Friday, November 15, 2013

Moisturizing Body Soap

I made this soap quite a while ago but needed to age it and try it before posting the instructions and "recipe" for making it. I didn't want it not to be the soap I was hoping for, it hasn't disappointed me, so now sharing!!! Ok, that and a REALLY good friend of mine has been on me to post this because she wants to make it... :)

This is the first soap I did that made me nervous. Mine, this time, was oils I wanted to use and my own "recipe". So it had never been tested or tried by me before. I had always made a soap recipe off Andrea's site Frugally Sustainable and hers was definitely one that when I poured I needed to do it quick because it hardened fast. I don't know if I brought Andrea's too far to trace or what, but that was always the case. This one poured like pudding and stayed softer longer. I posted my fears about the fact I thought I had ruined my soap on my Facebook site and ended up having a really supportive follower, Patrice, walk me through the soap making process, checking what I did, and assured me I was correct. So I waited, and low and behold it started to harden and turn into an awesome bar of great soap that I love. I am so thankful for this community of people that we have that encourages, teaches and helps us all become more self reliant and able to make things healthier and with less junk!

Once you get that the soap making process, even with the lye, can be easily done and doesn't need to be as scary as it sounds it becomes fun!! It's the Lye that always makes me nervous. I do the whole process outside in my rocked area to keep the fumes and any spills out of the house. That has definitely helped one part of what scares me about lye. Also, the fact that Patrice, who has studied under a master soap maker, helped me to see that letting the process cure, like it's supposed to for 4-6 weeks, I don't have to think about getting lye burns from it not completing the saphonation process. Most soap "recipes" out there call for keeping and using one bar of soap right away, the problem with that is the reason you let it sit is to allow the chemical process that happens with the lye and fats to finish. It's not done at trace, that is actually only the beginning, so if you do not allow that lye to finish processing for the full 4-6 weeks then you run the risk of actually having lye still in the soap and causing irritations and burns to your skin. 

Once that was out of the way I just always double check that I am running anything I make through a lye calculator prior to making. Even if they have the whole thing laid out and they have done it successfully, I run it again to assure that I am correct on measurements and have the correct fat:lye ratio to complete the chemical process and make the end result I want. Here is a link to the lye calculator I use, or they now have an app for that (I do see it has lower ratings so not sure if that's a viable option). 

The reason I made my own combination was because I wanted a moisturizing soap that had the oils I wanted and a lathering effect that was more than what I was using. After doing some research I came up with this combination and so far, like I said, I love it. I am going to give you the "recipe" but again, I always encourage you to not take my word but PLEASE run this through the calculator on your own so that you ensure I haven't made an error somewhere in my calculations or even when writing this. While I double check, I am still human. 

I used infused olive oil with lavender and one with calendula, both for their healing properties. I did this the night before by placing calendula flower petals (dried) and one with lavender flowers (dried) into a canning jar then covered with olive oil and placed in a small crock pot with water added around the jar on low to gently infuse the oils with both of the flowers. I left them in there over night. I then took and strained the flowers out and used the oils in the soap. Calendula has been used for inflammation, viruses and bacteria and that along with some of the same properties of germ fighting in lavender were why I did that to add a little more antibacterial properties to my soap. 

Make sure when you are using and working with the lye that you have proper safety equipment, gloves and goggles, to protect your skin and all equipment that comes in contact with the lye is put into a sink or rinse area with water and vinegar to ensure you get the acid neutralized. When working with lye ensure that you are doing so in a well ventilated area to avoid the fumes produced with you add the lye to the water (NEVER ADD WATER TO LYE, that will cause a chemical reaction that will cause the water to explode back out and can cause serious burns, especially to your hands and face if you are close to the bowl). If you splash lye water onto your skin immediately rinse with the vinegar water to neutralize, and get medical help if needed for severe burns. I recommend using a glass bowl to put the water in and know that once you pour the lye the chemical process will cause the bowl to become hot. Make sure you have something to carry the bowl with so you don't burn yourself. I have found my rubber gloves insulation enough but others may not, just be aware. I usually mix and leave it outside to cool down a bit so it becomes the same temperature as the oils I melt down. 

Here are the ingredients for this soap;

  • 10.5 oz. Calendula infused Olive oil *
  • 10 oz. Lavender infused Olive oil *
  • 12 oz. Coconut oil (helps produce the lather I wanted)
  • 4 oz. Shea Butter
  • 4 oz. Avocado oil
  • 5.61 oz. Lye
  • 13 fl.oz. water
  • About .5-1 oz. of essential oils can be added for scent and beneficial properties but are not necessary
* if you don't want to infuse oils just use 20.5 oz Olive oil

First off I always get my sink filled with vinegar and water... Just FYI it truly takes a LOT of vinegar to neutralize lye solutions. I have usually not added as much as it would truly take to fully neutralize the lye. I still do it more for my own peace of mind but I thoroughly wash all my equipment after using it and my hands and arms to ensure I don't have any small lye crystals on my arms. I, personally, have never had an issue with making sure I neutralize and remove all lye from the equipment I use. That being said I encourage people to look up a solution that will best fit their sink, or wherever they are washing equipment, to make sure you have an adequate solution to neutralize the acid. There is a lot of differing opinions on what is the best method for cleaning soap making equipment. 

Next I ready my lye solution outside so it cools before I need it. How long I leave it outside definitely depends on the temperature and weather. I check it usually while my oils are melting. 

