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Family Farm

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Family Photos 2012

Natural Toothpaste

Natural Toothpaste

Our family is trying to make the transition from fluoride toothpaste to natural.  We did find a recipe that seems to working at this time, however, we are open to more suggestions.  Here is the recipe that we have used, but a BIG WORD OF CAUTION: IT DOES NOT NEED SALT ADDED TO IT!!!  The baking soda is very salty and my kids got to the point that if this was the toothpaste that we were using on our teeth, they will just use a plain toothbrush.  The stevia is an excellent option for sugar free recipes.  You may also want to experiment with different flavors, I picked up peppermint and orange recently to see which one our family would like best.

Steps to make your toothpaste

  1. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into a mixing bowl
  2. Add a dash of salt
  3. Add 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  4. Add 1 drop of peppermint oil
  5. Add a dash of stevia (more if you want it sweeter)
  6. Mix it all up until it becomes paste like. You may have to add more hydrogen peroxide to get the right consistency.

A few notes about the homemade toothpaste

  • You can store it in a plastic container to keep it from drying out.
  • If you’re not into the peppermint flavor, you could try ground cinnamon or vanilla extract.
Another quick and easy option is to get Peppermint extract (1/4 tsp.) from the Spice section of the grocery store and mix it with 1 tbsp. of baking soda. Add a dash of salt, mix it up, and you are good to go.

Homemade Deodorant – Easy, Working and Aluminum Free

| December 18, 2011 | 1 Comment
homemade deodorant

3 Affordable and Natural Homemade Deodorant Recipes

Giving birth changed me a lot and in many ways,… including that now I sweat more and smell more. Apart from the unpleasant changes, giving birth also motivated me to make more responsible choices for me and my family every day.
The deodorant was one of the first things I changed in terms of personal care products. I started with a natural and aluminum free deodorant from Weleda – a very easy choice as I use the Weleda calendula  series for my baby. As a DIY fan, however, I also decided to try a homemade deodorant.
At first I made a recipe with a baking soda which is very popular and widely used by crunchy moms. I loved it! And I was very disappointed to find out that after shaving I get a little rash from this deodorant. So, I made one without the baking soda and the rash was gone. Here I include both homemade deodorant recipes, because they both give great results. At the end, you will find a very easy and effective recipe for a homemade deodorant spray with herbs and essential oils.
Suit yourself and choose the one that works for you!

Recipe 1: Homemade Deodorant with Baking Soda

  • 1/4 c. baking soda (anti-odor);
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for dryness);
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil (antibacterial);
  • a few drops of essential oil (for additional fragrance).
1. Mix the baking soda with the cornstarch or arrowroot powder. If you have sensitive skin, adjust the proportions of baking soda to cornstarch/arrowroot powder a as of 1:3.
2. Add the coconut oil 1 Tbsp at a time and mash it with a fork together with the baking soda and cornstarch.  Use as much coconut oil as you achieve the consistency you like. Note that coconut oil becomes liquid in hot weather and it is better to be kept in the fridge.
3. You can add a few drops of essential oil (tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus or spearmint).
4. You may store your homemade deodorant in an empty deodorant container or a glass jar.
Tip: Apply a single layer to avoid coconut oil stains on clothes.

Recipe 2: Homemade Deodorant for Sensitive Skin

Some of us have very sensitive skin and a natural homemade deodorant with baking soda and/or citrus oils may cause rashes and discomfort. Don’t be discouraged! You can still have your 100% aluminum free homemade deodorant even without the baking soda. The recipe is taken from Crunchybetty and is as easy and simple as the first one.

  • 4 Tbsp. coconut oil (antibacterial)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp beeswax beads or grated beeswax (solidifies the mixture)
  • 1 Tbsp Shea butter (relieves the after-shaving rashes)
  • 4 tsp clay (for dryness)
  • 20 drops essential oil ( lavender, tea tree, rosemary for fragrance)
  • Empty and clean deodorant container.
1. Put the coconut oil and the beeswax in a pot and melt them slowly. Don’t forget to whisk often.
2. Once melted add the Shea butter and after whisking for 2 more minutes remove the pot from the heat.
3. Then add the clay and continue whisking  until you get a homogenous mixture.
4. Finally, drop in the essential oil and stir well. Leave the pot to cool. If you want things faster, put the pot in cold water bath and leave until the mixture begins to harden.
5. Spoon the mixture into the empty deodorant container and put it in the freezer for half an hour until it is completely hard.
6. Keep your homemade deodorant in the refrigerator if the weather is hot.

Recipe 3: Homemade Deodorant Spray

If you have a sensitive skin and don’t want to use baking soda, or want to avoid the stains on your clothes from the coconut oil, here is another homemade deodorant recipe:
  • 2 Tbsp chamomile (disinfection, anti-skin irritations)
  • essential oils: 5 – 6 drops of coriander (antibacterial, anti-fungi), 5 – 6 drops of lavender (anti-stress) and 5 – 6 drops grapefruit seed (preservative in water based cosmetics).
2 Tbsp chamomile are brewed in 2 cups water. Once cool, filter the potion and add the coriander, lavender and grapefruit seed. Everything is placed in a spray bottle. Shake it before use.
Have you ever tried a homemade deodorant? What is your recipe? Do you prefer your homemade deodorant over the commercial natural deodorant brands?

Homemade Lotion
I found a blog post on pinterest about making your own lotion at home by whipping oils.  As am experienced cold process soap maker I was intrigued.  I figured I would give it a try and document the process.  Quick disclaimer:  Be safe.  I discuss hot oils and sterilizing jars below.  You’re working around heat so take appropriate precautions and keep the kids away from the stove.  You take full responsibility for doing any of the steps outlined below.  Sorry, just had to say that.
Okay so where to start?  A couple things to know about the end product: this is going to be an oil-based lotion.  Duh, right?  Well it’s worth considering, because most of us are used to buying commercial lotions, which frequently are touted as oil-free.  I’ve posted about oil before, once about the oil cleansing method for facial care, and once about pre-shave oil for classic wet shaving.  I appreciate oil.  It can be difficult to overcome a lifetime of marketing messages that oil is bad, but your skin will love it.
Coconut Sunflower Lotion
Supplies: liquid oil, solid oil, essential oils, droppers, thermometer, glass jar, non-reactive bowl, spoon, spatula

