Homemade Deodorant

I should have known that it would come to this; It was only a matter of time. $18.50 for some chemical-free pitt paste is crazy business, especially when I have this huge 13.5 pound bag of baking soda that I bought on accident a few months ago when making bath bombs. I looked around at the ingredients on a variety of natural deodorants and found that most of them are made with basically the same ingredients, with the main difference being whether or not to add beeswax. Of course, the best part of making your own deodorant is deciding what smells you want to add, so you’ll want to experiment with that on your own. Here is the base recipe that I used:

Makes approximately 10 ounces

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup beeswax
Essential Oils
4 3-ounce jars (I used these Weck jars)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix together arrowroot powder and baking soda.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut oil and beeswax until beeswax has been incorporated.

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir. Add essential oils. As they cool they will continue to thicken, so you will want to work a bit fast so that the mixture can be put in the jars easily.

Just by looking at it, it seems like the right consistency. I am going to give a jar to the neighbor, so we will see if I have her coming back and begging for more (hah!). For this first lot I used sage, bergamot, black pepper, tea tree, and grapefruit essential oils… since that is the combination that is used in the deodorant I currently buy. The only thing I will say about natural deodorant is that it is not an anti-perspirant; you WILL sweat, but it wont stink. This took me a bit to get used to, but now it is just the way that it is and it doesn’t bother me. Some people have issues with rashes with baking soda, so obviously this wouldn’t be the recipe for you. In the future, I look forward to playing with various combinations, pending on what mood i’m in. If you’re not sure what to use, you cant go wrong by going to Whole Foods and finding a premixed blend like NOW essential oils “Cheer up Buttercup” and using that. I’ll update this post in a month or so after I have tried it for awhile. As for now, I call it a win.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making vanilla extract at home is almost unworthy of a blog post because it is so easy, but bottling and gifting it is so cute, I couldn’t resist. This year, I decided to make a bunch for my work family and friends that I usually don’t give gifts to, but always wish I had, and it worked out perfectly.

Makes 15 (4 oz) Bottles

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 lb Vanilla Beans
1.75 Liters Alcohol  (Vodka, Bourbon, Brandy, or Rum)
Patience (2 months worth)

(If you aren’t making this in bulk, or making a different quantity,  I’d plan on using 3 or 4 vanilla beans for every 8 ounces of alcohol.)

EQUIPMENT:
2 quart-sized jars with lids
Scissors
15 (4 oz) bottles
Avery brown kraft labels & printer
Small Funnel

DIRECTIONS:
Separate the vanilla beans into two equal sized piles, one pile for each jar. Using your scissors, split the vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving the top 1/2 inch connected at the top. Place the vanilla beans in the jars and fill to the top with alcohol (I used Trader Joe’s “Vodka of the Gods”. While I know you can use any 80 proof alcohol, from what I can tell, Vodka seems to be the standard.)

Close off the jar and store in a cool dark place. This should live in your cabinet for at least a month, giving it a shake about once a week, before you plan on bottling it.

BOTTLING:
Once the vanilla extract is ready, open the small 4 oz jars and place 2-3 of the vanilla beans directly in each. This will allow the extract to continue to infuse, as well as allow the user to add small bits of vodka to the bottle to create an “everlasting” vanilla extract. Of course, it wont last forever, and the beans will run out of oomfuh… but we will just call it everlasting because that just makes it seem so much cooler. Using a small funnel, add the extract to each of the bottles. Some people prefer to strain it, but that just seems like crazy talk, so don’t do that. That’s like removing the goldflakes from the Goldschlager…

LABELING:
I created my labels in Photoshop directly and printed them onto the Avery kraft paper; however, there are many free sites that exist for label creation. There are even some free templates available that can be customized, if you’re not savvy in design. If you’re really at a loss, I have my label saved in Photoshop. While I won’t create a totally new custom label for you, I am willing to update mine with your info and send you the jpg, if you’re really good at begging and tell me I’m pretty.

