Top Posts of 2012: DIY Tutorials Rule The Roost!

After reviewing the most viewed, shared and commented on posts from My Healthy Green Family, it is clear that do-it-yourself tutorials and recipes rule the roost!   Here they are, in order.

#1. Washing My Hair With Baking Soda

#2. Homemade All Natural Deodorant with Men and Women’s Fragrances

#3. Homemade Borax-Free Laundry Detergent with Price and Product Comparisons

#4. Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

#5. 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread That Rises Like White!

#6. Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

#7. Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

#8. To Can or Not To Can? BPA Is the Question

#9. Whipped Body Butter with 2 Simple Ingredients

#10. DIY Faux Paper Towels: Upcycled, Eco-friendly and Cheap!

For more eco-friendly and economical tutorials check out My Healthy Green Family’s DIY Recipes page.

Thanks for all your encouragement, ideas and support over the year!  Watch for more tutorials coming soon.  See you in 2013!

 

The Best Butter Tarts Recipe From Sratch.

My all time favorite treat as a child was butter tarts.  My mom made them at Christmas and I soon learned how to make them for my own family.  There is something about the sweet, chewy raisin centres that are to die for.

 

Crust

(Makes enough for 3 pies so you can freeze what you don’t use, or half the recipe)

  • 4.5 c. white flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 lb. butter or lard

Directions for crust:

  1. Mix first 3 ingredients well.
  2. Combine egg, vinegar and 1 c. cold water in a glass measuring cup.  Mix well.
  3. Cut butter or lard into dry mixture with pastry cutter until pieces are pea-sized.
  4. Add water mixture, a bit at a time, while tossing with a fork, until dough will form a ball.
  5. Kneed a few times to make a ball.  Roll out half of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick or thinner, as preferred.  Cut into circles with large round cookie cutter or wide mouth mason lid.
  6. Press dough carefully and evenly into un-greased muffin tin.
  7. Freeze extra dough for another day.

Tart Filling:

  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. melted butter

Directions for filling the tart shells:

  1. Combine and mix tart filling ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Spoon the filling into the tart shells, about 3/4 full.
  3. Bake at 375F for 15-17 min.
  4. Allow to cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from tins carefully and cool fully.

This post has been linked to Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #14.

3 Last Minute DIY Body Product Gift Ideas on the Cheap.

Need a last minute gift for someone who enjoys all natural body products? Don’t have a lot of money to spend?  Want to quickly make it yourself?  Check out these three recipes for spa-quality products made from easy to find ingredients, some of which you will already have in your pantry!   They make great stocking stuffers or put them  together in a basket and you’ll have a fantastic gift.

Decadent Whipped Body Butter for thirsty skin

You can easily spend $20 on a 3 oz container of all natural body butter.  Make this one for a fraction of the price!

Chai Spice Body Scrub and more!

A 15 oz. all natural sugar scrub can cost up to $34 for a container.  Make the equivalent product in less than 5 minutes for less than $1.

Chocolate Chip Mint, Honey Vanilla, or Sweet Almond Lip Balm

You can buy 1 tube of organic lip balm for $8.  You can make 3 of them for much less than that!!

Need more convincing?  Check out 100% Pure products to see the price comparisons.  They have delicious products, but you can make products of equal quality and effectiveness for a fraction of the price.  And who doesn’t love homemade gifts!  Merry Christmas!

 This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop 92., Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways#58, Waste Not, Want Not #10, Homestead Abundance #2, Farm Girl Blog Fest #14 and Wildcrafting Wednesday #68.

You might also like:
Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

Chai Spice Sugar Scrub… and more! Great Gifts!

Last year I discovered the joys of sugar scrubs.  They are a great exfoliant, leaving your skin soft, moisturized and bright.  They make a great shaving “cream” or overall body scrub.  Talk about dessert for the skin!  Hand me a spoon!  They are almost too easy to make, and they make fantastic gifts.  My favorite to date is Chai Spice.  It is as simple as opening a Chai Spice tea bag, mixing it with the sugar, adding 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a base oil, and stirring!

Basic recipe:

2 parts sugar, 1 part oil. 

Choose your sugars.