First, consider your oils.  Different oils behave differently at room temperature.  As a general rule animal fats are solid at room temperature and vegetable oils are liquid.  However, there are oils like coconut and palm kernel that are solid at room temperature, anything below 76 degrees.  The nice thing about this temperature point is that it will keep its whipped form in storage but will melt very quickly when applied to your skin.
Coconut oil contains vitamin E, which is fabulous for your skin.  It also is mildly anti-microbial in nature, which makes it a good protective barrier.  Best of all, it’s stable at room temperature, which means you can keep a batch for a long time before it goes rancid.  So whatever combination you use, start with coconut oil as your primary component.  I went with a refined organic coconut oil, mostly because it lacks an overwhelming coconutty smell.
The lotion recipe I followed calls for a blend of 75% coconut and 25% liquid oil.  It’s up to you to decide which liquid oil you want to use.  You could siphon off some of your pre-shave castor/olive oil blend.  You could use sweet almond oil.  I decided to go with sunflower oil.  Sunflower oil is very light, non-greasy, has very little odor.  It is extremely high in vitamin E, linoleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid, all of which are wonderful for skin.  Plus I can cook with the leftovers.
Okay, moving on.  Here’s your supply and equipment list:
  • 12 oz coconut oil
  • 4 oz sunflower (ot other vegetable oil, liquid at room temperature)
  • essential oil and droppers
  • 1 non-reactive metal pot or double boiler
  • 1 spatula
  • 1 thermometer
  • 1 non-reactive metal or glass bowl
  • stand mixer, hand mixer, or immersion blender
  • sterilized glass container
First measure out your oil.  I prefer to measure by weight rather than volume so I used my food scale.  I measured 12 oz of coconut oil and added 4 oz of sunflower oil.  Check out the perfection on that scale.  The meticulous soap maker in me is always pleased with accuracy.
12 oz coconut oil and 4 oz of sunflower oil
12 oz of coconut oil and 4 oz of sunflower oil
Now you’re going to want to liquify that oil so that they’ll blend together evenly.  This is where your thermometer is going to come in handy.  Your best option is to use a double boiler, but in soap making I’ve always used a stainless steel pot directly over low heat.  It’s up to you.  The most important thing, though, is to put it over low heat and let the temperature rise slowly.  Oil is a great insulator so it will want to rise quickly and stay hot.  Keep your thermometer on hand and try to keep it below 125° F.  This is partly to ensure you don’t cook off the lovely beneficial components in the oil, partly to prevent accidental burns, and partly because it takes so long to cool down and you surely want to finish this up in a single afternoon.
Be careful not to let the thermometer touch the bottom or sides of the pot or you’ll get a false reading.  Notice how the coconut oil is melting and it’s starting to look like global warming at the north pole.  Also notice how it’s looking that way and we haven’t even cracked 100° F yet.  Don’t walk away.  I can tell you from experience that it’s almost time to cut the heat.  The temperature will continue to rise even after your remove it from the stove.  I let it sit for maybe a minute more, then removed it.  A few minutes later my thermometer topped out at 125° F.
Pour your oil into your stainless steel or glass bowl.  Let it sit for a few minutes so the temperature can come down.  You want it to cool before adding your essential oils because many essential oils have a much lower flash point than the temperature your base oils were just heated to.  Unless you know the flash point of your essential oils, assume you don’t want to add them until your coconut oil blend drops below 100° F.
If you haven’t worked with essential oils much you might be tempted to just put a splash in.  Resist that urge.  Essential oils are very concentrated and a little goes a long way.  Here’s the blend I used.  Note how relatively small the amount of essential oil is compared to the 16 ounces of carrier oils we blended.
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 4 drops spearmint essential oil
  • 3 drops litsea cubeba oil
  • 2 drops grapefruit essential oil
Just a note about grapefruit essential oil: I included it because it’s a great natural antimicrobial ingredient.  It can help extend the shelf life of your final product and you’ll frequently see it included in natural products for that reason.
Once you’ve added your essential oils and mixed them in with your spatula you’ll want to get your mixer going.
Oil and Mixer
Oil and Mixer. I love the look of liquefied oil. It's like liquid love.
The oil is too warm to set up and get creamy.  The point of blending it now is to try to incorporate a bit of air and cool it a bit.  I ran my hand mixer for a few minutes, then tried a whisk attachment, then tried an immersion blender with whisk attachment.  Frankly the standard hand mixer hardware was best.  I don’t own a stand mixer so I can’t say whether it would work more efficiently.
Mixer Parts
Mixer Parts
After a few minutes of blending the oil started to thicken.  It was still pretty liquid, but it was starting to gel a bit, if you will.
Blended Oil
Blended Oil
I decided to hurry up the solidification process by sticking it in the fridge for a few minutes.  I went and painted my nails, then checked on it.  Sure enough, it had firmed up.
Chilled Oil
Chilled Oil
Now we’re getting somewhere.  The oil was firm to the touch.  I put the mixer back in and started whipping away.  In no time it turned into a gorgeous creamy texture.  The mixing part is now essential because if you stop too soon you’ll have solid chunks in there.
Whipped Oils
Whipped Oils
Good enough to eat!  But don’t.  The sunflower and coconut oils are food grade, but those essential oils are not.  Plus it probably wouldn’t be very tasty.  Anyway, once you’ve got it all whipped and creamy you can transfer it to your jar.  Speaking of which, did you sterilize your jar?  You should.  You don’t want little microbes in there making your oils all rancid, do you?
Sterilizing Equipment
Sterilizing Equipment
Don’t skip the cleanliness, people.  You’re making something you’re going to put on your skin. Work clean, and keep it sanitary.  And use tongs, for pete’s sake, that’s boiling water you’re looking at there.
Jarred Lotion
Jarred Lotion
And that’s it.  The 16 oz batch whipped up to just slightly more than could fit in my mason jar. I put the overage in a little container and put it in the fridge.  when I have room I’ll warm it to room temperature and incorporate it into the jar.
That’s all there is to it.  Slap a label on it, put a bow on it, give it as a gift.  Keep it in a cool place.  It’s soft enough that you could probably keep it in a pump-style bottle, too.  Apply it just a tiny bit at a time.  This is an oil-based lotion, so you won’t want or need a big dollop like you get out of a bottle of Jergens.
Here’s how the final batch looks in the jar.  It will take some tapping to get the air bubbles out so you can fit the most in.  As you can see I still have some bubbles in mine.
Homemade Coconut Sunflower Oil Lotion
Homemade Coconut Sunflower Oil Lotion
I hope this tutorial helps.  Enjoy!
Update: I used this lotion on my legs this morning as a post-shave moisturizer.  Holy cow is it wonderful!  Not nearly as greasy as I thought it might feel.  The sunflower oil gave it a perfect texture and it smoothed on easily.  It’s been several hours and my legs still feel satiny smooth.  Totally luxurious feeling.  A++++ would make again!

Homemade Mint Toothpaste

Homemade Mint Toothpaste

Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash-up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.

Homemade Vapor Rub
Homemade Vapor Rub
My Oil Collection
My Oil Collection (Photo credit: KateWares)
  1. Place oil into a small container and add in essential oils. You will want to start out at the lower amount of essential oils and work your way up as you will get to decide what your desired potency is.
  2. Then just rub on chest, under nose (carefully) and even feet. Rubbing on the feet and then covering with socks is said to be particularly great for coughs.