Then I start measuring out oils and get them into a big stock pan. I learned early that something a friend and I did, during the adding lye part, caused it to boil over onto my stove, LESSON LEARNED TO USE A BIG POT CUZ THAT WAS A MESS!! I use a scale and make sure the measurements are as exact as I can make them. Then I put it on the stove on low to let all the oils slowly melt so I don't burn them. 

Once my oils are melted I add the lye solution and then use a hand mixer to mix all the oils together with the lye and bring it to trace. Trace is when it starts to get really "cloudy" and starts to thicken to a runny pudding like state. Once you have achieved this you can start pouring into molds. Personally once I reach that state I do mix just a little bit more to ensure I have all the oils mixed with the lye. You have now started the saphonation process that is going to make your soap actual soap. 

Then I added lavender essential oils to help strengthen the antibacterial properties and enhance the already lavender infused oil scent. I added almost an oz. of lavender to the batch. I never use perfumes or anything that doesn't offer a natural quality to my soap... Kinda would defeat the purpose of why I make my own in my book. Then pour directly into molds or a box shaped mold covered in wax paper. 

I then let my molds sit for 24-48 hours before I unmold them and set them on a rack to finish processing for 4-6 weeks. It is a tough wait but SO worth it when it's done. 

I hope you enjoy this soap as much as I have been, this also makes a great gift!! I am doing some soon that has holiday scented oils to give as Christmas gifts as friends. 

As always here are some links to the products I used in this post...

Disclaimer: Please understand that this information is for educational purposes only. I am a mom, I am not a doctor, I enjoy passing on the knowledge I have learned in doing these types of projects and through my research. The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and they are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. Don’t take my word for it…you should always engage conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional to determine potential drug interactions and safety of use. Always when using essential oils for a medical condition or if on prescribed or over the counter drugs, seek advice from a medical professional (DR./PA/NP/Naturopath/pharmacist) on whether the oils will cause potential adverse reactions. 

These practices are what work for me and my family, if you chose to take and use them I encourage you take my research and do some of your own prior to using the tips I give. While I do a lot of research when putting these posts out it generally fits into what I would do with and for my family. If you have specific issues, allergies or conditions these practices may not work or may be detrimental to what you are intending to do for yourself. Again, I encourage wisdom and discussions with your healthcare provider to determine safe use of all posts that I provide that can be used for health reasons. 

Also know most of my posts contain links to products I have an affiliate association with. As a blogger I don't make much (if anything at all) and when you use links that any blogger, not just me, posts you help us to continue to buy supplies to provide fun posts with ideas and recipes that can be used. None of the links I post cost you any more because you have used my link, but do benefit the posts I do. We are thankful that affiliate sites have chosen to use their marketing budgets to help out those of us who love doing what we do and chose this way to market versus  bigger ad campaigns. This is definitely a great way to support more local businesses/venues!!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Apple Pecan Sweet Potato Pork

Ok, so I posted a picture from dinner tonight and had a couple wonderful Facebook readers want the recipe. I honestly am not good writing these when I just cook. I don't use measurements when I cook so I apologize for the fact this isn't more exact. I apologize ahead of time. 

Tonight I needed to use some apples that were going to go bad soon and two sweet potatoes that needed to be eaten also. So what goes good with apples and sweet potatoes? The pork chops and ribs I had in my freezer. With all that I needed a little something to add some crunch and pecans won that part in all this. 

So with all that, here is the recipe, I have 7 people to feed so I will keep this vague and you can use the amounts you think will work for your family. 

Pork chops or ribs (beef would also work)
Sweet potatoes 
Pecans, chopped
Brown sugar (optional, I didn't use it but could be added for taste as you layer ingredients. I would sprinkle a thin layer as you add the apples)
Heavy whipping cream 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Pan sear the pork with some butter to brown the outside on all sides. Peel and core the apples, thinly slice either with an apple corer/peeler or by hand. Thinly slice sweet potatoes to the same thickness as the apple slices. 

Place a layer of the pan seared pork in a baking dish, sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, pecans and nutmeg lightly over the pork. Place a layer of apples and sweet potatoes and sprinkle the same pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and pecans over the top. I like a little more spice to mine so I went a little heavier over the apples and potatoes to give it more of a baked apple taste. If you need to add more pork, like I did, just make another layer as you did the bottom layer. Cover with aluminum foil or a cover of your choice and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until pork is cooked thoroughly and apples/potatoes are fully baked. 

While the pork is baking, brown some butter in a sauce pan, add a little pumpkin pie spice and using a whisk in heavy whipping cream slowly until creamy, I add enough to just thicken and add creaminess to the butter. 

Let meat rest 15-20 minutes before serving after removing from the oven. Drizzle butter sauce over pork, apples and sweet potatoes, serve. 

Sorry, warned you all this is vague. I hope you have fun making or at least trying this and maybe changing it up in a new vision that comes from my idea. Know that you could do this also with beef, a beef roast or steaks. :)

A special THANK YOU to Cheryl and Cristal and I hope you enjoy this recipe!!

Foaming Hand Soap

Anyone else use something and think "ugh, I can make this"... Yup that's become more and more as I have gotten into doing more and more things. Foaming hand soap is so simple to make and adding a little avocado oil (anyone with latex allergies should patch test or not use avocado oil due to a potential reaction) helps to add some moisturizing properties to this soap, which I wanted since we wash our hands a lot. 

With a few simple ingredients this soap has been a favorite. I love changing up the scents as the seasons change also. I make a big batch (I quadrupled this last one I did today) so that I can refill all my soaps all at once. Today I did peppermint and grapefruit because my hubby wanted some with those scents but within the next couple weeks I will switch over to OnGuard as the oils used so we can help to ensure we have some good old fashioned germ fighting and a nice scent to go along with Christmas coming up. First I need to go get some unscented Dr. Bronner's though because I ran out. So peppermint and grapefruit it is for now. 

