Homemade Gifts, Cards, and Letter Writing (Homesteading #23)

Homesteading is about living on less so that you can work less, do what you love more, and attain financial security.  Homesteading is about doing more yourself because the pride that comes from the work of your own hands is unprecedented and you can control your own environment.  What you put on your skin, in your body, how you treat the soil, it all matters.

b91c4afaefe176b5d714579525fac665--porch-swings-fall-porches

Homesteading brings with it a peace of mind that we have mostly lost in our fast paced, make money, do everything lifestyles.  Our ancestors worked hard but they also did methodical, slow work where one can get their mind right.  Slowly stirring curds to make cheese, hanging clothes on the line in the fresh air, planting seeds that will feed the family through winter in jars on root cellar shelves.  Doug chops wood when he is upset with me.  There was one winter that we had a lot of wood!

Another beautiful aspect of homesteading is homemade gifts and cards.  Really, the mass marketed, big box store, kids in China made crap has got to stop.  No one wants a skirt that will fray in a month, or appliances they will never use, or heaven forbid, tchotchkes.  We have to dust enough!

soapy

A bar of goat’s milk soap, a jar of preserves, chokecherry gin, pickles, or chutney.  Hand written recipes, a wheel of cheese, a plant for the garden, or saved seeds with a story.  Or something really special like a quilt, or something woven.  A hand poured candle, or a keep sake box.  Jacob, my daughter’s boyfriend, welded together parts to make a snowman for me for Christmas.  I love it.

IMG_0632

Hand painted cards are a lovely surprise, or have a child draw out the card.  Write personal notes.  Don’t depend on the card company’s catchy phrases.

Make a phone call.  Write a letter.  Send a card just because.

IMG_0540

I am anxious this fall to get out the sewing machine and the crochet hook and start creating skirts, shawls, and quilts.  To set up my paints and be ready to paint a canvas or use watercolors to create cards to send to my pen pals.

These things come from the heart.  And heart is the very soul of homesteading,

Would you like to be my pen pal?  There is nothing like opening the mailbox to find a letter, neatly addressed and stamped.  I love to put it in my apron pocket and then sit with a cup of tea and savor both.

Mrs. Katie Sanders, 1901 Brown Ave, Pueblo, CO 81004

Here are a few more ideas:

Simple Gifts and Spiral Notebooks

Painted Letters

Make Your Own Body Products

On “So You Want to Be a Homesteader” Day 22, let’s look at another way to DIY and save money!  Get super clean, chemical free, fragrant, lovely, moisturizing beauty and body products by making your own for your homestead.

img_0145

That was the first thing that actually got us hooked on this lifestyle.   In my early thirties I started to get acne.  As an ex-model, I am afraid that my looks became quite a bit of my identity.  Beauty products and makeup filled our bathroom vanity.  The caked on foundation just made my newfound pimples worse, which required more makeup!  Add on chemical laden lotions, face wash, soap, and sunscreen and our family was a walking cancer hazard.  Things were about to be turned upside down.

I read a book about natural beauty and was so inspired by the lovely herbal things I could make, I threw out a trash bag of body products, one of medicines, and one of cleaning products, and not long after became a Certified Herbalist.  I haven’t worn foundation since and my skin looks great (save for a decade-plus older).

59766861_2571613532853152_855892346783399936_n

When we went fishing last weekend, I forgot to bring the coconut oil (SPF 16) so the lady next to me at the beach let me slather some sunscreen on my very light skinned girl.  She burnt.  She never burns with coconut oil.  It is a proven scientific fact that sunscreen causes skin cancer, but the industry is just too big to stop.  Retinal A, which is found in many anti-aging products, is the number one cause of skin cancer.  It is time we take our health, our life, and our beauty back into our own hands.  And it couldn’t be easier.  I have attached links to many of my blog posts on how to make body products.  Enjoy concocting your own! (Or my daughter’s website is http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com if you would rather have her make it!)

How To Make Homemade Soap

How to Make Your Own Witchhazel

How to Make a Nourishing, Infused Oil for Dry Skin

How to Make Your Own Sunscreen (stop poisoning the kids!)

