Tag Archives: DIY Projects

Book Review and a DIY Project: Homemade Lotion


I have become a DIY addict of sorts.  I kidded my husband that one of these days, I’ll be standing in Walmart looking at the toilet paper…telling myself…”yeah, I can make that…better!” Ok, well…maybe not yet…

I started out making my own hand soap, from Heavenly Homemakers, which we love.  Then I started making our laundry soap here, as well as our own dish soap and spray cleaner.  Last summer we started making our own lotion…and I just ordered stuff to make both bar soap and shampoo bars.  I am still a rookie at this stuff…and I have alot to learn…but we have a good start and I’m hooked.  My reasons for adding this to my already full plate:  1)  It’s fulfilling to be able to be more self sufficient.  2)  Fun activities with your kids.  3)  A non-toxic alternative in a very toxic world.  4) little/no plastic packaging or waste.  5).  Cost/frugality…and 6)  ….just because I can.

Ok, so back to the aforementioned lotion.  I got this GREAT book for my birthday: “Making It:  Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World”  by my favorite “Urban Homestead” couple Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.

I love this book.  They break down projects from “Day to Day”, “Week to Week”, “Month to Month”, etc.  The book covers everything from composting, beekeeping, gardening, making your own mead wine, and hygiene items like…well…lotion (and more)!

My daughter and I tackled the recipe for “Silky Cream” first.  She later entered it as a 4-H project in our county fair, and won a blue ribbon for it.  In fact, the judge was so impressed she told her that she was going to try it herself…

The ingredients that you will need:

6 oz olive oil (I used cheapy olive oil, even the book outlines that this is fine)

2 oz coconut oil (for personal use, I get my coconut oil here)

1 oz organic beeswax, chunks or pastilles (I initially got mine here, but was later lucky enough to find a beekeeper who sells beeswax – and that was a much better deal!)

10-20 drops essential oil (we used Aura Cacia’s Tranquility but you could use whatever you want)

1 c. tepid water (distilled, filtered or rainwater is best)

A clean dry jar, enough to hold 2 cups of cream.  I will add that using a wide mouth mason quart jar is a smart bet.  The small mouth ones…not such a smart bet.  Live and learn.

Measure and combine the oils and wax in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  Pour in the olive oil until you reach the 6 ounce line, then add the coconut oil until the oil level rises to the 8 ounce line.  Add the beeswax until the liquid reaches the 9 ounce level.  Then put the cup in a sauce pan of simmering water.

Heat the oil and wax over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the wax is totally melted.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the essential oils.  If you’re not going to start mixing right away, let the melted oils and wax sit in the water bath, off the heat, so it stays warm.  While the wax is melting, pour 2 cups or so of boiling water into a blender to prewarm it.  This will stop the wax from solidifying on the blender walls.  Measure out 1 cup of room temp water.  Be prepared for the next step as it happens quickly.

Empty the boiling water out of the blender or mixing bowl.  Pour in the hot oil.  Start the blender and pour in the water in a steady stream.  I took the top removable plastic handle out of the lid and poured the water in through there.

The oil will turn to cream right away.  Some water may not get mixed in and will make the blender “choke”.  Stop the blender, scrape down the sides, and start again.  Repeat until it is smooth and blended.  Stir around to make sure there’s no water hiding in the bottom of the blender.  Stop when it is smooth.  Store your cream in clean dry jars.  The authors note that if you see air pockets in the filled jars, stir to remove the pockets as the cream will keep better that way.  We have done two batches to date – one was very creamy and the other was more like a butter.  Who knows why they are different, but we have been happy with it either way.  I don’t believe I will go back to buying store bought lotion again.

I should add that this recipe was NOT labor intensive.  You can start the wax melting and walk away and do other things for a few minutes.  I’d say from start to finish, it took us 20 minutes and that whole time we were not standing at the stove or blender.

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This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School; The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania; The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Cooking Traditional Foods’ Traditional Tuesdays; Like a Mustard Seed’s Living Green Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days Sustainable Ways; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursday; Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday; Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday; Too Many Jars in My Kitchen’s Fill Those Jars Friday; The 21st Century Housewife’s Gallery of Favorites; Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl Blog Fest;


Cookbook Review and a DIY Project: Homemade Vanilla Extract


If you are on the GAPS Diet…or contemplating the GAPS Diet…you really want to get the “Internal Bliss” cookbook.  Even if you’re not on GAPS, all the recipes are “real food” based and can be appreciated by anyone.  Some of the recipes include:  Guacamole (my favorite), Ranch Dip (equally awesome), Barbecue Sauce (on the stove right now), a Carrot Soup recipe that is “curried” and to die for, and a kick-butt recipe for Asian-Style Coleslaw.   I don’t remember how many recipes are included in this but it is a wide range of nut and seed prep, condiments and sauces, soups (of course), salads, desserts, ferments, breads and so on.  Best $14.95 I’ve ever spent.  Ok, well maybe that’s an exaggeration but it’s close. 🙂

And one of my favorites is a “how to” recipe for making your own vanilla extract!  And here is all you need:

This is a pic of the finished product, but you get the jist.  All you need is what you see, and about five minutes of your time.  Planning ahead is good though, because it will take you awhile to get the finished product.

