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Friday, July 17, 2009

Natural Homemade Deodorant

5 - 6 Simple Ingredients to make a natural and homemade deodorant - and yes, it works, even in this hot, hot Florida humid summer.

1/4 cup Aloe Juice (or water)
1/4 cup Grain Alcohol, or Vodka
1/2 Tbls Chlorophyll
Zest of 1 Lemon
3 - 5 drops of Lavender Oil (or your favorite essential oil - pick one that compliments lemon)
3 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (optional)

Yields 4 oz

Put all ingredients in a glass jar and let sit for 24 hours. Strain lemon zest, then pour into a 4 oz or larger spray bottle. Apply by spraying under arms. The alcohol content in this is no more than most other deodorants, so you can even use this right after shaving. The aloe helps for sensitive skin, but water works just fine.

What does each ingredient contribute:
  • Aloe Juice soothes sensitive skin and dilutes the alcohol
  • Alcohol helps extract the lemon zest and essential oils from the zest
  • Chlorophyll is the active deodorizing ingredient - some people take it internally to reduce all sorts of funky smells
  • Lemon is also deodorizing, plus the acid is neutralizing to sweat and it has a nice clean smell
  • Lavender Oil is antiseptic, cooling and mild
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a preservative and anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. If you do happen to get a little funky in your pits, a little GSE will kill the bacteria, yeast, or whatever fungus you may have developed. The formula stays fine in a bottle for 6 weeks so you do not have to use GSE.
This is a pretty frugal formula too. I have not calculated the cost per batch yet, but I estimate it to be around $1 for the 4 oz which lasts me 6 weeks. Please note that in very hot and humid weather, or based on how much you personally sweat, you may have to reapply during the day. This formula is not very effective for workouts - but I have yet to really find something that is.

Car Organizer Project

Nothing repurposed here - just a need to organize all the toys that have taken over the entire backseat of the car.

I took my son to the fabric store so he could pick out the fabrics and ribbons for this project. When I got home, I was able to complete this project in about 2 hours - 90 minutes of naptime and about 30 minutes after bedtime:)

This is a Joann Fabrics project - although next time I would have sewn the pieces together rather than use Heat N' Bond tape - I think it would have been just as easy because fleece does not seem to take to that stuff well. Also, I fear that with some minor wear, it may come apart, but maybe I am wrong....

4 pieces prepped for assembly

Final project laid out to torment kitties (one was camera shy - they other can't stand the ribbon)

Final product filled with toys. The bottom pocket is under the seat so might not be too practical at the moment, but it was large enough to fill with a few books.

On the green side of things, this fleece is supposed to be made from post consumer plastic bottles. Not sure what I think of that right now (and too serious a topic for right now), maybe a post for another time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coloring Rice

Today, my son and I had an incredibly fun lesson in color! I have seen so many recipes online for how to color rice, so I thought what an inexpensive fun activity for a toddler to do while learning about color mixing at the same time. I altered it a little bit but the main idea is to take rice, cheap food color, a little rubbing alcohol and shake it in plastic bags. I don't have plastic bags in the house, so instead we used some of the remaining reusable plasticware with tight sealing lids.

Most sites recommend that only an adult should use the food color, but what fun is that? I kept a couple of rags close by, stripped my son down to his diaper (we would have used an apron or smock if it were not so hot today) and let him experiment and have some creative liberties.

I measured out enough rice to cover the bottom plus about an inch thickness in each bowl. I showed my son how to open the food coloring and how to resecure the lids (this may have been his favorite part).

First we did just single colors:

Adding red food color

The fun part of shaking and mixing the color

Making blue rice

mixing and shaking blue rice

Mixing colors to see what they make - we made a batch of purple rice, then this had almost all the colors in it and made a dark green colored rice.

I put the rice in baking pans for about an hour at 200 F, stirring occasionally. Then we poured the rice into storage jars for use later.

We already used our rice for a transfer activitiy. I took the rice that had spilled on the table while pouring it into storage jars and put it all in one bowl. Then left one of the baking dishes for him to ladle rice from the bowl to the baking dish. This kept him busy for about 45 minutes - just transferring rice from one dish to the other - maybe there should be a Zen rice ladle bowl set for adults.

transferring rice with a ladle

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reusable Produce Bags

My new empty homemade produce bag!

