Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY Insect Repellent Candles

Due to the fact we live in a tropical environment we deal with insect issues pretty much year round. To me it is a small price to pay for being blessed to live here but I am always up for trying new bug repellent methods. My hubby likes to sit on the back porch to relax and read often has several store bought bug repellent candles burning while he is out there. Awhile back I had come across and saved this link DIY Survival Candles with the intention of making them at some point (our electricity also goes out periodically).  So it dawned on me why not make them with essential oils that will deter insects. According to the above link a candle in an 8oz jar should burn for 40-50 hours. With the exception of the essential oil part that I added the following is according to the above link.

You Will Need
Soy Wax Flakes - 5lbs (I got mine on Amazon)
Canning Jars - I did 1 dozen 8 oz. jars but you can use any glass jar
Wicks and Tabs - I bought my wicks already pre-tabbed on Amazon
Essential Oils - 1  1/2 oz.
Double Boiler - If you do not have one, you can place a pot in a larger pot of water (this would almost be better as the double boiler I have could not fit the amount I was making so I had to do it in batches)
Wooden tool to stir with. I used a large wooden popsicle stick

There are several different essential oils that are good insect repellents, you can choose to do all one or a blend of different ones. Some good ones are Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Lemon Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Peppermint, Basil, Rose Geranium, Cinnamon Oil, Thyme, Lemon, Orange, Pine.

Because we not only have a problem with mosquitoes and flies but also roaches. I chose Citronella, Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Lavender.  As far as what brand essential oil, you can read here Essential Oils my favorite brands but honestly (I know I will get a little beat up for this) because I am not rubbing this into my skin or anything I have no problem going with one of the cheaper brands.

First prep your jars. Personal opinion is that it is a bad idea to pour burning hot liquid into unprepared glass jars. :) Fill a large pot with water, place jars in the pot so they are covered and put on medium heat. Let them sit in the pot with the burner on while you continue on to the rest. If you are going to be doing this a lot you might want to invest in some canning supplies. I already had them on hand because I like to make my own jam. At a minimum a jar lifter and jar funnel would be helpful. Canning utensil set on Amazon

Melt wax in double boiler or improvised double boiler.

Pot of canning jars should be boiling by this point. Turn off burner and remove jars. Cut wicks to just above rim of jar and place in jars. They probably will not stay in place to begin with but we will take care of that later.

Once wax is melted remove from heat. Add essential oils and stir well. Essential oil has a tendency to sink to bottom so it is imperative that you do not do this step until wax is removed from heat and that you stir it thoroughly.

Fill jars. (you may want to transfer to a pouring device to do this step, I already had a canning funnel so did not find that necessary.) I do not fill it all the way to the top but leave room for a match book or small box of matches to go in each one.

 If it starts to harden before getting them all filled you can place pot back in the hot water and re-melt. Now you can make sure wicks are centered. If they are not staying in place you can set a popsicle stick or similar item across top of jar with wick resting against it. Let set and harden. Once they do harden you can trim the wick so lids can be screwed on. I made a dozen although if you fill jars to the very top it will make less.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Natural Sunscreen

I have been wanting to make my own sunscreen for ages and finally did so last week. I was so excited. This is just another part of the continuing attempt to get some of the unnecessary chemicals out of our life. I break out when I use certain run of the mill store bought sunscreens and my son is sensitive to many of them as well in other ways. We have at least been using a "natural" store bought one but I wanted to go one step further. Over the past year or so I had come across two different recipes I liked and decided to take what I liked from each and kind of combine them into one recipe. The first one I got from Keeper of the Home and the second one I got from Native American Nuritionals. Because of being rubbed into the skin I would suggest using a high quality brand of essential oil. The brands I like are doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living and Mountain Rose Herbs.

1/2 oz. beeswax granules
2 oz. shea butter
2 oz. coconut oil (has natural SPF)
1 oz. zinc oxide powder (natural SPF)
1 tsp. sesame oil (natural SPF)
1 tsp. natural/organic aloe vera liquid. I use Aubrey Organics Pure Aloe Vera
10 drops carrot seed essential oil (warning carrot seed oil has a very strong smell)
10 drops copaiba essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

(the essential oils and aloe vera are not absolutely necessary but I think are very beneficial)

Place beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil and sesame oil in a double boiler and melt together. If you do not have a double boiler you can use a glass pyrex bowl sitting on pot with boiling water. Remove from heat.

