31 October 2011

Day 31: The Adventure Continues

I have spent 31 days talking about home made.  I could keep going.  The world of possibilities is immense, and in my own life I have just scratched the surface.  The limits are self-imposed.  I am learning more every day, and you can too.  There are many resources available if you want to know more:

Kitchen Stewardship is one of the first places I look for recipes or information about whole foods

Sorta Crunchy gives me good inspiration on a macro level, but the Green Resource every Thursday gives me access to a huge variety of practical ideas for repurposing, creating, and solving problems.

A Bowl Full of Lemons encourages me to take on at least one project a week with her link up party on Tuesdays.  She also has great cleaning and organizing posts.

I Heart Organizing  is an amazing site for, well, organizing.  Although she tends to buy her containers or storage solutions, I often get ideas that I can adapt with a home made approach.

Finally, Six Sisters Stuff is great for fun ideas, from recipes to home projects or even crafts, if that's your thing.  You'll often find me linking up on Strut your Stuff Saturdays.

My own home made adventure is ongoing, so check back often for more successes, and maybe even a few flops.

I said it before:  the possibilities of home made are endless.  If something doesn't work out, you can always go back to the store.

30 October 2011

Day 30: More Information Please

Ok, so we are almost finished with 31 days to Home Made.  But there is so much more that can be done!  Where do I go?  What do I do?

I hear you.  I hear you.

Fortunately for you I found this amazing book,

It is just as the title implies: creating ways to grow and make food with little to no land.  It is obvious from reading this book that everyone has the power to make some sort of change, that you don't need acres and acres to make these changes, and that the benefits of even the smallest step is worth the effort involved.

This book covers everything from starting a container garden to grinding your own grains to milking goats and making cheese.  It has great recipes for things like crackers, salads, and pancakes, and it covers some basic information for those of us who really want to have sustainable lives but have no idea how to do it.  

Although I don't think we'll be raising chickens or slaughtering rabbits in our rental house in the Netherlands, I've already learned some great information about different types of grains, gardening, and seasonal cooking.  This book will carry us through to the next stage of our lives, the stage where we hope to have a little land of our own to do with as we please.

I'm going to start tomorrow with home made breakfast cereal, and I plan to use the upcoming winter months to more thoroughly plan my spring and summer container garden.

In the meantime, you all can check out the other ideas and give them a try.  Let me know how it goes, especially the part where you keep your own bees and chickens.  I'm jealous already.

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this screen.

29 October 2011

Day 29: Adventures in Home Making - Toothpaste

I've been meaning to try to make our own toothpaste for quite some time, so when I was planning my 31 Days to Home Made series, I knew I had to include it in the posts.

I've never liked store bought toothpaste.  For one, I hate that you have to use just a tiny pea sized amount for kids.  The reason is that too much fluoride is dangerous to ingest.  Then why are we giving it to our kids???  And now that we know that there is no evidence that fluoride prevents tooth decay, there is really no reason to have fluoride toothpaste.  I have even heard and read about cities that are taking fluoride out of their water for the same reason.

Add to that the fact that many common chemicals used in toothpaste are at best skin irritants and at worst carcinogenic.  Natural toothpaste can be an alternative, but it is very expensive and might still contain some irritants.

And so my toothpaste making adventure began.

Be warned, though, that the recipe I used called for Stevia powder, which is


The picture on the recipe page was spinach green.  Mine looked more like guacamole, because we don't regularly use stevia, and I didn't want rebellion right off the bat.  There are recipes that don't use stevia, or you can use xylitol in place of stevia.  The color doesn't bother us, considering all the chemicals needed to make commercial toothpaste white, red, orange, and blue.

The taste was a little on the salty side, so I think next time I will use a recipe that calls for less baking soda (too much baking soda might also wear away at your enamel, so consider this when making your paste).  The peppermint essential oil and stevia definitely helped make it taste like toothpaste, though, so don't get scared off before you begin.

