Posts made in December, 2012

Homemade Peppermint Lip Balm

Posted by on Dec 22, 2012 in Blog, DIY Beauty | 2 comments

Homemade Peppermint Lip Balm

My first adventure in homemade lip balm has been a huge success. I adapted a recipe from Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook & Knit and was super happy with the results. Since this recipe calls for beeswax, and I’d heard that beeswax can be tricky to work with, I found a cheap ($1.99) pot from my local thrift store to use solely for the purpose of making homemade beauty products. I purchased all of my supplies from a local apothecary, which I recently discovered and immediately became enamored with: Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary & Supply. It’s a completely enchanting shop and worth checking out the next time you are in the Boulder area. As always, I recommend sourcing as much of your project materials from local businesses whenever possible. With my new used pot and my supplies in tow, I was ready to enter the world of DIY beauty products. I used the following recipe which will fill six 1/2 ounce lip balm tins: Ingredients: 2 Tbsp (22.5 grams) beeswax chips 2 Tbsp (28.7 grams) shea butter 3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (Use less for a thicker balm) 3 vitamin E capsules 25 drops of peppermint essential oil You’ll also need: Six 1/2 ounce (15ml) tins to pour the mixture into (You can also use more smaller containers or fewer larger ones. Aim to buy 3 ounces worth of containers or reuse old chapstick tubes, tins, or jars.) Cheap-o pot or pan or a double boiler (an old glass bowl or glass Pyrex measuring cup would serve this purpose nicely) A regular pot (only for water) Metal Tongs (for sterilizing your tins; a colander will also suffice) Cookie sheet Metal spoon Measuring spoon Sterilizing the tins: 1. You’ll want to start by sterilizing your tins (skip this step if using plastic tubes) . Preheat your oven to 200°. In the meantime, place the tins in a pot and fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Allow them to sit for a few minutes before fishing them out with your metal tongs. If you don’t have tongs (or this seems tedious) you can pour the whole thing through a colander and then pick them out with your hands once they are cool (this is what I did). 2. Place the tins on a cookie sheet and slide into the oven for 10 minutes, or until dry. Voilà: clean tins! Now you are ready to melt the beeswax. Making the lip balm: 1. The first step in this recipe is to melt the beeswax chips and the shea butter. The recommended method for this is to use a double boiler to reduce the risk of burning the oils. Since I didn’t have a double boiler, I used the heavy-bottomed pot that I found at the thrift store and melted the beeswax and shea butter over VERY low heat, stirring almost constantly. This process took close to 20 minutes, so be patient if you are using this method. If you have a double boiler, use it. Even a glass bowl or a Pyrex measuring cup that you can set inside a pan of boiling water will work great. 2. Once these two ingredients are melted, add the olive oil. Continue stirring until all three ingredients are melted together. 3. Remove from heat and squeeze the punctured vitamin E capsules into the mixture. Add the essential oil and stir gently. This mixture tends to cool quickly and the beeswax will begin to solidify. Work quickly, or come back to your stove burner for...

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Purple Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut with Juniper Berries

Posted by on Dec 15, 2012 in Blog, Fermentation, Recipes | 2 comments

Purple Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut with Juniper Berries

I’ve been wanting to experiment with adding different herbs and spices to sauerkraut. Since German sauerkraut is traditionally flavored with juniper berries, I decided to be adventurous and picked some up from my local spice retailer, Savory Spice Shop. Juniper berries, which are the female seed cone produced by juniper trees are used as a spice, especially in European cuisine. Incidentally, they are also the spice used to give gin its flavor. In addition to flavoring foods and beverages, juniper berries have also been used medicinally throughout history to remedy various ailments. Sounds good, right? Here’s the recipe I used to make a quart of Purple Juniper Berry Sauerkraut: Ingredients: 1 medium red cabbage (aim for 2 lbs. give or take) 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt 10 juniper berries Directions: 1. Rinse and core the cabbage. Slice it very thin and place in a large mixing bowl. 2. Toss with the salt. 3. Pound with a wooden pounder for 10 minutes to help release the juices. If you do not have a wooden pounder, you can massage the cabbage with your hands for 5-10 minutes. Don’t be afraid to be a little rough with it. It will soften and get quite juicy. 4. Add the juniper berries and stir to incorporate. 5. Pack the cabbage into a one quart, wide-mouth (these are easiest) glass jar. You really want to stuff it in there so that the juices rise above the level of the cabbage. Don’t be shy. If the juices do not cover the cabbage, you can add a little bit of salt water to cover it (about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1/2 cup of water). 6. Leave at least an inch of air space in the jar as the cabbage will expand slightly as the fermentation process begins and air bubbles form in the the liquid. 7. Cover your jar with a plastic lid (I like these) and leave it on the counter for 3-7 days! 8. When it is done to your liking, keep it in the fridge. It will keep well for several months and the flavors will continue to develop and ripen. Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful: Try using a wooden spoon to really cram the cabbage into the jar, moving the jar in a circular motion as you tamp down the middle and edges of the cabbage. I like my sauerkraut best when it has fermented for 4 days or more. Experiment with different fermentation durations, keeping the minimum at 3 days, or 72 hours. I’ve gotten in the habit of “burping” the jars. Once the process really gets going, they can put off a lot of gas (mainly ethanol and carbon dioxide). Starting on day two, I’ll twist the lid twice a day to let some of the gasses escape. This lessens the risk that liquid will overflow out of your...