Natural Homemade Pesticides: Recipes & Tips
These homemade pesticides are cheap and easy to make with many being just as effective as some commercial products on the market. No fancy ingredients required, everything you need is likely stocked in your kitchen and garden. Most of the ingredients are earth friendly and natural with the harshest being liquid dish detergent–no need to use toxic chemicals!
Tip: The best method of pest control in the garden is to keep your plants healthy so they don’t attract bugs. Fertilize as needed (see How To Make Compost Tea) and stay on top of weeds by pulling them as they appear or using weed killers (see Homemade Weed Killer Recipes & Tips).
Begin treating for insects as soon as you notice signs of an infestation, the sooner you start the easier it will be to get rid of the critters.
Note: For recipes that require liquid dish detergent, use the basic stuff–nothing fancy with added bleach, nothing concentrated and no special antibacterial formulas. You can also substitute with a gentler liquid soap such as liquid castile or a perfume free, gentle liquid hand soap.
Update: As with all pesticides, take care when applying to food bearing plants, handling and storage of the pesticide. No one needs reminding I’m sure, but wash all produce well before consuming.
Rhubarb Leaf Mix
1 cup rhubarb leaves
6.5 cups water
1/4 cup liquid dish detergent or soap flakes
  • Cover rhubarb leaves with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes then remove from heat and cool. Strain then add 1/4 cup liquid dish detergent. Apply. Good for aphids, june beetles, spider mites, thrips.
  • Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Garlic Tea
  • Make your own garlic spray by boiling a pint of water, throw in roughly chopped garlic cloves and steep until the water cools. Remove garlic bits then apply.
Garlic, Peppers & Onion Insecticide
2 hot peppers
1 large onion
1 whole bulb of garlic
1/4 cup water
  • Toss in the food processor and add water, blend until a mash is made. Cover mash with 1 gallon hot (not boiling) water and let stand 24 hours. Strain. Spray on roses, azaleas, vegetables to kill bug infestations. Bury mash in ground where bugs are heaviest. Good for thrips, aphids, grasshoppers, chewing and sucking insects.
Tomato Leaves Mix
  • Crush leaves from a tomato plant and soak in water for a couple days. Strain then spray. Good for grasshopper and white fly control.
  • Tomato leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Basil Tea
4 cups water
1 cup fresh basil (or 2 TBS dried)
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
  • Bring water to a boil then add basil. Remove from heat, cover and steep until cool. Strain. Mix in the liquid detergent then apply. Good for aphids.
Onion Insect Repellent For Plants
*First published May 18, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Save Onion Peels & Bits To Make Your Own Garden Brew
  • Save onion skins, peels and ends then refrigerate in an empty margarine-sized tub or ziploc bag until the container is full.
  • Once you have enough, place the onion pieces in a pail and fill with warm water. Soak for a few days, up to a week. Optional: You can keep this on the patio in the sun to steep.
  • After one week, strain the onion bits out and store the onion water in spray bottles. Bury the onion bits around plants that are prone to aphids, spiders and other pests.
  • Spray both house and garden plants with the water to fight aphids and pests.
*You could also mix your garlic trimmings in with the onion pieces, bugs hate garlic too.
Salt Spray
2 TBS salt
1.5 gallons warm water
  • Mix salt and water to dissolve, allow to cool to room temperature. Use for spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms and chewing insects.
Epsom Salt Spray
2 ounces of salt
2 gallons water
  • Benefits: Helps with Black Spot, Mildew, Wilt and Rust
Slug Bait Trap
  • Set out beer in shallow containers to attract slugs, they’ll drown in the beer. See more tips on this page.
Diatomaceous Earth
  • An all natural solution for insects of all kinds (ants, snails, slugs, etc.). Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants with pest problems.
Horticultural Oil Mix
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
2 cups water
  • Fill a spray bottle with the ingredients then shake to mix.
Hot Pepper Recipe
1/2 cup hot peppers (or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper)
1 quart water
1 tsp liquid dish detergent
  • Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add peppers. Cover and steep until cool. Strain then mix in soap. If using cayenne pepper, no need to bring water to a boil first. Apply.
Citrus Spray
2 cups orange peels (or lemons)
4 cups water
  • Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add peels. Cover and steep until cool. Strain and use. Use the lemon mixture to repel white flies.
Dish Detergent & Baking Soda
2 TBS liquid dish detergent
2 TBS baking soda
1 gallon water
  • Mix all ingredients together then use.
Peppermint Tea
1 TBS peppermint essential oil (can also use an infusion made with mint leaves, increase amount to 1 cup infusion)
1 quart water
  • Mix together and use as an insect spray (good for ants).
Japanese Beetle Bait Trap
2 cups water
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup wine
1/2 tsp yeast
  • Mix ingredients together and put in an old margarine container, cover with lid and set container out in the hot sun for a day. The next day, remove lid and set in garden where the beetles have been spotted (use a shallow container).
Potato Leaves Tea
1 cup potato plant leaves
2 cups water
  • Chop leaves then cover with hot water. Seal container and leave 24 hours in a sunny window. Strain then use.
  • Potato leaves are poisonous, take care when preparing and handling. Do not use on food bearing plants.
Neem Spray
1 TBS Neem soap (shavings)
1 liter water
  • Add soap to water then let sit for an hour. Shake bottle then use.
Mineral Oil Mix
3 parts oil per 100 parts water
  • Benefits: Helps with Aphids, Codling Moth, Leaf Roller, Mealybugs, Scaled Insects, White Fly
Easy Soap Flakes Spray
2 TBS soap flakes (don’t use detergents)
dissolved in 1 quart water
  • Benefits: Aphid control
Pest Prevention Concentrate
*First published February 1, 2008 and moved to this page for better organization
Vegetable Oil
Vegetable Oil Can Be An Effective Ingredient For Organic Pest Control
Here’s a short and sweet recipe for both garden and houseplants. You can use this as a preventative spray as well as a bug and pest killer.
1 cup Sunlight dish soap
1 TBS vegetable oil
  • Mix ingredients together then store in a plastic, airtight container.
  • When you’re ready to use, take 1 to 2 teaspoons of the concentrate and mix with a quart of water. Pour into a spray bottle.
  • When applying make sure to get underneath the leaves as well as the flower buds and new shoots.
  • In hot weather, repeat every third day (3 applications over 7 days).
  • Warm to cool weather, use once a week for 3 weeks.


  • Apply the treatment on top of the leaves as well as underneath–don’t overdo it, excess can cause damage.
  • Most recipes can be used effectively with just a weekly treatment. Excessive use may affect the plant as well as kill the good insects you want to encourage in your garden (earthworms, bees, ladybugs, etc.). If you aren’t seeing results with a 7 day treatment, you can bump it up to 5 days but watch carefully to make sure plants can handle it without being damaged.
  • Avoid treating during hot sunny weather, do so later in the day to reduce the risk of burning.
  • If it looks like rain, delay until the weather is clear since any rain will wash away the new application. If it has recently rained, wait till greenery is dry before applying to prevent the mix being diluted with water.
  • When trying a new recipe, test on just a couple leaves first (apply then watch how the test leaves react after two or three days, if no signs of damage proceed with spraying the whole plant).

Organic Garden Aids

*First published June 5, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
With a little bit of planning you can help cut down on pests and disease organically by growing natural repellents near problem areas. Here are a few suggestions…
Rosemary, Mint, Thyme: Grow near cabbage
Benefits: Repels cabbage worms
Nasturtiums: Position near cucumbers, melons and squashes.
Benefits: Repels squash bugs
Summer Savory: Position near beans
Benefits: Repels bean beetles
Radishes: Grow near cucumbers
Benefits: Repels cucumber beetles

17 Ways to Use Kale

Check out the slide show at:

17 Ways to Use Kale (Slideshow)
Kale is the best of everything — super cheap, super tasty, super versatile and super healthy. Loaded with calcium, and vitamins C and D definitely earns that extra-special title of superfood. But, let’s be honest — kale’s rich flavor can be a little intimidating to first-timers. We’re breaking down the basics of cooking with kale. Click through for recipe ideas.