Add aloe vera, zinc oxide and essential oils. Using a stick blender / immersion blender, blend mixture together, getting out any clumps and whipping it up a bit. I then poured into a mason jar and let cool on the counter top.  (this is a double batch)
We have been out in the sun a lot lately and have used this quite a bit. It works like a charm! The only thing I might do differently next time is use a bit less beeswax. Seemed just a bit thick to me but rubbed in well. Due to the mineral zinc oxide (which is what helps with protection from UVA cancer causing rays) it does leave you looking a bit pastey looking but I will take that over the cancer causing chemicals in most store bought sunscreens. Hope you enjoy and please let me know if you try it!

Carrot seed oil is high in beta-carotene, is a natural sunscreen and is great for skin care and is also good for the liver and lymphatic function. Again though it does have a strong smell!

Copaiba essential oil is not only good for skin protection it is also an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, disinfectant, and diuretic. It helps with colds, coughs, chills, bronchitis, catarrh, and aids lymphatic flow, intestinal infections, eases vomiting, diarrhea, nervous tension, stress problems and anxiety.

Lavender essential oil is a great essential oil that I even keep in my purse to take with me wherever I go.  According to Native American Nutritionals it is beneficial for skin conditions, anti-spasmodic, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, acne, arthritis, rheumatism, insomnia (may be excellent), tachycardia, phlebitis, mouth abscess, indigestion, flatulence, nausea, lowering blood pressure, fluid retention. Has assisted in elimination of waste through lymphatic system, pre-menstrual and menopausal problems, thrush, hair loss, dandruff, burns, stretch marks, minimizing scarring, herpes, diaper rash, ulcers, cankers, allergies, asthma, athlete's foot, boils, bruises, wounds, dermatitis, earache, chronic fatigue syndrome and boost immunity.
May assist with tonsillitis, eczema, fainting, cuts, headaches, hysteria, irritability, moodiness, insect bites and stings. Also lice, ringworm, sunburn, muscular aches and pains, abdominal cramps, colic, dyspepsia, flu, fears, change, insecurity, inner child, restlessness, depression, PMS, shock, vertigo, sciatica, nerves and stress (by balancing extremes of emotions, it may contribute to emotional equilibrium). May increase cell growth (apply to wound or before having an operation to area going to be operated on, may assist the skin to heal and rejuvenate).

Myrrh - Natural Sunscreen

A friend of mine had mentioned as a natural protection from the sun being able to put a little bit of Myrrh essential oil in the crook of the arm. I did a little research and found others saying similar things. So I put 12 drops of Myrrh essential oil in 1oz of carrier oil (I used fractionated coconut oil) and I thought church family camp would be the perfect time to try this. Now the first day I used my homemade sunscreen but the second day I tried this. I put it on twice throughout the day and while I did get sun I did not get sunburned when normally I would have. I rubbed some in the crook of my arms, my ears and wrists. Will definately try this again although am still nervous to try it on a blistering hot day. Maybe if it is a blistering hot day I will try it for short periods of time first. Now I am not sure if it does anything to help against UVA (cancer causing) rays, and will have to look more into it.

Myrrh has a lot of other great uses as well. According to Native American Nutritionals website it is beneficial for anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, underactive thyroid. Helps with diarrhea, dysentery, viral hepatitis, ulcers, bronchitis, asthma, expelling mucus, toning lungs, vaginal thrush, menstrual difficulties, stretch marks, cleansing obstructions in the womb, recovery from illness, relieving the itch and irritation of weeping eczema. Also, fungal infection (athlete's foot, candida, jock itch and ringworm) chapped and cracked skin, mature complexions, wrinkles, hemorrhoids, gum infections, gingivitis, mouth ulcers, sore throat, boosting immunity (stimulating the production of white blood cells). It is beneficial for voice loss, toning digestive tract reducing stomach gas and acidity, apathy, no incentive, use to enhance and strengthen spirituality, purify spiritual environment, prepare for teachings, balances upper and lower chakras, enhances visualization, brings up deep hidden emotions, awaking awareness, fear, overcoming irritability, calming, emotional coldness, soothing, supporting, connecting.
 This link talks more about it as well as contains recipes of blends to make with myrrh.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Homemade Lip Balm

