my own stuff. I've come a long way and I feel comfortable with what I'm doing but I still like to find recipes to try that other people have made and loved before I start playing with them myself. I found an invaluable resource in A Sonoma Garden. This website is a wealth of information that I find myself going back to again and again.

I use lotion a lot. I have it with me at all times. My hands get so dry and it just feels horrible if I don't put something on my hands. However, the last time I used purchased lotion, I counted no less than 37 ingredients on the label, most of which I could not even come close to identifying. That's not good for you at all. Then I found this recipe for lotion and I had to try it.

It has 4 basic ingredients and I know what they are. WINNER!

Here's how I did it:
recipe slightly adapted from A Sonoma Garden

1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup cocoa butter
1/4 cup emulsifying wax (I got mine at Brambleberry)
1 1/4 cup hot water
10 drops of your favorite smelling essential oil, optional (I didn't use any this time around)
I put the olive oil, cocoa butter and emulsifying wax into a measuring cup and heated it in a pan of water over low heat, but you could do it in the microwave as well. When that is melted, add the hot water and stir. Pour into a container and let it sit to cure for 12-18 hours. Mine thickened up a lot faster than that, but it may take up to 18 hours to get firm.

And that's it. You now have about 1 1/2 cups of lotion to slather all over your body. It won't last forever because of the olive oil and in warmer weather it may melt so you'll want to keep it in a cool, dry place. I'm using this and finding myself not having to use lotion as often as I was with the commercial counterpart. And it's safe. I like that!

A quick note on the wax: there is probably enough in the 1 lb bag to make 18-20 batches of this lotion. I think it cost me around $6.00 plus shipping, so that's pretty cheap compared to buying it at the store :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

More DIY Cleaning Products

I'm finding out that my most favorite things to clean with are the things I can make myself.. The cleaning products that I'm using are just working better than their bought counterparts. Plus, they are cheap and almost absolutely harmless if swallowed, inhaled, come in contact with eyes or skin. I like that a lot since the kids usually help me clean. I don't have to worry about someone licking a table covered in chemicals.

In no particular order, here are some more DIY helps for around the house:

Bleach Alternative

recipe found here, check out her site! Tons of good things to be found there.

1 1/2 cups peroxide (just the kind you buy at the grocery store)
1/2 cup vinegar or lemon juice
Enough water to fill a gallon jug
Lemon essential oil, you can omit this if you use lemon juice.

Put the peroxide, vinegar (or lemon juice), and essential oil (if using) into a clean gallon jug. Put on the cap and shake. Fill with water and store. From reading the comments on the original blog, it looks like if you make it with vinegar it will last forever and a day. If you make it with lemon juice it has a 3-4 week shelf life. To use, add 1 cup to your bleach compartment. This is a color safe bleach alternative so have at it!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

There are a lot of recipes out there for this, and you either hate it or you love it. This is the way I make and use mine, and it works GREAT with our dishes, our dishwasher and I have had no problems. However, your results may vary. It's so cheap though I think it's worth a try :)

1 cup washing soda
1 cup course kosher salt OR course sea salt
1/2 cup borax
10 drops lemon, orange or grapefruit essential oil- completely optional

Mix it all together and store in an airtight container.. To use, fill your dishwasher detergent compartment to the recommended level and -THIS IS IMPORTANT- fill your rinse aid compartment with regular, plain white vinegar. Keep that sucker filled up because it's what helps to rinse your dishes clean.

A word of warning here~ this is not a chemical laden recipe for detergent. If you leave, say, oatmeal in a pan or bowl for 2-3 days in your sink, this detergent is not going to clean it. Just so you know.....

Homemade Stain Remover
recipe found here, but I've seen it all over the internet for a while now as well as on Pinterest.

2 cups water
1 cup peroxide
1 cup baking soda

Mix it all up, pour it into a spray bottle and keep it near your laundry. Pre treat stains by spraying it on, but be sure to shake the bottle well so no clumps of baking soda clog up your sprayer. That's it :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DIY Mocha or Frappe Mix

I like a good cup of coffee once in a while, but since I took myself off of caffeine it's become harder and harder to find a good cup. So, I make it at home. I have been lactose intolerant my entire life, until we switched to our own non-homogenized raw milk. I can now consume dairy like it's going out of style and not have any problems~ as long as it's our milk. This poses another problem when it comes to getting a good cup of coffee. Most coffee stands add milk to their coffees and I just can't handle it. Another reason to make it at home.

