Homemade Laundry Detergent Redux

Here we go again…

As part of my ongoing quest to live a life that is more sustainable, I’ve been implementing a few changes to further lessen our family’s footprint. This week I’ve finally gotten around to hanging up an outdoor clothesline, and I’m making the effort to switch to washing most of our clothing in cold water only. What this means is that my trusty and tested powdered laundry detergent isn’t going to work. Like at all. So I set out to make a great big old batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent. I used the recipe from Wellness Mama, because it seems to be a pretty common and popular method. Check out her site for the full directions and measurements.

I can’t report on efficacy yet, because strangely for someone with pets, kids and a gardening habit, I actually don’t have any major laundry to do today. I’ve got one load in now, because my son had a small overnight accident – woo hoo! So, my first test will be on how well it gets out urine smells.

I do have a few thoughts on the process though, and the final resulting product. Continue reading

Healing Herb Infused Tallow Cream

As promised, I’ve finally found the time and space to both make another batch of herbal tallow cream, and take pictures and write up the process. This time around I was assisted by my enthusiastic helper Beatrix so photos of every step didn’t happen, and my measurements that I was trying to be SO precise with were all over the map. Like why did I even bother using my digital scale? I should have just hurled things in a pot and been done with it. But, even with the measurements not being super accurate, the cream came out great! So even if you kind of fudge things, or get distracted, this cream should turn out okay.

The great thing about this cream is that these herbs are all pretty gentle, and are considered safe for children (if you recall I made this for a young neighbor with psoriasis). Since Beatrix is OBSESSED with creams of all kinds, I feel okay about her slathering this one all over herself.

Continue reading

Healing Tallow Cream for Problem Skin – Coming Soon!

We have a little neighbor (as in she’s a kid, not exceptionally short) with dry, painful, cracking hands from psoriasis. I mentioned to her mom that tallow is supposed to be great for psoriasis, but that I didn’t know for sure. But I said I’d whip up a healing cream or two for her daughter to try. I gave her a tallow lotion bar and threw together an herb-infused cream using tallow, coconut oil, olive oil, lavender, chamomile, and calendula (also trying a new method for whipping up body butter type lotions!). Initial feedback: she says her hands felt SUPER soft afterwards and haven’t felt like that in ages. Hooray! So. I’m going to whip up another batch for her soon and actually take pictures this time so I can share it with all of you.

But in the meantime, if you’ve got access to tallow and itchy, dry, eczema or psoriasis prone skin, give one of my previous tallow recipes a try!

Super Lazy Bone Broth in the Slow Cooker

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but “bone broth” is becoming a THING. Bone broth shops are popping up in major cities, where you can pay upwards of $8 for a steaming hot cup of stock in a variety of flavors. I’ve seen folks spending crazy amounts of money at farmer’s markets for mason jars full of chicken or beef stock. For sure there are a ton of health benefits to drinking, using, and cooking with homemade stock. And like any good half-assed thrifty homesteader, I’ve been making my own stocks and broths from leftover bones and vegetable scraps for years. I didn’t realize I was so on-trend, I just thought I was being frugal!

While I love always having homemade stocks and broths to use for cooking, I really hate babysitting a big pot of chicken stock for hours. So with the exception of vegetable broths, I now just throw everything in the slow cooker. The benefit of the slow cooker method is clearly in the sheer laziness factor. Toss in your bones, add some water, turn on, leave it alone until you feel like dealing with it. But the other big bonus is how incredibly easy it is to get rich, gelatinous stock (or bone broth if you’re fancy) with a minimum of effort. The difference between a simple broth and the health-boosting bone broth is all in the cooking time. By the time you’re done simmering, your bones should crush between your fingers. And once chilled, you’ll have a gorgeous bone Jello rich in nutrients. To really achieve this, you need to simmer for 24-48 hours (24 for chicken, up to 48 for beef). So I just turn on my slow cooker and let that baby simmer away for a day or two. No skimming, no fussing, no babysitting. It’s so easy, I almost feel dumb writing up a recipe for it. But I know from talking to friends who don’t make their own stock that the slow cooker thing is a revelation, so I’m sharing for all those who haven’t made the jump to making their own stock. It’s easy, cheap, and allows you to get more use out of things you would have just thrown away. Your thrifty grandmother would be proud. Continue reading

When Life Hands You DIY Fails…

A while back I posted about making these lovely clay face mask bars from a recipe on one of my favorite sites for DIY beauty, Humblebee & Me. I’m back today to share with you what an abject failure they were. Not because of any problem with the recipe as written, but because I am the problem. I am habitually unable to follow a recipe as written. This is great for cooking, as I often just sort of toss things in and see what happens. This is not so great for DIY projects.