Ok, now that I've fully disclosed all that I felt necessary, on to the recipe. Once again, it is amazingly easy to make. It took about 3 minutes to combine the ingredients.  Husband was the first willing participant, but Big #2 quickly joined the party.  The paste did a great job, as far as I could tell.  My teeth felt very smooth, but of course time (and a dentist visit) will tell its long term effectiveness.

Homemade Toothpaste

2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (softened or liquified)
3 Tablespoons of Baking Soda
10 drops of Essential Oil (use a combination of Peppermint & Spearmint, Tea Tree, Cinnamon, or another of your choice)  or 1/2 tsp. Natural Mint (or other) Flavoring Extract (such as for baking)
A pinch of Stevia Powder*
1 tsp. Myrrh Powder (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a small container. Spoon out a little bit onto a toothbrush to use. Cost per batch to make seems to be approximately 50 cents for me.
*Yes, the unrefined stevia is green, and will make your toothpaste green. My daughter thinks this is hilariously fun. It’s more of an adjustment for those of us accustomed to white or “fun-colored” toothpaste. :)

28 October 2011

Day 28: Fresh From the Oven

I cannot do a 31 Days to Home Made series without talking about one of my early projects:  bread.  Fresh, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside home made bread.

I could tell you I am an accomplished chef who spends hours every day creating the most perfectly golden loaves of bread, that I knead it to perfection and monitor it carefully to watch it double in size.

But if I told you that, 1. I'd be lying and 2. You'd walk away from the computer and never look back.

I first posted about my bread adventure here, but I don't see that I went into much detail.  I've probably mentioned it a few times, because I've been making our own bread now for close to two years, and it's so much of a habit that I hardly even think about it.

Did you catch that?  I hardly even think about it.

That's how relatively easy it is to make bread.

If you are up for this challenge, I highly recommend making an investment in

or its companion book, 

These book simplify the bread making process by making dough ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator.  Basic bread dough can be stored for two weeks, and enriched breads with egg or butter can be stored for one week.  When you want a loaf of bread, you take out a grapefruit sized piece, stretch it into a ball, and let it rise.  Pop it in the oven and yummy warm bread comes out.  There are a couple more details, which is why I recommend the book.  But seriously, no kneading required!  The dough truly takes about 5 minutes to mix together, as does stretching.  You do have to wait for it to rise, but it is time you can spend doing other things.  

I am going to warn you, though, that fresh bread will ruin you on store bought bread forever.  I just returned from a visit to the states, and since I was am fighting jet lag, we bought a couple loaves of bread until I feel more normal and make some dough.  But can I just tell you that I am not excited about eating this store bought stuff?  And neither is anyone else, because we are eating way less of it.  I would say that maybe it's a good thing that we are eating less bread, but really, it's never a good thing when you don't enjoy what you are putting in your mouth.

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this screeen.

27 October 2011

Day 27: Junk Art

The Best Things in Life are Free

I've often said I'm not a crafty person, because the truth of the matter is that I don't enjoy crafts for crafts sake.  But I do enjoy the satisfaction of making something with my own hands, something that I used to buy but now I know how to make.  

But my kids?  They love to make anything and everything.  We could go broke on art supplies.  But we don't, because we use junk.  Literally.

We have this fantastic book:

and we use it to get our creative juices flowing.  But the reality is that you don't need a book to tell you what to do with junk.  Ours was a gift and gives us great ideas, but the Bigs are also excellent at creating on their own. 

We regularly raid the recycling bins for 
  • toilet paper roles
  • cereal boxes
  • plastic bottles
  • colored paper
  • cans
  • shoe boxes
  • rubber bands
  • cotton balls
  • tissue paper

From rockets to airplanes to 3D houses, normal household "junk" can easily be turned into treasure.  

And kids' treasures are priceless.

if this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.


26 October 2011

Challenge Wednesday #5

I'm guest posting today at A Drop in the Bucket for Challenge Wednesday.  Hop on over and check it out.

