Category Archives: DIY

Five Little Homesteaders: Natural Homemaking: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

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Five Little Homesteaders: Natural Homemaking: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tablets.

 

This is a great idea, and the ingredients are all ones I keep on hand for making my laundry soap, so I’ll be trying this out myself this week.

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My Simple Beauty and Body Care Routines (vegan friendly)

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tooth brush

Happiness, the goal to which we all are striving is reached by endeavoring to make the lives of others happy, and if by renouncing the luxuries of life we can lighten the burdens of others…. surely the simplification of our wants is a thing greatly to be desired! And so, if instead of supposing that we must become hermits and dwellers in caves in order to practice simplicity, we set about simplifying our affairs, each according to his own convictions and opportunity, much good will result and the simple life will at once be established.

Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Note: I will come back to this post later on this week and make an itemized list of the homemade products (as well as the simple recipes needed to throw them together) which I keep pre-made in my washroom so that this is a bit easier to follow tomorrow. I have a busy day ahead and I just don’t have the time to simplify this today.

When I first adopted a vegan/plant based lifestyle I ran out and spent a good chunk of money on bath and beauty products, as well as home cleaning products, today I realize how unnecessary  and wrong-minded this was.  A big part of my ethics involves trying to use as few “mass produced” and resource wasteful things as possible, as well as trying to support smaller, more ethical (and less packaging-heavy) companies.

Frankly, a bunch of fancy “vegan-specific” products really aren’t required in order to feel clean and fresh and smell amazing, in fact many of the products which are available in fancy vegan packages kind of suck. It’s also cool to realize that almost everything I use to clean my home and my body is safe to eat and routinely used in cooking (aside from the soap of course).

Staples for a Vegan Friendly Body Care Routine:

  • Small bottles and jars of assorted sizes (an empty stick deodorant tube is a MAJOR bonus item here)
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Coconut Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sesame Oil
  • Doctor Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (Yes these DO contain palm oil, but it’s ethically sourced, therefor VEGAN)
  • Natural Apple Cider Vinegar (I prefer Bragg’s, but use what you like best)
  • A good skin brush
  • Organic Brown Rice Flour (made by running brown rice through a good blender or processor until it’s a fine powder)
  • A toothbrush (I like the type with the replaceable heads)
  • Washcloth, bath puff, towels etc
  • Essential oils if you’re so inclined.
  • Water

Dental Care:

My entire dental care routine involves dipping a damp toothbrush into a tiny jar of turmeric powder and brushing my teeth with it. It makes my teeth look bright yellow while brushing, but they come out really white, clean and my mouth feels and smells fresh. This is seriously better than any of the commercial pastes or powders I’ve tried (and I’ve been using natural tooth care products for 20+ years because I avoid fluoride and unnecessary chemicals as best I can).

Avoid getting the powder/paste on your sink, counter clothes etc as it will stain them bright yellow. I tend to dip my brush over an old facecloth to contain the powder in a set area.

Some people follow this up with pulling coconut oil, but I’m not yet on the oil pulling bandwagon, and I like to keep things simple.

Skin Care:

I tend to avoid getting soaps etc on my face as I have incredibly sensitive skin, so my routine here is simple and straight-forward:

  1. Pour a small amount of brown rice flour into your hand (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) then moisten it with water until it forms a runny paste and follow by using it to gently exfoliate your skin. Rinse well with water, and pat face dry.
  2. Moisten a cotton pad with a mixture of  apple cider vinegar and water (1 part acv, 3 parts water) and use as an astringent. Allow to sit a few minutes and rinse. I often add a few drops of lavender oil to this because it smells nice, and does good things for your skin.
  3. I have made my own moisturizer by mixing melted coconut oil (1/2 cup), cocoa butter (1/8 cup) and sesame oil (2 teaspoons)  together and whipping them thoroughly with my hand mixer. This is pretty oily at first, but my skin REALLY needs a lot of moisture or it gets irritated by the wind and sun I bike through daily and just sucks it up like a happy little sponge.  Pretty much all commercial skin creams irritate my rosacea, this stuff does not. Straight coconut oil, coco-butter or any natural oil will work as a moisturizer, but this is the blend which seems to work best for me. Please, feel free to experiment and find something simple and natural which works with your specific skin type, it’s fun and affordable since all of the ingredients are common food items in a whole foods pantry.