One last note: I’d recommend not putting the labels on the bottles until they have been filled, or they might not look so pretty in the end. 

COST:
Bottles: $15.75
Vodka: $10.99
Vanilla Beans: $54.00
Labels: $5.29
Total: $86.03
Total per bottle: $5.74

Cheap, good quality, and pretty… just like me.

 

Homemade Bathbombs

Okay, I’ll admit it. I buy Lush Bathbombs for my 3 year old daughter. Am I wasting my money? Yes. Do I feel like the best mom in the world? Maybe. Would I up my cool-mom points by making them myself, a little smaller, and with smells she (errr…I) like? Absolutely. This was my first time making them and they were so easy I feel like a fool for not just buying the supplies and doing it myself from the start. I don’t know what the cost savings would be on these, but I can tell you it is much less than the kajillion dollars I spend in that store. I made a few of each size, and made one roll that we sliced, and they all turned out great. I learned a few lessons on the way, and I’ll share those as well.

This recipe will make 2 – Large 3 inch balls and a little extra. I opted to keep the recipe small so that I could play with different scents and colors, but you could very easily double or triple it and make a larger batch.

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup Epsom Salt (fine)
1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp coconut oil ( olive oil / almond oil )
1/2 tsp water
1 tsp essential oil
Pigment powder or 1-2 drops food coloring

OPTIONAL ITEMS
Bathbomb Molds or Saran Wrap
Flowerbuds / tea / petals etc… 
Shrink wrap
bags (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all dry goods in a bowl (Epsom salt, citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, pigment). Stir.
2. Combine all wet goods in a bowl (melted oil, 1/4 tsp water, essential oil, food coloring if not using pigment). Stir.
3. Add wet to dry slowly. The dry goods will fizz when wet, just try to stir quickly to minimize fizzing. You should have a consistency that is not wet and is not dry. From my experience, if you stir well, 1/2 teaspoon is perfect.
4. Add a few pinches of flowers/herbs/glitter/whatever to one side of the sphere molds and pack the mixture tightly on top of it. Do the same with the other side sans flowers. Then, add a little extra in the middle and cram those suckers together tightly. You can also use saran wrap to make a tube, and then cut the mold into slices, if you don’t have the molds. I didn’t try it, but I would guess you could pack these into cute cookie cutters too; I think I will try that next time.

5. Let them dry. After a few minutes (I just start on the next batch), you can CAREFULLY remove the molds from the spheres and marvel at your mad skills. You should plan on letting them dry for 24 hours before using or shrink wrapping them.



In case you were wondering, we made a Peppermint Eucalyptus (purple), Lemongrass (grey), Pomegranate Vanilla (peach) and a Mahogany / Fir (green). This is the green one in action:

Slime Slime Slime Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmeee

Slime. I really don’t know what it is about slime that all kids love, but I can only guess it somehow correlates with their love of boogers. The problem is, I really don’t to pay 10 bucks for a small bucket of slime, when I can feel like Bill Nye and do it myself. This recipe is quick, easy,  and is a great base recipe for many slimy concoctions.

INGREDIENTS:
5 oz Clear Glue
5 oz Water
1/2 cup Liquid Starch
Glitter (or food coloring, or confetti, or whatever else you want to stuff in it)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix equal parts glue and water. It’s easiest if you squeeze out a 5 oz bottle in to a cup, refill the bottle with water, and empty it into the cup. Stir.

2. Add Glitter/fun. Stir.

3. In a separate bowl, measure 1/2 cup of Liquid Starch. 

4. Slowly stir the glue/water mixture to the starch, a little bit at a time. You’ll quickly see the slime taking shape. Continue to stir until you have added all of the glue, then switch to kneading with your hands. At first, it will seem that the slimy is extremely sticky and wet… Just keep kneading, just keep kneading, just keep kneading kneading…

That’s it. The first time I made this I put the glue/water in the bowl and slowly added the starch, and it just seemed so wet, I threw it away, twice. The third time I did it the other way around and it worked perfectly. It takes 5-10 minutes of playing with it before it stops being messy and has the right consistency. At first, Kennedy was completely grossed out by it, but once Nivek emerged from his teen-hole and started playing with it, she was sold. I did notice that it liked to stick to clothing, so keep that in mind for when you start throwing it at each other.