Read more:

How to Make an Herbal Steam with Chamomile

Check out this video:

Sick of Sick? Boost Your Immune System with Your Very Own Herb Garden


Poor old man winter. He's the most neglected and hated of the seasons. His uber-iciness causes our fallible human bodies to crumble when colds and the flu try to bust through and break our immune balance. But, it's actually pretty easy to keep winter ailments at bay when you've a kitchen pantry full of various immune strengthening teas and herbal supplements, but that constant onslaught of buying can get expensive (winter always seems to dig its death grips into April).
Cut your cost and consider growing an immune garden this spring.
Start planning and preparing now so your garden has time to flourish in time for next year's first freeze, when you can move your potted herbs indoors and form an immune kitchen garden!

How To (Outside)

Herb Companion has one of the most comprehensive immune garden plans. Kathleen Halloran details how to create a raised garden center for sun seeking herbs, and a low bed for herbs that favor shade. The garden is said to bring a great harvest that will last you well into winter. Preserve herbs by drying and storing for cold months.
Herbs that belong in the top bed: oregano, thyme and sage. Raise the bed from one to three feet.
Herbs that can go into pots: rosemary, horseradish and ginger. Bring in rosemary and ginger when temperatures drop. The herbs will fair well on a sunny windowsill.
Other immune boosting herbs to plant:
Echinacea: an immune booster. Echinacea also is a perennial known as purple coneflower.
Garlic: another immune-supporter that enjoys the sun.
Ginseng: detox aid and immunity-booster.
Lavender: calms nerves, boosts immunity.
Lemon Balm: antiviral.
Oregano: sinus-clearer.
Parsley: this herb has cleansing properties. Grow in a pot on a windowsill in cold months.
Peppermint: immune-booster.
Rosehip: antibacterial, immune-booster.

Next Fall

Get ready to haul the herbs indoors. For the smaller potted herbs, the windowsill (as mentioned above) is a great option. Make certain you place the other herbs near sunlight and “water when soil is dry a half-inch under the surface.” –
Other items for your indoor herb garden:
-- fluorescent fixture to supplement dimmer windows.
-- use lightweight potting mix.
-- feed every two weeks “with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer at the recommended rate listed on the package label.”
Another note: "indoor herbs grow slowly in winter months, so reduce fertilizer amounts to a quarter of normal from Oct. 15 until March 15.” --
image: lizard10979
Source: Garden Wise

23 Home Remedies From The Spice Rack
Assorted Herbs & Spices
  1. Allspice: Relieves muscle aches and pains. First grind Allspice into a powder then add water to make a paste. Spread on a strip of clean muslin and apply to sore area.
  2. Anise: Helps congestion from allergies, colds or flu, and settle upset stomach with gas. Make a tea by steeping 1 teaspoon of anise seeds in 1 cup of boiling water. Strain before drinking. Also chew a couple anise seeds as needed for bad breath.
  3. Basil: For relief of cough, make a tea of dried basil (1 teaspoon) per 1 cup boiling water. Steep then strain, add a spoonful of honey then drink. Fresh basil leaves can also help with warts.
  4. Bay Leaves: Helps with dandruff. Make a rinse by crushing a handful of bay leaves to one liter water (first brought to boiling then removed from heat). Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and cool. Apply to hair and leave for 45 minutes to 60 minutes. Rinse clean.
  5. Black Ground Pepper: Stops bleeding, sprinkle a generous amount on a cut and voila! pain free (see Stop Bleeding With Ground Black Pepper).
  6. Caraway Seeds: Chew on a few seeds to help with flatulence. You can also make a tea by steeping 1 tsp seeds per cup of boiling water. Strain before drinking.
  7. Cardamom: Digestive aid, brew a tea with 1 teaspoon cardamom and 1 cup boiling water. Steep. Drink tea with meals.
  8. Cayenne Pepper: Sprinkle a pinch of Cayenne Pepper on meals to clear sinuses. A gargle made with water and cayenne pepper can help with sore throats. Also a natural appetite suppressant and increases metabolism. Sprinkle cayenne pepper on a toothbrush or add to a glass of water to gargle/rinse mouth–helps prevent gum disease and speeds up healing gingivitis (also see Gingivitis Home Treatments & Tips). For toothaches, make a paste with cayenne pepper and water, apply to sore area.
  9. Celery Seed: Relief from fluid retention: Make a diuretic tea by roughly crushing 1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed and steep in 1 cup boiling water (20 minutes). If you’re menstruating late, this infusion can be used to bring on menstruation. Also helps with high blood pressure and anxiety.
  10. Cinnamon: Mix 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to coffee or tea to help raise good cholesterol levels. Arthritis pain: try 1/2 tsp cinnamon mixed with 1 tsp honey. To help with heavy menstruating, add a bit of cinnamon to tea, coffee or sprinkle on foods.
  11. Cloves: Chew one clove for bad breath. For toothache pain, rest a clove against the sore area until pain goes away. You can also chew on a 3 or 4 cloves to relieve nausea. To relieve a sore throat, slowly chew on a few cloves.
  12. Coriander: Boil one teaspoon of coriander seeds in 1 cup of water, drink. Helps with high cholesterol.
  13. Cumin: Boil 1 cup of water with a teaspoon of cumin seeds, simmer for a few seconds. Strain and cool. Drink for cold relief.
  14. Dill Seed: Try swallowing a teaspoon of dill seed to stop hiccups. Also see this tip for hiccup relief: How To Stop Hiccups. Mask bad breath by eating a bit of dill seed.
  15. Fennel Seeds: Chew a couple fennel seeds for bad breath. For stomach cramp relief, you can brew a tea by steeping 1 teaspoon seeds per cup of boiling water. Strain before drinking. Crush seeds slightly when making tea and is good for flatulence.
  16. Garlic Powder: Mosquito Repellent: Make a garlic powder and water paste. Apply to pulse points, behind knees, on shoes and ankles and a dab or two on your cheeks or somewhere on your face and neck–-keep out of eyes. See How to Prevent Mosquito Bites for more ideas.
  17. Ginger: Brew a tea with 1/2 teaspoon ginger per cup of boiling water. Strain before drinking. Helps with nausea (also see 12 Home Remedies for Nausea). If you have fresh ginger on hand, chewing a bit is more effective than ginger tea. For headache relief, make a paste of ground ginger and water, apply to temple area, also see this headache soother: Home Remedy: Headache Soother Sachets. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger with 1 teaspoon of honey for cough relief. Drink tea to fight motion sickness (or chew on a fresh piece). Can also help with heartburn.
  18. Mustard Powder: To relieve congestion, mix 1 tablespoon of mustard powder with 1 liter of hot water then soak feet. Mustard plasters have been traditionally used for treating coughs, colds and the flu.
  19. Mint (peppermint or spearmint): Brew a tea with 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint per cup of boiling water. Strain before drinking. Helps with stomach aches and cramps.
  20. Sage: Control hot flashes (caused by menopause) by drinking sage tea three times a day. Boil 1/2 teaspoon sage per 1 cup boiling water. Steep (10 minutes), strain and drink.
  21. Salt: Canker sore remedy: Apply salt directly to the sore or rinse your mouth a couple times a day with a strong salt water solution–stings. See Home Remedies For Canker Sores for more remedies. For mosquito bite relief, make a salt and water paste then apply to bite area (see Over 40 Mosquito Bite Itch Relief Tips).
  22. Thyme: Sooth a cough with thyme tea. Brew 1 tablespoon dried thyme in 1 cup boiling water. Strain then drink (for sore throats, gargle with this tea). Helps relieve gas and stomach cramps. Brew a tea with 1 tsp dried thyme per 1 cup boiling water. Strain before drinking.
  23. Turmeric: Fever relief: Mix 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder with 1 cup of warmed milk, add a teaspoon of honey.
Note: These are simply home remedies I’ve collected, they’re not professional medical advice. Be aware that some spices and herbs may conflict with prescribed medicines–always check with a doctor before treating yourself with any method.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Easy Ways To Remove Limescale With Basic Pantry Items