Important Note: For the sake of simplicity I have pre-made all of my soap/water vinegar/water etc mixtures and keep them handy in the bathroom, please keep this in mind when reading my routine, as it sounds much more complex than it really is. In general pre-making everything from cleaning to body care to food items really helps simplify whole-foods living. I also pre-cook batches of beans, grains etc and freeze them into small portion sizes, to save my time and effort, but that’s another post 😉

Hair Care:

My hair care routine is super simple:

  1. Wash hair with diluted Dr.Bronner’s liquid castile soap (4 parts water, 1 part soap) which I store in old agave nectar bottles.
  2. Rinse hair with 1 part apple cider vinegar mixed with 3 parts water, which I store in another agave nectar bottle.
  3. I use a couple of vegan hair styling products as I have yet to find really excellent recipes for my own and have unruly wavy hair.

The first two weeks or so that I used this hair care method my hair seemed pretty angry and dry, after the two weeks ended it became incredibly soft and adjusted to the new routine. I believe this was just the pure soap and vinegar stripping off all of those years of build up. My hair is much healthier and has been growing in thicker during the year or so in which I’ve been treating it with this simple routine.

Body Care:

  1. I am a big fan of skin brushing and here’s a good tutorial on how to do it if it seems appealing to you: Dry Brushing.  I usually brush my skin prior to bathing or showering. It makes me feel good and although I don’t necessarily agree with all of the claims about it, I enjoy doing it and my skin is really soft and glows after my shower if I’ve done it.
  2. I wash my entire body with the same Dr.Bronner’s solution I describe in my hair care routine. If you try this – avoid getting the peppermint version on your “naughty bits” as it gets pretty tingly (not painful, just weird).
  3. If I need to moisturize after bathing I usually use some sesame oil or whatever other clean simple oil I have kicking around.
  4. I’ve found most commercial deodorants to be way too harsh, or not very effective (yes, this includes the deodorant stone) and so I’ve made my own by melting coconut oil down, throwing in a few tablespoons of baking powder, mixing well, adding a few drops of lavender oil, and pouring it into an empty stick deodorant tube and allowing it to harden. It works like a charm for me although it is a tiny bit soft, so I usually need to wipe the (small amount of) excess off before I dress.
  5. I usually apply my favourite essential oils after my bathing routine. Right now pink grapefruit, sweet orange and cardamom are my favourites.

So yeah, you don’t need a ton of heavily packaged, cruelty-based, and environmentally destructive stuff in order to be clean and smell awesome in your day to day life. This may sound like a lot of effort, but really you’re just mixing a few things together and throwing them into containers. I generally only need to refill my containers every few months, other than my skin cream, which lasts ages if you make this much (I store the extra in my fridge, along side the extra deodorant stick I make ahead).

I try to pair this simple routine with good clean whole foods, lots of bike riding (I’m a commuter cyclist), tons of drinking water, pilates, TRX and a regular reading and meditation routine. This is all working for me and bit by bit I’m returning to the perfect balance which we’re all born with. It’s really nice to take an active role in my own health, and to know that I’m not lining a bunch of corporate pockets which aren’t worthy of my hard-earned money.

 

D.I.Y Inspiration from ScrapHacker.com

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D.I.Y Inspiration from ScrapHacker.com.

 

This site is well worth checking out if you are crafty and enjoy up-cycling/re-purposing things. I have seen a number of potential projects on there already, in fact I just made a few really cute bracelets using some of my vintage button hoard.

DIY Homemade (cruelty-free and yummy smelling) Laundry Soap.

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I hate spending my money on products which contain animal products, and which help fund companies which exploit animals, so I make a lot of my own household products. I found this recipe online a year or so ago and have been using (and loving it) ever since, so I figure I should share it with you.

