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Archive for the ‘Hand Made’ Category

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Many of you already know how to make your own vanilla extract, but those of you who don’t, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how simple it is.

I say that quite a bit don’t I? “It’s so easy.” It’s really simple.”

But so much in life has been done by big machines and bigger business that many have never had the chance to realize just how easy or how much healthier, and even cheaper, they are to do yourself.

And Vanilla Extract is no different.

You need:

Vanilla beans
Hard alcohol (vodka, rum, brandy, whiskey, ect.)

I used 2 vanilla beans,  8 ounces of vodka and a recycled bottle.

Cut the vanilla beans in about 1 inch pieces. Place them in the bottle.

Fill the jar with alcohol. Cover and wait.

It takes about 3 months to get a good vanilla extract, but it’s usable within days. It really depends on the beans.

But get this…
You can keep topping off the bottle with more alcohol and continue to have plenty of vanilla extract! This will work for at least 3-4 more full bottles. As the beans soften they continue to release vanilla-ey goodness.

What you brewing in your kitchen?

Live Well!
~S 

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Check out the original post at A Life Enchanted 
This site is moving! Double posts are time consuming. I can only keep it up for so long. Come follow along at our new home! 

To all my lovely readers, may you enjoy this glorious Sunday with your loves! 

Moms and dads too. Sisters and brothers, friends and lovers. Enjoy your time together. Revel in the simple things.

The Mister, the babes and I were able to spend time yesterday with both of our momma’s. It was a beautiful day. I only wish there were more time. I made these baskets for both.

We were able to visit, had some dinner out and took some time just to be together. It doesn’t get to happen as often as it should. There’s an hours drive between us all. At least. And life can be so busy.

I filled them with some of my favorite things.

All hand made.

This stuff is glorious.

Lemon salt. Heavenly.

I had a lemon, lavender, rosemary theme going on. There’s been a lot of that going on around here lately. My three favorite things.

Enjoy your Sunday! Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! 

Live Well!
~S

We’re Moving!
Come visit our new home….

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There are so many skin care products on the market these days. Thousands.

Many of them are cleaner and less toxic than others. There are some really great products out there that are made from all natural products. But they are often very pricey. You can use simple ingredients, many you will find in your kitchen already, to replace most of these. For cheaper. With less chance of contamination or added harmful preservatives and toxins.

We’ve been over this a few times before, haven’t we?

There are two simple items that work great for removing eye makeup.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Jojoba Oil

Both can be simply applied gently and removed with a cloth or cotton ball.

Using Coconut Oil

I buy coconut oil in large batches. Then I scoop out containers for different areas of the house. I keep one next to my bed and one in the bathroom for removing eye makeup and a few other uses you can read about in For the Love of Coconut Oil. (coming soon)

To use coconut oil as an eye makeup remover take a small amount… I mean small. Like half a pea size and place in the palm of your hand. Rub it in a very small circle with the tip of your finger to soften it. Now gently spread it over the eye and work it in small circles. Then simply wipe off, gently moving from the outside of the eye toward the inside corner with a cloth or cotton ball.

Using Jojoba Oil

This might be a bit easier than coconut oil only because it’s one less step. But different skin types take to different ingredients… differently. We are all different.

With Jojoba oil simply dab a bit on a cloth or cotton ball and gently wipe across the eye from the outside corner to the inside.

There are lots of other options for eye makeup remover, like vitamin E oil, and well, many other oils too, but these two are my favorites. Right now anyway. These things change now and then.

Isn’t it nice knowing there is only one safe, edible ingredient in the things you need and use? How about knowing you can save a ton of money over the course of a year switching to that one safe ingredient?

What is your favorite eye makeup remover?

Live Well!
~S

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Yesterday I spent the day with a bunch of lovely ladies. It’s rare that I have such an opportunity. And I cherished every bit of it. I forget sometimes just how important spending quality times with friends can be. It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and family. Then all of a sudden you realize you haven’t even seen someone you adore in months.

