Tag Archives: living

Homemade toothpaste…

Many things have encouraged me to eliminate chemicals from my family’s daily life.

My small collection of essential oils

My small collection of essential oils

Thoughts like…

“Why are there warning labels on toothpaste?”…

“Why would I give my kids toothpaste that says, ‘Do not swallow.'” and “contact poison control”

“If it’s SO bad…why should it be in their mouths in the FIRST PLACE?”

Hello?? Fastest place to absorb chemicals is through your soft tissue, isn’t it?

Oh yeah… that’s right…. because some “scientist” told me too? I find, more often then not, overly educated people are IDIOTS and have lost sight of logic. Having been stuck in a book for so long, they no longer ponder…WHY.

I could go on with…. “What part of our body ISN’T absorbent?” BUT…I’ll save THAT ‘Bunny Trail’ for a later date.

Homemade toothpaste is SUPER EASY.

1 to 1 ratio of coconut oil to baking soda….add essential oil to taste.

Mix with a fork.

Mix with a fork.

IMG_1466

I smoothed it out in a one ounce tin and popped it in the fridge to solidify.

I used cinnamon. It has its drawbacks….like burning the CRAP out of your face.

LOL 😀

Talk about sensitive absorbent skin….ya, tell me about it. 😉

~I’m off like a Crazy Woman 😉

Here are some links:
Essential Oil Collection
Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lavender, Lemon, Eucalyptus & Rosemary

My favorite brand of Coconut Oil

An Adventure in Soap

Powdered Laundry Soap

Day 3 of Spring break, the boys and I needed to get the HELL OUT OF THE HOUSE.

I was going stir cRaZy!!!

The DH was working on crown molding so I couldn’t even play with him or in the kitchen. **Bleh**

So………………..

What to do…..what to do…what to DO!!??

I decided to make laundry soap!!! 😀

[Side Bar: After a little more research on the the net, I started a Little Black Book of recipes.

Believing we’re not going to have all modern conveniences available to us; whether it be through hyper inflation (I’m consistently seeing 20-30%), a complete collapse of the economy by other means or an attack on our electronic infrastructure. Eventually, we are going to have to rely on our collective knowledge or written resources.

What happens when ‘the net’ is gone?

Do you have enough knowledge accumulated to do it on your own?

I don’t.

Therefore, I’ve been researching and collecting books considered to be the “Bible” on a specific topic. Now, having added my new Lil’ B.B. for anything that doesn’t require a whole book, I should be on the road to a nice little library.]

So…..Powdered Laundry Soap

1 bar of grated soap (Ivory, Zote, Fels-Naptha or your own special blend)

1 cup of Borax

1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

*************

Jumping in the truck, we’re all off to Walmart to get out of the house, and out of his hair.    😀

I didn’t care if I just walked the damn isles for an hour or two watching people.

Doing just that, I over heard a older couple bickering at each other not being able to find whatever item. Thinking “…if he would just shut up and listen to her they would probably find it….she IS a woman in the HOUSEWARES department. Just imagine if they were in hardware and SHE was giving him that much shit……..”

Over hearing a snippet of someone’s life is very centering and peaceful, realizing that other people get just as frustrated shopping with their spouse.

***********

I finally grabbed two boxes of Borax along with some other products to make basic cleaners, like white vinegar and ammonia. They were out of A&H washing soda and didn’t have any laundry bar soap. So I was forced to hit another store on the way home.

Fred Meyers on a Sunday….YEAH!!!!  Not.

I did find the Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar and the washing soda, Thank God!

Not, might have ruined my “burn some energy and relax” zen moment I was trying desperately to achieve. Dealing with all the yahoos on the weekend is NOT my cup of tea. They are scarey on the road, in the parking lot AND in the isles.

Not to mention…I was so PROUD, I got out of there without buying a bag of Cheetos Puffs…

I LOVE me some Puffs, but this gal makes me say…………WTF??? Really??

In tribute, my next “Adventure in Soap” will be an infused bath bar….