Day 26: Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious

I'm thinking maybe I didn't spell that right, but spell check didn't ding me, so I'm going with it.

Our family is representing the cast of Mary Poppins for a Halloween party, and guess what?  I made the costumes.  It's a little much to blog about 5 different costumes, so I'll cover the highlights.

In the previous costume post, I discussed repurposing and how to pick a couple key elements to make the costume believable.  This of course is also true for Mary Poppins, because she is

Practically Perfect in Every Way!

So, when considering a home made costume, start here:  what are the key items that are necessary to pull off the costume, and how can these items be obtained or made?

I rely on three basic places for costume pieces:

  • our closets
  • my sewing machine
  • the local thrift store
I decided I must have these items for Mary, Jane (the little girl), and the chimney sweeps:

  • a parrot umbrella, carpet bag, and hat (Mary)
  • a hair ribbon, long dress, and knee high socks  (Jane)
  • newsboy caps, red scarves, and brooms (chimney sweeps)

You can look at this post for information on how I tackled a parrot umbrella.  The carpet bag is just going to be a large hand bag with a scrap of upholstery fabric attached.  I bought the hat at a thrift store along with a couple silk flowers for the brim.  I am using a thrift store white shirt under a tweed jacket from my own closet.  I sewed a long black skirt with some fabric I found at - you guessed it - a thrift store (alternatively, you just thrift a black skirt or use one you have).  It was hastily and poorly made, but it will work fine for a costume.

Jane's dress was an Etsy find, but the Little will be able to wear it for a long time.  Socks and ribbon were also regular closet items.

And the chimney sweeps?  Well, they took a little more planning.  I bought dark suit coats at a thrift store, along with newsboy caps for Husband and the Bigs.  Scarves were also purchased at the thrift store, along with the makings for chimney brooms.  I went with what I could find and tweaked them to make them work.  Two just required a coat of black spray paint, but the third was just a regular old broom.  I cut off the bristles and glued them onto a cardboard circle with a rectangle shaped hole.  I put an identical cardboard circle on the top.  When it dried I fit it over the end of the broom, where the bristles used to be.  I spray painted it all black, and it turned into a passable chimney broom.

You'll just have to wait and see how the finished product turns out.  Mainly because I lost the pictures of the making process in a computer mishap, and we haven't yet all tried on our costumes at the same time for a picture.  I have to be in the same country as the rest of my family for that to happen.  I think I'm not supposed to admit this kind of thing when blogging, but, hey, how else will you get to know home made's charm in its imperfection?

if this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

Day 25: Tis the Season for Food Storage

**Sorry for the late time stamp on this post.  I am traveling internationally for the next few days, so my schedule is a little, well, nonexistent.  Be patient and check back, because I've come too far to miss a post in this series.**

I mentioned that some of my staple pantry items are bought seasonally and stored.  Sure, you can buy crushed tomatoes in a can, but fresh is always preferable.  Fortunately, it is amazingly easy to store certain veggies without having to cook or blanch.

At the end of the summer season I bought  several kilos of tomatoes and zucchini at super low prices.  I rely on both of these vegetables for many sauces - tomatoes are an obvious choice, but summer squash can easily be shredded and hidden into several dishes, from sauces to pasta to rice.  When I bought all of these end of season veggies, I brought them home and prepared them for storage in the freezer.  The tomatoes were sliced and mashed with a potato masher and put into freezer containers.  That's all that's needed if you are going to use them for sauces.  The zucchini are just as simple.  Since I tend to sneak it into dishes, I always shred my zucchini.  So I shredded it, put it into freezer containers, and popped in the freezer.  Both of these vegetables will last for several months this way.  And because I bought them fresh and froze them right away, they will still have a lot of nutrients when it comes time to use them.