While I use Avocado oil in this mix I would say that you could use another heavier oil in place of that. Lanolin may be a good substitute although I haven't tried that as of yet. This really is simple to make and you can either buy empty foaming hand soap bottles (which tends to be expensive) or just buy a bottle and use up the contents (or I have even found some cheaper than I found online that was clearances out at the end of a season) and save the bottles to refill with homemade stuff. Most of the bottles I have are store bought EO brand or some other kind that I had around (ugh I will admit I got a couple clearance brands, under a dollar, that I didn't want the contents so I just dumped it because it was cheaper than buying empty bottles). 

Now that I got that off my chest here is the refill mix...

½ cup distilled water

¼ cup liquid castile soap ( I use Dr. Bronner's)
2 tsp avocado oil
1/8 tsp peppermint essential oil
1/8 tsp melaleuca/tea tree essential oil (optional, I tend to only use if I am not using antibacterial oils)
1 tsp vegetable glycerin
10 – 15 drops of essential oils

Some combos I have used are;

  • Lavender Dr. Bronner's and peppermint EO
  • Unscented Dr. Bronner's and OnGuard
  • Unscented Dr. Bronner's and Tea tree/Melaleuca for my son's face
  • Lavender Dr. Bronner's and eucalyptus EO
  • Unscented Dr. Bronner's and about 10 drops Cinnamon and 5 Clove

Put the above ingredients in a bowl and mix. I then pour into a measuring cup that has a pouring lip and pour into my dispensers. You can easily make a bigger batch of this recipe. You should be able to find all of these ingredients at your local health foods store or they are easily found online. 

Disclaimer: Please understand that this information is for educational purposes only. I am a mom, I am not a doctor, I enjoy passing on the knowledge I have learned in doing these types of projects and through my research. The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and they are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. Don’t take my word for it…you should always engage conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional to determine potential drug interactions and safety of use. Always when using essential oils for a medical condition or if on prescribed or over the counter drugs, seek advice from a medical professional (DR./PA/NP/Naturopath/pharmacist) on whether the oils will cause potential adverse reactions. 

These practices are what work for me and my family, if you chose to take and use them I encourage you take my research and do some of your own prior to using the tips I give. While I do a lot of research when putting these posts out it generally fits into what I would do with and for my family. If you have specific issues, allergies or conditions these practices may not work or may be detrimental to what you are intending to do for yourself. Again, I encourage wisdom and discussions with your healthcare provider to determine safe use of all posts that I provide that can be used for health reasons. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Coffee filter Jesse Tree angels

This year I finally got signed up on time to make Jesse Tree ornaments with my church. I am so excited to finally get a full set of ornaments when we are all done. If you haven't heard of the Jesse Tree I highly encourage you to look that up and see if it's something you want to do with your family. It spreads throughout December and tells the story of Jesus up to his birth. It's a great way to be interactive with your family and if you can get 25 people together it works out great to have each take a day and make 25 ornaments, each takes a day and symbol to make that represents the story for that day. Then you all get together and exchange ornaments! That way each person gets an ornament for each day and it has special meaning not only because of what it represents for the day of the story but you have that each family has put in work to make that ornament. Obviously mine was day 24, the angel. There are plenty of posts that have GREAT ideas on what to do for the different days. One that I found that had some great ideas was Faithful Provisions, she has some very cute ideas on what to do for each day. 

To make the angels was easy, this is all over the place and easy as all get out to do. Of course that being said my kiddos did struggle a little bit with the wings but with help they got it and had a good time making these. 

First you need to get;
Coffee filters
Thin ribbon
Cotton balls
Hot glue gun
Pipe cleaners, I used white

Start with 2 cotton balls in the middle of one coffee filter and then squeeze under the cotton balls to make the neck of the angel. (If you would like to do something extra special put a drop or 2 of your favorite holiday essential oil on the cotton balls prior to closing it up. I would make sure its in the middle so it doesn't bleed onto the filter.) 

It's helpful to make sure you have everything centered to get a good layered dress. Then stick another coffee filter up just until you hit the cotton balls to make the layered part of the dress. 

Tie a ribbon around the neck to hold the cotton balls in and the second coffee filter in place. Then take a third coffee filter and pinch it right in the middle to make the wings. Wrap a pipe cleaner around it to hold the space then loop it for hanging. After that spread the "wings" out nicely so it's ready to be glued onto the back of the body. 

Glue the body on with a hot glue gun and set aside to let it dry while going on to making more! Yup that simple. :)

This one had a small tie around the neck. Most of my other ones I made it longer. 

Now off to bring these to the group and collect up the other ornaments made by others! Can't wait to see what other people have done as their ornaments. 

For those who are interested in learning more about the Jesse Tree here is a book that can help you get started on this fun tradition. 

Some Ideas to Help Make The Most Of Your Essential Oils

As most know I love my essential oils and use them for everything from cleaners to soap to the obvious medicinally in lotions, ointments, massage oils, straight and in my aromatherapy nebulizer. Knowing how to extend and use them when I need them medicinally was a huge help. For this post I will stick to some tips on how to mix oils so that you can use them better and know how to mix them with a carrier and still get the benefits. Remember that oils, while used straight by a lot of people, can cause issues, burns, reactions and can be toxic if not used properly. Like I have said before, they are still medicinal so there are definitely things to be aware of. 