Sometimes, sometimes, every now and then my experimentation and “let’s see what happens!” attitude result in some pretty awesome things. And since there are very few recipes out there using tallow, a lot of those projects have been heavy on the experimentation aspect and turned out pretty great. This was not one of those times. I knew as soon as these babies dried I had gone horribly awry.

Not pretty

Not pretty

I didn’t have all the ingredients that Marie used in her original recipe, so I improvised a bit. And thought, why not add some ground up flowers in one?  When I’ve made traditional face masks in the past, I’ve often added these types of things, so it seemed like a good idea to try to replicate those in bar form. No.

Okay, well maybe it would have worked, but I didn’t manage to grind my flowers (lavender, rose petals) fine enough. It wasn’t obvious at first, but once the bars dried and they looked more like pumice stones than anything I’d want to rub on my face, it was abundantly clear. As soon as I wet a bar, all the tiny stems and bits that didn’t grind up were sticking out like tiny barbs. Ouch. I didn’t fancy a face mask that started with taking off the first 12 layers of my skin.

Use on your face only if you're looking to remove all your skin.

Use on your face only if you’re looking to remove all your skin.

Okay, so a big fail. But I also hate wasting stuff. So I tried to think of other ways I could use these. Clearly never getting near my face. First I thought, maybe a body scrub bar of some kind? But again, like sandpaper. Then I’m standing there in my shower, holding this little puck of horrors and realized that their resemblance to a pumice stone was my answer. Feet bars! So I’ve now been using these as a combo foot scrub and clay mask for my ugly ugly dry cracked feet and they’re lovely! My feet feel all soft and smooth.

My recipe combined the French Green Clay bars I linked above, plus these Pink Rose Clay bars, because they used coconut oil, which I had on hand. I also made a few with tallow, because if you’ve read my blog with any regularity at this point, you know I try putting tallow in EVERYTHING. So if you want to make your own DIY FAIL Clay Foot Mask Scrub Bars, just mostly follow Marie’s recipes, and add some not so finely ground flowers (I also made one with green tea and jasmine flowers), some essential oils if you want, and scrub your sad feet pretty just in time for spring!

Monday Experiments

Finally had some inspiration to do some crafty type projects today, so I whipped up a few variations on this clay mask bar from Humblebee & Me. Mine are WAY uglier than hers. We’ll see how they function once dry!

Also made a bunch more bath melts using the recipe I posted about a while ago. I may have gotten a bit creative with the ingredients and just started throwing in all kinds of random stuff. Ground up coffee beans? Sure! Earl Grey Tea and lavender? Why not! I should clearly not be trusted in the kitchen with bath products, because I just start looking around and wondering what else I can mix up.

Experimentation!

Experimentation!

Apologies for the wretchedly crappy photo. Variations below:

  1. Lavender, rose, elderflowers, chamomile; rose and jasmine essential oils
  2. Chamomile & calendula; lavender essential oil
  3. Coffee beans (because why not?)
  4. Green tea & jasmine flowers; jasmine essential oil
  5. Chamomile and oats; rose geranium essential oil
  6. Green Tea Lemongrass
  7. Lavender Earl Grey
  8. Rose petals; rose geranium and amber essential oils
  9. Citrus; tangerine, lime and bergamot essential oils

Good thing I like baths.

5 Things to Do With An Overabundance of Winter Squash

Every year in the garden it seems that something goes mental and you end up with some crazy overabundance of one vegetable. You find yourself pressing pints of cherry tomatoes or baskets of green beans into the hands of anyone who even comes close to your door. The joke of course is zucchinis, and that you shouldn’t leave your car unlocked in the summer lest someone fill it with summer squash. That was me the year before last – zucchini coming out my ears. Every time I’d pick one, three more would pop up. So I spent my entire summer Googling new things to do with summer squashes.

Well, this past summer I planted only a few zucchini and they all failed on me. Gardens are fickle like that. Instead what went absolutely nuts were the butternut squash. The Butternut Rogosa Violina “Gioia” Squash to be exact. Those squash did not give a shit about anything. Squash bugs killed off most of my awesome Black Futsu Squash that I was super excited about, but the Butternuts just shrugged them off. They LAUGHED in the face of pests and just kept on chugging. By the end of the season, the squash mound was epic and I had close to 40 squash. Continue reading