In an effort to reduce consumption, I decided to make some of my own produce bags to take shopping. Whenever we are at the store, in the checkout lane, I look at these plastic bags of produce or bulk items and wonder why am I filling my cloth shopping bags with lots of little throw away plastic bags. At least the plastic grocery bags I do re-use for kitty litter changes, but these produce bags are so flimsy, they cannot be re-used (at least not in my house for anything I have thought to re-use). I bought a bag from, but it was a little pricey for as much produce as I buy, and it seems to be a little burdensome to the cashiers when they have to open the bag to see what the item is so they can ring it up. I have tried training the cashiers that you can see the numbers on the stickers through the bag, but this is just more work than I want for a grocery store trip. So I decided to make my own bag. I can make several for a low cost, I can pick the fabric, and it is a great sewing project for someone needing some practice since I am a newbie at this sewing thing. My favorite color is purple, so I decided to buy some bright purple nylon mesh - very transparent, and quite sturdy. The drawstring is not so pretty, but it is simple unbleached cording. No need for a closure because friction keeps the bag secure.

No pattern needed - just pick the size of bag you want, cut, sew edges, then sew in a hem line so you can insert a drawstring. Tie a knot in the end of the drawstring and you are done. Simple project - pretty bags! My large bag can hold about 4 lbs of apples (pears, peaches, whatever really). And I have made some smaller bags to hold nuts, seeds and legumes. The holes in the netting are small enough that the things I buy do not fall through. I will probably also make a couple out of cheesecloth so I can put things like millet, quinoa, and rice in them too.

You may ask if this is much heavier than the plastic from the stores - I don't know the exact weight difference, but I do now that none of my bags weighs more than 0.1 oz. My calculations for average produce at about $2 per pound means that this bag costs me about one penny on the scale. If I go to Whole Foods, they give me a dime for re-usable bags, so I actually make $0.09 on each bag that I use. Not a bad buy really. I made 7 bags total from 1 yard of fabric which I bought on sale for $0.99. I spent about $2 on the drawstring, and I had the purple thread. This $3 investment will pay for itself within about 30 uses of the bags.

My new produce bag filled with 4 pounds of pink ladies!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Noah's Chocolate Cherry Brownies

Must be something about chocolate and cherries this week in our house. I asked my son if he would like to help make brownies and of course since he is 2 he said he can do it himself. I got to help a little bit. I gave him guidelines and bowls to fill with the ingredients he chose (like which nuts, which fruits, which added flavorings, etc). This was really a fun afternoon and if I hadn't been watching him like a hawk, I would have some pictures to post too. This is what we ended up making:

Raw Chocolate Cherry Brownies - Makes 12 brownies
1 cup raw pistachios
1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
2 vanilla beans - insides scraped
a pinch celtic sea salt
1 3/4 cups dates, pitted
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, unsweetened
2 Tbs agave nectar

Process nuts, cacao, vanilla and salt in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade to the consistency of a course meal. Add dates and cherries, and pulse until mix starts to come together in a dough. With food processor on, add agave nectar - this should help bind everything as well as sweeten. Press into a brownie or pie pan. Cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm them. Slice into squares or wedges.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Black Forest Ice "Cream"

This is incredibly chocolatey and not too sweet. If you prefer more sweetness, you can definitely add more agave or dates. With ice creams, make sure that the pre-ice cream freezer mixture is sweet enough to your liking or even a little too sweet. For some reason, ice creams taste less sweet after they are frozen in the ice cream freezer.

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour in purified water (do not reserve the water)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup agave syrup or mild date (such as halawi)
20 oz cherries, divided (pitted)
1/2 tsp almond extract, alcohol-free (optional)

Pre-freeze your ice cream freezer bowl overnight.

Take 1 cup of cherries, chop and put in a bowl in the refrigerator. These will be the chips for later. Drain cashews and add to high powered blender along with cacao powder and agave syrup (or dates). Blend on high until thick and creamy and no chunks of cashews are left. This should look like a very thick pudding. Add remaining cherries and blend again until creamy and no chunks. Taste at this point for sweetness. If it is not sweet enough add up to another 1/4 - 1/2 cup of agave or dates. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and set in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Start the ice cream freezer, and pour the chocolate cherry mixture into the freezer. My ice cream takes a total of about 20 - 25 minutes depending on how warm the house is. Check the ice cream after about 10 - 15 minutes. When the mix is starting to set, add the chopped cherries. Adding them at this point will ensure you have an even distribution and that the cherries do not fall to the bottom of the freezer. Let the ice cream freezer run (according to manufacturers instructions) until mix is completely frozen. You can serve and enjoy at this point and the ice cream is like soft serve. Or spoon mixture into a freezer safe container, and freeze overnight so it sets up hard like carton ice cream.

No Mother Left Behind