The other day my son asked to put chap stick on the grocery list because his lips had been dry.  I already had the ingredients on hand to make chap stick because of leftovers from other things I had made, so figured why not. Glad I did! It was easy and I am enjoying it. The only thing I did not have on hand and needed to order were the chap stick tubes. I got mine off of Amazon but you can also get them from Aromatics International. I used a recipe I got from a class I took at Aromahead Institute. The recipe said it makes 24, mine made 22 but I did have a little spillage do to operator error. :) Also the recipe called for Orange Essential Oil but instead I did half peppermint and half orange and love the way it turned out. Because it is going on your lips I would suggest a high end brand of essential oil. If you would like to know more about the oils I use or have questions please feel free to contact me.


  • 1 oz of beeswax
  • 1.5 oz of coconut oil
  • 0.5 oz of shea butter
  • 1 oz of jojoba oil (I did not have any so used almond oil)
  • 20 drops of Orange essential oil (I did 10 drops orange, and 10 drops peppermint)
The recipe says that it will about 24 tubes, if your tube is about 5 ml (1/6 oz). I came out with 22 but I did have a little bit of spillage and lost some in trying to figure out how to get it in the tubes. :)
Melt the coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler. (If you do not have a double boiler you can use a pyrex glass bowl and set it up in a pan like a double boiler). When everything is melted, add the jojoba and stir with a glass stirring rod, (if you do not have a glass stirring rod, a wooden skewer works too) then take off the stove. Add the shea butter and stir again until the shea is melted, then add the Orange oil and pour immediately into lip balm tubes.  Okay here is where it took some figuring out for me.
At first I used a turkey baster to suck in the mixture and squirt into the tubes. And it actually worked pretty well until it started hardening on the inside of the baster and I could not get it all back out of the baster. Kind of a fail.

So then I got out this tiny funnel I have for when I blend and pour essential oils and poured it in that way and it worked great. I got the funnel and glass stir rods and most of my essential oil supplies from Aromatics International.

After you have them poured in the tubes. let set for several hours and Voila! You have chapstick! These make great gifts too. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Head and Neck Tension & Essential Oils

We are a family that gets headaches and or migraines. My hubby was diagnosed with a weird type of migraine called basilar migraines, the symptoms often resemble that of a stroke and have hospitalized him in the past. I get your regular run of the mill headaches periodically as well as headaches related to my fibromyalgia that starts in my occipatal nerve and radiate from there. Lately as well Jacob once in awhile gets a regular headache,  I think probably related to his allergies.  Needless to say when I started using essential oils, something to relieve head and neck tension was top of my list.

DO NOT use this in place of medical advice! I am just expressing what works for my family. If you are having a medical problem, please go see a doctor.

Because this is for therapeutic purposes I try to use top of the line essential oil. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs. All of the major companies have blends that are supposed to help relieve head and neck tension. They are all good and I have used some of them. However to be perfectly honest, going back to the basics is what works the most often for us. If one of us is having a problem I will put the diffuser in whatever room we are in and in the diffuser I put 3 drops of Peppermint, 3 drops of Lavender, and 3 drops of Roman Chamomile. Just this simple blend does wonders. Another thing we do is at the first hint of tension we put peppermint or a blend of the previous 3 (diluted of course) on our temples and possibly back of neck depending on where it is coming from (I often put it on my right occipatal nerve, and for hubby's migraines I put it at the base of his brain). To find a dilution chart click here.  Dilute? In addition it is also effective to rub the diluted oils or blends on the bottom of our feet and hit up those vita flex points.