I think she’s going to have some serious scrubbing to do!! Can you imagine?

Geez!!!!

**************

Hauling all the bags inside, I get a side ways look from the Hubby as he’s still laying across the counter with nail gun in hand.

I return it with my REFINED raised eyebrow look….and he falters.

***Uh huh, that’s what I thought! Just let me be, I won’t blow up the kitchen, I swear.***

In the end, being on hand for the “Honey, can you hold this?” OR “Can you shoot that?” Saved both of us a lot of frustration.  😀

****************

This recipe is SO easy, it takes more time to gather your gadgets then it does to actually make the soap.

***And if I could shoot pictures worth a damn, I wouldn’t have to delete 95% of them. THANK GOD FOR DIGITAL!***

I used a grater to breakdown the bar and tried out the immersion blender I got for my birthday. In the next batch I’ll continue with the grater and use the food processor instead, only because it has a little higher capacity.

As the directions state (which I am often accused of not following) I should now put all this grated soap in a bowl and mix with a spoon until its the texture of a course “meal.”

Ya, ok…if I didn’t have something better to do like….

…cleaning bathrooms….

When the time comes, I am fully versed in the use of a spoon. However since we still have modern conveniences….

I’ll throw it in a handi-chopper thingy!!!

The result is nicely chopped up, but not nearly as fine as I would like.

So, I throw in a cup of Borax to help achieve a finer grind.

…..add more gratings…..

hit TURBO, and 30 seconds later…..

Before                                                                               After

Much better!

Pouring my Borax and soap into a steel bowl, I mix in the remaining cup of washing soda.

It almost looks edible…..like a lemon pudding mix.

This recipe fits nicely into a quart jar and it says to use one tablespoon per load of laundry. Which equates to about 47 loads. At Alaska prices…..the batch cost me $2.57. That’s between $0.05 – $0.06/load.

I won’t bore you with the “mustard test” although this recipe competes neck and neck with “Tide with Bleach Alternative”

However, what disappointed me and didn’t “pencil out” was…………………

If I washed our clothes in Tide, it would cost me $0.21/load, which is a GREAT savings. However, I’ve been buying BioKleen for lets say $10.75 a box. Which is about $0.11/load.

My dilemma; is it worth it?? 47 loads is about a months worth of laundry to me.

Then of course I got to thinking about the details.

I know the dry recipe is basically the same as the liquid recipe except that it makes 10 FREAKIN’ GALLONS. I’m not sold on dealing with 5 gallons worth of soap at a time, or finding a place for a million little bottles. That’s why I wanted the DRY. (Liquid: Duggar Family “19+ and counting”)

BUT……..it just doesn’t make sense.

Looking at the liquid recipe: (The dry is dissolved into 10 gallons of water….basically)

1280oz divided by ½ cup = 320 loads for a top loaded washer ($0.008/load)

1280oz divided by ¼ cup = 640 loads for a front loaded washer ($0.004/load)

Less the a cent a load!!!

Figuring Mrs. Duggar knows her laundry soap, bless her heart…. either I need to be using closer to a QUARTER TEASPOON per load or the dry recipe is HIGHLY over soaping laundry.

Someone throw me a bone and help a sista’ out!!

You’d think diluting it THAT MUCH would damage its effectiveness, but you can’t beat “kid tested” detergent with a stick.

ANYWHO…………I’m off like a crazy woman!

Feed back greatly appreciated.

Dry Recipe found HERE:

http://www.diynatural.com/simple-easy-fast-effective-jabs-homemade-laundry-detergent/

Killing Jack

During the summer, I am busily growing veggies and standing on sentry duty for hungry moose sneaking a snack. I have NO problem running “Mama” off with a rake in hand. Crazy? Maybe. BUT…considering gardening in Alaska means all most all plants need a three month head start before they ever see REAL dirt.

Not really.

Warm weather fruits and vegetables need to grow in a greenhouse. This is where I grow my Sugar Pumpkins, THE favorite.  🙂

Pumpkin vines

This year was the first year I had great success with these little buggers. In addition, I used a vertical gardening method to keep the vines from taking over the floor space.