Bonus: If you modify the recipe by adding twice the glue to water, you have flubber.

DIY Backyard Kids Teepee

My backyard is currently under attack, and has probably been under attack for the last 50 years. What was once probably a cute little one foot wide wall of bamboo, is now a mini forest trying to overtake my backyard (and my soul). Seriously, it would not surprise me if I woke up impaled by a bamboo stalk that has come up though the floor, through my mattress, through my pillow, and right out of my eye socket; these little bastards are no joke.
On the up side of things, while trying to slowly reclaim my backyard and remove all of the dead bamboo, I decided to make Kennedy a little teepee from the stalks and a few randoms I had lying around the house. I will say that it took a little longer than I expected because I had to pull, trim, and cut each of the shoots down individually, but since I was already planning pulling them, it wasn’t too awful.

The process was fairly simple:

First you will need to prep the bamboo by pruning off all of the little branches and cutting all the bamboo to approximately the same height. I started by taking a thick piece of twine (anything rope-like is fine) and connecting three shoots together in a triangle. You can see the basic triangle in the photo above. From here, you will want to eyeball it to be sure that the triangle isn’t lopsided and is roughly the height that you were hoping for before moving on.

Then I started working my way in a circle, leaning the poles on the connected three. After I added quite a few shoots, I took another piece of twine and wove it between every few branches. From there, I kept adding more stalks until I had a one every 4-5 inches apart when looking at the floor (and yes, that is my daughter being a terror and dumping pine shavings all over the ground. Bless her heart).

From here, I wanted to make sure that it was sturdy enough to deal with a toddler. Once I realized that was an impossible dream, I found an old curtain and cut it into one long continuous strip that was roughly 6 inches wide. In order to do this, it’s easiest if you cut it in a similar fashion as the diagram below, but you can do it however makes you happiest.

Picture1

I then took the long strip, cut it in half, and started weaving from top to bottom. I found it easiest if you folded the strip in half around the front poll, and then crossed them every few shoots. I did not weave every shoot, but I did try to weave different bunches with each pass so that they wouldn’t stay grouped together. Once finished, I found two old table clothes that I could use for the bottom half of the teepee wall. I used the bottom wrung of the woven fabric to hang the tablecloths from. I simply made a small 1/4 inch slot every foot or so and attached the tablecloth with the twine. I am sure this could be done much more gracefully with sewing buttonholes in the fabric and using something less stained, but I’m not trying to sell this to The Land of Nod, now am I. No.

Lastly, dig out those Holiday lights and something cozy to sit on and abracadabra, you too have a cozy little summer reading nook for the little. If you do decide to make one, send me pictures, or curse me out for my vague instructions. Either way, i’d love to see what you come up with.

Naturally Dyed Eggs


A few weeks back I saw a post about dying Easter eggs naturally, and I knew we had to try it. Friday morning we woke up early and headed on a walk through the park to gather various leaves and flowers that we could use to imprint on the eggs. Since this was our first time doing this, we really didn’t have any idea what would work best, so we just gathered a bit of everything.

Easter_Eggs-24
Easter_Eggs-21

Once we got back to the house, I pressed the various leaves and flowers throughout a few pages of a book, thinking it would be easier to put the leave on the egg if they were flat and not bulky (theoretically, it did seem to help).

For our dyes we used yellow onion skins, red cabbage leaves, turmeric, beets, and dried hibiscus flowers.