Check out:

All It Takes Is A Few Simple Ingredients To Beat The Limescale Blues
For taps and bathroom fixtures: Saturate paper towels or a cotton cloth with vinegar then wrap tightly around the problem area. Leave for several hours or overnight, drizzling more vinegar over the cloth if it gets too dry. After soaking, remove the cloth and scrub away the built-up crud using a toothbrush or scrubber. You’ll find more detailed info below.
For tap openings: If the opening has a buildup that is affecting water flow, fill a plastic bag with vinegar then fit over spout so the end is submerged in vinegar. Wrap the bag around the tap then secure in place by wrapping with masking tape. Allow to soak for several hours (or overnight), remove the bag then take a toothbrush and scrub up into the spout, removing the buildup.
For small appliances: Coffee pots and kettles will naturally build up limescale over time, vinegar will do the trick here too. Follow the directions on this page (will work for both coffee pots and kettles).
For large appliances: Dishwashers and laundry washing machines can benefit from a treatment of vinegar and water, simply dump a cup or two of household vinegar into the appliance and run an empty load with hot water.
Toilet rings & stains: Lower the water inside the toilet bowl so you can lay vinegar-soaked paper towels on top of the stains, or you can use a wet pumice stone to scrub them off. You’ll find the step-by-step directions on this page.
What else works: A lemon cut in half or lemon juice (both freshly squeezed and bottled will work). Use the juice just as you would with the vinegar directions above. To use a fresh lemon, cut it in half then use the cut side to scrub surfaces such as shower doors and walls. A lemon cut in wedges can also be handy when trying to get at the crevices of shower tracks, just squeeze a bit of juice into the tracks and use the edge of the lemon wedge to get into the crevices.
Why Does This Work: The acid from the vinegar and lemon works to dissolve the calcium carbonate, doing all the heavy lifting for you while it soaks. After a few hours (or several depending on how bad the buildup is), all it takes is a light scrubbing on your part to remove the cruddy bits.
Tip: You may also find it helpful to sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the problem area (or over the cut lemon or damp cleaning sponge) so you have a mild abrasive to help with the scrubbing job. To use it, wait until after the vinegar or lemon juice soaking period before applying it (so the acid in the ingredients has the opportunity to work its magic).
Notes: If the first treatment brings results but doesn’t remove all the crud easily, repeat the process again. If you’re unsure how a surface will react to a vinegar soak, test a hidden area first.
Vinegar is a miracle worker when it comes to household cleaning, you’ll find more ways to use it listed on this page (which also touches briefly on the tips above).

Cleaning Crusty Tap Fixtures & Shower Heads

*First published January 11, 2007 and moved to this page for better organization
Picture of Bathroom Faucet - Tipnut.comTaps can accumulate hard water stains around the base and limescale crud along the back if they’re not thoroughly washed regularly. If yours have a bad buildup, here’s what you can do…
Materials Needed
Paper Towels
White household vinegar
  • Soak paper towels thoroughly with vinegar, then pack firmly around the base of the tap fixture. If you have hard water deposits between the faucets and the base as well–pack soaked towels in there too.
  • Every couple hours recheck the paper towels and if they’re dry, pour more vinegar on them. Depending on how bad the deposits are, you may have to leave them wrapped overnight to soak.
  • Once the crud wipes away easily, remove the paper towels, get out an old toothbrush and scrub away. They should clean up easily with the crud just falling away.
Give it a shot–you’ll be amazed how shiny new your taps will look!

Shower Heads
Shower Head Picture -
If your shower head has a few holes clogged from hard water deposits and limescale, all you need to do is give it a good soak in a vinegar & water solution.
  • Soak the show head in a pail of 50/50 vinegar and hot water for several hours. The vinegar will eat through the hard gunk and you’ll be back in business with a fully functioning, shiny shower head!
If it’s especially bad, just increase the amount of vinegar and let it soak overnight.

Homemade Breads: {Both Oven Baked & Machine}
It's Hard To Beat A Crusty Bread Pulled Hot From The Oven

Freshly baked bread, still warm from the oven, sliced thick and slathered with real butter and topped with some homemade strawberry jam or slices of thick cheese, delicious! Baking bread is not only heavenly, it’s a substantial treat made with wholesome ingredients and no added preservatives. Who knew something so simple and basic as a loaf of bread could have so much goodness to offer!
This Recipe Hit List is a collection of breads to make that I’ve handpicked from around the net, you’ll find lots of varieties to choose from: White, Oat, Rye, Whole Wheat and more (including a large list of bread machine recipes towards the bottom of the page). I also added a vintage picture tutorial showing how to shape bread dough and a vintage recipe (just over 50 years old). Lots here to check out, enjoy!