There was  one particular friend yesterday I hadn’t spent any time with in years. Years. It’s sad. We were once together every day. She was an intricate and very important part of my life. The kind of friend who is always there for you. The kind of person who is simply honest and caring and kind. How do these things happen? Because we let them, really.

I am blessed to know so many beautiful people.

I was chatting with one lovely momma about sunscreen. With temps unseasonably warm, it’s about time we talk about it here too.

We know we have to protect our skin from the suns rays, but what we might not know is that many of those products sought to do so, are loaded with harmful toxins. That’s right. There are dangers in sunscreen. Organic Lifestyle Magazine did a tremendous amount of research on the subject. You can read about it here.

   “The shocking truth is the fact that both petrochemical sunscreens (avobenzone, methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (chemically-reacted synthetics titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) are not natural and have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That’s right, they can cause skin cancer. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body’s natural hormones.”
~Organic Lifestyle Magazine

Even more alarming, since the increase in the use of sunscreen, skin cancer rates have risen. Many reports show that sunscreen actually increases cancer risks. Interesting isn’t it? For hundreds of years there was no sunscreen and there were few cases of skin cancer. And people spent far more time in the sun than we do now. The Environmental Working Group reports that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective.

Did you know your diet can have a drastic affect on your reaction to the sun’s rays? Wholesome foods help our bodies immunity and ability to respond to toxins and other harmful invaders. Build your strength from the inside out. I will keep saying it, a healthy diet affects all aspects of our lives!

Ok, so now what? Even zinc oxide, used in most homemade recipes, is listed here as unsafe. This was my biggest dilemma in determining the safe route for my family. I have scoured reports and articles, books and magazines. I found that uncoated non-nano sized particles of zinc oxide are the safest form. These are found in diaper rash cream and calamine lotion.

And I have come to some delightful conclusions….

  • We need some sun! Many people are vitamin D deficient because they are so afraid of the sun. But it’s actually ok to get out and get a bit of sun.
  • There are a number of natural ingredients that do protect us from the sun
  • We don’t need to slather on all those toxins to be “safe”
  • The very best protection comes from hats and light clothing

Natural Protection From the Sun

  • Coconut oil – I love this stuff!! I use it for so many things. Check out For the Love of Coconut Oil (coming later this week). It’s also great for your skin AND has a natural SPF. This is my first choice for sunscreen. I just slather it on. It can be used alone or added to other ingredients.
  • Raspberry Seed Oil – This has the highest SPF of 30-50 and is very nourishing to the skin. It helps fight free radicals and is an antioxidant.
  • Sesame oil – has an SPF of 30
  • Carrot Seed oil – has an SPF of about 20
  • Lavender, myrrh, peppermint, chamomile and marjoram are excellent added protection and skin nourishment.
  • Green and Black tea – the tannin’s are great at absorbing UV rays, offer excellent protection and are great for the skin.

A Few Natural Sun Protection Recipes

  • 15 drops lavender oil, 2 drops chamomile oil and 2 drops marjoram oil, 1 tablespoon avocado oil.
  • 1 t coconut oil, 1 t raspberry seed oil, 10 drops lavender oil
  • 1 t coconut oil, 1 t carrot seed oil, 1 T Shea Butter

Get creative! You can mix and match with whatever ingredients you have or are readily available.

Homemade Sunscreen

1 ounce oil or oil blend (I prefer coconut and raspberry seed)
1 ounce beeswax
1 ounce butter blend (shea, mango, cocoa)
1 teaspoon vitamin e oil
0.30 ounce zinc oxide
30 drops essential oil (lavender, peppermint, carrot, myrrh, coconut extract for scent)
*Do not use citrus oils – they can cause burning 

Melt oils, butter and beeswax. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then add vitamin E oil, zinc oxide and essential oil.

*Be sure to wear a mask when handling zinc oxide and always use bowls and utensil that aren’t used for cooking. 