I use Doctor Bronners liquid soap as a body wash and a hair wash (with an apple cider rinse) as well as for doing a lot of my household cleaning.

Grater

Grater (Photo credit: Konstantin Lazorkin)

  • 1/2 bar Doctor Bronner’s peppermint pure castile bar soap (you can use another scent if you like)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1 small storage container
  • 1 grater
  • 1 food processor

Note: Doctor Bronners can be found in health-food shops or natural food sections of other stores, and both Borax and Washing Soda can be found in many major grocery shops or pharmacies.

  1. Grate bar soap with a hand grater.
  2. Measure Borax and washing soda into your food processor.
  3. Add grated soap.
  4. Process (around 1 minute on high) until it has the consistency of regular powdered laundry soap (I added this step myself as I didn’t like the soap curls in my laundry soap, you can skip it if you feel it is unnecessary).
  5. Pour into a container and enjoy.

In order to use this, just add one tablespoon to your laundry machine and was as usual. I love how little I need, how little packaging I waste and how nice and clean my clothing comes out, not to mention that I enjoy the fact that no animals were harmed to produce it.

 

ps. Doctor Bronners products are fair trade, and ethically sourced as well as free of animal ingredients and by-products. Even the palm oil in some of their products is sourced in such a manner that it has no impact on orangutans.

 

The Problem With Low Fat Vegan Baking (and my solution).

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Recently I’ve tested a number of low-fat plant based recipes for baked goods which have just totally flopped when it came time to taste test. The really annoying part is that the description and accompanying photos in the cookbooks have been very misleading and it’s been a HUGE disappointment as they have been recipes by well-respected vegan cookbook authors and or bloggers.

Making a recipe plant-based, whole food and low fat is not enough, it also has to stand up to quality/taste tests. I’m not going to be able to encourage my friends and family to make a change toward compassionate and healthy eating habits with recipes which are only suited to being thrown away. Seriously, if a muffin isn’t good enough to sell, you shouldn’t be publishing the recipe and selling it to your fans.

My solution is simple, I’m going to take my previous experience of baking omni muffins and other baked goods six days a week for three years in a busy cappuccino bar and add some science and some research and create my own recipes. This will be a long process, but at the end of it, I should have a good collection of low fat, whole foods, plant based recipes which I will eventually publish as a cookbook.

Over the warm months this blog will mainly revolve around cold dishes as I don’t use my oven during the summer, but I will make up for that with tons of research and lots of amazing salad and smoothie ideas which I’ll share and post. I’ll also keep you all informed about my research into understanding the science behind baking and probably a lot of random stories about my weiner dog.

Life is good.

Last Night’s Supper and Today’s Happy Sprouts.

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The Happy Herbivore Abroad’s Carolina Casserole interpreted by me. (I had no black eyed peas, so I used romano beans).

The Happy Herbivore Abroad’s Carolina Casserole interpreted by me. (I had no black eyed peas, so I used romano beans).

Last night I decided to try out another of the Happy Herbivore’s recipes (I have and use all but her newest book) and this one was a winner for sure. I would like to try this with kale in place of the collards (my mom and boyfriend both find collards a touch bitter) and perhaps a bit more tomato, as the cornbread topping sucked up a little more of the tomato sauce than I would have liked. However, this is still a really tasty dish, and was a snap to throw together. I’ll certainly be keeping this one handy and will post updates if I come up with any really awesome and exceptionally tasty ideas for this dish (I pull apart and rebuild recipes on a regular basis, so this recipe won’t survive without being tweaked to our household’s tastes).

My Happy Sprouts :)

My Happy Sprouts 🙂

I’m not sure what your grocery budget looks like, but mine is TINY. One of the ways that I help meet our nutritional needs is by sprouting. I LOVE kitcheny-stuff which is half cooking, half grade four science class and sprouting is indeed a bit of both.

Sprouts are terrific thrown in all sorts of things and it’s fun knowing that even in the coldest part of winter part of our meal was grown by me.