Sunday, March 17, 2019

Toiletry Recipes

One of my Gentle Readers, Patti, asked for my recipes for the toiletries I showed you in the last blog post.  Here they are. :)

Here is how I make the bath soap:

Here is how I make the healing salve:

Lotion recipe - It is very soft and creamy, but not runny.  I can only tell you how I make it.  I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment.  Into the bowl of the mixer, place 1/3 cup of virgin coconut oil.  Turn on the mixer and let it whip the oil until it is very smooth, creamy and fluffy.  That takes a while.  In the meantime, into a small microwave safe bowl, place 1 Tablespoon of Shea butter.  I bought mine here. Add to that 1.5 teaspoons of avocado oil and 1.5 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil.  Carefully melt it together in the  microwave.  Then, pour it into the whipped coconut oil.  Next, add a few drops of lavender essential oil.  Whip it all together very thoroughly, then put it into a small jar and add a lid.

Homemade toothpaste recipe - I used to make tooth soap and have a post about that.  I prefer not to have fluoride in my toothpaste, and so started making my own.  However, this newer recipe is much easier to deal with and make.  So... place 3 Tablespoons of virgin coconut oil into a microwave safe bowl. Melt it carefully in the microwave oven.  Then, stir in 1 Tablespoon of salt, 1 Tablespoon of baking soda, 3 drops of peppermint essential oil (optional) and 3 drops of liquid stevia (optional) Stir it all together thoroughly and put it in a small container.  I just get my toothbrush wet and scoop up a little of the mixture.  It took a few days to get used to it, but I love it now and it saves lots of money.

Homemade underarm deodorant - Many people are sensitive to baking soda in underarm deodorant.  I have no trouble with this formula, but if your skin starts to become irritated from this, please stop using it.  I had gotten to where no matter what kind of commercial deodorant I tried, if it worked it gave me a rash.  If it didn't give me a rash it didn't work, so when my daughter came up with this recipe, I tried it and it works and does not give me a rash. 

2 heaping Tablespoon beeswax pellets or grated beeswax
1 Tablespoon Shea butter
5 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder for very sensitive skin
1/4 cup baking soda - rub it through a sieve to remove any lumps
10 - 15 drops tea tree essential oil
10 - 15 drops lavender essential oil

1. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler. (I just put a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water for this.)
2. Add Shea butter and coconut oil and heat until just melted.  Stir occasionally.  I like to use a wooden stick to stir because the beeswax will stick to a spoon and make it hard to clean.
3. Remove from heat and add cornstarch and baking soda or arrowroot powder.  Stir until lumps are gone and the texture is smooth.
4. Add essential oils and stir until well mixed.
5. Pour into small jars, cool and put on a lid.

This batch will last a long time.  You only need a little bit.  I just get a very small amount on my finger and apply it.

My Facial Soap - Please refer to the method linked above with the bath soap, but here are the ingredients for the facial soap:

Avocado Oil - 8 ounces
Coconut Oil - 10 ounces
Olive oil - 11 ounces
Safflower oil - 5 ounces
Shea Butter - 2 ounces
Lye (NaOH) - 4.96 ounces which gives you 7% excess fat
Distilled water - 11 ounces

So, there you go, Patti!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Homemade Toiletries...

I have come to the point where I think I am making all of my own toiletries.  Of course, I still have to buy most of the ingredients, but I think all of this is very safe.  They certainly are nice things and work extremely well.

In the back, left to right, there is skin lotion, toothpaste, deodorant and healing salve.  In the front are bath soap and facial soap.

If anyone is interested in my recipes, please ask. 

Cut flowers... - another Tiny Tip

A dear friend gave me a dozen yellow roses a week ago.  Every other day, I have diligently trimmed the stems and changed the water.  Today they were looking rather "gone by", but I was able to get a little more life out of them.  I took off all the leaves and some of the outer petals, trimmed the stems short and put them in a small vase.  I think it looks very pretty, and I didn't have to throw them away, yet.  :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Early spring garden 2019

A couple of years ago, my daughter came and helped me establish a "Hugelkultur" bed.  It got up to 70 degrees here today, and I just had to go out into the garden! I worked up the soil there, just a little, and added 12-12-12 fertilizer, pelleted lime and some compost from my compost bin where I throw all the food scraps. Then, I planted garlic seeds, beets, rutabagas, Sugar Ann peas, radishes, Michili cabbage, kale, spinach and lettuce.  I have no idea if any of this will amount to much, but it surely was fun. I had some floating row cover and used all of that to cover most of the bed, because we will be getting rain and I hope that will protect things from just being washed away. In the upper part of the picture, you can see some geodes.  They are surrounding what I hope will be my one surviving rhubarb plant. 