*Note: Descriptions below are quotes from the sources
  1. American Sandwich Bread: Must say, this bread really delivered. It really is a wonderful homemade sandwich bread. One of my major gripes about other loaves I have made in the past is that, while delicious, they do not have the height that I am looking for in a sandwich bread. However, this loaf has great height. The dough was just beautiful to work with and it rose easily. I also appreciate how quick the whole process was. I started in the morning and before lunch we had fresh bread for sandwiches. Fabulous! Recipe found at Annie’s Eats.
  2. Decadent Sweet Milk: This makes a soft sweet loaf of bread. It can be totally made in a bread machine, however, I just used the machine to make the dough. Recipe found at Frugal Dr. Mom.
  3. Deli-Style Rye: All I’m going to say about this recipe is that after making it, I decided that I am never going to the grocery store for bread ever again. Let’s not ruin this with any more words – just enjoy. Recipe found at Pete Bakes!
  4. Whole Wheat: A fresh slice from the oven with a little butter on the top is like a taste of heaven! Espe­cially when this bread comes from your very own oven and is made from qual­ity ingre­di­ents, no addi­tives, and soaked for the high­est nutri­tional ben­e­fit! Who can ask for better? Recipe found at Passionate Homemaking.
  5. How To Make Great Homemade Bread: I’ve come to appreciate a great loaf of homemade bread for the taste, consistency and the price! With this recipe my kids prefer homemade to store bought bread. Recipe from What’s For Dinner.
  6. Oatmeal Toasting Bread Recipe: Makes three 8″ x 4″ loaves approximately 24 ounces each, plus 10 ounces dough to save as ‘old dough’ for your next batch. Recipe found at Farmgirl Fare.
  7. Easy, No Knead Crusty Bread: This easy bread recipe requires no kneading, and uses the heat and humidity of a Dutch oven to achieve the perfect crispy crust. Recipe found at Mother Earth News (recipe is on page 2 of article).
  8. Whole Wheat Beer Bread: Look at that gorgeous loaf! It has a firm and crunchy outer crust but is still soft on the inside. I am so proud of my loaf!! Recipe found at Happy Herbivore.
  9. Jamie Oliver’s Basic Bread: I’m still really mad about bread – I love it. It’s so exciting. It’s such a rewarding, therapeutic, tactile thing and you’ll be so proud of yourself once you’ve cracked it. Recipe found at
  10. Speedy No-Knead Bread: Recipe from The New York Times.
  11. Cuban: This is another one of those breads that are fast and delicious. This recipe comes from the Tightwad Gazette, and is done in less than an hour and a half. Hooray! Recipe found at Fun Foods On A Budget.
For Amish Friendship Bread, see this page for recipes. Sourdough recipes are found here.

How To Shape Loaves: Rolled Dough Method

Step 1
With rolling pin, roll dough out to uniform thickness, stretching by hand to form rectangle approximately 9″ x 12″. Make certain to break down all gas bubbles in the outer edge of the dough.
Step 1 - Rolled Dough Method -
Step 2
From upper edge, roll dough toward you, jelly roll fashion, sealing dough with heel of hand after each roll of dough. (About four turns will bring you to last seal.) Be sure to seal final seam on bottom of loaf.
Step 2 - Rolled Dough Method -
Step 3
Seal ends of loaf by using the side of hand to get thin sealed strip.
Step 3 - Rolled Dough Method -
Step 4
Fold sealed ends of loaf under, using fingers. Avoid tearing dough.
Step 4 - Rolled Dough Method -
Step 5
Place shaped loaf, with seam side down, in well greased bread pan (approx. 8″ x 5″ top inside measure).
Step 5 - Rolled Dough Method -
Step 6
When bread has risen until doubled put pans in oven, leaving space around each pan so heat can circulate freely around pans.
Step 6 - Rolled Dough Method -
Source: Robin Hood Breads & Rolls, 1961

20 Bread Machine Recipes: Breads, Rolls & More

This Recipe Hit List was put together when I received an email request from Rebecca who just got a brand new bread machine and is now looking for recipes to try. There are so many delicious breads in this list and I really don’t know how you’re going to pick the first one to make ;) . You’ll find herbed breads, sandwich breads and even foccacia, bagels, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls and monkey bread. Enjoy!
*Note: Descriptions below are quotes from the recipe sites
Bread Machine Monkey Bread Recipe By
Bread Machine Monkey Bread Recipe By
  1. Bread Machine Monkey Bread: (As seen in picture) As you can see, this is not the usual biscuits out of a can rolled in a ball, then coated with cinnamon and sugar kind of monkey bread. It’s so much better and easy too–if you use a bread machine. Recipe from Salad In A Jar.
  2. Caramelized Onion Foccacia: I love this recipe! It makes a really big foccacia so I usually make it as a main dish and just add a salad. I love using the dough feature on my bread machine because I can just throw in the bread ingredients. I also have a bread proofing feature on my oven which lets dough rise ~ and really well, LOL! That I have to keep an eye on. From A Recipe A Day.
  3. Cottage Recipe: Raisin Bagel Bread: Whenever I make bread, I throw a few ice cubes into the bottom of the oven about mid-way through baking. Moister air just seems to make for nicer bread. Brushing the loaf a few times with water while it is baking also adds some moisture to the oven and gives the bread a slightly glossy, less floury finished appearance. Recipe from Cottager’s Wife.
  4. Cottage Cheese Dill: Slightly tangy, a little sweet, and with a nice, light texture, it makes a great sandwich bread. Recipe from montcarte.
  5. Portuguese White: This bread recipe is a no-fail bread machine recipe that I have used for years. The ingredients are so simple and it makes the perfect loaf of bread every single time. Recipe from Mom Advice.
  6. Easiest Zucchini Bread Ever: If you don’t have a bread maker, I would recommend putting all of of this into a food processor or blender because you really want the oats to be chopped up pretty fine to make the texture of this bread nice. Recipe from Mommy’s Martini.
  7. Brioche with Yogurt: A Brioche is a French Bread which is rich and sweet in flavour, usually baked in a fluted pan or tins with a small spherical piece of dough placed on top. However, this recipe is for bread machines. Recipe from Blessed Homemaker.
  8. Rosemary Cheddar: The bread machine makes this herbed loaf a snap to prepare. Recipe from Taste Of Home.
  9. Italian Herb Bread: This makes a beautiful, fragrant loaf. One of these days I’m going to make it on the dough cycle and shape it and bake it into a fancy artisan shape, but for now, we just eat the regular squat, rectangular loaves as they come out of the machine. Recipe from Secrets Of A Southern Kitchen.
  10. Cinnamon Rolls: I’ve been making these cinnamon rolls for more than 20 years and it has evolved here and there. The biggest change has been going from kneading the dough myself, to making the dough in our bread machine with the dough setting. I really like using the bread maker because I don’t have to touch the dough (it’s an OCD thing) and there’s less mess. Also, the bread machine provides a warm covered place for the dough to rise on its first go round. Recipe from Controlling My Chaos.
  11. Pita Bread: Pita bread made with a bread machine, what could be easier? The only trick is to roll them thin enough (I didn’t roll my my first batch thin enough and they were lofty little pillows, but bad minimal pockets). The thinner batch made perfect pocket pitas. From Collen’s Recipes.
  12. How to Make Rolls: Use regular flour in your bread machine for the best dinner rolls ever. Here is step by step instructions for baking the perfect rolls, and using your bread machine to do all the kneading. Recipe from Notecook.
  13. 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Oats, Bran, and Flax Seed: I’ve spent the last few weeks on a quest to create South Beach Diet friendly bread using my Oster Bread Machine, and I finally have a recipe to share! Previously I’ve made South Beach friendly bread in the bread machine using a mix, but this time I wanted to make bread from scratch using all whole wheat flour, very minimal sugar, and a fair amount of fiber. Recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
  14. Clone of a Cinnabon: Special Equipment: you will need a bread machine, rolling pin, a pastry brush, and some type of large baking dish with sides. Found at Sugarmamabakingco’s Blog.
  15. French Bread: After playing around with many different recipes I have finally created a French Bread Recipe that can be mixed in the bread machine that is wonderful! Recipe from Musings Of A Modern Day Mom.
  16. Molasses Oatmeal Bread Machine Recipe: My favorite of her many recipes was a Molasses Oatmeal bread that toasted beautifully, had a subtly sweet taste and a lovely light caramel color. After having such amazing success with the basic white bread recipe, I decided to be brave and attempt to adapt her recipe for the bread machine. The outcome is an addictive bread that takes me straight back to the bygone days of Saturday morning cartoons and She-Ra pajamas. I can think of very few things that I find more satisfying than two thick slices of this bread hot from the toaster and generously coated in real butter. I hope you enjoy it! Recipe from Erin Cooks.
  17. Rosemary Herbed Bread Like Macaroni Grill: Recipe from Anissa’s Kitchen.
  18. Cream Cheese Filled Breadsticks: One treat I really love is from one of the frozen pizza brands when came out with a cream cheese filled breadstick. However they are almost $6.00 a package of six : / ouch! I looked everywhere for a recipe for them to no avail so I came up with my own and actually I think my version really tastes better. Since I could not find a recipe for it online I thought I should post it. Recipe from Altered Artifacts.
  19. Homemade Soft Pretzels: Occasionally I cave and buy that $3 pretzel, but mostly I promise to make this homemade version that is just as tasty yet much less expensive. Since I let the kids form their own pretzels it is also much more fun. It just tastes better when you’ve made it yourself! Recipe from Frugal Upstate.