Taking over is a drastic understatement, and growing them upright was the ONLY way to go! With fruit set, these vines still grew to 25ft, weaving in and out of the rope lattice I’d threaded across the ceiling.

This year they’re NOT growing past 10 ft…I’ll nip that in the bud!

Figuring it will save more energy for production.

Love them!!! It’s an instant gratification thing. They grow SO FAST!

I spend a lot of time in my little Garden of Eden. Some people look at me funny as I climb up and down the ladder, hand pollinating the babies.  LOL 🙂

OK…..moving on…I swear I’m not a whack job.

BUT someone has to love growing veggies or the rest of ya’ll would STARVE! 😀

Not to mention they make the CUTEST Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations……Easily lasting that long, and longer, without any preservation assistance.

I still have four sitting in my garden window, too small to bother processing, but serve as a nice reminder of summer.

Here you can see the FAT little seeds I saved for the 2012 garden. Given that I purchased open-pollinated seeds originally, the organic growing methods and hand pollination I am relatively assured these seeds will produce a like…off-spring???

***I’m forgetting Biology 101 at the moment.***

After cleaning all the gunk out of the middle, I lined a large roasting pan with the pumpkin, cut side down. They get about an 1/2 inch of water to soak in, a tin foil cover and “steam bath” for about an hour in a 350* F oven.

With pumpkins in the oven, I turn back to the seeds I plopped in a bowl. Wash off all of the orange….guts…..brains….whatever you call them. It’s not as time consuming as it might seem.

Well….I thought I took a picture of CLEAN seeds but apparently NOT! That’s what I get for burning through files, deleting pictures willy-nilly.  lol

Needless to say, after a simple wash, spread them on a sheet of foil to dry. This is a great activity to involve the rugrats.   Word of advice, do not use paper towel, they stick to the towel and are a b**** to get off.  Spritz the towel down with water and start all over. Learned this one the hard way.

These little guys will be bone dry and ready for storage in about 24 hours assuming a relatively dry home. Alaska happens to be classified a desert, so you might have a little longer. They should be mixed every few hours to dry consistently.

 

You can also try a dehydrator, but I would ONLY use one designed with an adjustable thermostat set to less than 100*F anything above that and you will kill the seed. ***think bath tub temperature for a kid***

 

********

 

Once the steamed pumpkin is out of the oven, remove the cover and allow them to cool down.

 

Masochistic behavior IS the sign of a true whack job…regardless of what your husband might tell you. ***giggle***

 

 

***”Not that there’s anything WRONG with that.”***

 

 

With clean pint jars waiting on the cutting board, I start sterilizing.

Do not forget to put your lids and rings on the stove to heat up.

Sterilizing back in the day meant standing over the stove turning jars in a pan of boiling water. Burning the hell out of your fingers if you were too cheap to own a pair of tongs.

 

Now…

 

…if I have my timing down, the jars would be just finishing a quick cycle in the dishwasher with the “heat dry” on.

 

****My Mummy LOVES the dishwasher trick; she’s been standing over the stove canning veggies for a millennium. :D***

 

Instead… I happen to be fortunate enough to have an “Insta-Hot” tap at my sink, therefore I just spin the jars through that boiling water and VOILA!!!

Using my trusty funnel I fill my jars with bright orange squish…

…past the recommended fill line, as you can see, ‘cuz I’m a rebel like that.

I’ll have you know, although I joke around, I’ve NEVER blown anything up!

Weeeeelllllll, except for that one time…

…at Band Camp.   LMAO!!! 🙂

 

 

Juuuuuust Kidding!!!!! It was just the blender.

 

 

A little too much soap I’d say!!! ***snicker***

 

 

BACK TO THE ORANGE SQUISH…

With 2 quarts of water in the bottom of the cooker, I start it on low with the lid OFF while I’m running in circles.  This cuts the time waiting for everything to heat up so I can start “venting”.