See that?  It's a clear glass bowl that I have used as a cloche over some parsley.  In spite of a very bitterly cold winter, the parsley survived!  I've picked it a few times through the winter season.

Here it is.  Not much, but it makes my gardener's heart happy. :)

And here is the garlic that I planted from cloves last October.  I think every one of them came up!

It is not officially spring, yet, but things are coming up and I'm ready... more than ready!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Home canned chili beans - re-post!

My post on how to can your own chili beans at home has been very popular, and so I thought I would post it again for those who didn't see it the first time around.

For quite some time I've been trying to come up with a recipe for my own "chili beans."  We like them best when I make chili, but until now, I've always had to purchase the beans in cans.  Because of the dangers of BPA that is in the metal can linings, and the fact that I can use organic beans and soak them properly, I am very happy to report that no longer will I need to buy my chili beans at the supermarket!  I had looked, many times, in cook books and on the internet trying to find a recipe, to no avail.  Here is how I do it now.  They are really delicious!

First, make up a batch of the seasoning mix.

SEASONING MIX FOR CHILI BEANS  ~ makes about 1/2 cup of mix (enough for 8 pints of beans)

Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon unrefined sea salt
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
4 more teaspoons of the unrefined sea salt to add to the jars.

Combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Store in an airtight glass jar.

How to prepare the beans

For 8 pints of home-canned chili beans, you will need 2 pounds of dry kidney beans.

Sort and wash them well.  Drain.  Place in a large glass or stainless container and cover with water, at least half again as deep as the level of the beans.  Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Allow to soak for 24 hours.  Drain.  Rinse.  Cover again, as before.  Allow to soak for another 24 hours.

Drain and rinse.  Cover well with clean water and bring to a boil.  Boil gently for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam that rises to the surface.

When you fill your pint jars for canning, fill them only about 3/4 full of beans and top off with the cooking liquid or boiling water. Leave 1 inch head space at the top.

Add 3 teaspoons of the seasoning mix to each jar and 1/2  teaspoon salt.

Process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 11 pounds pressure.

If you are not familiar with canning, please don't be afraid, but do consult an authoritative source on canning.  I recommend this book:  Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

If you are a fan of chili beans, you are going to love these!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

"Fiber for the landless."

Are you familiar with "stinging nettles?"  It is a plant that grows wild in many areas of the world, including where I live in Indiana, USA. Here is what they look like in my area.  The name for them tells you what they are like.  They are covered with little prickles that have formic acid in them. If you brush your skin against a stinging nettle, you will feel pain!

Related image

The leaves of the nettles are highly nutritious, and of course, if you cook them, all the sting is gone. They also make a lovely, healthy, herbal tea.  I like to go out in mid to late May and (wearing gloves!) gather the top leaves of  some of the plants and bring them home to dehydrate for tea.  Then, in late June, I take some pruning shears, wear gloves and long sleeves and go cut the stalks, bundle them up, and bring them home.  Then I strip off the leaves and since I no longer have chickens, I put the leaves in the compost bin.

2018 was the first year I ever "played" with nettles.  You see, they produce fibers that can be spun into yarn. It has been a small, but enjoyable journey.  I am still learning, certainly.  Here are a few pictures so you can see what I've been up to:

Here is some on the little hand spindle I used.

I have a small "pin loom" and made a tiny weaving.

My skill and method is still very crude, and yet I am happy with the result. Nettle is a "bast" fiber, similar to flax, from which linen is made. Nettle has been used since prehistoric times. I like that working with it connects me to people back through the generations.  Making bread does the same thing for me.  

Some nettle cordage:

A bit of weaving on a cardboard "loom"

My latest tiny project is a very humble and delicate bookmark that I made to give as a gift.  All of this effort, to anyone not familiar with this, does not look like much.  I assure you, though, that many hours of work have gone into gathering, processing and using these fibers. 

Now, in the dead of winter, I am still working with the fibers I was able to gather last summer and looking forward to the new season, not only to grow food in our garden, but to gather more Stinging Nettles.

The journey continues....

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