Vintage Recipe

Interested in trying an old recipe I have that’s just over 50 years old? Here’s the info:
Bread Dough & Ingredients
Bread Dough & Ingredients
Yield: 4 loaves
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 pkg. active dry yeast OR 2 compressed yeast cakes
1 TBS salt
4 TBS sugar
4 TBS shortening or oil
About 12 cups sifted flour
*Note — You may make this white bread recipe with less yeast, if longer rising periods are allowed. Use 1 pkg. dry yeast or 1 yeast cake instead of 2.
Allow dough to rise for 3 hours and loaves for 2 hours.
  • Have all ingredients at warm room temperature.
  • Scald milk. Add boiling water. Measure 1 cup of liquid into small bowl. Allow to cool to luke warm (test on wrist for warmth). Add dry yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar and let stand 15 minutes. If compressed yeast is used crumble it into lukewarm water and blend. Let stand 15 minutes. Add remaining sugar and salt to remaining 3 cups of liquid. Mix. Let stand until lukewarm.
  • Add shortening and dissolved yeast to lukewarm liquid, then add half the sifted flour (6 cups) and mix with spoon. Add almost all the rest of the flour (about 5 1/2 cups) and mix with hand. Using one hand mix dough in bowl by using a rotary motion. At first dough will be sticky but by the end of about 5 minutes mixing it should be smooth and come away readily from inside of bowl. If it does not, add some of the reserved flour until it does come away from the bowl readily.
  • Turn out on greased board. Knead by folding dough over toward you. Then press down away from you with heel of hand. Give dough quarter turn, repeat until it’s smooth, elastic and doesn’t stick to board. (Takes 5 – 8 minutes).
  • Place dough in warm, lightly greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with lightweight damp cloth and let rise at warm room temperature 75° – 85° F. away from draughts for 2 hours or until double in bulk.
  • Punch down (thrust fist into dough to allow gas bubbles to escape). Turn out on lightly greased board. Cut into four even pieces. Form each into a ball. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. Grease loaf pans.
  • Shape balls of dough into loaves; first roll dough out to even thickness, using hands, pat and stretch it to form rectangle about 9 x 12 inches. Be sure no gas bubbles remain in edge of dough. From upper edge, roll dough towards you, sealing dough with heel of hand after each roll of dough. (It will take about four turns.) Seal well the final seam on bottom of loaf. Seal ends of loaf by using the side of the hand. Using fingers fold sealed ends of loaf under.
  • Place loaf, sealed edge down, in well greased bread pan. Cover. Let rise at warm room temperature 1 1/2 hours or until double in bulk. Bake at 400° F. about 55-60 minutes until brown. To test, tap loaf, tip gently out of pan and tap bottom. It should sound hollow. If not, bake a few more minutes.
*Loose page from an old cookbook (1960), “Very Good” written on top corner of recipe.

Lemon Honey Tea Base ~ Preparing for Winter

UPCYCLE an OLD picnic table into a POTTING BENCH

Oh Friends! You are going to LOVE this! UPCYCLE an OLD picnic table into a POTTING BENCH! Here's How! ✿✿✿

Getting Started with Home Food Drying
Waht You Need for Dehydrating Food at Home
Want an easy way to store and preserve food?  Need a food storage method that doesn’t take up much space and requires very little equipment?  Want to make healthier snacks for your family to enjoy at home or on the go?  Looking for portable food for camping or backpacking?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should learn about home food drying.

What Equipment Do I Need to Dehydrate Food at Home?

To dehydrate food, you need a dehydrator or drying area/rack.  An oven can be used if you can set the temperature low enough, but it will use more energy than a commercial dehydrator or other home constructed options (see bottom of post for links to build your own dehydrator).  As long as your humidity isn’t too high, you may be able to air dry (think herb bundles hung from rafters).  Some folks rig up trays with covers (see one example here) and hang them near a heat sources such as a wood stove.
Commercial dehydrators will give more consistent results and be easier to work with, giving you a better quality end product.  Quick and uniform drying preserves color, flavor and texture.  Most commercial units also allow you to set your temperature, which is very helpful for optimal drying of different foods.  For instance, herbs are best dried at lower temperatures so that you don’t drive off volatile oils, while meats are typically dried at higher temps.  If you purchase a commercial dehydrator, I highly recommend including the accessory sheets for fruits leather and fine mesh sheets in your purchase.  They are so much easier to work with than improvised homemade options.
A sharp knife and cutting board is helpful for cutting fruits and vegetables into thinner pieces that will dry more quickly and evenly (a mandolin or food processor for cutting may be helpful in some cases, but isn’t absolutely necessary).
A good sized, heavy duty pot is helpful for cooking down fruits and blanching fruits and veggies.  For purees and “leathers”, you’ll need a blender or food processor.  I like using my salad spinner to predry herbs before loading them into the dehydrator.  That’s enough equipment to get you started, although some specialty items  such as cherry pitters and apples corers may come in handy once you get rolling.

What Types of Food Can be Dried?

Just about anything can be dried, from vegetables and fruit to meat and fish.  Home dried herbs are a fraction of the cost of store bought herbs.  Natural fruit leathers are also quite expensive in the store, and are one of the simplest things to make in your dehydrator.  You can use your dehydrator to make snacks for people and pets.  You can also use it to dehydrate excess kefir grains or sourdough starter.

How do I prepare food for drying?

Generally, you want to slice or chop uniform pieces of food between 1/8 and 1/2 inch thick.  Food that is too thick or irregularly shaped will lead to non-uniform drying, which could lead to spoilage or lower quality product.
Pretreating – some foods are pre-treated before drying to help to preserve color and flavor.  For instance, fruits can be dipped in saltwater, and acidic medium or something sweet to reduce oxidation.  My favorite method is to use a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice in a bowel of water.  Inexpensive, easy and doesn’t dramatically change the flavor of the fruit.  Many people also enjoy dipping sliced fruit in other acidic fruit juices, such as apple or banana slices in pineapple or orange juice.  More detailed information is linked below in specific posts.
Marinades are commonly used for meats such as jerkies to enhance flavor and improve shelf life.  Blanching in water or steam helps slow down enzyme action and softens skins, making it each for moisture to be driven out and making the product more palatable when rehydrated.  Many vegetables (but not all) are best blanched before dehydrating.