It couldn't be simpler. You just mix up some of this powdered mix, stir it into hot water or blend it with ice and milk. That's it! You can adjust flavors to your liking, make it decaf or caffeinated, add syrups or not. It makes it very cost effective to have what you want without having to go to a coffee stand or fast food place to get it.

Mocha Mix
adapted to be healthier from here
also seen here
1/2 cup instant coffee (I used decaf)
1 cup sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 cup dry milk (mine was non-fat)
1 cup non-dairy creamer (flavored makes a nice addition)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (baking cocoa, I used regular old Hershey's)

Mix it all together and store it in an airtight container (it fits exactly into a quart jar).

To make a hot mocha add 4 Tablespoons to 8 oz of hot water. Stir well.

To make a blended drink (think frappe) add 1 1/2 cups ice, 2/3 cups milk and 1/2 cup mix to a blender and blend well. You can add syrups, ice cream toppings (hello caramel!) or anything else you want at this stage. I have to admit that I use thin cream from our milk instead of milk, but you can use skim, fat free, 1%, 2% or whole milk. Up to you!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Step-by-Step Laundry Soap

Melt, mix and mix again. That's about all there is to making your own laundry soap. Other than the bar of soap, I always have everything else on hand so it's cheap and easy.

Here's how you do it:

Grate a bar of Fels Namptha soap on the fine side of your grater. Someone will walk by and try to eat some because it looks like cheese.

Pour 4 cups of boiling water over it and put the pan on the stove on medium low. Watch it carefully, and stir often, you don't want it to boil. It makes a huge mess, trust me.

While it's melting, mix together 1 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax with about a gallon of water. Guessing the amount of water is fine, you just want to get it mixed up really well.

Now the soap should be all melted and you'll just dump it into your borax/washing soda/water mixture and stir. It will start to gel up and kind of look like....well, snot. For lack of better word to describe it. I have little kids, snot is the best comparison I can make. Sorry.

Now you just fill the bucket up and put the lid on. Let it sit and cool off over night. The next day it will be really gelled up and look strange. Don't worry! That's what it should look like :) The hardest part though, is mixing it after the whole bucket is full. I use a paint, or drywall mud, stirrer for a 5 gallon bucket. They look like this:

Just mix the detergent until it all looks the same and there aren't any big lumps left.

And that's it!

You made soap. For top loading machines, add 1/2 cup to the washer, for HE or front load washers, use 1/4-1/2 cup depending on how dirty the clothes are.

I'll show you how to make homemade bleach alternative next. You can add it to your clothes to really boost the cleaning power of this laundry soap!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

In honor of the day that shares it's name with one of my all time favorite desserts, here is a fun little graphic that my friends over at Lucky Leaf have put together.

I give you Pi :)

What Pie Am I?

So tell me, what kinda pie are you??

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Orange Vinegar

My orange vinegar is done! I have been impatiently waiting for the 2 weeks to be up so I could strain it and use it and here it is.

First things first, I filled 2 quart jars 1/2 full of orange peels and 1/2 full of vinegar. After I strained it and used some, I still have a full quart to use later. That means we extracted some serious orange oil goodness from those discarded peels. The vinegar is now very thick and oily looking, not thin and vinegar like anymore.

So, here's what I did:

I got out a bowl, strainer, spray bottle and my quarts of infusion.

Strain the liquid into a big bowl and discard the peels. I tried to dehydrate the peels just to see if it was possible to use them in one more project, but they really have no more scent left. Chuck them on the compost pile and feel good that you used them an extra time this way.

It's orange gold! Now you just put this into a jar or whatever you want to store it in and it can wait for you to need it.

Why would you want to go to all this trouble? What is vinegar even good for? What benefits do orange oil have? Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Let me tell you!

  • Vinegar is a safer, cleaner, greener alternative to bleach. While the studies on how many and what kind of germs vinegar can kill have been few and far between, what is known is that for general, all purpose cleaning vinegar is great. Add some hydrogen peroxide or table salt to it and vinegar becomes a power house cleaner. It won't burn your nose, eyes and mouth like bleach will either.
  • Orange oil is great for cleaning woods and other surfaces. It leaves a nice sheen without adding any chemical or product buildup and washes away with soap and water. It smells great, has no side effects and has the added benefit of being a nearly free resource if you are eating the fruits in your home.
So, there you go. Mix the two together and you have an effective, sweet smelling all purpose cleaner that you can wipe on any surface of your home, including the bathroom areas since vinegar is a great mold killer.