Some other single oils in addition to the above oils that are recommended for head and neck tension are Frankincense, Helichrysum, Wintergreen, Ginger, Jasmine, Patchouli, Clove, Rosemary

Some other single oils in addition to the above oils that are recommended for migraines are Basil (I add Basil and Frankincense when hubby is having a Basilar migraine), Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Rosemary, and Ylang Ylang

Blends by some of the top quality companies include but are not limited to:

doTerra - Past Tense, Deep Blue

Native American Nutritionals - Migraine Relief, True Blue, Relieve Me, Soothing Relief

Young Living - Panaway, Deep Relief, M-Grain, Relieve It

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

 Update: Just made another batch using these super cute molds I had on hand to make the kids fruit gummy snacks. This way they are a reasonable size to give away for others to try. Made 17 of these small ones with a bit left over I tossed into some mini muffin tins.

I have done two different things for bug repellent. Living in the tropics we neeeed bug repellent and I am not interested in spraying DEET on myself or kids. One was bug repellent bars that I like to give out as gifts and one was just some simple bug spray. I feel like both work well. Living in a military community we have people move in and out a lot in our neighborhood. When people move in, in addition to some homemade treats like pineapple macadamia nut bread and Apple Ginger Jam, I like to give some of the bug repellent bars and a lemongrass plant (they are going to need them here.) Just rub the lotion bar on your skin when you are going to be out and you are good to go. I will write a post for the bug spray tomorrow. Sorry I do not have step by step pictures for the bug repellent bars. I had taken a break from blogging when I made them. The next time I make them, I will post pics. :) For this picture I had one bar left and tossed the ingredients in a double boiler, do not have time to actually make them right now though.

Bug Repellent Bars

I got this recipe from My Buttered Life Summer Edition E-Book.

Beeswax - 3 1/2 oz,
Shea Butter - 1/3 cup (3 oz.),
Coconut Oil - 1/3 cup (3 oz.),
Citronella essential oil - 4 1/2 tsp (0.6 oz).
Makes 3 bars of 3 oz each

Other essential oils you can use instead of Citronella or in addition too are Lemon, Eucalyptus, Clove, Cedarwood, Neem, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, or Lemongrass. If you use them in addition too, just make sure you adjust the amounts you are putting in. You should only have a total of 4 1/2 teaspoons of essential oil. The Citronella is a pretty strong scent so you might want to put part Citronella and part Lavender. Again since you are putting it on and rubbing it in your skin, I would use a high quality brand essential oil. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs.

1. Place beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil in double boiler (if you do not have a double boiler you can use a glass pyrex bowl set in a pot of boiling water.
2. Melt and stir with wooden skewer
3. Remove from heat, wait a few minutes, and add essential oil.
4. Stir with wooden skewer, pour into molds, and let set.

Tips - if you do not have specified molds you want to use, instead of buying them you can just put in muffin or mini muffin pan, or make smaller bars and put in ice cube tray. If bars won't pop out, put in freezer for 30 minutes then pop out. I used a tray I had for baking homemade twinkies (the twinkies were never a hit but now I use the pan for these bars.) :)

When I used the cute molds pictured above I had some left over so tossed them in a mini-muffin pan which is actually a good size to give out as gifts.

I got the shea butter on Amazon but you can also get it on, Aromatics International, Native American Nutritionals, or  Mountain Rose Herbs. The beeswax pellets I got from my local craft store but you can also get it on Amazon, Aromatics International or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Monday, June 23, 2014