While this isn't a comprehensive "lesson" in how to mix and use EO's it does give a decent guideline to use as a rule of thumb to be more responsible in the use of these more natural methods to help ease medical issues that arise. I find I can extend my oils quite a bit by mixing with a carrier oil also, gotta love that especially when using more expensive oils!! 

Mixing oils is simple, first find the carrier oil that you want to use. I generally use Grapeseed oil due to it's faster absorption rate and natural vitamin E so that I can keep it longer than some other oils without adding Vitamin E. That is my preference but there are many oils that you can use as a carrier oil. This is not an exhaustive list but gives you a start. I encourage you to research which oils will work best for you. 

Some common carrier oils are;
Apricot oil
Sweet Almond oil
Jojoba oil
Avocado oil
Fractionated coconut oil
Coconut oil
Kukui oil
Sunflower oil
Olive oil
Grapeseed oil

(Some of the above oils can cause or exacerbate allergic reactions which I covered in my massage oil post.)

Once you have the oil that you are going to use for whatever need and have your carrier oil picked out then it's time to figure out the percentage you want. I was reminded of this from a person on our DōTERRA FB site and was so thankful to have the reminder. I hope that others find this as useful as I have. 

Remember that if you are on medications already for any issue always run EO usage by your physician or naturopath prior to starting. Also, making sure to list any EO usage when asked for medications is needed to ensure you aren't using something that is contraindicated or could have an adverse effect on any new medications. 

Here is a general guideline to use when mixing EO's for use. This is what I use, and it works well for us in my family. Feel free to research and check if there may be other concentrations if you are going to use this for your family. 

Blends are generally not considered therapeutic strength under 3%. While I don't recommend or advise use on babies, a percentage of 1% strength is what I have seen used by others. For the elderly or frail a strength of 1% is generally used also. If you chose to use EO's on either of the previous mentioned I highly recommend contacting a primary care provider prior to using EO's on them. 2% is good for full body massages and lotions although I have gone as high as 4% for my husband due to muscle strains and need to massage and treat at the same time. 5% is good for small area or spot treatments as a rule of thumb. 

To mix a one ounce bottle the best tip I have seen is to fill a one ounce bottle up to where the bottle starts to curve. Then add your EO with a dropper so you can control the number of drops better. 

1% concentration is 5-6 drops/one ounce
2% concentration is 10-12 drops/ounce
3% concentration is 15-18 drops/ounce 
4% concentration is 20-24 drops/ounce
5% concentration is 25-30 drops/ounce

To do a compress you can use 5 drops in 1/4 c. water

A bath is 3-15 drops in a warm, not hot bath

If you are making a mouth rinse use 1-2 drops EO in 1/4 c. water

Using as an inhalant is 3-5 drops in a bowl of steaming water (not to be used for an asthma attack)

Sitz bath 3-4 drops in a bowl large enough to sit in, fill with cool/warm water

Neat 1 drop direct application 

In a aromatherapy nebulizer, 4-6 drops and diffuse

You can use more than one EO by just dividing between the oils until you achieve the amount of drops needed. 

Some oils that we use neat are lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil but using any oil neat can cause irritations, rashes, burns or allergic reactions so while we use them that way, I recommend getting professional advice first. 

Hopefully this gives a nice way for those of you that use EO's to use them more effectively, extend the life of your EO's and, like me, enjoy your essential oils more appropriately with less chance to cause harm from oils that may cause adverse effects. This works well for our household so I thought I would share so that others that are just beginning and not sure how to mix their oils can get a good jumping off point to doing so. 


For links to some of the oils listed above click on the picture. 


Disclaimer: Please understand that this information is for educational purposes only. I am a mom, I am not a doctor, I enjoy passing on the knowledge I have learned in doing these types of projects and through my research. The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and they are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. Don’t take my word for it…you should always engage conventional wisdom and consult with your medical professional to determine potential drug interactions and safety of use. Always when using essential oils for a medical condition or if on prescribed or over the counter drugs, seek advice from a medical professional (DR./PA/NP/Naturopath/pharmacist) on whether the oils will cause potential adverse reactions. 

These practices are what work for me and my family, if you chose to take and use them I encourage you take my research and do some of your own prior to using the tips I give. While I do a lot of research when putting these posts out it generally fits into what I would do with and for my family. If you have specific issues, allergies or conditions these practices may not work or may be detrimental to what you are intending to do for yourself. Again, I encourage wisdom and discussions with your healthcare provider to determine safe use of all posts that I provide that can be used for health reasons. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grass fed Gelatin Gummies

I ran out of snacks for this week so I whipped up some easy gummies and let my princess pick the flavors. This is so easy to make I don't know why I bought store bought gummies. This makes a decent amount of smaller (no not as small as store bought) gummies. I did these in about 5 minutes and the longest part was just waiting for them to set, yup that took a whole 10 minutes. :)

I did Orange Carrot and Grape, I am saving the cherry for my next batch. :)

Here is the 3 simple ingredient recipe....

3 cups room temperature juice (100% juice, I used organic and obviously one mixed juice. All turned out great)
1/2 cup Grass fed Gelatin
1/4 Cup raw local honey

Mix all ingredients together. I did the juice and honey first then I was able to quickly add the gelatin and whisk it all in then put it into a measuring cup to pour into the molds. Yup that simple and then popped mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes until they were set. If you look at my pictures you can see a little ice from just coming out. You can put them in the fridge also, just check in 15-20 minutes to ensure they completely set. 

