Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making Christmas: How to make your own herbal lip balm

This years gift giving was a little different. I do make a lot of the gifts we give. I love homemade and I love the thought and effort put behind the gift. When you take the time to give something to someone that would be beneficial to that person or is something that person has an interest in, well, it says a lot to me.  With this years gifts, I wanted to put some of my herbal knowledge to good use. 
I made up some 
Elderberry syrup
Achy Muscle Rub
Black Drawing Salves
Eucalyptus Chest Rub
Sugar Scrubs

One other thing I made my family was a Peppermint Lip Balm.
It works beautifully. It smells great and it has a little tingle of peppermint, which I find refreshing!
Making lip balms is easier than one might think. 
There is a general rule when making a balm. 
3 parts carrier oil and 1 part beeswax
Then your essential oils and or butters.
I believe I used 
Coconut oil
Vitamin E oil
Sweet Almond oil
1 tablespoon of each... 
Those were my oils. 
The choice is yours!
I wanted it to be very nourishing and I knew these three would make a lovely lip balm.
Melt the oils with the beeswax in a double boiler, don't boil, just melt.
Then I added peppermint essential oil. Probably about 10 drops.
I put the oil in these little containers and made a label for each. 
We have been using ours since making them. 

It's nice to know exactly what is in your beauty product. Makes me a bit more eager to make up a few more of my own cosmetics. It's great fun.

I hope that gives you a bit of confidence to try making your own lip balms! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to make your own laundry soap

I know everyone pretty much has done this by now, but just in case you are late to the party, here's a little how-to.  It's as easy as can be and once you buy some of the ingredients, you have massive amounts of detergent you can use. Laundry for days... and days... and days... which is pretty much accurate for our home. 
For a bit, I got out of the habit of making any. Don't ask me why, sometimes you just forget to do it, and then you need some and don't have it. One of my goals for this year is to be more on 'top' of things. Not allowing myself to get so far behind.
I hope it works out. I am going to try hard at it.

Ok, back to the soap.

Here's what you need to do... It's easy peasy and it doesn't take a lot of ingredients.  It's so common now that you can find all these ingredients pretty much anywhere now. Back when I started making my soap, I had to order them off the internet. They didn't keep Super Washing Soda in stock. Nor did the stores have Fels-Naptha. Which by the way, I really like. I have used other soaps and they work just fine. Ivory works, I used it back when the littles were still in cloth diapers because I thought it would be more gentle on the diaper, therefore more gentle on their skin. But honestly, I think the Fels-Naptha would have been fine if I had been able to find it, as well. 

Here's the things you need:
1 bar Fels-Naptha or other soap
1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda! Baking soda will not work)
1/2 cup Borax
5 gallon bucket

To begin, add 4 cups of hot water to a pot.
Grate your soap in the pot. Be careful of your fingers when you get to the end of the bar.

Once grated, stir your pot til the soap flakes are melted.
In a 5 gallon bucket, fill it half way full with hot water.
Add your melted soap.
Add your 1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Mix well til borax and soda are dissolved.
Once dissolved, add more hot water until bucket is almost full and stir again.
**At this point you are free to add some essential oils to your detergent.** 
Cover and let it sit overnight.
The next day, you will have a 5 gallon bucket full of beautiful detergent for your laundry.
If you have a top loader, it will take about 1/2 a cup per load.
If you have a front loader, you would use 1/8-1/4 cup of detergent and out of this bucket you get approximately 640 loads of laundry!!! 
Insane right?
Fantastic is what it is!!! 
I leave the majority of the soap in the bucket and keep some on hand on top of my washer. You could put it in an old laundry detergent bottle, or you can display it proudly as I have this time.
Enjoy your success!
You have just saved your family a great deal of money!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Homestead Lentil Stew

Once a week, I have one of my kids 'shop' from the freezer and bring me several packs of meat. This week, my eldest brought in a pack of chicken thighs, a small pork roast, a package of bacon (of course... this child is a bacon fiend!) and a small pack of tenderloin chops. From that I try to plan out our weekly meals and make the most out of their shopping. 
So this morning after it was thawed, I tossed the pork roast in the crockpot with a little bit of water, some garlic, onion, rosemary and thyme. At the moment I put it in the crock I was still uncertain of what I was going to do with it, but I knew I could add something to it to make it stretch to feed our family.

As the day progressed, I figured it out. I wanted to make stew. It is a very cold day around N. GA. The winds are fiercely blowing and it gives me chills to think about going outside. 
I surveyed the fridge. Knowing that we didn't have much in the realm of fresh veggies, I decided the 'use what you got and make it work' approach was our best bet!

Later this afternoon after my roast had plenty of time to cook, I got out my cast iron dutch oven and heated  it up.
To it I added
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
the last bit of cauliflower I had about 1/4 of a head, chopped
1 broccoli crown, chopped
4 garlic cloves

I let those saute in the butter for a while, til they got tender, but not mushy. 
I added 6 cups of home canned beef stock.
2 bay leaves
1 1/3 cups lentils
and the shredded roast.

I let that cook for a good while. I didn't soak my lentils prior, so I did cook it total, around 1- 1.5 hours. 
Once lentils were tender, I added
1/4 cup chives
1/4 cup cilantro

We served this with Onion Rolls and Milk. And for those of us who opted, a good sized dollop of sour cream. It was hearty and delicious!!!
My husband said that it needed to make it onto our calendar of recipes. 
That is really saying something!

The important thing about this stew is that I am certain it would work with any number of vegetables that you have on hand! If you had potatoes, kale, sweet potatoes, cabbage, turnips, etc.
Use what you have...
Don't make a trip to the store just to get this.
Survey your pantry and fridge. 
It will work. It's mainly the process, nothing exact here. I think that is one of the best things about cooking. Now, I know there are some recipes that may need to be followed to the letter, but when you are trying to stretch, to make do and to save your pennies.... use what you've got! 

I love taking one small thing and being able to stretch it so far that it makes plenty.
 Enough for supper and leftovers. 

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New 'Do'

My Carlie had hair down to the middle of her back. She had mentioned wanting to get a haircut soon. Around here, we try to do as much as we can 'at home' to save a little money. Plus being able to give a haircut is a useful skill! I always cut my husbands hair (haha, nothing hard about that, he likes to keep his head shaved), I cut my boys hair most of the time and I trim my girls hair when needed... (when Cameo was younger I cut it too). 
A friend of mine on facebook posted a link to this blog.
It had this idea for giving hair layers in 5 short minutes. Carlie has somewhat thin hair and layers are helpful to give it body and a little volume. 
The Mom suggested washing hair and combing it straight. Then flip the head over and brush all towards the front of the head and secure with a ponytail.
Then simply cutting it straight across wherever you like on the ponytail. 

I cut a little and brushed it out. I could see the layers in the hair, but Carlie wanted a bit more drastic cut.

So we went several inches shorter.

Once I took her hair down, I ended up trimming it just a tad more on the ends to get rid of a few hairs I had missed. No big deal. 

We dried her hair and we were both VERY happy with the results!

It looked great!
Now to handle how much older my 9 year old daughter looks... 
That is a different issue all together!

So, all you Mom's out there, go with confidence that you can give your daughter a cute hair cut with
little effort and fear! 
Hope you enjoy!