Saturday, March 2, 2013

Nature Is Always At It's Finest

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today."
- Dale Carnegie

        Today when I was taking Daisy out, I started looking around outside. It was lightly snowing and I was looking at the trees in our front yard. This spring will be our 2nd spring in this house and somehow, last year, I completely missed the fact that the 2 trees in our front yard have a reddish-pink flower on them in the Spring! They aren't big flowers by any means and unless you were really looking at the branches, they could be easily missed. But I've always loved flowers and they are one of my favorite things to photograph. So I couldn't believe I had missed them. But I made up for it by snapping some pictures of them, as well as some other interesting things around our yard. Enjoy!



 I know most people would consider these a weed, but even weeds have beautiful flowers on them, and sometimes just the colors are pretty in their own right!

These buds are on a tree that is on the side of the house. Upon closer inspection, I noticed they were fuzzy. I have never seen fuzzy  buds before! I tried to get a clear shot of the fuzziness but it was somewhat difficult. Maybe I'll try again when the weather is a little bit nicer.

And of course, Daisy had to keep an eye on me from her perch on the back of the couch. I think she has become the unofficial neighborhood watch. 

~ Erin ~

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Natural Journey

"Just as there is a trend toward high tech today, there is another trend toward high touch - homemade and wholesome"
- Meryl Gardner

So, recently I have been really thinking about a few things: 1) how much I love lotions, body butters, chapsticks/lip balms, body/facial scrubs, and all those other smell goodies that also make your body feel heavenly. 2) how much money I tentatively would have spent on all of these products that I have stockpiled and how much, in reality, I have actually spent. (I coupon and so whenever one of these products comes on sale I usually snatch up 2-3 of them at a time) 3) how much can I save by making my own version of these products? And most importantly - 4) how much healthier would the homemade versions be for my family and me since there won't be tons of ingredients that I can't pronounce? Much less know what they actually are and the effect they have on my body! At the end of the day, I've realized that even though I might spend a little bit more money up-front for the raw materials and ingredients needed for these recipes, generally I'll only need a fraction of each item to create 1 recipe and will have plenty left over to make more! So the cost of each recipe comes out to be a TINY fraction of the cost of the store-bought alternatives. 

So over the past month or two I have been collecting recipes on Pinterest (LOVE me some Pinterest!) and slowly building up my supply of ingredients that the majority of the recipes will call for. I'm not real big on paying a lot of money for just ONE ingredient that I will need for just ONE recipe. I would rather tailor my recipes to use similar ingredients. I think the only thing that I would be willing to buy as a single item for would be an essential oil, or a natural fragrance/"flavoring". Simply because those are just additives and can be used in whichever recipes I get jolly enough to put them in.

Some of the "staple" ingredients I've collected include:

- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - This stuff is UH-MAZING! It can be used for crap-loads of stuff, from cooking to body products. It can be applied directly to your skin, as is, as a moisturizer or can be added to a group of ingredients to enhance a recipe. A lot of people actually eat 1-2 tablespoons of it daily as it's great for digestion and has TONS of other health benefits. I'm not that brave yet and am currently just content with smelling it and putting it in my own body products. This is commonly known as a carrier oil but it is solid at room temperature and melts easily at body temperature. Because it's solid, it's great for lip balms, deodorants, Chapsticks, and body butters. I purchased it from HERE. If buy through this link, you get $10 off your purchase, and so would I! Win, win, am I right?

- Sweet Almond Oil and Grapeseed Oil - These oils have the same properties as olive oil but don't have as strong of a "cooking" smell as olive oil. They really don't have much of a smell, at least to me anyways. Because they are liquid, you would obviously use them in the majority of your liquid recipes (sugar scrubs, liquid body washes, etc) but you can also use small amounts in solid recipes. These also have great moisturizing properties. I just purchased the Sweet Almond Oil from Kroger's and the Grapeseed Oil from Publix (Kroger's also has Grapeseed Oil). You can also use these oils to cook with just like you would use olive oil.

-Cocoa Butter - I currently have just a jar of Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E. I LOVE the way this stuff smells! I used it years ago in a recipe that also included Shea butter. I plan to try the recipe again only this time I will use unprocessed cocoa and shea butter for a much more natural outcome. The Palmer's was purchased from a general store like Wal-Mart, Publix, Kroger's etc. But the unprocessed products that I want to buy are from HERE. So far, they have the best pricing per pound that I've found for these raw butters. 

- Essential Oils - I have a relatively small (7-8 bottles) collection of essential oils right now. Just basics - Lavender, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Tea Tree, Peppermint, and Wintergreen. I plan to expand this collection over time but 100% essential oils can be somewhat expensive depending on how rare they are. Thankfully though, if they are 100% and undiluted, a little bit goes a LONG way. Each oil is taken directly from different parts of plants, generally through a steam distillation process. Some oils come from the stems and/or leafs, while other come directly from the flowers and/or buds of the plant. And each oil has it own health benefits and can be used as an ingredient to add those health properties to the recipe. For instance - Lavender is great for cleaning products as it has anti-bacterial properties. It is also widely used for it's scent in baby products for it's calming effects. Lemon and Sweet Orange are also great for cleaning products due to its citrus/acidic properties. I've purchased oils from HERE, HERE, or HERE depending on which place gives the best price per amount. I usually order the 15ml (0.5 oz) size to start off with until I know more about using the oil and whether or not I like the smell. And, like I said, since they are pure oils and undiluted, only a few drops are needed for small recipes. Larger recipes, like laundry detergent, require a little bit more depending on how much you're making.