Fun, easy snacks and all very good ingredients. How can you go wrong with this?? Hopefully you enjoy as much as my kiddos. :)

Here are some of the molds and gelatin I used...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kefir shake recipe

Oh how I love the benefits of Kefir and yet have a hard time with the sour taste. How can such an awesome drink taste so sour? Lol, ok yes, it is fermented dairy but still... The fact that Kefir grains have been used for ages, to the extent that shepards used to hang the drink on doors and anyone coming through would "knock" the bag to keep the milk and grains mixed, well that's so neat to know a probiotic drink has been around for ages. 

Let's look at some benefits, I am sharing from a couple sites but there are many more to get information on this interesting "grain" (called that due to the look of the cultures)...

From Wikipedia;

"The term kefir,[4] existing in modern Russian since 1884,[5] Polish and English, probably ultimately from Turkish keif (good feeling)[6] and has become the most commonly used name, although it is known in other regions by various names. Kefir grains are a combination ofbacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteinslipids, and sugars, and this symbiotic matrix forms "grains" that resemble cauliflower. For this reason, a complex and highly variable community of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts can be found in these grains.

Kefir grains contain a water-soluble polysaccharide known as kefiran, which imparts a rope-like texture and feeling in the mouth. The grains range in color from white to yellow, and may grow to the size of walnuts.

Constituents of kefir:[7]

  • Micro-organisms: lactic acid bacteria, yeasts
  • Fermentation Products: carbon dioxide, ethanol (alcohol)
  • Nutrients: protein from milk, polysaccharide
  • Vitamins or pro-vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin K2, folic acid, nicotinic acid
  • Minerals: calcium, iron, iodine
  • Water

The composition of kefir depends greatly on the type of milk that was fermented, including the concentration of vitamin B12. During the fermentation, changes in composition of nutrients and other ingredients have also been shown to occur. Lactic acid is the organic acid in highest concentrations after fermentation and is derived from approximately 25% of the original lactose in the starter milk. Research has shown, however, that lactose maldigestors are able to tolerate kefir, providing the number of live bacteria present in this beverage consumed is high enough. It is believed that the bacteria in the kefir or yogurt matrix are protected by the buffering effect of the yogurt. It has also been shown that fermented milk products have a slower transit time than milk, which may further improve lactose digestion[8]

For the preparation of the present factory-produced kefir, the so-called kefir mild, kefir grains are no longer used, but a precise composed mixture of different bacteria and yeast, allowing the flavor to be kept constant.

Traditional kefir is fermented at ambient temperatures, generally overnight. Fermentation of the lactose yields a sourcarbonated, slightlyalcoholic beverage, with a consistency similar to thin yogurt.[9] Kefir fermented by small-scale dairies early in the 20th century achieved alcohol levels between one and two percent, but kefir made commercially with modern methods of production has less than 1% alcohol, possibly due to reduced fermentation time.[10]

Variations that thrive in various other liquids exist, and they vary markedly from kefir in both appearance and microbial composition.Water kefir (or tibicos) is grown in water with sugar (sometimes with added dry fruit such as figs, and lemon juice) for a day or more at room temperature."


Kefir Health Benefits

"Kefir is the name of a drink that's made by rotting milk with kefir cereals. This fermented milk drink started in the Caucasus spot. The phrase "kefir", however, comes from two Persian phrases, "kef", which steps the foam, and "Shir", this means milk. Kefir grains are employed in the preparation of this fermented milk beverage containing a combination of bacteria or organisms and thrush, and polysaccharides, proteins and fats. These cereals resemble cauliflower-like shape, and are believed an excellent way to obtain advantageous microbes or probiotics. Microbiology Because of numerous health benefits kefir, and special, this fermented milk drink is regarded a wonder drink.

How to Create Kefir

The creation of kefir grains demands the inclusion of live kefir in dairy. While fermenting milk, kefir cereals increase, and spread brand-new vegetables. In normal, dairy from cattle, sheep and goats are utilized to create kefir. Nevertheless, dairy could be substituted by its frequent substitutes such as avocado dairy, almond dairy and soy milk to make kefir. Kefir can be fermented veggie juice, avocado water and ale wort. Usually prepared in a leather case, which is stirred from time to time to make sure that milk and kefir cereals mixed adequately. The fermentation of milk or dairy substitutes eventually create a yogurt as, intoxicating and somewhat unhealthy. The fermented fluid is segregated from kefir grains, with the guide of a strainer to get the drink kefir.

Kefir Health Benefits

[1] Kefir health benefits] are many, which may be linked largely to the large number of beneficial bacteria present in kefir grains. These micro-organisms can enjoy an essential role in increasing overall health and contentment of a person, by advertising intestinal health. Kefir can also give some vitamins and amino acids. Some of the most significant health benefits of kefir are:

Kefir has antibiotic and antifungal. It might be helpful in related situations, candidiasis (candida albicans, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS.

Kefir we are able to provide beneficial microorganisms that may boost digestion, to ease some popular intestinal problems such as gas, bloating, indigestion, etc. It could guarantee regular colon motion to treat constipation. The nutrients present in it may be especially beneficial for people with lactose intolerance.

In addition to the beneficial microbes, kefir can offer several vitamins and minerals. It is an abundant supply of vitamin A, B2, B12, E and N. The most critical minerals present in kefir are calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Kefir could clean the colon and the address of any kind of intestinal issue. It can provide relief in inflammatory bowel illness as well.

Kefir can treat a variety of health ailments including gastritis, pancreatitis, eczema, tummy ulcers, psoriasis, rheumatism, arthritis and gout, osteoporosis, anemia, and leaking intestine malady, to title a few.

Kefir features a rousing influence on the immune system and consequently may boost your capability to combat condition.