I also buy spinach in the spring and summer when it is in season, but it requires slightly more work to store.  By work, I mean that it is best to cook the spinach first.  But cooked spinach will keep for a long time in the freezer, and it's great to sneak into pizza and pasta sauces.  I simply sauté the spinach in a pan, let it cool, and place in the freezer in potion sized containers.  Don't freeze it all together because the high water content will turn it into one large green ice cube.  Alternatively, you can freeze it in a single layer on a baking sheet and then place into a large container once frozen.  Just grab a couple pieces to puree into sauce and you are set.

I've tried blanching and freezing some other types of vegetables with mixed success, but that is largely a matter of taste and how they will be used.  We tend to stir fry a lot, and I prefer fresh vegetables for that.  Fortunately, stir fry can be changed depending on what is in season, so I just skip anything that is out of season.  But feel free to try your hand at freezing other types of vegetables.  Many fruits can be stored in the freezer as well.  For instance, if  one of our bananas gets overripe, I just pop it into the freezer.  When I've accumulated a few, I use them for banana bread.  Once thawed they are the perfect texture for bread, without mashing.  Berries can be frozen on baking sheets and then put into a freezer bag.  I grab a few to put on oatmeal or enjoy in fresh smoothies year round.

Not sure what is in season in your area?  The internet is full of resources to give you an idea of what to buy when.  Pay attention at your local market or grocery: prices will dip for produce that is in season and go even lower for produce obtained locally.  Not only is this strategy cost effective, it will give you a huge advantage when cooking home made:  taste.  You and yours will notice a difference immediately.

Trust me.  I've been there.

24 October 2011

Day 24: The Pantry

Ok, so I've managed to convince you that home made is the way to go.  You are excited to begin this adventure, and you are starting in the kitchen.  What in the world should you stock in your pantry?

I have no idea.

But, I can tell you what I stock in mine.  Again, no picture of my amazing and awesome and completely chaotic one and only closet in the house turned pantry and storage for pretty much everything pantry.  You'll just have to imagine.

This list is not comprehensive; it's just what I always have on my grocery list.  You'll want to make your own master list based on what your family eats.  I recommend looking at your favorite recipes and starting there.  If your favorite recipes are mixes or convenience foods, find a recipe to substitute.  Kitchen Stewardship is a great place to start, and she also shares her staple pantry items on her blog.  I also highly recommend Simply in Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook)

for simple, seasonal cooking.  Ok, enough soapbox.  Here is my master staple item list for my family's pantry (and refrigerator):

black beans

natural peanut butter
tomato paste
real maple syrup
dried fruit
unbleached flour
raw sugar
whole milk cheese
greek yogurt
roasted peppers*
crushed tomatoes*
real butter
coconut oil
sesame seeds
olive oil
seasonal fruits and veggies*

I bet I'm forgetting something

*home made or bought seasonally and frozen if possible

oh hey, I found a picture of my pantry:


if this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.      

23 October 2011

Day 23: Spices are Your Friend

I've become friends with my spice rack.  With all of our home made cooking, I rely on spices to keep things interesting.  Here are the jars that line my shelves:

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cream of Tarter
  • Onion Flakes
  • Tumeric
  • Sea Salt
  • Paprika
  • Chili Powder
Now, with all these spices in my drawer (and I do use them all), why not make my own seasoning packets?  No need to buy taco seasoning with MSG levels through the roof when I have everything on hand to make my own.  No cooking required - just mix it together and put it in a container and you're all set for the next time you get a craving for tacos.

Source: None via Megan on Pinterest

Homemade Taco Seasoning


4 tbsp. chili powder

3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. paprika

3 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well to blend. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

To prepare taco meat, use 2 heaping tablespoons in place of a package of taco seasoning (cook approximately 1 lb. of beef or chicken, add 1 cup of water with the seasoning, and simmer until the liquid is almost completely gone.)

Recipe from The Way to His Heart

Pretty, isn't it?  Looks like a good home made gift...

