Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Walking in "Nature"

Where I live is surrounded by preserved natural land.  Sometimes driving in to town I see wild horses along the freeway (on the reservation, far on the other side of two fences).  When I go for walks in the morning though there is always more to see.  Smaller, generally, but more numerous.  This is my second week of getting up and out the door by 5:30 so I could walk without children.  I have seen a lot in the times I have gone out but I have not shared what I have seen with anyone.  It is like it is a secret between me and the dawn.  Something that we share together, but talking might ruin the magic a little. 

So I likely won't share everything I see, but some creatures tug at my heart a little differently.  I know that javelina smell, they don't see well, and they are responsible for eating one of my favorite plants (which I had the audacity to plant in the front yard instead of the fully fenced in back), but I still think they are cute.  Maybe I am influenced by that great children's book Josefina Javelina. 

However, this herd travels about our houses frequently, so I feel like I know them a little.  They had three little babies with them, and at least six older javelina. 
 Here is my instagram shot.  The big ones are all I caught.  Two little ones had already crossed the street before I could get my phone out of my armband.  What you don't see is that they had moved in between houses, and on the street before this, which I came down, they had knocked over a trash can and helped themselves to a morning snack.  There is one more baby but he was being slower and coming up behind the bush and tree. 

I tried to get closer and get a picture of the little one, but I swear this one was staring at me.  You can see him kind of coming up on the left in the photo next to it.  I know they can't see well, and I was in the middle of the street, but I still felt like he was staring.  Since there were little ones, and I did not feel like being charged by a javelina at six in the morning, I gave up on any more pictures. 

Still it was nice to be able to share space for a bit with a herd of wild animals, just out doing their thing, and thinking about how the neighbor will wake up frustrated and have to pick up trash, as we have a few mornings.  If I haven't made it clear, I like where I live, even if I have to make my husband pick up trash knocked over by wild animals. 

The only downside is that it was already 70 degrees this morning, and I just hate heat, so I will likely only have a few more weeks of outside walking before I have to move indoors for exercise. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Body Gel-Scented for morning energy!

I am an evening bather, but I am starting to exercise in the morning, which means a morning shower some days as well.  I have been using the hubby's regular soap, but I am afraid it is really drying my skin.  I have been meaning to buy some body wash for awhile, but just haven't found one I want to use that is natural and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. 

So here is where I tell you how I made my OWN shower gel.
 I gathered up my olive oil soap, almond oil, vitamin E and two essential oils. 
 Plus my Eco Beauty book.  
I mixed the soap, oil, vitamin E and two drops each of rosemary and sweet orange.  It blends really well together and doesn't seem to have problems with separation. 
This time I washed out a finished conditioner bottle to put it in.  It squeezes out nicely and works well on my scrub brush.  The smell is awakening.  I wrote on it with Sharpie, but it appears that I should use a different label.  I put a warning on it that it has almond oil so the little ones stay away, but I like it so far.  It is nice enough that twice a day showers are not hurting my skin. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

My own lovely shampoo....

I am usually the last one I make natural stuff for.  It is usually the kids who go first.  However, we still have product from California Baby for them, and I was out of shampoo/conditioner.

I perused my latest book purchases again.
Basic Shampoo
1/2 cup water (distilled)
1/2 cup liquid soap (olive oil or castile of any kind)
1/2 tsp light vegetable oil

Place ingredients in a shower safe container, not like my glass one, I was short of good containers.  You don't want to stir just mix gently.  It will separate so do so with each use.  I added some essential oils to give me a nice smell.  The only thing I will say is I need to get my rear in gear and make a nice rinse because after a week my hair is well moisturized and actually bordering on oily.

I do like it though, my hair is clean, and not dry.  I can't get in to the new dry shampoo movement, so this is awesome for me. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Soap? Coconut Allergy?

I don't like to buy regular old soap or kids body wash at the store for my kids.  I want something natural.  Something the EWG (Environmental Working Group) doesn't list as toxic.  This is harder to do when your child is allergic to coconut, because it seems like EVERYTHING has coconut oil in it. 

To be honest since she was a wee babe Big L has been using California Baby Sensitive Shampoo/Body Wash and Conditioner.  I know it has coconut oil in it.  It didn't really bother her, and it was not a large portion, at least that is what I tell myself.  However, it is EXPENSIVE!  Can you say 120-150 dollars a year on ONE child's shampoo/conditioner/body wash needs. 

Well, I have had enough.  I was searching the internet for soap recipes and came across this:

DIY 100% Olive Oil Castile Soap

Well praise the heavens and HALLELUJAH!  I have read about and wanted to replace all of our soap with castile soap, but EVERY one in the store has SOMETHING my daughter/s are allergic to.  This was an awesome find. 