How to Make Your Own Lotion (from my shop to your farm kitchen)

Of Sea Salt, the Art of Bathing, and Writer’s Block

Sugar Scrubs and Breaks from Normalcy

How to Make Your Own Lotion (from my shop to your farm kitchen)

Lotion is messy to make and clean up but oh so worth it!  This is the very recipe I have been using in my shop for years.  In a world of sodium laurel sulfate and other cancer causing ingredients at each turn, it is nice to have a really great lotion recipe at one’s fingertips.  This can be made in your farm kitchen without much difficulty.

lotion

You will need:

a large mouth quart sized canning jar

an immersion blender

1/2 pint or pint sized jars to transfer lotion to

saucepan

scale to measure beeswax

stir stick (a chop stick works great)

beeswax (preferably pastilles)

olive oil

water

essential oils of your choice

Directions:

In canning jar measure 1 1/2 cups of oil and 1 and an 1/8 ounces of beeswax.

Place in saucepan and pour water to reach half way up jar to create a double boiler.

Stir with chop stick every so often to fully incorporate and help melt wax.

Meanwhile measure out 1 1/2 cups of cool water.  Set aside.  Plug in immersion blender and be ready.

When wax is fully melted, remove from saucepan and add water.  Immediately blend thoroughly until emulsified.  While warm pour into desired jars and add essential oils.  12 drops per 4 ounces is a good measure.

Don’t use oils that are too hot like cinnamon.  A few favorite blends over the years have been 6 drops of lavender and 6 drops of rose.  8 drops of lime and 4 drops of mint.  8 drops of orange and 4 drops of ylang ylang.  Or whatever you desire!

This will keep for over a year without any preservatives.  It is a SPF 12 naturally and is safe for absolutely all skin types.   Tomorrow I will show you how to turn this humble lotion into powerful sunscreen!

 

Sugar Scrubs and Breaks from Normalcy

All this farmgirl stuff started spiraling out of control on a plane to Vegas if we really wanted to pinpoint a moment.  Isn’t it amazing how a seemingly small event can make such an impact down the road (a country road in our case)?  I picked up a book on natural beauty to read on the plane.  As an ex-model I was always very concerned about how I looked and I am afraid a bit of my identity was wrapped up in my face (I am better now!) so imagine when in my late twenties acne became my new accessory. Ignorance is truly bliss, but I suppose knowledge is too.  I found out about all the toxic, cancer causing, unidentifiable, petroleum based ingredients in my beauty and bath products, and what I was putting on my young children’s skin!  www.cosmeticsdatabase.com did the rest.  I was done for.

When we got home from our trip, out went a huge trash bag of beauty and body products and in went all organics.  (And another trash bag of cleaning products and pharmaceuticals!)  Well, the organics were pricey and they still had ingredients in them that were not exactly non-toxic.  I started on a mission to make all our own body products.  I made lotion first, which I am still slightly famous for, then came sugar scrub, salts, shampoo, hair spray, deodorant….everything.  Oh, I was on a roll.  A monster had been made.

We started out in a cookie cutter suburban house that cost way too much, in a not very interesting suburb, working ridiculously hard to pay for things we didn’t get to enjoy.  Stressed out and making more money than we ever had, we paid our debts (wealth really is an illusion, isn’t it?) and thought this was a normal life. What saved us was Dave Ramsey University and a farmer’s market.

A farmer’s market where I took all the body products and the ten or so herbal medicines I had learned to make in a Certified Herbalist Course.  We make a lot more medicines than that now but it was those first years of farmer’s markets that allowed us get where we are.  So, when Doug finally had that nervous breakdown over servers that never came back up, we took our cue and left the “normal life.”  It was a risk, but we did 6-8 markets a week and moved to a smaller town not far from where we were.  We cut our bills in half. We found a shop just over two years ago.  The rest is still being written.

As a gift to you for Christmas (and perhaps a gift from you to all your friends!) I want to share my sugar scrub recipe.  So lovely and simple.  Happy Holidays!

SUGAR SCRUB

In a 4 oz canning jar, pour sugar in leaving 1/2 inch head space.

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essential oil and 1 teaspoon of orange essential oil. Only use essential oils!

Then pour rich olive oil up to the very rim and let soak in.  Replace lid and shake vigorously.

Experiment with other essential oils too.  I love this blend for the holidays, it smells like a creamsicle!   This leaves your skin amazingly soft and glowing.