 

 

At this point I would highly recommend referring to the one and only reference manual for these things…

Jars filled, hot lids screwed down with rings, and into the pressure cooker they all go.   Cook at 10 lbs of pressure for 60 minutes.

 

 

BLAM….. the finished product…

 

 

 

 

For the seeds….my first batch turned out beautifully.  Air dried by hand. I even designed a cute little seed packet in Word and printed it on leftover card stock.

 

***Yes….I’m a geek***

 

They’ve been living in the freezer for months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Batch….much like the second child…. back to the basics: get the job done!

 

They have been stored in the jar, on a shelf, in my pantry. This, I believe, was the first machine dehydrated batch. Relatively same  results as the first; beautifully fat clean white seeds.

****there’s a joke here….but I’ll leave it alone. Being a fat kid, I’d be allowed…..***

 

 

The third batch was taken from a commercial field pumpkin. Stored in a jar….air dried by hand, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I removed them from the fridge condensation had built up in the jar and low and behold….Black Mold!  That’s what I get for rushing the process.

 

***I should really keep notes, eh?***    Grrrrr!

In a nutshell…..either leave them out to dry (forgetting about them for a week)  OR use a dehydrator…..AND LABEL EVERYTHING!!!

Bleh….that’s all folks!

~I’m off like a crazy woman!

 

Sometimes storms are cozy

I know… I promised a pictorial review of snuffing my favorite garden vegetable but….
In Alaska, we’re having a hurricane outside, well not really, but it is blowing a gale and raining. With that, I’m moved to write about my evening comfort food.
All it took was a simple Facebook post and an “Oo, oo, oo that sounds good!!!” and I’m off like a crazy woman…dubbing it “Not-So-Tomato Soup and gooey grilled cheese”.
Channeling a little Rachel Ray, I grab all of my crap out of the fridge at once and pile it on the counter.
Then dig an 8 oz frozen bag of my own veggie stock out of the freezer…. (aka “juice a whole bunch of veggies you’re tired of dealing with and cook it until you all most forget about it” the idea was stolen from Michele at b organic)
***sigh***
I’ll start here.
In the bottom of the stockpot, olive oil and half a large onion chopped and sweating.
In goes about ¾ of a cup of grated carrot… and about the same amount of diced red bell pepper. I’m just guessing here, I’m working with fixings from our baked potato bar night.
Garlic….three cloves…no need to dirty the press, just a rough chop to expose the garlicky goodness.
A few minutes for everyone to get to know each other, this is where the beautiful dance of flavors begins.
I am the girl that believes medium high heat for EVERYTHING is a nice balance between “getting the job done in a timely manner” and racing to keep things from burning. 🙂

See, it’s a game, if I turned down the heat I would lose…and I hate losing. 😀 ***Yes, I am a dork***
One can of chicken stock….POOF it’s a hot tub party!! Whoo Hoo!!!
Pop the frosty stock out the zippy bag and bloop….into the pot.
And of course….It’s a party killer… like the cops just showed up and you don’t know what you did with your pants. 😀   ***snicker***
On to the bland and boring:
One can of diced tomatoes and one can of tomato sauce
Simmer… taste…and a LITTLE on the acidic side and not sweet enough. I am going for  Campbell’s…..but with REAL food. So how do I sweeten it up without adding sugar? Another half of a sweet bell pepper, yellow this time to change it up a bit; rough chop.
While simmering to soften the pepper, in goes a tablespoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of salt.
I can hear it now…” I don’t need to put salt in my food” Well….blah, blah, BLAH! I cry BS!
If you don’t put salt in your food then you’re either eating bland CRAP, in denial by not paying attention to your seasonings, using a hell of a lot of high sodium sauces OR you’re addicted to celery. Either way, we need a certain amount of salt in food in order to discern from one flavor from another…I swear. I made this seafood chowder once……………Oh, never mind.
Off the heat …and the soapbox……maybe.
Once all has cooled down (stopped boiling), pour the whole kit and caboodle into the blender.
***WAIT…….STOP***
Now, PLEASE DO NOT make the same dumb ass mistake I’ve seen so many of those high dollar chiefs make by putting hot liquid in a blender and lettin’ her rip. Let this little house wife from ALASKA explain; when you put steaming hot liquid in a container, under a lid, and agitate it, pressure builds…..and IT FREAKING EXPLODES!!!! HELLLOOOOO???!!!
Crack the lid away from you and hold it down, better to be safe than sorry. 😮 No need to be cleaning soup off the ceiling. Then… low and slow, gently add speed until the veggies are well-blended and silky smooth.
Return to the stockpot over low flame to keep warm until the sandwiches are ready to plate.
Buttering one side of the wheat bread, add two slices of ham to the dry side with a slice and a half of cheddar. For a little extra kick, also add a thin slice of Wasabi infused Gouda; oh, it’s just delish I tell ya. Flip another bread slice on top, butter side up, and slip the whole thing on to a hot grill pan.

