Simple Homemade Lotion

Apologies for not sharing this recipe until now. It’s great on dry winter hands.

A few notes:

  • Every time I’ve made this, I’ve changed the proportions of the ingredients to try to optimize it, but it always comes out good. It’s very forgiving. 
  • This lotion is made of oil. It is going to feel oily. It will soak in, just don’t expect it to feel like store bought lotion. 
  • Because it is made of just oils, no water, it is safe to keep at room temperature without preservatives. I guess this makes it technically a “cream,” but it is thin enough to use as a body lotion (and you can make it thinner by decreasing the beeswax or increasing the liquid oil).
  • You can turn this lotion into a lip balm by increasing the beeswax and decreasing the oil. If you mess up and make it too think or thin, just remelt and adjust.
  • You can buy all of these ingredients at Whole Foods or online. 

Recipe: Easy Homemade Body Lotion

adapted from A Sonoma Garden

Ingredients & Materials: 

  • 1.2 oz unrefined coconut oil
  • 2.0 oz raw unrefined shea butter
  • 0.4 oz beeswax
  • 2.0 oz almond oil (can sub extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, etc. See here for information on the specific properties of these oils)
  • a few drops of essential oil of your choice (I use peppermint)
  • 8+ oz glass jar
  • immersion blender (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in the jar. If you are using solid beeswax, use a box grater to measure it and help it melt faster.
  2. Place the jar in a pan with 1″ of water to simulate a double boiler and turn the heat on low. Stir together until melted and uniform. 
  3. Remove the jar from the water bath and let cool, stirring occasionally. Stir in essential oil to taste.
  4. Optional: Once at room temperature, you can whip the mixture with an immersion blender. You may need to make a double batch to do this effectively. I don’t usually bother. 
  5. Store in jar or other screw top container. 
  6. Clean up: Hot soapy water will removed all beeswax residue. 

 

Toxic Air Fresheners

I hate air fresheners.  Hate hate HATE.  All they do is cover up smells with other sickly smells.  Seriously people, there are better ways to make your home or car or garbage cans more olfactorily pleasing.  (Is that a word?)

Taylor and I recently came in close contact with a hawaiian scented Febreeze thing that was meant to cover up garbage stench in our building. A few minutes later Taylor was turning pink and having a hard time breathing.  Meanwhile, I was shuddering at the thought of all the hormone disrupting chemicals in those things.

A little research when I got home told me that the only “ingredient” in that air freshener is “fragrance,” which we’ve talked about before. Fragrance is a catch-all term that may include tens or even hundreds of different ingredients.  Fragrances are proprietary, so companies don’t have to disclose what is in them. Additionally, the government does not have any safety regulations in place for air fresheners.

So how do we know what’s in them if the ingredients aren’t disclosed? Continue reading

My Lovely Green Flame Retardant Free Couch

Our wireless is down right now at home.  The internet that magically comes out of the modem still works, so it isn’t Comcast’s fault (for once!) but my cheap-o refurbished router seems to have kicked the bucket in the middle of a streaming a James Bond movie.  Sad, because we didn’t get to finish the movie, but actually not so sad at all because we’re finding the lack of wireless to be quite refreshing.

In my daily perusal of The Kitchn this morning, I spotted this little piece on a family who has decided to ditch all technology pre-1986.  This is pretty extreme, but I get it.  I don’t like how America’s tendency is to come home from school or work and immediately flip on the TV or browse the depths of the internet (keep me away from the food blogs) for hours instead of doing something, anything.

In our living room, we have a couch, but no TV. (It’s in the bedroom, not hooked up to anything, not even Netflix.) How many American families do you think have a living room that isn’t arranged around the TV? We’re probably one of the few.

I like to sit on my couch and read or even just look out the window. It’s the first couch I have ever owned and I plan to keep it for a long time, so I took great care to find an affordable one that wasn’t going to poison me.

That’s right, toxic chemicals!

A year ago, flame retardants (FRs) were all over the news. The crusade against flame retardants, chemicals put in furniture to slow fires, was led by environmental health scientist Arlene Blum.  Her research in the 1970s contributed to the ban of carcinogenic flame retardants such as the molecule brominated tris in children’s pajama fabric. The tris family of flame retardants didn’t just go away though; they continued to be used in couches, notably by Ikea until quite recently.