      This is another kind of controversial question among the EO community. I am not a medical professional so do not take this post as such please. After all the research and reading I have done coming from both sides and my own personal experience, I have to say I think it is a terrible idea to use essential oils neat (undiluted). Now that is my opinion for me and my family and is what I tell people when they ask. I urge you to do your own research and to make the decision you feel is right for you and your family.  I feel like essential oils truly are a gift from God, and their strength should be respected. Just because they are natural does not mean they do not need to be used responsibly. Essential oils are very concentrated and there could be adverse medical reactions when used neat (undiluted). My experience is they are effective and get the job done when diluted so not only is there no reason to use them undiluted, there are so many reasons not to use them undiluted. I keep reading testimony after testimony after testimony of people using it undiluted and it causing mild to severe reactions. Some just a minor rash all the way to actual blistering burns and even in some cases bleeding. That is just on the skin, also been reading about it causing people to be physically sick like nausea and diarrhea.
     This is not a case of using a poor quality oil so having a bad reaction. These are testimonies of people using even the best quality most pure brands of essential oils.  I had a friend suggest I have a type of massage her company promotes and trains which has to do with applying several different oils neat in a certain sequence. I am all for natural remedies so thought I would look into it. So I did what I do, I researched it.  I went on websites, forums, blogs, FB pages etc. run by people selling this particular companies oils, and participated in by people selling / using this companies oils. I guess you could say I was "lurking". These distributors and customers of this company were writing in asking advice because of reactions as moderate as a mild rash, all the way to actual blistering burns, open bleeding sores, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding at off times of the month,  numb swollen extremities, and the list goes on. With the research I did, I just decided it was not worth the numerous risks.
     The sad thing is that once someone does have a bad reaction to it, if it is due to sensitization then they can no longer use the oil even diluted for at least several years, maybe longer. So an oil that may have been very helpful diluted can not be used on them anymore. Kids need to have an even more diluted solution because their skin is thinner and they are more sensitive to EOs, there is a list of EOs that pregnant women should not use at all and the ones they do use should definately be diluted, possibly only under a professional's care.

This is a cool chart that I did up that goes along with the recommended dilution percentages.  I made it to hand out to those that are just betting started in essential oils. I got the information off of a chart done by A Drop of This

There are several different carrier oils you can use. My personal favorite right now are Fractionated Coconut Oil and Jojoba Oil. You can get carrier oils at your local health store, Amazon, or just about any company that sells essential oils. So for example if you were diluting an essential oil for an adult. You might use 1oz carrier oil and 10-12 drops of essential oil.

Simple Homemade Vapor Rub

There are tons of recipes out there on the internet for homemade vapor rub, I am sure most of them work great. This is a simple, quick one that works well for us. It was one of the first things I made with essential oils and helped to convince me of the benefits of essential oils. :) To read the long version of the story you can read here Essential Oils. The short version is, it was late at night, my son had a chest cold and was having bad asthma attacks before we knew he had asthma, my hubby was out of town and well you get the picture. My friend told me to make some vapor rub with essential oils, rub it on his chest and his feet and put socks on. It helped a lot to soothe and support his respiratory system and I have used it several times since.  There are other recipes that are more complicated and some that call for beeswax but since this works for us, I saw no need to do something different. We keep this in our room where the A/C stays on most of the time and so the coconut oil stays pretty well solidified. Again because this is being rubbed into the skin I would suggest a higher end essential oil like doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs

Ingredients for kids and elderly
1/2 cup coconut oil
8 drops peppermint essential oil
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
8 drops lavender essential oil

Ingredients for older kids and adults
1/2 cup coconut oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil
15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all the ingredient together and you are ready to go.

If you want it thicker consistency you can whip the coconut butter with some shea butter or you can melt some beeswax and mix it in. I do not find it necessary but some do.

You can use other essential oils as well, like lemon, tea tree, rosemary, pine, basil, chamomile, orange and others. If you do add more EOs however, you will need to adjust the number of drops you put in as it needs to stay safely diluted. There is a good chart / print out for diluting here Dilution Chart.

Tranquility Blend

So far even beyond Immune Strength (On Guard, Thieves), and beyond Calming (Peace and Calming, Serenity) the blend Tranquility from Native American Nutritionals has to be my favorite blend. :)  I am not affiliated with Native American Nutritionals, just like to pass along what works for us. :)

Their website's description is the following:

"Formulated to promote relaxation allowing us to relax so the blood can get up to the brain. Grounding and integrates energy allowing us to visualize our goals and dreams more vividly and accurately. Assists in reducing depression, eases anxiety, stress, and tension bringing joy to the heart, balances and stabilizes the emotions, gives patience and calms worries. May assist hyperactive children in creating serenity in their life. Has been found beneficial when used with children that have frequent nightmares. It may assist in curing the smoking habit.