How to use:

Fill your bottle about 1/4 -1/3 full of orange vinegar.

Fill the rest of the way with water.

And that's it.

Now spray and wipe everything: counters, appliances, tile and grout, furniture, light switches, door handles, moulding and trim, and pretty much anything else you can think of that needs a general clean and disinfect.

It will smell great and work great too.

I also wanted to mention that I conducted a little experiment. I tried freezing the orange peels as we ate them and then using them when I had enough saved up. It worked great! I can't see (or smell) any difference between the fresh orange peels and the ones that were frozen before use. So, even if you don't eat oranges all that often, you can save the peels to use in your cleaner when you want to make some. I also think saving your lemon, lime and grapefruit peels could make some different smell combinations or just different smell to the vinegar that might be nice. Use what you have!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade WIndow Cleaner

I'm always looking for ways to clean my house that are greener, safer and cheaper than what I can buy at the store. While I have been generally happy with my mixture of alcohol, vinegar and water for cleaning the windows, sometimes that particular recipe has a hard time cleaning the various crud that gets on the glass from the smallest of the humans who live here.

Enter this recipe! I cannot say enough good things about it. It cleans to a sparkling shine and is cheap, cheap, cheap. Did I mention that it's cheap? Don't let the cornstarch in there scare you off, it may be an odd ingredient but it WORKS.

Nothing makes a house look happier that having sparkling clean windows. They are kind of like the crown jewels of your home. I found this recipe here, at Crunchy Betty, and I cannot thank her enough. It really is amazing stuff.

Window Cleaner

2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup alcohol
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix it all together win a spray bottle and shake well. Shake well before each and every use or the clumps of corn starch may clump up your spray nozzle.

Go clean your windows so you can see how great this works! They'll shine and be so pretty you won't believe that you've been spending all that money on a commercial window cleaner that was just ho-hum. I think I'm in love :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life Lessons

It's been a while since I just wrote. Wrote about me, or what I was thinking, or feeling, or going through. I used to just write a lot more on here and I stopped. I don't know why I stopped, I just did. Other things felt more important, more share-worthy. More fun too, I guess.

We've been dealing with rivers of runny nose, cough and fever lately. I thought we were safe, past the point of no return when BAM! we got hit with a second round of it. Not me this time, but 2 of the kids. And now I find myself getting medicine, another pillow, blankets or making a cup of tea about every 3 minutes.

I want to feel sorry for myself. I want to cry. I want to be mad that everyone isn't better and that things aren't back to normal with my happy, healthy kids. I want to be short-tempered and cross.

But I won't be.

I won't be any of those things because I have no right to be any of them. I have a job to do, a job that was given to me by someone of much higher authority and who am I to tell him no? Who am I to say that I am too tired, too stressed, too worn down? I'm doing my job and I'm finding myself flourishing in my role of mother and caretaker. I find myself looking to make my family comfortable before they know they are uncomfortable. I'm anticipating their needs before they know they have them. I want to soothe and reassure the sick child without them knowing.

I read an amazing article this morning about not counting the hours anymore. Don't count the hours until breakfast, or dinner, or nap time or until you wake up. That just makes you resentful of anything that takes up precious time you have earmarked for something else. Stop counting the hours and listen to your inner clock.

It will tell you it's time to rub your toddlers back.

It will tell you it's time to play Lego's when you have a full sink of dishes that need done.

It will tell you to read that story one. more. time.

It will tell you to tell the people you love "I love you" right now.

And when you listen, you'll do it. And you'll find out that it only takes 5 minutes and that you have 5 minutes to spare. When you get done blessing your family by doing something to show your love for them, you feel satisfaction and love in return.

I'm not one of the folks who think housework and chores should all stop and be ignored so that you can play with your kids. No, work needs to be done. Without clean dishes, or laundry, or a clean house you can't properly play anyway. But I do think that putting them off for a few minutes, an hour, or an afternoon isn't going to hurt anyone. Learning to love the mundane chores and un-fun cleaning is how we learn to better love and better serve our families.

I'm a work in progress. I have to force myself to do the chores that I don't like but I do them because they bless my family and show them that I love and care about them.

This is my JOB as a wife, mother and woman. This is what I was made to do, this nurturing and loving and caring and work. Yes, work. Hard, thankless never ending work that comes with motherhood and family. It's so much more that I have ever imagined it to be and yet it gives me so much more than I thought possible in return.