TDCPP, or chlorinated tris. Yum.

Since the 1970s, Blum has continued to study flame retardants. She found FRs in 85% of couches purchased in America between 1985 and 2010, mostly polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and halogenated organophosphates such as TDCPP, a relative of the tris from the 70s. Scientists have known for a long time that these chemicals cause cancer.  Some PBDEs were even banned in 2005 because they mimic the thyroid hormone in the human body and bioaccumulate.  These chemicals are persistent, resisting breakdown in the environment, and so are the couches that are filled with them. Continue reading

DIY Pottery Barn Style Sheer Curtains

I have been sitting on this post for over a month now. Seriously. Bad Genoa. I made curtains for our new apartment right after moving in, but I have had an unusually tricky time writing about it. Curtains aren’t a difficult DIY in the cutting and sewing sense, but they are harder on the wallet than you might expect.  Two apartments in a row now I have made my own curtains, and both times I spent way more than I intended to.

So here it goes. I would like to begin this post with a disclaimer: DIY curtains are rarely economical.  They’re the sort of project for somebody who knows exactly what they want, but can’t find it in a store.  If you’re planning on saving a bunch of money by making your own curtains, hopefully my Monday morning quarterbacking of this project will help. Either plan carefully, or make a trip to Ikea.

The new place has west-facing wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling windows in both the bedroom and living room, and we are only a stone’s throw away from the next building over.  I found the ease with which I could watch my neighbors eat dinner to be a little creepy, so curtains were a priority.

IMG_1046

Before curtains. Hi neighbors!

Continue reading

Book Review: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Dear Interwebs,
I am sorry to have neglected you for almost all of July, but I have been very busy.  The month started out with a little vacation in Wisconsin, during which I read Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation and liked it enough to want to tell you about.

Taylor and I have spent the rest of the month moving into a new apartment (together!), which has meant a lot of cleaning, organizing, furnishing, etc. I have a few new DIY project to write about!  Luckily T and I have fairly similar design aesthetics, but we are still in hypothetical furniture land, which has meant eating dinner on weird pieces of furniture and piling clothes on the floor.  I struggled with both of these issues until this week, obsessively trolling craigslist for a dining room table and dresser that I both like and can afford.  This is the main reason why I have been such a terrible blogger.  Craigslisting is difficult!

However, Taylor (via Henry David Thoreau) has cured me of my #firstworldproblems obsession with finding just the right table right now. Taylor has been reading Walden aloud to me while I sew, and I have realized that I am being silly.  A man who has more things does not necessarily have more.  I, like Thoreau, would rather patch my clothes (or wear jeans so loved they are full of holes) than buy new ones.  Simple living it is, and furniture will come later. Besides, we don’t want to clutter up our living room with stuff we don’t need.

But I digress. I want to tell you about Michael Pollan’s most recent book and why you should read it.   Continue reading

Minimizing Kitchen Waste

If the best way to keep a neat and tidy house is simply having less stuff, I’m failing miserably because of my desire to use “waste” rather than throw it away.  This is especially difficult in my tiny kitchen because I’ve been trying to find a use for every food scrap.  My entire kitchen windowsill is full of herb cuttings and the root ends of vegetables that I am trying to sprout.  Whatever we can’t eat or use in some way goes into either the worm bucket or outdoor compost.  Besides not buying more food than we can eat and letting it go bad in the fridge (I let a sweet potato rot recently and was so sad), I’ve been consciously trying to minimize the amount of food that ends up in the compost.

My most recent waste reduction project was inspired by this post from the Kitchn on how to regrow food scraps.  I just happened to have many of these particular veggies in my fridge already! Continue reading

DIY upcycled wine bottle “watering can”

Have you every accidentally crushed seedlings by watering them too forcefully? I certainly have, and it makes me sad every time. But never fear! I have created a simple alternative to clumsily trying to water plant babies with a drinking glass.

My lettuce is very fragile

My lettuce is very fragile

At first, a plastic water bottle with holes poked into the top seemed like the perfect solution to my seedling watering woes, but I don’t want to feed my lettuce water that has been stored in plastic any more than I want to drink bottled water myself.

 

 

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