Application: May be applied under nose, back of neck, and diluted with massage oil to rub on back. Add to bath water. May be applied to navel, legs, and back of neck for insomnia. Wear as a perfume or cologne. It has been used in a diffuser to assist in calming active or hard to manage children, also in the evening to relax the entire family. While traveling with small children put 10 drops in a 2 oz spray bottle, add water, shake, and spray around the car (it does miracles). This synergy has assisted people coming off drugs just by diffusing it.
Ingredients: Orange, Tangerine, Patchouli, Lime, Ylang Ylang Extra, Lavender, Blue Tansy, German Chamomile, and Citronella."

This was one of the first blends I ordered and I love it. For whatever reason my daughter gets kind of more hyper around bedtime so I use it (diluted) to rub on her feet and even put a bit on her pillow case. It helps her to calm down around bed time. My son tends to get stressed out easily so I use it (diluted) on him at times he might get stressed out. Most recently he was getting ready to test for his yellow belt in Taekwondo and he was getting really worked up. I rubbed some of it diluted on his feet and back of neck and it really helped him to relax and relieve some of his tension. One of the many problems with fibromyalgia is not being able to get good rest, so I use it on myself to help with that as well. I am going to either use their idea of a spray bottle and spritzing it in the car or put in a car diffuser as well for things like our drive to taekwondo testing or long car rides.
When I first received this in the mail, I received two because I had accidently added 2 to my shopping cart online so I gave the extra one to a fellow oily friend/neighbor who has also given me great feedback about it. Her and her husband use it for massage and has also been using it to help their kids settle down around bed time. Again I loooove it!

DIY Homemade Deodorant


As part of my journey to start to reduce unneeded chemicals in our lives I decided to have a go at making my own deodorant. While my cancer was not breast cancer, now that I have had cancer, I am more susceptible to getting cancer again and I figured the less chemicals near my lymph nodes and breasts the better, plus it is more cost effective. I came across this blog and recipe about a year ago, added it to my favorites, determined do make it.   I just recently made it for the first time. :) Nothing like procrastinating. I did switch to using store bought natural deodorant a long time ago but making my own felt like the natural next step. Now that I have made it, I really wish I had done it sooner. It was soooo easy!! At the bottom of the post you can read my assessment and tweaks I might make next time.

2 heaping tablespoons beeswax pellets
1 tbsp shea butter
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for sensitive skin)
1/4 cup aluminum free baking soda
10-15 drops lavender oil
10-15 drops tea tree oil
10-15 drops of other essential oil of your choice (I chose Ylang Ylang because it is supposed to help with fibromyalgia
3-4 new or used (cleaned out) deodorant tubes twisted all the way back down. When I did this, it made 3 regular sized and two travel sized.

I got the beeswax pellets at our local craft store but you can get them on Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs, or Aromatics International. The shea butter I got off of Amazon but you can also get it at Aromatics International or Mountain Rose Herbs, probably at your local health food store as well. The aluminum free baking soda I got at our local health food store Down To Earth but you can also order it from Mountain Rose Herbs. For the essential oils, you can choose which brand you want. Since it is being applied / rubbed into the skin, I suggest a higher quality brand. I recommend doTerra, Native American Nutritionals, Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs.  For the deodorant tubes, you can get them on Amazon, possibly your local health food store or local craft store. For me where we live, it was actually more cost effective for me to buy the cheapest deodorant at the grocery store (93 cents each), and cleaned them out.


1. Melt beeswax in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler you can put them in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water.

2. Add shea butter and coconut oil and heat until just melted, stirring occasionally.

3. Remove from heat and add cornstarch and baking soda. Stir until smooth.

4. Add essential oils and mix well

5. Pour into old deodorant tubes and let sit a few hours before adding the tops. You will want to fill them until they seem to almost overflow because they will fall down a good bit once cooled.  You can see from my picture, my tube was a tad lumpy, I stirred it up better before pouring the rest.

So there you  have it, a quick and easy way to make your own deodorant! I am excited to have finally done this!