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Lacto-Fermentation 101

Posted by on Dec 15, 2012 in Blog, Fermentation, Recipes | 2 comments

Lacto-Fermentation 101

There are few foods simpler to make than lacto-fermented condiments like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, beets, carrots, ginger….the list goes on. Most vegetables can be tastily fermented using lacto-fermentation methods–and its simpler than you might think. All you need is some salt and a glass jar and you’ll be on your way to fermentation paradise. Why lacto-fermented?, you might ask. Here is a super-informative excerpt from the Weston A. Price Foundation article on Lacto-Fermentation: “It may seem strange to us that, in earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines. This was done through the process of lacto-fermentation. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid-producing bacteria. These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground. Man needs only to learn the techniques for controlling and encouraging their proliferation to put them to his own use, just as he has learned to put certain yeasts to use in converting the sugars in grape juice to alcohol in wine.” That said, here is the main technique for starting a lacto-fermentation process: 1. First, wash and cut up your fresh vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl. 2. Add salt. 3. Next, pound the veggies with a wooden pounder or massage them with your hands for 5 to 10 minutes to help them release their juices. 4. Then, press the veggies firmly into an air tight container (I prefer glass) and store for 3 to 7 days on the counter (some recipes may call for a longer fermentation). You can taste them throughout the process to see when they are fermented to your liking, as the flavors will change and develop over time. 5. Once they are ready, they can be stored in the refrigerator for months, continuing to develop flavor as time passes! Sounds simple? It is! Here are some links to my favorite recipes to get you started! Homemade Sauerkraut from Nourished Kitchen Grated Ginger Carrots from Cultures for Health Homemade Lacto-Fermented Ketchup from Nourished Kitchen Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise from Cheeseslave Beets & Turnips by GNOWFGLINS Happy fermenting! Stay tuned for upcoming articles with recipes of my own unique lacto-fermentation...

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Organic Ice Cube Tray Peanut Butter Cups

Posted by on Dec 10, 2012 in Blog, Recipes | 14 comments

Organic Ice Cube Tray Peanut Butter Cups

Learn to make your own homemade, organic ice cube tray peanut butter cups. Making your own candy is fun and rewarding! Plus, you get to control the quality and healthfulness of the ingredients that you use.

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Learning to Needle Felt

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in Blog, Crafts | 1 comment

Learning to Needle Felt

Felt is created when wool fibers are matted together and condensed to create cloth. Needle felting is just what it sounds like: you use a special needle to make felt. I realize that that alone sounds less than exciting. Here’s the fun part: you can create almost any soft, fuzzy, and colorful shapes with just a few supplies and steps. The possibilities seem endless. I started out making felted animals with the help of Wool Pets, a great book by Laurie Sharp. I’m excited to give these as gifts to my friends and family. Since wool is soft, natural, and non-toxic (unless, of course, you are allergic) felted gifts can be given to young children. I’d love to make a whole set of farm animals. For now, I started with a pig! In addition to my beginning experimentation with felted animals, I’ve started to make felt jewelry. Making these rings was fun and easy (and I only drew blood once or twice). The idea originally came from Simple Gifts: 50 Little Luxuries to Craft, Sew, Cook & Knit but I adapted the design to suit my own style. I’d also like to branch out and explore the idea of making other types of jewelry like necklaces, earrings, or bracelets using needle felting techniques. Getting Started If you are interested in trying needle felting, you need very few supplies to get started. These include a foam block, a 38 gauge felting needle, and some wool roving. These can usually be purchased at your local yarn store, which I recommend. If you’re unable to find them there, you can purchase them online using these links: Foam Pad for Needle Felting Wistyria Editions Wool Roving Size 38 Felting Needles Finally, here’s a video that may be helpful in explaining the basics of needle...

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How to Brew Kombucha Tea

Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 in Blog, Fermentation, Recipes | 8 comments

How to Brew Kombucha Tea

Learn how to brew your own kombucha tea at home with this introduction to Kombucha article.

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DIY Dry Shampoo for All Hair Types

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog, DIY Beauty, Recipes | 14 comments

DIY Dry Shampoo for All Hair Types

While I’m a big advocate of personal hygiene, daily hair-washing isn’t always practical. Here’s a DIY dry shampoo recipe that you can use to hold you over in between washings!

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Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY

Posted by on Dec 2, 2012 in Blog, Fermentation | 27 comments

Grow Your Own Kombucha SCOBY

Brewing kombucha at home is a fun and rewarding experience. Learn how to grow a kombucha SCOBY from scratch using raw, unpasteurized bottled kombucha. A full recipe and detailed instructions are provided.

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