I also have an assortment of containers. Some I've purchased like specialty tins (for lip balms, body butters, etc) and bottles that I've been collecting and cleaning as we've been using up the previous item that was inside, e.g. milk cartons, pickle jars, wide mouth drink bottles (such as Sobe bottles), canning/mason jars, etc. 

Until today, the only thing I've made has been homemade laundry detergent. I'm still perfecting my own recipe so once I have done that, I will do a tutorial with pictures for you to see! 

But today I tried something new! I made MY OWN CHAPSTICK!! I recently finished up a Chapstick and had the tube sitting around. I Googled and found a good tutorial for cleaning it out. Once I cleaned it, I went to Pinterest to find a homemade Chapstick recipe. I came across this awesome tutorial for making your own! The recipe in the blog is for 6-7 tubes of Chapstick. Since I only had the one tube, I had to kind of wing it to figure out how much of each ingredient I would need without having a ton of wasted product afterwards. Here is the recipe I made:

1/2 tsp Beeswax Pellets
3/4 tsp Coconut Oil (I used one 1/2 tsp and then scooped more to fill the 1/2 tsp halfway)
1/2 tsp Sweet Almond Oil (instead of olive oil - same properties but not as much of a smell)
1/2 tsp Cocoa Butter 
1 ml Vitamin E Oil (I just used one of my daughter's left over medicine droppers - the cocoa butter and coconut oil have Vitamin E also so I didn't want to use too much)

I melted all of the oils, except for the Vitamin E Oil, in the microwave using one of my glass, Fire King measuring cups. I heated in 15 second intervals on high until all of the beeswax pellets melted (those took the longest to melt) and stirred everything together in between. Once it was all melted I added my Vitamin E oil and stirred. (Don't worry if it starts to harden up, it can always be remelted again). Then, just to try and add a little bit of flavor/smell, I added a few (3-4 of each) drops or Vanilla extract and Almond extract (for food) and a little bit of brown sugar for the "sweetener". 
 I think in the future I might add more vanilla, almond, and brown sugar since the little bit I added didn't really add much at all other than a little bit of a tint.

The amount of liquid that the recipe created was PERFECT for just the 1 tube with almost NO extra wasted. I put it in the fridge to harden - only took about 15 minutes. Overall, it does what it's supposed to do - make my lips feel uber soft. Not oily at all, just the right amount of silky, has a very tiny nutty smell from the cocoa butter and coconut oil, and uses all natural ingredients so I don't have to worry about putting harmful chemicals on my lips, and unlike some Chapsticks, it doesn't dry out my lips and doesn't have to be reapplied every hour. I've been wearing it for almost 4 hours now and it's still going strong! I will definitely be making again! Here is a picture of the finished product:

Once I have this down pat, and more tubes, I will create a better tutorial with more pictures and share!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this! I hope to write more posts about different products that I make as I'm able to!


Monday, December 17, 2012

From The Top!

"Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't"
Bill Nye

          I've decided to follow my mother's example by posting a quote at the beginning of every post just like she does on her blog: . Hi, Mom!!  I created this blog a little over 2 years ago but I never posted anything because I was always so worried that no one would be interested in what I had to say, my ideas, or me in general. But I'm tired of starting things and letting fear interrupt and keep me from following through. I'm really just looking for a place to talk (and most likely vent at times), post pictures,  keep family in the loop, and who knows, maybe someone will stop by and find something useful. And let's face it, there's only so much a person can post on Facebook before friends (and even family) start searching for the "defriend" button! LOL

I wanted to give you a little info about me and my life currently so that you'll have an idea of what kind of things I'll be talking about! My name is Erin, I'm 25, and I have a beautiful little girl, Seraphim (she likes to be called Sera), who is 6 years old. I am currently a Stay-At-Home-Mom and loving every minute of it! I guess technically I could be a home-maker since my daughter goes to school and doesn't stay home all day. I have an amazingly awesome Fiance named Dale! We've been together almost 3 years and have been engaged for 3 months. Our wedding date is set for Sept 14th, 2013. We're so excited and can't wait! We have a home together and now that I am not working, I find that I am really enjoying the cleaning! That's generally something I don't enjoy when I am working! LOL. We have an awesome Pitbull named Daisy. She really is my big fur-baby! I have an Interior Design degree but I haven't really put it to much use. Not really something I'm proud of, but hey, maybe one day I'll get a chance to put it to good use! I am a H-U-G-E (let me spell that out for you for you understand the enormity of that word) Pinterest junky! I could spend all day on there if those pesky little things called chores didn't have to be done! lol  I love photography and try to take pictures whenever I get a chance to. Some of my friends call me the "Resident Photographer" and can always count on me to bring my camera to parties, events, and even just friendly get-togethers because you never know when a great photo will present itself! I also love details. I've definitely been known to take pictures of the details of an object, but forget to take pictures of the entire object. So I'm working on that! lol

So yea, that gives you some information about my family and me! I'll leave you with some pictures! 

This is us at Love Circle near downtown Nashville (that's the Nashville skyline in the background!) just minutes before Dale proposed to me! My parents had just arrived in town and were taking pictures of us.

This is Daisy - my fur-baby! <3 Isn't she beautiful?

~ Erin ~