  • Regular white sugar gives a soft, gentle exfoliation. (My favorite texture, although I don’t bake with it since it is likely GMO)
  • Brown sugar gives a deeper exfoliation.
  • White cane sugar gives a firmer, deeper exfoliation.
  • True demerara sugar (as opposed to demerara style) provides the deepest, firmest exfoliation.

Choose your oils.

Most liquid cooking oils will work fine.  I have used olive oil, sweet almond oil and grape seed oil.  Smell it first.  Make sure it isn’t rancid.

Choose your additives… or not.

  • Ground candy canes (run it through the blender to get small bits)
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Almond or Vanilla Extract
  • Essential oils (Ex. Cinnamon)
  • Loose leaf teas (think, Chai Spice with cinnamon!)

Mix your ingredients.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients.  Add wet to dry and stir well.  Spoon into jars and decorate jars to your liking!  Enjoy!

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices,oils, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

 

 

Lip Balm Recipes: Honey Vanilla, Chocolate Chip Mint and Sweet Almond.

Most commercial lip balms contain petroleum products, artificial colors and flavours, and are loaded with preservatives.  Applying these to your lips is as good as eating these ingredients.  Thankfully, lip balm is simple and cheap to make.  You can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, or at the very least, that you can find fairly easily in natural foods stores.  With pure, all natural ingredients these lip balms are effective and safe, and they make fantastic little gifts!

Choosing your oils

You can use any cooking oil you like.  Some have better qualities than others.  Choose one with little or no fragrance unless you love the fragrance.  Good ones include olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sweet almond oil etc.  You can use any of these oils instead of the ones in the recipe.  They will all work well.  You can also use herb-infused oils such as chamomile or calendula to create a very soothing, calming product.

Choosing your butters

Butters are oils that are solid at room temperature.  (Except coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature but classified as an oil, not a butter).  Butters are loaded with enriching qualities.  Cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter are great choices for lip balms and other body products.  Cocoa butter is probably the easiest to find.  You can substitute any of the butters with each other.

Beeswax

Beeswax is necessary to solidify the product.  If you are vegan you can try substituting carnauba wax for beeswax, but you will need some kind of wax in the balm.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is moisturizing and has antioxidant qualities.  It is also added as a natural preservative.  It helps prevent rancidity, and extends the shelf life of the product.  No natural preservatives are as effective as synthetic ones, so use up your products in a matter of months, not years.  Store any products you aren’t currently using in a freezer in a sealed container.  If you don’t want to use vitamin E you can substitute it for rosemary essential oil, which also has natural preservation properties.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be substituted for others, or left out entirely.  They do have a bit of a natural preservative effect, but if you don’t want fragrance they can be left out.  Do not use citrus essential oils.  Most citrus (and a few others… worth checking out the link) are photo-toxic and should not be worn when you are exposed to the sun.  Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, a natural analgestic which soothes sore, chapped skin.

Extras, such as honey or chocolate chips.

Again, these can be left out entirely.  Honey is great in body products because it attracts moisture.  It is also naturally antibacterial and… it tastes good…  The chocolate chips are added for color and flavour.  I choose organic, all natural ones to maintain the purity of the product.  Do not add ingredients that are water based such as aloe, or rosewater etc.  Introducing water to your product will allow a bacteria-growing medium into your product which you don’t want, and is completely unnecessary for lip balms.

Choose your recipe below, and follow these directions. 

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except essential oil in a small sauce pan or double boiler and melt, on low heat.   Stir just until melted.  Do not allow the ingredients to boil!
  2. Stir in essential oil.
  3. Pour immediately into lip balm container.
  4. Allow to cool before moving.  Cap and use!  Or gift!

Here are three “tasty” recipes to choose from.

Chocolate Chip Mint

Honey Vanilla

Sweet Almond

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

Notes:

  • Each recipe fills 2-3 tubes or tubs.
  • You can purchase the lip balm containers at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Search “lip balm containers”.
  • Use up in a few months to avoid the oil from going rancid.

This post has been linked to Homestead Abundance #1Waste Not Want Not #9 and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #57.

Whipped Body Butter Recipe: 2 Simple Ingredients

“Decadent, smooth and rich.”