Homemade Vanilla Extract (from the “Internal Bliss” cookbook)

1 oz (approximately 6) vanilla beans (I got mine here)

One standard bottle of vodka (plain old Smirnoff from the muni liquor store)

Split your vanilla beans in half lengthwise.  Pour out a few ounces of vodka – not much – to make room for the vanilla beans.  Place the split vanilla beans in the bottle with the vodka and secure the lid.  Store in a cool, dark, place – shaking occasionally – for two or more months.  And that’s it!!!!!  Doesn’t get much easier than that!

When your vanilla extract is ready, it will have a deep caramel color and will smell delicious.  And yes, it is delicious in baked goods, etc.!

You might ask…”Why the heck would you want to make your own vanilla?  Can’t you just buy it at the store?”   Well…..first of all, most store bought vanilla has all kinds of obnoxious petroleum (yeah, you read that right) based ingredients.  If you see things like “propylene glycol, caramel color, and sodium benzoate”…RUN!  Sodium benzoate is one of the fastest burning rocket fuels and is also an ingredient in fireworks.  Sounds yummy, huh?  I don’t eat oil, or rocket fuel.  I did at one point in my life but I refuse to now.

Second…sometimes it just feels really really cool to make your own things that you just took for granted that you had to buy – good sense of accomplishment.  The kids like to be part of these little “experiments” too.

Third…we have been gluten free for over a year now, and frankly – I’m sick to death of paying $9.99 or more for a teeny tiny bottle of vanilla that will last me two weeks if I’m lucky.  I figure that I paid around $20 for a gynormous amount of vanilla by the time it was all said and done.  Kind of a “cost no-brainer”!!!


This post was shared at The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania; The Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival; The Better Mom’s Mondays Link Up; The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; Living with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease Made from Scratch Monday; Real Food  Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays; Like a Mustard Seed’s Living Green Tuesdays; Cooking Traditional Foods Traditional Tuesdays; The Tasty Alternative’s Allergy Free Wednesdays; Whole New Mom’s Allergy Free Wednesday’s; Laura’s Gluten Free Pantry’s Allergy Free Wednesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways; GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursday; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday; The Liberated Kitchen’s GAPS Friendly Fridays; The 21st Century Housewife’s Gallery of Favorites; Premeditated Leftovers Gallery of Favorites; Too  Many Jars in My Kitchen’s Fill Those Jars Friday;


DIY Project:  Make Your Own Laundry Soap

There are alot of things that I used to take for granted that you HAD to buy in the grocery store.  Like most everything.  How did people survive before Walmart?  It’s a big mystery…

I have been embracing several DIY projects lately for the following reasons:  1)  keeping the level of toxins in our house to a bare minimum (see my previous blog post  https://muffindiaries.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/the-sweet-smell-of-cancer-and-infertility/), 2)  COST COST COST  (a bottle of organic, natural or less toxic product seems to cost way more than it’s conventional counterparts, and I’d rather spend more money on quality food than pretty shampoo) and 3)  BECAUSE I CAN!!!  (I’m weird that way, it’s a sense of accomplishment to be able to say I made my own laundry soap!!!)

A couple months back, I made my first batch of homemade laundry soap and I haven’t looked back.  Our clothes get clean (keeping in mind that I have some outdoor loving children who frequently get VERY dirty!) and I don’t have to worry about what I’m putting on their skins (or mine or my husband’s) or back into the earth.  Two things to think of if you’re skeptical is that 80% of what goes on the skin is absorbed into the bloodstream in some capacity (it’s not armor, after all!), and that our water sources have enough other pollution (if you don’t believe me, check out http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/executive-summary).   In spite of city water filtering, etc., alot of things that I don’t care for continue to lurk there, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t get there magically…

Ok, I digress.  Sorry.  Back to the soap.  This is roughly a five minute project which makes me love it even more with our busy schedules.

You will need:

1 c. Arm and Hammer washing soap (get it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Church-Dwight-03020-Hammer-Washing/dp/B0029XNTEU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340482942&sr=8-1&keywords=washing+soda)

1 c. Borax (I have found it at Walmart but I got it here http://www.amazon.com/Dial-Corporation-Borax-Laundry-Pretreater/dp/B000RNBX0G/ref=pd_rhf_se_shvl7)

1/2 c. liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild, you can get it here http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Bronners-Castile-Liquid-Soap/dp/B0054RS1TQ/ref=sr_1_8?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1340483230&sr=1-8&keywords=dr.+bronner%27s+baby+mild)

a covered 5 gallon pail (check your local hardware store, or a farm store)

tap water

Cook the borax, washing soap and castille soap in about a cup or two of water (I don’t think this is very scientific, whatever amount of water would work) until the soaps and powders are all melted.  Put it in the five gallon pail, and fill the pail 3/4 full of water.  We have just been taking it out to the outdoor hose to fill, which works great.  And that’s it.  I use about 1 c. for a large load of laundry.   Some of the soap seems to get foamy on top which is fine, just mix it back in before using.   I do keep it covered to keep bugs and dust out of it.


When I bought all of my ingredients, I figured that I spent roughly $30 for everything including the pail.  One five gallon pail lasted us about a month and a half (I am doing at least a load of laundry a day).  The boxes of borax and washing soda will last you for many subsequent batches.  The only thing you would need to restock any time soon is the castile soap – and Dr. Bronner’s does sell larger sizes of it’s soaps, so you could just start with more of that if you wanted.  There are other sites (Vitacost, Swanson Vitamins, drugstore.com) that also sell Dr. Bronner’s, and they might have better deals.  Shop around.

Now if only I had a clothesline to hang my clean clothes on (hint, hint to my husband will likely read this later on…)…