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

22 October 2011

Day 22: Christmas the Home Made Way

Home made doesn't just have to be for your family; it's a great way to share the love in a personal way.  There are many easy home made gift options, from sweet treats to decorations to staple foods.  Here are a few items that I am considering to make at our house:

crockpot pear butter in cute jars - easy peasy

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

yum - canning jar cupcakes!

cookies plus a recipe - awesome

bath salts...I guess I have an affinity for gifts in a jar

Source: None via Aimee on Pinterest

I've covered this one before, but really, how much easier can it get?

Find some inspiration here, or from the virtual bulletin board at pinterest.  Or better yet, dig deep and find inspiration within yourself. 

if this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

21 October 2011

Day 21: What's in it for Me?

Unfortunately I am sans photos for today's post, so I'll have to wing this one, or maybe grab a couple pinterest photos.  Did I mention that I am traveling the USA from the Netherlands right now?  In a new place every couple days?  With a 2 year old?  I'm surprised I've been able to keep up with this, to be honest.

But ok.  Back to today's post.  I've shared a lot of the home made things I do in my house, from recipes to cleaners to costumes.  I've talked about why I do it.  But sometimes it seems like a lot of work. 

So, what do I get out of doing all of this home made stuff? 

  • control over my nutrition

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

  • ability to customize something based on our unique situation

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

  • satisfaction that I don't have to rely on others to meet our needs

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

(don't ask why I chose to represent this point with chickens - I'm not sure myself)

  • peace of mind that I'm giving my very best to my children, and teaching them the same self-reliance

  • pocket change!

Source: None via Tracey on Pinterest

What's in it for you?  All of the above, and maybe some things I haven't considered.  Any of you on board and reaping rewards I haven't mentioned here?  Be sure to leave a comment...maybe together we can convert those who are still on the fence.

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out all of my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

20 October 2011

Day 20: Laundry Goddess

Laundry.  The bain of every mother's existence.  The never ending cycle that rears its ugly head once, twice, 12 times a week.  First I want my kids to use their hampers.  Then I want them to stop using their hampers.  The thing is always full!

Several years ago I stopped buying detergent.  I didn't like the perfume-y smell, I didn't like the chemicals, I didn't like the cost.

I made my own powder with this recipe.  It was laughably easy and cost effective.  That worked great for us for several years.

But then we moved to the Netherlands, and our washer doesn't like powdered detergent.  I had always avoided making liquid detergent because I just figured it would not be worth the effort.  But by the time we moved to NL, I didn't want to go back to store bought, so I gave it a shot.

Yes, it has a few extra steps, but it is still so incredibly easy that it doesn't matter.  What's more, one batch lasts us several months, so I only have to make it a few times a year.

Our clothes are clean, and it really is just a few cents a load.  Amazing.

If you decide to undertake this project, many recipes say you can use any bar of soap.  But I really prefer Dial Corp. 04303 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
for it's stain fighting power.  I have heard that it can be harsh, so take that into consideration if you have an infant or someone in your family with super sensitive skin.  We have never had any problems with it, but Ivory is a gentler alternative if you need it.


Dial Corp. 04303 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap

You might be able to find these items in the laundry section of your grocery store.  I can't, so I just order mine.  Incidentally, Borax is also fantastic for cleaning toilets, and washing soda is a good all purpose cleaner.

Recipe (courtesy of Tipnut):

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

I keep my detergent in old detergent bottles or a lidded bucket.  Like I said, it makes a big batch and lasts forever.

Ok, you're all set.  Get to work!

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

19 October 2011

19. Child's Play

Not long ago, the Bigs wanted pancakes for dinner.  Husband and I had no plans for dinner, but we were hoping to come up with something a little quicker.  But rather than just saying no, we took the diplomatic route by saying,

Go for it. 

Thinking, of course, that that would be the end of that nonsense.

Well, you can probably see where this is going.  Those two boys made pancakes.  From start to finish, with very little assistance.

Yes, we supervised them on the stove.  Please don't report us for neglect.