This Christmas I am, once again, attempting to make (almost) all of my Christmas gifts.  A great gift to give is something that can be used up.  Natural body products are not cheap to buy, but they can be fun and economical to make.

Body butters are oil-based and contain no water-based ingredients.  They are a mixture of oils and butters.  They are very hydrating, but they tend to be greasy.  I have been searching for a way to make oil-based butters smooth and light.  I have finally come across a simple way of dealing with butters: you whip them.  Like whipping cream.  This makes them soft, light, and less oily since there is air whipped into the product.  You can add any essential oil you like, and the overall appearance, texture and hydration is decadent.  The final product feels and looks like whipped cream.  I was very tempted to eat mine…
One thing to keep in mind with whipped butters, however, is that they are really only an oil and they will “melt” back into their oil state IF the temperature at which they melt is reached.  For example, a coconut oil-based whipped butter will melt at 24C (depending on what temperature your oil melts at.  Different coconut oils have different melting points).  Other butters may have a slightly higher melting point.  If your house gets higher than that melting point, or you keep it in a steamy bathroom, or on top of the dishwasher (which I did) it will melt back into an oil and you will have to re-whip it.  You can keep it in the fridge if you are worried about the temperature.

Does it stay like whipped cream for a long time!  YES!  It does.  How long?  I don’t know, but it hasn’t melted on me yet, and so I’d say weeks at least, if not permanently.With a mild and delicious cocoa fragrance, it isn’t necessary to add extra fragrance, but you certainly can if you like. Do not use citrus essential oils in body products since they are photo-toxic when exposed to sunshine. I am not a huge fan of the smell of coconut oil and so I choose the coconut oil that is fragrance-free.

Is this product non-greasy?  No.  It doesn’t contain alcohol or any other ingredients that “dry it out”.  But it is much less greasy than heavy, unwhipped body butter, and it will depend on the butters and oils you use (some are less greasy than others).

Over the next few weeks I will be playing with different ingredients, including kokum and mango butter, two butters which are less oily than cocoa butter and coconut oil.  I have shea butter which is extremely hydrating, and I will also be experimenting with infusing herbal extracts such as calendula, chamomile, green tea and lavender, into some of these oils to make whipped butter recipes that provide soothing, calming and anti-aging properties.  Subscribe to be updated regularly or “like” us on facebook so you know when these new recipes are available.

Ingredients:
6 oz. Coconut Oil (fractionated coconut oil is less greasy but any kind will work)
2 oz. Cocoa Butter
Essential oil if desired.

Materials:

  • Electric mixer and stainless steel bowl
  • Scale
  • Small pot
  • Pyrex measuring cup
  • Whisk or fork
  • Spoon
  • Spatula
  • Storage jar and lid

Directions:

  • In a small pot or double boiler, over low heat, melt 2 oz. of cocoa butter.
  • Add and melt 6 oz. of coconut oil.

  • Once oils are melted but NOT boiling, immediately remove from heat, pour into mixing bowl and refrigerate.
  • Once your mixture looks slightly opaque, remove from fridge and whip.  I use a stand mixer which makes the process go a lot faster.  It will get creamy quickly, but won’t whip immediately.
  • Once it is creamy put it back in the fridge for another 5 minutes or so and whip again. 
  • Once it starts to whip like whipping cream, you know you have it.  If it doesn’t, put it back in the fridge for a few more minutes and try again.  It could take up to 10 minutes of solid whipping to turn it into whipped butter.  It will get quite “stiff” and feel like chocolate mousse if you whip it long enough.
  • Once it starts to form soft peaks you can add your essential oil (if desired) and you are done!
  • Spoon it into jars and put lids on.
  • Store in a cool location.

 

Notes:

  • If you are looking for a good source to purchase body product ingredients check out Mountain Rose Herbs.  Exceptional quality, certified organic ingredients.
  • Cocoa butter helps increase or maintain skin elasticity and is very hydrating.
  • Coconut oil is, among many other things, rich in antioxidants and contains natural microbial and antibacterial properties making it a great oil choice for body products.
  • A little goes a long way.  Use a small amount!

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 56, Farm Girl Friday Blogfest #12, Homestead Barn Hop #91, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday #42, Wildcrafting Wednesday and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #8.