DYE PREPARATION:

To prepare the dyes we put each food into it’s own pot with a decent amount of water (about six cups), two tablespoons of white vinegar, and a teaspoon of Alum powder (except we did not put Alum in with the pot of onion skins because I read somewhere that it smells like ass if you do). Each of the pots were brought up to a boil and then the heat was lowered to let it simmer for about a half hour. We did not measure out any specific amounts, but we did use a bag of yellow onion skins, a few beets and a whole small red cabbage. In retrospect we only used 2 tablespoons of Turmeric and should have used more; the results weren’t as pretty as some others I have seen. Obviously, the more you use, it is likely the more vibrant the colors will be. Once each of the pots simmered awhile, we removed them from heat until they were cool-ish, and transferred the liquid into gallon ziplock containers. In truth, using large mouth pickle jars or something of the like would be much prettier, but I wasn’t about to go buy more jars for some smelly onion water (and thus, no pictures… So, so, sorry).

EGG PREPARATION

While the dyes were cooling, I went ahead and hardboiled my eggs. I opted to buy both some brown and some white eggs to see if this would make a difference in the final result and I was really glad I did (I was not really glad that i had to buy them though, but alas, by chickens are still on strike). Jerks! With the eggs cooking and the dye cooling, I cut up the legs on a pair of nude nylons into 3-4 inch sections, and knotted one end.

Once the hardboiled eggs were cooled from their ice bath, I pulled out my book of flattened leaves and flowers and placed a few on each egg, wrapping the pantyhose around the leaf, and sealing it closed with the rubberband. Helpful tip: Having the eggs still a little damp seemed to help make the leaves stick to the egg, and thus, easier to wrap the nylon around it without making the leaves move. Of course, I didn’t figure this out until I had dried them all off and was on my second to last one. DAH!

For the last part, I placed each of the eggs into the Ziploc bags over night, trying to have a few white and a few brown eggs in each bag. I’m sure you wouldn’t have to wait so long if you didn’t want to, but I was happy I did.

OUTCOME

Red Beets

Yellow Onion Skins

Hibiscus

Turmeric

Red Cabbage

CONCLUSION
I really loved the depth of the red cabbage. If you rubbed the egg a bit, you ended up with that speckled, marbled effect. I broke the white one in the process, so it is not pictured here, but it turned out a much more vibrant blue, and not as deep as these brown eggs were. I also really loved the way the hibiscus looked on the brown eggs. The hibiscus left a thick coating on the eggs that, when rubbed off, left a pale periwinkle blue color. The beets I thought looked awesome and are such a great burnt red color. I was super irritated that the white egg had to be sent into my stomach after being hardboiled, but I had to make sure the eggs were done, right? I liked the way the yellow onion skins turned out as well, but wasn’t impressed by the Turmeric. I think I would give it another try again though, but I’d increase the amount in the water and see if that makes a difference. Overall, i was really happy with how it all came together and would gladly do it again next year. In comparison to the Paas egg kits, it’s a no-brainer.

Painting Copenhagen

A few months ago, the 79 year old Director of Transfusion Services at UC Davis Medical Center gave me the most amazing brown leather mailbag I could ever ask for. This bag was obviously well loved, and I felt completely undeserving. In an effort to not just send another thank you card (she has also made me a scarf and some gloves), I decided I would paint a small scene of Copenhagen instead. So, I did. I still need to decide how I would like to frame it, but I am hoping to give it to her by her 80th birthday on December 9.

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Adventures in (Dill) Pickling

Dill Pickles. Truth be told, I’ve never pickled or jellied or anything of the sort and have no idea why, after turning 35, I’ve decided to become an old lady. And, if I continue my truth-ing, I don’t actually like pickles. My dad use to put bread & butter pickles in my tuna, so that does have some essence of nostalgia for me, but that’s about the totality of my pickle desires. I have, however, watched Snooki and Anna Nicole Smith make sweet sweet love to some pickles while watching some sad reality TV, and have some appreciation for their lusting, so I decided to add “Pickler” to my CV.