Kefir may reduce the possibility of selected cancers, including colon melanoma, avoiding the growth of cancer cells.

kefir can also relaxed the nerves of our physique to retain a healthful nervous system. Kefir This element is because of the presence of amino acid "Tryptophan".

Kefir has anti-oxidant and anti-aging. It may neutralize free radicals that harm cells and tissues by oxidizing them. By lowering the effect of free radical destruction, kefir could slow the ageing method.

Besides these, other kefir health benefits include acne treat or control, insomnia issues, depression, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, diabetes, chronic fatigue symptoms, allergies, colitis, diarrhea, etc.

Kefir is super easy to absorb, and may be obtained by kids. Is a full way to obtain protein, with several necessary proteins. In synopsis, kefir is a great food that may detoxify the physique, and improve the features of numerous system techniques to promote health and energy. You can also allow you to lose fat. Taking into account all of the health benefits of kefir, it could be concluded that the release of kefir to your diet is a fantastic idea to stay a wholesome living.

Kefir, the wonder food, that is known as an excellent source of probiotics. With probiotic-rich content, you immediately have a beneficial impact on our bodies. Kefir and kefir cereals have been around for generations and ages previously, and all for a good reason.

Over time, while the review and trials in kefir cereals and kefir, I've created a list of the known benefits that kefir may be ready to treat."

I use Kefir a lot, especially during the cold season to help keep my kiddos healthy and their immune systems strong. New research from UCLA has also come out that healthy gut flora can be beneficial to brain function, if you get a chance read the article on that study here  I feel so good about giving this to my family with all the benefits I have found from this small little grain. 

(I got my grains from Lifetime Kefir and they have definitely served me well, they have been split numerous times and have survived MONTHS in the fridge dormant and come back quick and ready to go for me.)

Kefir Shake

1 quart Kefir (I generally only do a 24 hr ferment)
1 quart Greek God's Greek Yogurt, I usually use the vanilla honey but any of them work (homemade works AWESOME)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, (or to taste)
A dash of nutmeg, (or to taste)
1/4 c raw local honey, (or... Yes again... To taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Optional - fresh/frozen fruit, spinach or other greens, chia seeds, protein powder, dark chocolate or chocolate chips, and the list goes on...

Place the Kefir, vanilla, yogurt, honey and spices in a blender and mix. If you are adding frozen fruit add after the initial mix is blended so as not to make the honey hard and keep it from mixing. Drink!! I put the left over in the fridge and drink it throughout the day. 

Yup, so easy and so good... Hope you enjoy!!! :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall changes

Fall is my FAVORITE time of the year, while in the Midwest it's different than down here, I still love it never the less. I always get into a mood of change along with the changing of the seasons. This summer I made plans to expand my urban farm and, although slightly earlier than I thought, changes have begun. 

My best friend has to move, not far from where she currently lives and to a dream house. Thing is that dream house doesn't include the ability to have chickens. For her and I it's sad because she was the one to take the plunge into back yard chickens and paved the way for me. It was her flock that helped me convince my husband we should go the same route. So in a bitter sweet move I have taken her flock into mine. Her husband built this absolutely awesome coop for their chicks, and I have now gotten that also with the new flock addition. OH MY GOODNESS, it is awesome. So this weekend was moving day!!  

Like with any move we hit some snags, like the fact that the new coop had 14 foot sections that couldn't be moved with just a pick up. So we moved the chickens first while working on the logistics of getting the coop moved where taking place. She had 4 to be added to my 5 so I separated my existing coop to get them all acquainted. We found out 2 of the 4 mixed fine with our flock but the barred rocks were not having new chickies just "comin in" and taking over (even though they were the new girls on the block) so keeping them seperated was the best solution. As you can see though that means my currently one laying chick had to wait to get to her nesting box so lots of shuffling around took place with making sure one flock could lay (my friend's was first being she has 4 layers to my one) and then my lil mother clucker ran in afterward very grateful to get some "box time" in. Thankfully this is temporary,and as of writing this, should be rectified today!! Whew, my girl will be happy. :) 

Princess helped HUGE the first day keeping watch over the chickens so our hawk that has been hanging around didn't come in and lessen the numbers. Of course being that meant she was outside all day so she found ways, like making this coop all "prettied up" to keep herself entertained. It was fun, the whole clan got involved and helped welcome the new flock in. 

Being we only have one layer there wasn't a minute that the new girls weren't being watched to see if they were laying so that child could grab an egg and bring it in... 

Princess of course got sole egg duty the first day, for as much work as she did she very much earned this right. 

Finally late Sunday evening it was completed... My neighbor came through huge and let us use his trailer and the sections were brought over and put together by my friend's husband. He was awesome and worked very hard to make sure it was right and just the way it needed to be before leaving. My friend put aside her need to do a lot of work at home to help us get this completed, and oh my gosh I was just blow away and blessed to have friends that would do that!! 

So weekend adventure completed!! Now the process of cleanup begins!! A great jump start to getting my backyard fall expansion started, in a BIG way!! 

From this....

To this...

Not a bad weekend!! :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pure Castile Soap

Pure Castile soap is so simple to make and is used in several natural cleaner formulas. Making your own takes very little time and you can be sure you know all the ingredients in each bar you are using. Dish soap, laundry cleaner, all purpose cleaner, shower cleaners are just naming a few applications you can use this in. This also makes a great facial soap that has low foaming properties and just one ingredient. By adding essential oils you can boost this soap to do multiple things and because it just has olive oil the fear of allergic reactions or sensitivities drops tremendously. I recommend this soap for those that have had issues with soaps that irritate or cause reactions. 