Life can be hectic but if you always have an eye towards the comforts of your family, the rewards your will reap will be many.

Just a thought as we go into the weekend :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DIY Air Freshener Refills

We've been sick. Like really, really sick. And now the really sick part is over but the cold, sore throat and cough that will be lingering for 3-5 weeks has begun.

What does this have to do with air freshener refills? I know you're wondering!

Well, a lot actually. You can infuse your house with easy aromatherapy that can make you feel better and make your house smell great at the same time.

I got the idea from here, and then I saw something similar on Pinterest. But, I knew I could not only make these for less, make them healthy for my family to breathe and smell good, I could also make them to suit any needs we may need to address in the medicinal department as well.

This is a great article on essential oils that are beneficial for coughs and colds, and since they almost all recommend steam inhalation as a method of use, I thought why not add them to an air freshener so you are breathing it in as you're around the house?

Even if you aren't choosing to make these refills for healing purposes, there is another very important reason to make them. There are chemicals called VOCs in most of these fragrance oils. They are volatile organic compounds and should not be inhaled. Most paints are now VOC free. Here is some more information on VOCs and their side effects.

Now, on to the fun stuff~ how we make our own!

It's really simple, first you remove the wick from your bottle. Mine had a little nail though it so I just used pliers and popped off the plastic lid. Just be careful, you're going to want the lid to re-use so don't muck it up.

Now take it over to the sink and wash it out really well. I added a drop of dish soap, a little water and put my finger over the hole and shook. Rinse it out really well. Pick out your essential oil, and fill the bottle 1/3 - 1/2 full of oil.

Then fill it the rest of the way with water, leaving a bit of head space so there is room for your wick.

Plug it back into your wall plug-in and plug it in! That's all there is to it :)

Now a couple things:

  • Check the flash point of your essential oil before you use it. I know these plug ins use a very small amount of heat to defuse the oil, but better safe than sorry.
  • Try to use scents in the same scent family. If you purchased an orange plug-in try to stick with the citrus family. I mixed peppermint with the original gingerbread spice plug-in and it made our house smell like skunk :p
  • Scents like lavender, lemon and chamomile are soothing to smell and make your house smell fresh.
Lastly, don't do anything you aren't comfortable with. If you don't think re-using these and making your own refills is a good idea, then by all means don't. It's just an idea that I saw and that has worked well for me. Your results may vary.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of those things that you either love or hate. I happen to love it, and with all the cream cheese I've been making lately I'll be making more cheesecakes in the near future. This cheesecake is simple, pretty and delicious. Sweet without being overly sweet and just a little bit tart from the apples.

A word of caution though; when you get to the part where you cook the apples in butter, make sure you cook them long enough. I didn't one time and let me tell you~ semi-crunchy apples do not make a tasty topping!

I found the recipe on, but I changed it a bit after I had made the recipe as written. I think it improved on the whole cheesecake so I'll give you my changes here. If you want to look at the original recipe, you can click the link above.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Mix it all together and press evenly into a 9 inch spring form pan. Bring the crust half-way up the sides of the pan and press it all down firmly. Set aside while you make the filling.

2- 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, defrosted
2 medium all-purpose apples. peeled and THINLY sliced

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, being careful not to over beat. Add in the eggs and apple juice concentrate. Mix well. Pour into your prepared crust and bake at 300 degrees for about 45-50 minutes or until the center springs back when gently touched. Cool completely

Meanwhile, in a small pan melt 1/4 cup butter and gently cook the apples until soft. Remove the apples and set aside. Cool completely.

You can either choose to use purchased caramel as a topping or you could follow this excellent tutorial and recipe to make your own. This is the recipe that I use and we love it. Plus there is always enough left over for topping brownies, ice cream and other various desserts :)

To Assemble
When your cheesecake and apples have completely cooled, you will arrange the apples in the way that pleases you on top of the cake, drizzle with caramel and refrigerate 2-3 hours. Let the cheesecake sit out for about 30 minutes before slicing.

  • When you remove your cheesecake from the oven, let it sit undisturbed for about an hour. Then, using a long thin knife, gently run it around the cheesecake. This is to make sure that the cheesecake isn't sticking to the side of your spring form. Remove the side of the spring form and let the cake cool completely.
  • You could add nuts, chocolate pieces or crunched up toffee bars to the top of your cheesecake after the caramel has been drizzled on for added caramel appley-ness.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Now, who wants some cheesecake??!!