Here is how I did it.  First, I did not use my crock pot, just a stock pot.  I also wrote everything down because my computer is not open to printing web page information in a nice matter. 
You need to have distilled water, a bar of kiss my face pure olive oil soap and something to make it in.  
 I cut the soap into thin slices. 
 Placed it in four cups of distilled water. 
 Then waited......stirred.....and waited.....
until, voila, I had liquid soap safe for my kids, and all natural! 

I am quite the happy mommy now.  I have all sorts of plans for this soap, from hand soap, to dish soap, to shampoo, to laundry detergent, and to a bathroom cleaner. 

I will be sharing more, but this was the first step.  Next time though I am bypassing the pot.  I store things in pickle jars, or other jars, so I will be just putting the soap (2 bars) and water (8 cups) in the jar, waiting, stirring and waiting, then it is where I need it to be!

This was SUPER simple.  I have already used a good portion of it, and have plans for more soon!

Yogurt anyone?

My family eats a lot of yogurt.  That is saying something considering it is just three out of the four who eat it all.  A couple months ago I looked into getting a yogurt maker, but couldn't really justify the cost versus what the thing actually does.  I was going to just see if my oven would stay at a low temp for long periods, but my oven is not always stable temperature wise, and you can't mess around when trying to make yogurt!  So I was browsing groupon the other day, which I try not to do, and there was a yogurt maker calling my name.

Can I just say that I think that yogurt maker is a bad name for this thing?  I cook the milk, let it cool add the yogurt starter.  It just keeps it warm.  Okay, I guess it helps the culture multiply and turn the milk to yogurt, so it does something....still.

I thought yogurt making would be more difficult to be honest. 
 This is what you need.  Milk, I used whole milk, that is what my milk people drink.  Yogurt, plain (yuck) for your starter.  A pot, I should have used a smaller one, but I am not good at volume.  You bring the milk to a boil.  Let it cool while the yogurt starter warms to room temp.  Mix until you have no lumps, then put it in the jars and put in the warmer.  That's it.  Eight hours later you have yogurt. 

I took two of my jars and strained them with a colander in a bowl, four layers of cheesecloth over the colander so that I have some "Greek" yogurt.  5 jars of regular ready to be flavored and one container of Greek yogurt.  I must say that the Greek yogurt is likely going to be my sour cream substitute.  It is sour because it is plain and it has a good consistency.  I think it will work well!

I have eaten most of it at this point.  Some of my favorite combinations:

Fresh Strawberries, Honey, Flaxseed
Strawberry Preserves
Banana, Honey, Flaxseed

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Body Butter

 Back to the first book, EcoBeauty, for some body butter.  Can I just say I wish I had followed the recipe better?  I also wish that I had followed my friend's recipe instead.....you can catch it here: Green is Going Green....and Everything in Between.

 Here we are melting the ingredients for Ultimate Body Butter.  We substituted sesame oil for avocado oil, because that was what we had.  I also added shea butter, and made a REALLY big batch.  In the end, I had this....a bowl of oils, melted, and my instructions said whip.  Well, that didn't work for me, so I added water and whipped.  Next time, we are doing this differently.  We are using it up, and it works, but it could be better.  Next time, I will tell you how it turns out.  That will likely be soon, as I use a LOT of body butter. 
In the end we had a productive day in the moisturizing kitchen.  It was great for a first try, and I will learn to follow a recipe, I swear....kind of.  Each time I do it I will learn something new and be able to modify and find the combination that works for us, hopefully both L's and I will be able to use the same lotion/body butter.  Wouldn't that be nice? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sleeping Beauty Cream

Other than the name for the recipe, which I could honestly live without, and my ineptitude while I learn how to make this stuff, I LOVE this cream.  I used to spend $20-40 on a jar of face cream.  Ridiculous!  This stuff works sooooooo much better, and it is all natural.  I used to have a rash, permanent on my cheeks.  The dermatologist told me it was just dry.  I have tried a lot of different creams, and this one actually worked.

Second recipe from our weekend of fun!
Sleeping Beauty Cream
from the book Natural Beauty for All Seasons, which is a great book and I am making my way through deciding which recipes I want to try!
What you need:
1 tablespoon grated beeswax
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
1/4 cup light sesame oil
1/4 cup lemon oil/water mix (recipe in book says orange flower water which I did not have)
pinch of borax

mix beeswax, vitamin E and sesame, heat until melted.  I did this in the microwave, but I found it was uneven and didn't really melt everything that I thought it had melted, so next time, double boiler.  Combine the lemon oil water and borax powder, heat until warm.  I poured everything together in a bowl, and then used my hand blender for a minute.  I poured it into clean containers that used to hold that really expensive stuff.