EQUIPMENT:

6 1-Quart Canning Jars with Lids
1 Large Water bath Canner
1 Medium Saucepan (for Brine)
6-pc Canning set
1 Plate for Lids
Measuring Cups / Spoons

INGREDIENTS:

BRINE:
6 cups White vinegar
6 cups Water
8 tbsp. Pickling salt

DILL PICKLES
12 lbs. Pickling cucumbers (approximately 5 cucumbers per jar)
12 Garlic cloves, peeled
24-30 Fresh dill strands (4-5 strands per jar)
3 tsp. Whole black peppercorns
12 Dried red pepper pods (I used Chile Japones)
6 Fresh grape leaves

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Fill a Large Water-Bath Canner (with rack) half with water and put it on the stove.
  2. Remove lids, fill all jars with water, add them to the (still cold) water bath, and turn stove on high to bring to a boil.
  3. Prep all Cucumbers; wash, cut ends, slice if desired.
  4. In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, water, and salt to a boil. Maintain heat.
  5. Place lids on a deep plate and cover with a little of the boiling water. This will warm and prepare the lids to ensure a good seal.
  6. Lift the rack on the Water-Bath Canner. You are going to prepare one jar at a time, in effort to keep each jar hot. Remove a jar from the boiling water and empty it into a spare pot; this water can be used to ensure there is enough water to cover the jars in the water bath.
  7. In each jar, add 1 small grape leaf, 2 cloves garlic, 4-5 dill strands, 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns, and 2 dried red pepper pods.
  8. Pack cucumbers tightly in each jar.
  9. Pour hot brine over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch room on the top.
  10. Wipe sweat from your brow, tell yourself not to panic, and pray for no Botulism. Seriously though, canning for the first time is stressful. I don’t know how the cute little silver-tips do it.
  11. Wipe the top of jar with a clean damp cloth, and add hot lid and band.
  12. Place in hot water bath and process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil. Remove jars and place on a towel overnight. In the morning, check to ensure that the jars are sealed by pressing down on the center of the lid; if you hear a “pop” sound, swear profusely, and consider a new hobby.

Disclaimer: Since these need to sit approximately 2 weeks before eating, if after 2 weeks you never hear from me again, do NOT make these pickles. You have been warned. ENJOY!

First Attempt at Painting a Peg Doll

A few months back I bought this set of peg dolls and some paint on Etsy with the thought of painting many of our family and friends for Kennedy to play with. This first painting of a peg doll was really entertaining, but definitely a trial and error process. I wasn’t trying to do anything fancy or paint anyone in particular; I just wanted to get a sense of how it would go. The peg dolls themselves are fairly smooth, but could use a nice going-over with fine sandpaper before starting. I really liked being able to use the small paint kit, so that I didn’t have to deal with a lot of set up preparation or clean up after. Overall, the process was fairly straightforward: Sand. Sketch. Paint. Polish. I really liked the way that the head turned out, but will certainly put more thought into the clothing portion next time. I’m really excited to try to make people that I know, more than anything. I do think that I will buy some Kokeshi peg dolls, which have a larger head, because I like the finished look of them better. Once I have painted a few more and feel like I have the process down, I’ll post more about the details (like not selecting the part of the doll head that has a big ole crack in it), but for now I am excited to see what I can come up with.

Pop-up Camper Restoration

Let me just say, what I really want is a vintage egg camper with a cute-stripy awning that I can restore and love forever… but that isn’t going to happen right now for many reasons. Aside from the fact that I rarely go camping, can’t justify spending the money, and don’t own a truck to pull it, I really should start small (and cheap) and work my way up (right?). Unless you have one just sitting in your driveway that you think you want to give me, of course. Since that is not likely to happen, I have been stalking craigslist for an old, yet charming, pop-up camper that I can have as a project.


I found a few through Craigslist that I like (see above), but squealed in delight at the yellow one before reading the dreaded “SOLD” in the post. Perhaps this whole thing is just a passing phase after having a weekend away in Mendocino, but I would be so happy to have a large project top occupy my time, even if in the end I just turn around and sell it. I would like to think that after months of putting time into it, that we would be inspired to take some impromptu overnight trips in it for marshmallows and late nights at the lake. I’m really not sold on any of the ones I have seen just yet, but I did manage to find this awesome number while searching for pop-up trailers on ebay:


That will have to do for now.