After using it for a little while, here is my assessment.
Does it work?
Yes, it works. :) I do not have to apply it any more often than I did the store bought natural deodorant. I apply it 2 -3 times a day but again I did that with the store bought stuff. I sweat a lot. I work out hard almost everyday, soaking through my work out clothes, I am in menopause so have periodic hot flashes causing me to perspire, and I just naturally sweat a lot. So 2-3 times a day may sound like a lot for you but for me it is normal. I hiked Diamond Head just this weekend with the family and had no complaints. :)
Would you make it again and if so what changes would you make?

Absolutely I would make it again. The only complaint I had was that it did not set up quite as well as I would have liked, my guess is because we live in the tropics. Not much stays in a solidified state in my pantry because of the warmth. So I think once it is time for me to make it again I will probably add a little more beeswax, maybe 3 heaping tablespoons rather than 2 to see if it sets up a little better. I will update this when I do. It still works fine. I keep it in our bedroom where we keep the A/C on and I smear it on with my fingers rather than rubbing the bar on it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quinoa with Bell Pepper and Pine Nuts

This dish very much reminds me of couscous dishes I ate growing up in Africa which is probably why I am so drawn to it. In all honestly it could be just as easily made with couscous but I use quinoa because I cannot eat wheat.  I think it is yummy and great for a light lunch and easy to make. Oddly enough when I first came across the recipe it was part of a recipe for stuffed bell pepper and was supposed to be the stuffing but I liked it just as well on its own. If you want the whole recipe for stuffed bell pepper just ask me. I got it out of the cookbook Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes,
This is one of those types of recipes you can add or detract ingredients as you see fit. Like you could easily add some carrots, peas, or green beans.  Not part of the original recipe but I added to it are ginger because in case you have not noticed by now, I love ginger, and I also added mint to it.

1 cup quinoa, bulgar, barley or couscous or grain of choice
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
½ cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced (optional)
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup mint (optional, not in original recipe)
ginger chopped (optional, not in original recipe)
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup currants
¼ cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener
Freshly ground pepper
Cook quinoa and 2 cups vegetable stock according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, chiles, and chopped bell pepper and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add parsley, mint (optional), ginger (optional), dill, cumin, lemon juice, pine nuts, currants, sugar, quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chickpea Salad with Balsamic / Dijon Vinaigrette

Love this salad, especially with the vinaigrette. All the tastes blend well and with the chickpeas in it, for me it makes a whole meal. Sometimes I might add a little ground flaxseed or nutritional yeast to it but it does not really need it.

Salad Ingredients

13 ¾ oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. (or use dry beans and prep according to package directions).
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery stalks
1 cup diced carrots
½ cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional, original recipe did not call for it but I use it)
1 cup seeded and diced cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (optional, original recipe did not call for it but I like it)

Combine all ingredients and toss with vinaigrette. Cover, and chill for 1 hour before serving

Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flaxseed oil (or add in a little more olive oil or other oil)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Ground pepper to taste                         
                         Combine all ingredients and blend well (I use a protein shaker cup to mix it)

Mexican Casserole

This recipe is super easy. I genuinely cannot remember the name of the cookbook I originally got this recipe from. I have probably been making this dish at least a decade. I first made this because we had gotten some cans of corn at a case lot sale and I was trying to find recipes I could use corn in. The original recipe did not even call for corn but when I saw this recipe I thought it would go well in it and the rest is history! My husband loved it the first time I made it and it has been a favorite in our household ever since.  I make it for pot lucks, special occasions and just because. My son likes to put in flour tortillas and make it into a burrito.  My daughter eats it just as is and likes it.


1 can corn
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 can(8ounces) tomato sauce
½ cup mild chunky salsa
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese


Heat oven to 375

Cook beef in 10 inch skillet over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown, drain. Mix beef, beans, tomato sauce, salsa and chili powdered in ungreased 2 quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake 40-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake uncovered about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DIY Key hanger / letter holder from old shutter

If you saw my previous post about the picture hanger / dislplay made out of a small old shutter I picked up at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store you may have noticed that there were two pieces to the old shutter.  Well this is what I used the second piece for. Again I was not blogging at the time so I do not have a step by step picture instructional to it but feel free to ask me any questions.