Stir until zinc oxide is dissolved. Pour into a used deodorant container or purchase a new one from your local herb store.

An Alternate Sunscreen Recipe

1/4 c oil (grape seed, coconut or blend)
1/2c water
5 tsps zinc oxide
3T aloe vera gel
1T beeswax
1/8 t vitamin E oil
10 drops grapefruit seed extract
*essential oils for scent

Heat oil and beeswax just to melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly, add vitamin E and essential oils.  Put in a bowl that won’t be used for food. Add zinc oxide. Now heat water and aloe vera gel. Add to bowl and mix well. This makes a lotion. It can be thinned or thickened by adding more or less beeswax.

SPF 20 as is. It can be increased by using raspberry seed oil or adding more zinc oxide.

If you aren’t into making your own sunscreen you can check how your brand fared here

Do you have a favorite sunscreen recipe?

Live Well!
~S 

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I was so excited at the number of phone calls, text messages, emails and comments I received yesterday over butter making. So many of you actually went out and bought cream just to try it. I love it!! 

Now that you have all of that glorious butter, let’s make it even better. By adding herbs, spices and zests you can create crazy, beautiful flavors.

Because it’s still very early in the season and my herb garden is hardly ready for much harvesting, but I do want to make this one with what I have grown myself, the first batch is going to be Garlic Chive Butter!

Look at these healthy chives anxious to get this season started

Take your butter out of the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for a time to soften

While we are waiting can we just talk a bit about garlic?
It recently came to my attention  that the proper use of garlic is not common knowledge. And here I thought everyone knew the many ways of garlic.

The way you cut, or don’t cut, garlic affects the flavor. 

Leaving a clove whole will give you the least amount of garlic flavor in your dish. It’s all about surface area baby. The finer you chop, the more flavor you get. So if you smash and drop you will get a stronger flavor than whole. If you mince your flavor will be even stronger.

Then there is creaming the garlic.
This is my favorite. And here I thought all this time everyone knew how to cream garlic. What you have been missing! Creamed garlic gets buttery and melty. And you don’t even have to roast it… which we will talk about soon. I am seeing a For the Love of Garlic post in our future. Let’s cream some garlic….

Smash two (or more, but this recipe only needs two) cloves of garlic

Let’s not talk about the attention my cutting boards need, k?

Mince well

Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. The salt has many jobs. It flavors the garlic so be sure you haven’t over salted this batch of butter. It acts as an abrasive to help break down the salt. And it helps pulls the juices from the garlic to help further break it down.

Now take the edge of your knife at an angle – about 20% – and drag it over the garlic repeatedly. You will need to scrape it back into a pile and repeat over and over. Be good to your knife! This isn’t a massacre.

Now you have creamy, buttery garlicy goodness!
This is great for dressings and marinades, spreads, tonics and just getting more garlic flavor into your dishes.

Let’s get back to the butter….

Add your garlic to the bowl. Now mince some chives.

You want them very fine

Add them in

And mix

You have Garlic Chive Butter. This is the ideal topping for those buttermilk biscuits you made with the leftover buttermilk.

There are so many options for herbed butter. Here are some of my favorites…

  • Lemon Black Pepper – lemon zest and black pepper. Perfect on chicken fresh off the grill.
  • Chipolte Lime – chipolte or chili spice and lime zest. Great for grilled corn.
  • Parmesan – just grate in some parm. This is perfect for corn too. Or focaccia, baguette, oat biscuits….
  • Pepper Thyme – fresh (always best) or dried thyme and lots of black pepper
  • Lemon Terragon – lemon zest and minced fresh tarragon.
  • Cilantro Chili – fresh cilantro and chili powder. Great for corn on the cob!
  • Sweet Cinnamon – honey, cinnamon and vanilla bean make this a great topping for french toast!
  • Gremolata – garlic, parsley and lemon zest. A dollop added to the top of a sizzling steak as it hits the plate. Yum.
Get creative – Think cardamom, ginger, grapefruit zest, basil, sun dried tomato, lavender!