They now choose a recipe to make every Sunday, making a grocery list for me ahead of time and carefully measuring the ingredients.

The reason our kids have taken on this kind of project has a lot to do with our own attitude towards home made.

It can be done.

It is not impossible.

It is fun.

They agree that home made food tastes better, and they rarely ask to go out to eat.  Of course, they won't ever turn down a certain McFood chain if offered chicken nuggets, but they also know this will happen rarely and are ok with that.

Get the kids involved in what you make.  Let them see your industriousness.  Give them tools to make a lifetime of home made choices.

Enjoy your time together.

Challenge Wednesday - Book Report

Another Wednesday - time for Jen's challenge report.  If you are just tuning in, Wednesdays are challenge days with my IRL friend Jen over at A Drop in the Bucket.  Last week, I challenged Jen to read Food Rules by Michael Pollan.

 Read on for her thoughts on the book:

“ A land with lots of herring can get along with few doctors.” –Dutch Proverb

Alright, so that might be the one piece of advice that I can’t get on board with.  Herring?  No thank you.  Have I tried it?  No.  Will I ever?  Maybe if you pay me.

But as for the rest of the book:  Yes, yes, and yes.  It is sort of a collection of all of the good advice, the “duh, I knew that”, and a few “oh, really?” rules for eating.

First off, let me tell you that Michael is a journalist, who has done a lot of research on food, so he is just like you and me.   Not a scientist, doctor or nutritionist, but an everyday Joe Mike who wants to share what he has learned {and sell a few books, duh.  Who doesn’t?}.  So right away, I knew I would appreciate what he had to say.

It is broken into three sections:
Part 1: What should I eat?
Part 2: What kind of food should I eat?
Part 3: How should I eat?

Just to prove I read the whole book I wanted to share some of my favorite nuggets. {wink}

What should I eat?
       •         “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  He uses Go-GURT as an example (mostly because of the packaging), which I specifically am not really in agreement with.  Because of its something that is somewhat healthy and my son will eat it?  I’m going with it. But on the whole, I am in agreement…pretty sure most chips weren’t around back in the 1800’s.  And we all know they aren’t good for us.
       •         “It’s not food if it’s called the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles.)”  Having spent the last year in the Netherlands brings this one very close to home.

What kind of food should I eat?
       • He shares a Chinese proverb: “Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cow, pigs, and other mammals].”

How should I eat?
       •  “Ask yourself not, Am I full? But, Is my hunger gone?”  Many cultures recommend being done with your meal when you are 67-80% full.  Little bit different than what we are used with “clean off your plate!”, right?
       •  “The banquet is in the first bite”. As you keeping eating, you get more calories, but it likely won’t taste as good as in the beginning of the meal.
       • Treats are fine, but treat them as treats. This is the first I had heard of the S policy:  “no snacks, no seconds, no sweets—except on days that begin with the letter S.”

To go along with the S policy, I just have to say I appreciated reading this book because it demonstrates that really, if we are simple with our food –which will take less time and effort—we can still stop our hunger and savor our food.

Okay, now that I am done being cheesy {pun TOTALLY intended} its time for Tracey’s challenge.

If you have stopped over at my bloggy home you’d find that the reason I started my blog was to document how and when I cross things off of my “bucket list”.  It has evolved a bit, and now is more of a place that I share my story and thoughts of living in the moment, being grateful, and making the most out of TODAY.

But, I think bucket lists are a great way to keep life interesting, and make some of those every days even that much more special. So, Tracey, my challenge to you is to come up with five to ten things that you would want to have on a bucket list.  I know you sort of have one in your head…but put pen to paper fingers to keyboard friend!

A bucket list...interesting.  I guess I probably have something similar in my head.  After all, I just checked off an item by running a marathon last week.  But I've never actually made a list.  This will be fun.  Come back next week to see what I've created.