I am doing this post and instructions for making this after a question from a friend led to a lot of different suggestions for laundry detergent. A lot of them had Castile soap as an ingredient. I had come across a person, Patrice, who had apprenticed under a master soap maker and had been a great help last time I made soap. I made sure that steps were right and got what she used as a guideline to ensure I was doing this all correctly. If you can find someone that has a lot of experience with soap or has done time, like Patrice, with a master soap maker I urge you to talk with them. Get ideas and ask questions. Soap making is easy, but yet has things that if not done right can either ruin the soap or injure a person if not done correctly. Know proper practices, find out what works best and how they do things. Like canning, having someone that can help you out the first few times can help the soap making process smoother and more comfortable. 

Onto the Castile soap, for those of you who aren't aware, pure Castile soap is just Olive oil and lye... Yup pure olive oil soap. A lot of soaps now that have the majority of their soap Olive oil call it Castile soap, but just for clarification, the original Castile soap was just Olive oil. Here are the amounts I used and it made a decent amount of soap for me to set aside and use for cleaner recipes. I added peppermint to a few so I can use them as hot weather soaps. With the peppermint EO added it gives it a cooling feeling and as long as you don't use it on sensitive parts (yes it feels like its burning) it works great to help cool you down!! 

REMEMBER DON'T EVER JUST TRUST SOMEONE'S CALCULATIONS, always run formulas through a lye calculator, if you change any ingredients or values you need to rerun the formula through the calculator also. 

Castile Soap Formula

48 oz. Olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO))
14 oz. water
6.10 oz. Lye
1 teaspoon EO of choice (optional, if you are making this for cleaning choose one that will be one you use in your cleaner)

Great cleaning EO's can be, but aren't limited to:
  • Lemon 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Melaleuca
  • Peppermint 
  • Lavender
  • Mixes such as DōTERRA OnGuard,Young Living's Thieves oil or Plant Therapy's Germ Fighter blend for extra antibacterial cleaning

I first measure out my water into a glass bowl and mix my lye solution that I pour into a GLASS measuring cup then pour outside to avoid fumes inside, if you do it inside make sure you are in a well ventilated area or have some way to vent gasses caused by the chemical reaction away from you. REMEMBER to ALWAYS add lye to water and NOT water to the lye or you will cause an explosion of acid all over you and the surrounding area. ALWAYS use protective gloves (I use the gloves that you use when washing dishes) and I recommend safety goggles/glasses when mixing lye, I had a friend get a burn next to her eye and didn't even realize she had splashed the solution there. I use a metal spoon to stir the solution to ensure the lye gets mixed in. Then let the water sit for a while to get the fumes to disepate and the water to cool down (the chemical reaction causes the water to heat up) to around 110 degrees.

While waiting for the lye to stop fuming and cool down (ha, sounds like it's angry) I gently heated the EVOO to around 110 degrees to keep the temps consistent when I added the lye solution. Then once my lye solution has cooled (I just feel the outside of the bowl and make sure its warm but not hot or you can use a metal based thermometer to ensure it's around 110 degrees) and the oil is warmed I add the lye to my oil and use a hand held mixer to mix the lye solution in until I hit trace. 

You will know when you hit trace because it will get cloudy and thicken kind of like pudding, once you hit trace you don't need to continue to mix. You can go a little longer but too long and it will start to harden. Olive oil is one oil that doesn't take long to get to trace so don't be surprised if after a minute or two of mixing you are there. 

After you have gotten the soap to trace either pour into a silicone mold or bread pan lined with freezer paper works or just a plain old wooden box mold that has been lined with freezer paper for easy removal. I personally usually use silicone molds because I have found it needs the least prep work and my soaps come out of them very easily. As you can see in my picture the only problem was my bread mold was flimsy so I propped it until the soap became a little harder (less than 12 hours) and then just let them sit for 24-48 hours before you take them out from the mold. Make sure you wrap them in a towel during that first 24-48 hour period to allow the soaps to cook (they will be warm still due to the continuation of the chemical process with the lye). If you have them in a block, like I did with the bread mold, cut them into soaps right after you take them out from the mold. They should still be soft enough to easily cut at that point. 

Then put the soaps, covered, somewhere to finish with the chemical process and let the lye fully process through, it takes anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Using a bar before that time, with ANY lye based soaps, can result in burns caused by the lye not fully being processed out of the soap. 

While this seems like a lengthy process, you have a soap that is simple, inexpensive and a great first time soap to make!! Plus extremely handy if you make a lot of your own cleaning products or need a soap to use for yourself without a lot of extra ingredients that may cause irritation. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Change is always a good thing, not easy, but good...

This week I took some time off from blogging to make some changes. Being a stay at home mom is awesome and I love being a wife, mother, coach, all around do it til you drop person. It is me, 100%. Those who follow my Facebook page know we are in the process of buying land for when we move "back home" after my husband is done with the job he has here. I don't want to give up being a supportive wife, a mother that is here and available. Right now I am so blessed to have the opportunity to do this, and I don't want to waste that I have been given this. I also have an obligation to be supportive to my husband in all ways including financially if that is needed from me. 

My "baby" goes to school next year and we discussed that would be a great time for me to go back out and get a part time job. So I started thinking, with all the things I make and give to friends that they love, why not try to take a leap of faith and see if I can't take that whole thing one step further... This week has been my week to walk out and see if I can do what I love, still stay home with my kiddos and bring my "virtuous woman" qualities further with making and selling my products online. 