What’s your favorite Herbed Butter combination?

Live Well!
~S 

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I am often asked what crazy things I’m up to. It seems to entertain some that I do these, apparently, strange things like make my own sauerkraut and beer. And for others, they have said it makes them tired just hearing about it.

I don’t think I’m the kind that never shuts off. But I do like to be busy. And I do like the feeling of taking an active role in the creation of the things my family uses. I know what’s in them. I know that harmful chemicals and other potential toxins aren’t slipped in. That they are not only better for my family, but the environment as well. I know that they are fresh and wholesome.

It’s a bonus that I am usually saving money as well. And this one is a perfect example.

Laundry detergent can be filled with stuff  like alkyl phenol ethoxylates, ammonia and phosphates. The results can range from skin irritations to immune disruption, poisoning and even cancer.

Did you know that even Seventh Generation is considered toxic and potentially harmful?

Read more about it here.

Making your own laundry soap is super easy. It’s fast and it’s CHEAP!

Here’s what you need –

2c finely grated castile soap – 1 bar (I use Kirk’s for this. It’s the cheapest I have found)
1c baking soda
1c borax
1c soda ash (super washing soda)

*essential oils of your choosing if you would like to make it scented. I prefer lavender or grapefruit.

Grate the soap very fine in a food processor or with a hand grater. Mix everything in a large bowl, adding the scent a little at a time to be sure it gets mixed well.

Makes – 5 cups

Use – 1/8c per load

Cost – 2-6 cents a load!
The higher being with a heavy amount of essential oils and top price for the products.

That’s it!

You can make it a liquid soap by adding water and heat. Use a 5 gallon bucket to mix and store it in.

For liquid soap –

1 bar grated castile soap
1/2c borax
1c washing soda
1/2c baking soda
3 gallons water

Add the soap to 6c water in a pan. Heat until the soap melts. Add the sodas and borax and stir until it dissolves. Remove from heat. In a   large bucket add 4c hot water. Add the soap mixture and stir. Add remainder of water and stir. It will take about 24 hours for the soap to gel.

Use – 1/4 – 1/2c per load

Cost – 2-6 cents per load!

Now let’s compare….

Tide Laundry Detergent costs $17.97 for 96 loads. 19 cents per load.
Contains (ingredients list)  ethanol, phospates, alcohol sulfates, benzene sulfonic acid and other potentially harmful chemicals.

Home-made laundry soap costs approximately $10.04 or less for economy sizes. Roughly 5 cents per load.
Contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium carbonate (washing soda), sodium tetraborate (borax), coconut oil and vegetable glycerin.  And takes an extra 10 minutes to prepare.

And to add to the fabulousness (it’s a word. sort of) of home-made laundry soap, it works just as well. Swear!

Oh, and you get to scent it any way you like. I love that part.

Have you made your own laundry soap?

Live Well!
~S 

 

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You heard right.

Whole Living With Stephanie is currently searching for Guest Bloggers! AND small companies interested in sharing their wears, plus a little about themselves and their business.

The BRAND NEW site will be up and running soon and so many new things are coming our way.
(…including a new name! sshhh.)

Do you have a blog you want to promote? Are you a budding writer? Do you have a product you love or create that you would like to get in front of hundreds of people a day?

Well, here’s your chance. Just send me an email with some details of your work. I will have a limited amount of space and do ask that all be of the same mindset we share here – green, handmade, natural lifestyles, great writing, wellness, holistic ideas… the options are truly endless. Jewelry makers, crafters, artisans or even just those who welcome the chance to share a favorite recipe, home make-over or thrifting find. You can promote your blog or not be a blogger at all. Have a local book club you would like to promote? How about a design company looking to expand?

You don’t have to be a writer so don’t fear. There will be interview options and articles written for those who prefer.

Let’s share what we do!

Live Well!
~S

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