I LOVE my cast iron griddle, its perfect for making cheese sandwiches.
…and this is where I need more practice, or need someone else to take over, I am notorious for burning grilled cheese sandwiches…ya, I know, turn the freakin’ heat down. I know, I KNOW! It’s just a thing…

🙂  The morning after…

…sticking my finger in the refrigerated container of soup this morning, I would leave out the teaspoon of salt. Yes, I can admit it… It was a mistake. I have a tendency to forget about the stock, or in some cases, it’s been when cooking with bacon too. However, I still stand by my salt rant.

Oh, and I would thin the soup out a tad with a little water. You play with it and let me know.

That dizzle of cheese was completely by accident but it looks delicious

 

A day in my hometown….Palmer, Alaska

I drove to Palmer, Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day for wandering around the farmers’ market at “The Barn.” This would be my first time visiting this particular venue since I usually don’t make it over to that side of the Valley on weekends. New pictures for the new blog and fresh produce for my cooking pleasures would make for a productive day, I thought. However, while random thoughts rolled around in my head, I had an epiphany…more like a “catch phrase” popped up like a bingo ball.

“…it shouldn’t be community supported agriculture, what about everyone else? It should be “Community Supported COMMUNITY”

There are so many others too small to fit in the small business mold; more like a micro-business. The people who spend every Friday in downtown Palmer at the Friday Fling, or the new Wasilla Saturday Market, just on the verge of getting their product on the shelves of the bigger boys…the small business owner with a store front.

Of course then I was flooded with ideas. The step where sustainable living goes from home to community; why not a local blog supporting local business as well? A place for promoting a broad spectrum of local business; small business events, craft fairs, bizarres, true harvest festivals, home shows and the homeschooling fairs….but how? AND the farmers’ markets are on their way out for the season.

Well, I grabbed my new best friend…a small scratch pad made from reused printer paper and a trusty binder clip. :o)

(NOTE TO SELF: Confirm pages when printing a simple recipe off a forum. I realized the printer had been going forever as it finished page 26 of 29!)

With that, I started handwriting business cards. Yeah, I know, can’t get any more PROFESSIONAL than that. Right?

Pulling up to the old colony barn, I was surprised to see only one booth, but that booth that stacked high with a smorgasbord of fresh produce from Glacier Valley Farm.

I chatted with the girls, as I took pictures, realizing they were excited about my idea too. What an awesome way to start the day. After not being able to step away without buying my favorite buttery Yukon Gold potatoes, I headed into downtown Palmer.

I treated myself to a Raspberry Mocha as I wandered into the Palmer Downtown Plaza. Next stop…the Hot Hot Chocolate Shoppe for more pictures. I couldn’t help but snap quite a few.  I must say it is the cutest little boutique chocolate shop.

The whole store has a warm, indulgent feeling. Of course, the “feeling” makes you buy an Almond Mocha Truffle.

Maybe a ginormous marshmallow …

…then sneak away with it before anyone sees you eating dessert at 10:30 in the morning.