This has been a slow progression, I started with this blog to see if I could truly put myself out there and talk about the things I do. The next thing was my Facebook page which brought that to a more daily level than the blog. Facebook has been an interesting part of this whole journey, I have met some very supportive and creative people through that. I have to say that part, so far has been very rewarding and fun to be a part of. I can't say enough about those who have encouraged, taught, contributed and just been there with a "like"... 

This week I put in paperwork to become an actual "company" and so I can sell legally and go to our local farmers markets as a vendor. The LLC stuff was scary, but I have it in now so that is being processed. Next comes getting product ready to go on etsy... Oh my gosh my stomach gets in knots just thinking about if people will want it? Will they buy it? Do I have what it takes? 

But nothing ventured nothing gained right??

Yet another big step in this process was making the leap to DōTERRA consultant. I mean, I already use oils, it was the fact of selling them that worried me. So I did research and the fact that I have a website that is my store, not me, and that I can go at my own pace and not have quotas and "parties" to do really helped to decide that was for me. The main reason right now for me doing this is to upgrade my current oils. This will take some time so I am starting with some of of my smaller recipes and using my regular oils for cleaners and larger batch stuff like soap. I am excited to start switching over and want to help others to see how to incorporate better oils and yet not break the bank by doing it all at once. 

Life is challenging enough without your fun homesteading ways being a financial burden and stressful right?

So change is good, scary to think I have all this going and don't know what will come of it all, but at the same time, like this whole blogging and putting myself out there stuff, it's an adventure!!! I love a good adventure, a challenge, anything to push myself to go further and outside my comfort zone. It makes life interesting and on top of that, shows my kids that not everything is easy, sometimes you have to push. It's ok to fail, it's not ok to not try because of fear of failure.

So with all that said, on with this great adventure!! :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Infantino Squeeze Station, is it all that and a bag of chips??

So I bought one of these as a baby gift and loved the idea so much that I got one for myself. I have used the 'Yummi Pouch' brand food pouches and found them bigger but the caps come off and with school age kids they are hard to get back from school. The nice part about them is that other caps to store bought pouches work on them so I can grab one, let baby have a treat and keep the lid to replace the one that was lost. I have also used the the BooginHead head squeeze pouches and they are some of my favorites. Unfortunately according to the reviews I am about the only one. If you fill them too full the top is hard to secure at times BUT it had a connector for the lid and for snack time works great for my grade schoolers. The idea to try this unit after having the others was based on I am always willing to try new ideas and this little system was worth a go!

I make Applesauce in big batches to bag and freeze for lunches/snacks in the pouches for ease in transport by the kiddos and then bringing them back home to be cleaned. So to find a system that potentially would make it easier was pretty cool. Problem was this may be more fun than it is practical, with the wider openings (I am talking about the tubes on top of the unit) that the BooginHead (smaller than Yummi) and Yummi had to offer for filling. Plus there are other pouches out there that offer bigger openings. One thing I also didn't notice prior to purchasing is that the pouches are single use only,  I ask what's the point being I was trying to REDUCE waste, but I had purchased 50 bags for freezer applesauce. So I was bound and determined to wash and reuse these babies, and trust me I have. We just hand wash them instead of having the convenience of being able to throw them in the dishwasher like other reusable brands like these. 

I do love that I can can get a larger amount in at one time BUT I can't honestly say that I am saving any real time. I find myself enjoying filling more and with my mess more contained to the container, but is it more efficient? I would have to say no, not really. While I might have saved SOME time and cleanup on the back end you have more goofing around with getting the bags in and the tubes screwed on. Will I still use it? Heck yeah, I do like the fact that I get in a production mode and get those filled and set then only have the unit to clean up. It does clean up nice, quick, easy and then the whole unit stores within itself which is nice for storage. 

The bags aren't huge but I only use these for snacks, usually for applesauce or sweet potato applesauce for my grade schoolers , as I said before. So I fill the tubes one and 1/3 times to fill the bags to about all they can handle then cap them. For babies this process would definitely be quicker with smaller amounts being added. 

So let's look at pros and cons;

  • Great self containment and easy to clean
  • If you want to clean the "one type use" bags they aren't that hard to hand was, this is a pro and con
  • Fun to fill with the plunger vs. trying to spoon stuff into a small opening plus the bags are held in place for you
  • Great size for young toddlers, first feeders and decent for snacks on the go for the family (about the same size as most of the store bought if you fill them full)
  • At around $20 this makes a great gift for new mom's and there are extras,like spoon attachments, you can get for it. 
  • They freeze well, even reused
  • Even though they are "one time use" the extra set of pouches you can buy for this are reasonably priced, for 50 of them it was less than $17 dollars. 
  • You really don't save a lot of time when the whole project of making and packaging is done
  • The pouches really are meant to be one time use which defeats the purpose of most of us and why we would get this. 
  • For $20 you only get 10 non reusable pouches with the unit so you would need to order more if you planned to make and freeze any real amount of food. 
  • There is a lot of extra steps that you don't have with the products like BooginHead and Yummi pouches. 
  • More pieces to potentially lose or misplace
  • The cap, once again, isn't attached like the BooginHead pouches
So, depending on what you are looking for you may either really like this unit, use it and love it OR really find it more work than its worth and wishing you had spent the $20 towards more pouches of a different kind. I love that I got all those pouches for <$17 and I am able to wash and reuse them vs. spending a ton on the "better" ones and feeling bad if anything happens to one of the caps or bags. For me, this is all that just with the bag of chips left off...

I hope this quick overview of this system helps if you are on the fence or just seeing this for the first time. I of course got mine off Amazon because of being the Amazon freak I am so here are those quick links for you to get your own if you are wanting this. :)