I have been using it for a few weeks now and my skin actually has a glow again, no more dry and flaky looking face.  I LOVE IT!  I will be probably mess a bit with the recipe, depending on what I have on hand, but I think it is pretty good the way I made it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Allergy friendly lip gloss

I have a kid with crazy allergies.  All nuts (including almond) and COCONUT.  It is hard, if not impossible to find a natural lotion without almond oil or coconut.  Don't get me started on lip balm or lip gloss. 

After searching for years it finally dawned on me, after seeing a friend blog, that I could actually make this stuff myself.  To be honest, it just never occurred to me.  When I was working it would have been difficult, but now it is doable. 

A few weekends ago big L and I decided to test run the lip gloss we are going to give away at her spa birthday party.  I figured while I was at it I might as well try some body butter and make a face moisturizer as well.  Those will be in later posts. 

First up: 
Vanilla Lip Gloss
recipe modified from the book Eco Beauty
1 teaspoon grated beeswax
1 teaspoon cocoa butter (we substituted, the original recipe calls for coconut oil)
1/8 teaspoon vitamin E oil
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Basically you melt your beeswax and cocoa butter in a hot water bath. 
 The cocoa butter melted fairly quickly, the beeswax not so much.  I don't think the kids or I have the patience to wait at the party, so I am going to make a big batch and have big L help me design a label for her lip gloss party favor.  She liked it though.  Tip, when you add the vitamin E and vanilla be ready to pour immediately into container, otherwise it will cool off to quick.  I am hoping that by using my double boiler I won't have the problem when we do it again. 

The lip glass is in front.  Cute container

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gardening Update

I have been keeping up with my garden, and I can say that I will not be buying lettuce for quite some time!  YEAH!!  Everything is growing up quite nicely, even things I thought I might as well give up on.  There were a couple casualties, but I can't complain.

This tea rose survived.  Which is nice.  Before blooming there is a pink tinge on the petal edges. 

As soon as this blossoms, I will know what type of rose it is.  I had two that didn't make it.  This one and the white tea rose did. 

That is the first grapevine to produce leaves!  I was beginning to give up hope, but finally one out of the four showed some life. 

These are my rainbow carrots

Is that an onion patch, or is that an onion patch!


The above two are parsnip and rutabaga.  I am not sure I labeled them right in the garden though, so I will figure it out when they mature a bit more!

The celery FINALLY sprouted. 

Potatoes.  Another one I had almost given up on, but they just took off!

My rose and some other plants are being eaten, but I have not been able to track down the culprit!

The plant is pretty healthy despite the missing leaf parts. 

This sage plant used to be in my kitchen window.  Then it looked puny outside for awhile.  NOW!  Holy macaroni!  I think the plant and I have come to an understanding, and moving it to were I did is making it much happier. 

This succulent actually sits in a round pot on top of my fence.  I can't see it, so I thought I would take a pic and make sure it was alive.  When I planted it, there was just one little bunch of run tipped leaves, now I see it is multiplying, and growing up. I may be able to see it without doing acrobatics soon. 

summer squash in the plenty.  I am going to be giving away squash if they all produce. 

In the back are my pickling cucumbers.  I planted new seeds a few weeks ago, and I now have three plants.  In front, Kale and Red lettuce. 

More red lettuce, more kale, regular munching cucumbers, black beans, green lettuce.  Like I said, I am good on lettuce for a bit. 

My Daisy bush is blooming again.  It makes me smile. 

When you allow a two year old to water your cilantro, it gets a little overwhelmed.  It has since perked up!

I don't know what this succulent is called, but I love it. 

Parsley anyone? 

I haven't quite found the right spot for my thyme, but I will, and it will grow. 

These are my apples, that's right, the tree that should not fruit for at least a year has apples.  I need to get out and stake some support. 

Peaches!  I can't wait! There won't be many, but again, this was not supposed to fruit this year!

Both of these have peppers.  Unfortunately, I am going to have to wait until they produce to know which is bell and which is pepperoncini. 

This plant got a haircut today.  It was getting tall and overflowing, so I trimmed her back.  More flowers will come soon I am sure!

Look to the left and see my flourishing flower garden.  Look to the right and I have NO IDEA what the difference is, but it is not flourishing.  

I fertilized all the veggies with fish fertilizer the other day, it was smelly, but the leaves all perked up a bit the next day.  The flower garden is odd.  The side we had planted sunflowers in before is doing well, the other side not, so we planted some more sunflowers, they will be poking their heads out in the coming weeks.

Needless to say I have spent quite a bit of time caring for all of these plants, soil and such.  Little ones "help", husbands help with big weed jobs, but I prefer to be out there alone, in silence, just me and the garden.  I am amazed daily by this garden.  I never expected so much to grow so well, and every day I go out and see something new sprouting or growing recognizable.  It is truly amazing how life works.