18 October 2011

Day 18: Time is Money (or Yumminess)

Some home made things are so incredibly cost effective and easy, once you try them you'll say,

"Duh.  Why haven't I ever done this before?"

Home made vanilla is one of those things.

Here are the materials you need to make your own vanilla:

  • vanilla beans (can be bought online or at gourmet groceries)
  • vodka
  • a jar
Here are the skills required to make vanilla:

  • ability to use scissors
  • ability to pour liquid
  • ability to shake a jar
The only other thing you need is time.  Not time working.  Just time waiting.  You'll see what I mean when I explain what to do.  Ready?

Here is how you make home made vanilla:  
  1. Snip vanilla beans (2-3) in half lengthwise, but leave the top 1/2" or so uncut.
  2. Put in jar.
  3. Pour in vodka.
  4. Close jar.
  5. Shake.
  6. Put in Pantry.
  7. Shake about once a week for six weeks.
  8. Use your vanilla.
See this recipe if you want a pretty picture of a cut vanilla bean.  

I'm thinking this would make great Christmas presents, what do you think?  If you start now, it will be ready just in time.  You can use the six weeks to find pretty little jars and labels for your amazing home made gift. Oh wait, that's a post for a different day.

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to check out my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.

17 October 2011

Day 17: Adventures in Home Made

Deodorant Update

Long ago I wrote this post about my experiment in making deodorant.  Now, after going through a whole summer, including marathon training, I am pleased to report that this home made version is still going strong.  I don't think I will ever go back to store bought deodorant, because of the aluminum in the product, which has been linked to Alzheimer's and possibly breast cancer (these claims are very controversial, so take this information with a grain of salt, and don't give in to hysteria).

  But from a purely practical standpoint, I also like the effectiveness of home made deodorant, and I no longer have problems with armpit stains on my white shirts (it is actually caused by a body's reaction to aluminum, not by sweat).  

Ready to take the plunge?  Here is the recipe:

Step by Step Instructions for Homemade Deodorant
  1. Mix about 1/4 c. baking soda and 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot starch in a small bowl.
  2. Add unrefined coconut oil, not melted, about a Tablespoon at a time, mashing with a fork until all the dry ingredients have been mixed in. I find it takes 4-6 Tablespoons.
  3. Optional: If you’d like a scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil at this time.
  4. You could use this mixture as is and apply with your fingertips, but it’s pretty messy.
  5. Best option: use an old deodorant container.

I have found that one batch lasts me 3-6 months, including twice a day applications when I run.  I've almost convinced my husband to try it, so I'll probably have to double the batch next time.  But it literally takes a few minutes, so the time investment is well worth the benefits.

**I am currently using store bought deodorant because I am traveling and I had some in my travel kit, and I have had to reapply several times.**

  I have never worn a more effective deodorant than this extremely simple home made version, and its ease makes it a true baby step.  So, what are you waiting for?

As always, hooking up with the talented bloggers at SortaCrunchy for Green Resource.  Hop on over and enjoy!

16 October 2011

Day 16: Storage Solutions

Thanks to pinterest, I have a nice long list of home made storage ideas to try, so I thought I would share a few with you.

The great thing about home made storage is that it's cheap, easy (if you want), and endlessly customizable.

Ana White
Fantastic idea.  This laundry basket is in a bathroom, but I would be inclined to put one in a laundry room next to the washing machine for folding and sorting clothes.

Magazine rack turned can storage...doesn't get much easier than this.

This project takes a tiny bit more effort.  But I think cutting the bottom off a cereal box and gluing craft paper is probably doable for even the most creatively challenged of us.

This is an old cleaning wipes container turned plastic bag holder.  Great for the car if you have regular need of plastic bags.

Lesson learned?  Even if you can't think come up with your own home made solutions, many people have already done the work for you.  Take a cruise around the internet and see what kind of inspiration you can find.

If this is your first visit, welcome!  Be sure to take a look at my other 31 Days to Home Made posts, by either clicking here or on the button at the top of this page.