I did have to strip the paint off this one to then be able to stain it.  Let me tell you, stripping this was a huge pain because of how close the slats were. My recommendation would be to use one that was not painted if you come across one. Regardless, I am happy with how it turned out.
     First I cut the slats to have the desired opening at the top. Then I stripped the paint off. After that I put wood putty in the holes the slats came out of, let it dry and sanded it down. Then I stained it, let it dry and spray lacquered it. I had an old thin piece of wood from a previous project that I used for the back, sprayed it with chalkboard paint and nailed it to the back of the shutter. The hooks I think I picked up at Lowes.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Alsatian Apple Tart

     This post is a little longer than normal, for the recipe scroll down to the bottom.    
     I have never made traditional apple pie but instead make this Alsatian Apple Tart for all the holidays and other events throughout the year and it is always a big hit.
     When we lived in Heidelberg, Germany we often went to Strasburg which is in the Alsace region of France. This area of France over the centuries has gone back and forth between belonging to Germany or France so much that they kind of formed their own culture including type of food. It is usually very rich, creamy and delicious. I truly enjoyed this area of France. 
     We always knew that my grandfathers side of the family came from Alsace Lorraine and while I was in Germany my mom did some bonifide geneology tracing our ancestry and even got in touch with some distant relatives. So a few months after my son was born my mom, aunt, cousin and I took a road trip tracing our roots and ancestry to Bitschwiller les Thann in Alsace, eating our way into oblivion along the way. 
     Keep in mind this is before I started actually cooking for real. This was also before the internet is what it is today. Not to date myself but lets just say at the time AOL was one of the only e-mail providers, we had no pinterest and no gazillion recipes to go through online.
     I liked the food so much I started looking for a cookbook specific to Alsace. I found plenty in French but none in English. I went as far as buying one in French thinking I could make do. Again though I was not the cook I am today. At the time besides making all my son's baby food, if it did not come out of a box or freezer package my husband and I did not make it.  I do not know how but my mom found this out of print cookbook in English from 1981 and gave it to me. 

     I think the first thing I made out of the cookbook was Kugelhopf which is like a sweet bread baked in a pan that is like a bundt pan. I will have to make it and post pictures another time. This Alsatian Apple Tart was soon to follow though. I loved it in the bakeries in Alsace and the recipe seemed farely straightforward to me.
     I think this is when my love of cooking started although it did not kick in, in full swing until after my son had to go on a special diet. I will have to say it was not only about cooking for me though. I really did love Alsace and this was a way of keeping a piece of it with me and brings back fond memories every time I open the cookbook. Who knows maybe my relatives generations ago also made some variation of some of the dishes I cook out of it. :).           
The recipe calls for creme fraiche or heavy cream.  If you can find creme fraiche, I highly recommend you use it. The custard sets better and quicker that way. If not though, the heavy cream works fine.
Pie dough (found here pie crust, just make the dough and follow the directions in this recipe)
2 ¼ lbs cooking apples, approx. 5 apples
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 eggs
½ cup of milk
½ cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
Ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Core and peel the apples and cut in half. Place apple halves cut side down on a work surface and cut straight down into ¼ inch thick slices. Keep the slices together. Roll out the dough and use it to line a buttered 11-inch tart pan.

Place 9 of the apple halves slices together in the shell. Use the tenth half, separated, to fill in empty spaces.  Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 25-30 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining sugar, then add the milk and cream. Pour cream mixture over the apples and put back into hot oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until custard is set (this may take longer of using heavy cream instead of crem fraiche). I kind of stick a fork in the top of the custard poking through the top to see if the custard is cooked through. When tart is cooked, sprinkle lightly with the cinnamon. Remove sides and serve warm.

On a side note during out trip to Bitschwiller les Thann we saw this coat of arms above their version of City Hall.

So soon after our trip I made this one out of wood to give to my family. If I can get a better picture of it from them, I will. This was taken a long time ago, before blogging.