This idea of mine may add 10 lbs. to my fanny. Well, damn it, I might just have to take one for the team.

Then I popped into the “Best Deli in Palmer” per some of the talk I’ve heard; to see a family friend and the chef of the Palmer Downtown Deli…Mr. Joseph Bates.

Well, go figure, that man with all the ideas finally took the day off. That’s what I get for dropping by unannounced, I suppose.

Not wanting to bother the staff at Turkey Red I headed down to the Koslosky’s Center. All of the shops I stopped in to visit with were warm and welcoming, however because I caught some of the owners unavailable I don’t feel right about posting the pictures of their stores, just yet.

The last shop I popped into was Sidekicks. A store that I will find time to go back and wander through again before the holidays rush sweeps me away. It is such an imaginative place.

With bits and bobs displayed in such a fun, colorful way, walk-in the door and the place just squeals happiness.

I personally fell in love with a picture of a cow. Don’t ask me why, it just looked like a cow with ponytails and made me giggle…May have to go back just for her.

I can see my husband shaking his head now.

Down the street, I went, with camera around my neck and my handy dandy scrapbook tucked under my arm. Thankfully, it was filling up with everyone else’s business cards… and someone gave me a map. My problem; I know where I’m going, I just have no idea the names of the streets.

Ah, ha…a use for the map! OK, sorry, sometimes I’m a little slow on the up take.

A short chat with the gal behind the counter at Fireside Books and she scratched their info into my book.

A girl after my own heart; she was out of business cards too. I took a few pictures around customers and shagged fanny out of there before people started asking questions I didn’t yet have answers too.

My fabulous day in Palmer ended at my favorite store, Non Essentials. I introduced myself to the owner, Denise, while she was grilling lunch for her customers, maybe her employees on the sidewalk. She’s was very uplifting and excited about my project; telling me, I needed to have a conversation with the Mayor of Palmer and to visit the Dog Fundraiser over by Rusty’s.

Holy, the Mayor! Have I told you I am a truly introverted “wall flower” at heart?? Am I getting in over my head?? ***FEAR!!***

…moving on… ***smile***

Asking permission to take some pictures of the store, she responded with “…only the organized shelves.”

Oh my goodness…whatever…have you seen the place?

I love to walk in and be lifted away by the subtle scent of the day.  The store filled to the brim with almost any Alaskan product you may need from locally made mustard and honey to jackets and scarves.

Start wishing you could sample a few of the wares and a tray of treats seems to appear around the corner.

Denise puts together beautiful displays of color and uniformity, on balance with bits of whimsy.It’s a bit of fresh air for my perfectionist side.

When visiting, take a few minutes to gaze at her wall of tea, you will always find something to keep you warm on a cool fall afternoon.

Walking through the park at the Palmer Library, I stopped to talk to a few teenagers hanging from the tree. “Are you a tourist,” they asked

“Nope, I was doing the same thing when I was your age…bored out of my mind, hanging from a tree,  in Palmer, Alaska”

That gotta a chuckle. I don’t mind teenagers as long as they don’t skulk way from adults. That just trips my warning flags.

My day in Palmer didn’t end with the “good vibe” that had been pushing me forward all morning. I walked in too a small boutique type shop next to Rusty’s Restaurant figuring I would start there and work my way out to the garden into the fundraiser. Unfortunately, the cool reception I received from the employee took me straight back to those “teenage years.” She was completely uninterested to hear anything I had to say, so I thanked her and walked outside to the sunshine and festivities.

Stunned at the attitude of the clerk I barely talked to the kids at the front booth, only to hand them my slip of paper and I walked back to my truck parked at the Depot.

Raised in Palmer, I should know the extremely conservative and skeptical attitudes of some of the people…but not as an adult. Let me say, the drive home was not as fun as the drive out.

Therefore, first thing…. I did the layout on a set of business cards…maybe next time I should wear a dress.

More later on “The Afternoon of Redemption at the Wasilla Saturday Market”