How long does it take to dry food?

It really depends on the food and the drying conditions – anywhere from a few hours to days, depending on what is being dried and how it is being dried.  Thinner items dry faster than thick.  Units with fans dry faster than units without fans.  Natural drying can go pretty slowly, but still works well in many situations.  Most of the time I load my dehydrator in the evening and let it dry overnight.

How can I tell if home dehydrated food is dry enough?

Different foods will have different textures when dried, from brittle to leather-like to gummy.  As you work with dehydrating, you’ll get a feeling for appropriate dryness.  The texture of home dried foods is often different than commercially dried foods, so don’t let this put you off.  Remember, you’re making your products without strange additives or deep frying or other commercial processes.
A good rule of thumb to test dryness is to put the product in a tightly sealed jar, and check for condensation on the lid after about a day.  If you’ve got condensation, you need to dry it more – it won’t keep – or put it in the freezer or refrigerator.

How do I store dried food and how long will it keep?

My preferred storage container is a standard or wide mouthed mason jar.  If I have a lot of a product (enough to fill multiple jars), I’ll use the vacuum sealer attachment for my Foodsaver to seal most of the jars to extend shelf life even further.  I keep the jars out of direct light (in the pantry), and/or cover them with sock cozies.  You can also use plastic bags or plastic jars, or glass jars from other commercial products.
Storage life depends on conditions.  Dried food has been found on archeological digs that was still technically “edible”, but definitely not a yummy. Dried produce and herbs should last around a year (from one season to the next) if properly stored.  I’ve kept items longer, but flavor, color and nutrients diminish over time.
Dehydrated tomatoes, parsley and peaches
Dehydrated tomatoes, parsley and peaches
Do you dry food at home? What technique/equipment do you use?
Below is an assortment of links from my blog and other other online resources to help you get started with dehydrating.

Common Sense Homesteading Posts on Food Drying

Preserving Asparagus Three Ways – Freezing, Drying and Lactofermenting
Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches
Preserving Strawberries Four Ways – Freezing, Drying, Fruit Leather and Kombucha
Making Applesauce, Apple leather and Dried Apple Slices
Pumpkin Leather
Ground Beef Jerky
Crispy Nuts and Maple Candied Walnuts
Drying Herbs

Online Resources for Home Food Dehydrating

Facebook group – Dehydrating Way Beyond Jerky
National Center for Home Food Preservation – How Do I Dry Foods? – “On this site you will learn to build your pantry for long term food storage, cook fast and simple meals with prepackaged foods, store food for years and re-hydrate it back to new! Also you will find instructional videos, delicious recipes using dehydrated foods, helpful hints, important information, and great ideas.”
NESCO/American Harvest How To Dehydrate Guides

Home Food Dehydrators You Can Make Yourself

DIY Electric Dehydrators

Living Foods Dehydrators – Wooden dehydrators made in the USA, or buy the kit and make your own.
DIY Dehydrator made with a box fan – Alton Brown’s box fan dehydrator made with a box fan, cellulose furnace filters and a bungie cord or two.
Home made dehydrator made with plywood – Do it yourself dehydrator instructions for a box dehydrator made with plywood, and incandescent lightbulb and recycled refrigerator racks.
The $10 Jerky Maker – Quick and easy instructions for a box dehydrator using a cardboard shipping box, a light bulb, and PVC pipe.  Detailed instructions, lots of photos.
Do-if yourself food dehydrator/jerky maker – DIY dehydrator instructions to build a unit with a cardboard box, light bulb, cooling racks and metal skewers.  I like this a little better than the PVC option because the parts touching the food are food grade materials.  Nice photos.

DIY Solar Dehydrators

Build It Solar – Solar Cooking and Food Drying -  10 different solar food dehydrator designs
Solar Fruit Dryer – PDF plans for a large solar fruit dryer

How to make homemade candles

Check out the above video!

Regrow Scallions in a Cup of Water/Green Onions
If you like to cook with scallions (aka green onions or green shallots) did you know you can keep the white root ends from purchased scallions in a glass of water and they will regrow almost indefinitely?
Household weblog Homemade Serenity shares how scallion ends can regrow in in a glass of water. Just put the root ends in a glass of water and put that glass in a sunny window. After a few days you should be able to begin harvesting the green ends of the scallions. Make sure you change the water every so often and cut what you need with scissors before cooking.

Regrow Scallions in a Cup of Water

UPCYCLED kitchen cabinet

L-O-V-E this UPCYCLED kitchen cabinet NOW outdoor COCKTAIL/BEVERAGE bar! ♥♥♥

Raised bed construction.!/media/set/?set=a.294619793933421.75943.100001562094838&type=1

Check out the pics for a step by step for doing raised bed construction at the above link:

Homemade Hairspray

I was so excited to share this recipe for homemade hairspray that I had a hard time conducting an adequate test phase! I’m happy to report that after using it every day for over a month, I’ve been thrilled with the results. Here’s how and why I make my own hairspray.

My issues with commercial hairspray

Nowadays I have very thick, curly, long(ish) hair and need to use a generous amount of hairspray no matter how I style it. (My hair scares Matt if I don’t tame it with at least a little bit of hairspray.) I used to be a fan of maximum hold hairspray, but it left my hair so crunchy my 4 year old nephew wanted to touch it every chance he got. The chemicals and cost of keeping my coif looking good frustrates me. I cringe when I think about the chemicals I inhale with cheap hairspray, not to mention that is sits on my hair all day. The cost of natural hairspray tends to make me cringe too.
It’s time for something different.
To my delight, Matt received a basic recipe for homemade hairspray from a diyNatural reader named Charli. I. Was. Giddy!
I tested the recipe, made a few tweaks, and came up with…

Citrus-Lavender Hairspray

  • 1 orange or lemon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or clear grain alcohol (vodka, gin, etc.)
  • 6-8 drops of lavender essential oil
How to make hairspray1

Step 1

Cut a whole orange or lemon into wedges and combine with 2 cups water in a small pot. Boil over medium high heat and reduce liquid by half.
How to make hairspray2

Step 2

Strain liquid through cheesecloth into a measuring cup. If you boiled too much liquid out add water until you have 1 cup. Allow citrus juice to cool.
How to make hairspray3

Step 3

Add alcohol and essential oils to the cup of citrus juice. (Feel free to experiment with your favorite essential oil or leave them out altogether.)
How to make hairspray4

Step 4

Use a funnel to pour into a spray bottle (at least 10 oz.). Shake gently before each use.
How to make hairspray5

A few things to note…

This is not a maximum hold hairspray that will freeze a prom up-do or 80′s bangs. I can say with confidence that it’s a flexible hold formula. I was a loyal user of firm hold hairspray for years before trying this formula… now I PREFER this to my old sprays.
This formula has been tested on my brunette hair. Hairspray made with an orange has a bit of a darker tint, so if your hair is light-colored you may want to use a lemon.
Grab the orange or lemon sitting in your fruit bowl and give this hairspray a whirl