The Simply Clean Home

Listen, if the baby gets under the cupboard and there is something in there that will kill her, I don’t want it in my house.  What that also means is that anything I use to clean is non-toxic, safe to breathe in, easy on the environment, inexpensive, and effective.  Are you sure it works?  Of course I am sure it works!  I have a zillion animals and a lot of dust.  I cook a lot and like things clean and tidy (for the two seconds they stay that way.)

I use baking soda in place of Ajax-style cleaners.  Put some on a dripping wet rag and smear all over the kitchen sink, the bathtub and tiles, and the bathroom sink.  Now rinse off.  Super shiny!  Add a little bit of tea tree oil to make it disinfectant.  You can also add a drop of castile soap.  I like Dr. Bronner’s.  I tried the discount one and it was oddly oily.

Dr. Bronner’s also cleans dishes but so does a non-toxic dish soap.  Either can be used in a big tub of hot water to clean the floors, walls, cupboards, etc.  A wrung out washcloth with a little soap cleans everything.  A touch of Dr. Bronner’s in the toilet bowl gets it nice and clean.

Once in awhile I will treat my wood with olive oil and lemon essential oil.  It is fabulous.

A touch of vinegar in any mixture disinfects as well.  In a book I just finished, My Life as an Amish Housewife by Lena Yoder (Amazon has it), she mentions adding a 1/2 cup of vinegar to the laundry as a fabric softener.

clothesline

I love using the clothes line to dry clothes.  I didn’t have a dryer for pry a decade before my adorable puppy started shredding all the clothes on the line and running around the yard with glee, a pair of stockings in his mouth.  I conceded and got a dryer.  I wonder if he is old enough that I can use the line again.  I love the time spent hanging clothes in the sun and the way they feel all warm as I fold them.  As with all chores on the homestead, it is meditative.  Wait until you read about my clothes “washer” below in the links of recipes I am sharing with you from my past blogs.  I am on the lookout for another one!

Conventional cleaners aren’t only poisonous when ingested, they aren’t biodegradable, which means they sit on the surface of waterways around the world, killing everything from microbes to fish and then reentering our water supply again.  Save money, go simple, and enjoy your gleaming house (until the puppy comes back in)!

The Handy Dandy Double Tub Washer (not a lick of rust)

The Clean Green Homestead

The Disease of Busyness and the Detox Bath

It has been over ten years since I was this sick.  I am an herbalist.  I make the most effective medicine I know of.  I eat well and try to exercise.  I don’t get sick!  My body means business this time.  It wants me to sit down and listen, and hasn’t really given me much choice in the matter.  I have been having colorful dreams (maybe because of all the valerian), and the theme is pretty clear.  Hit them brakes, Sister.

lake

For as long as I can remember, I do as much as possible in a day.  It is my worth.  No one else is going to do it.  It is my job.  It is normal.  To-do lists and packed days of…the same housework, the same chores.  What, just what, would happen if a client came over and the kitchen floor was dirty?  Would they think poorly of me?  That my house wasn’t sanitary?  That I wouldn’t be able to do a Medical Intuitive Reading properly because I haven’t dusted?

journal

I do things with such intensity.  The same intensity that I put into gardening, pursuing a new venture, getting the housework done, is the same intensity that I put into having a cup of tea, or reading a letter.  Fast.  Get it done, check it off my list.  Why?  Because I can’t remember what it is like to just move at a slower pace.  Most everything I think has to be done is self imposed.

November was a very trying month.  Actually, autumn, was very trying.  A lot of death and loss.  I got weakened from stress.  If I wasn’t going to stop the insanity, my body would make me.  There are so many things I do to try to prove that I am a good mom, prove that I am good at my gifts and my work, prove that I am a good wife, prove that I am a good friend, prove that I got this.  I am every woman.

The past few nights Doug checks to see if I am still breathing as I sleep.

I have missed December.  I have had to cancel numerous consultations, a sleepover with my granddaughter, two weeks out of my new granddaughter’s four weeks of life, zoo lights, Santa Claus with my girls.  I feel beaten and bruised from coughing.

Something’s gotta give.  Listen, friends, we have to start listening!  We don’t have to do everything to keep everyone from being disappointed.  We don’t have to work so hard.  To drink our tea so fast.  This intensity, drive hundreds of a miles in a week, prove that I am worthy, to-do list madness must stop.  I don’t remember how.

Balance…elusive word.  Choose what I want to do and give plenty of space in between for tea and a bit of reading.  What can go?  What should stay?  “Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.”  I have been saying “no” to my peace of mind and my health as of late (or for decades).  I’m listening now.

The disease of busyness affects many of us.  I hope this will inspire some of you to put down the to-do list and re-evaluate.  We are worthy.  It’s time for us to settle down and smile now.

untitled

Feel Better and Out With the Old Detox Bath

While bath is filling with nice, hot water, pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of sea salt, a few drops of bubble bath or organic dish soap.  A few drops of rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, and orange essential oils (or your choice, go easy on the “hot” oils).  A great drizzle of olive oil.  Light a candle, play some nice music.  Don’t rush.  This blend is very alkalizing and soothing to muscles and detoxes tissues.

 

Make Your Own Cough Syrup and Chest Rub

Folks are hustling and bustling through our shop doors each day, the sniffles, the Strep, the cough, the infection, the crud.  My medicines are absolutely the best on the market, and I stand by that.  You can always order online at WhiteWolfHerbs.com so that you have plenty of stock in your medicine cupboard and be at the ready.  But today I want to teach you how to make a delicious and effective cough syrup and chest rub.

elderberry

Elderberry Mint Cough Syrup

1 Tablespoon of dried Elderberries

1 Tablespoon of dried Echinacea (leaves are best, roots are okay)

1 Tablespoon of dried Peppermint

(Herbs can be purchased online or in the bulk section of a health food store.)

1 cup of honey

Place ingredients in a small saucepan and very gradually infuse over medium low heat.  Swirl the pan often to keep from burning.  After 20 minutes or so the honey should be quite liquefied, the purple color infused, and the smell of mint should meet you.  Let cool for a minute and then pour in 1/4-1/2 cup of brandy, bourbon, or the like.  If you prefer not to use alcohol, use apple cider vinegar.  Stir, heating slightly to liquefy if needed, then strain into a pint canning jar.  Dosage is 1 teaspoon for children, 2 for adults.  Stays good indefinitely.

mint

Chest Rub

Vapor Rub is petroleum based and really not safe for children.  This is a quick remedy that you can use anytime to help breathing.  In 2 Tablespoons of sunflower or olive oil add 3 drops each pine, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils.  Rub onto chest, bottom of feet, and along cheek bones.

Wishing you a season without the crud!  But at least you will be ready if it comes knocking on your door!

 

How To Make Homemade Soap

IMG_0495

Alright, let’s make soap!  It is easy, you can make it however you like, and you will never buy another bar of drying, chemical laden soap again!

soap 14

soap 15

First, gather your ingredients.  You can buy these items online at places like Brambleberry or Essential Depot but I like to support local business so I head down to Buckley’s Homestead Supply in Old Colorado City and pick up what I am missing.

soap 19

You will need a digital scale to measure your ingredients.  Place the digital scale in a plastic freezer bag to protect it.  When dealing with the lye use safety glasses and rubber gloves.  But don’t be overly scared of it to the point that you scare yourself out of using it.  I have licked my finger thinking I had coconut oil on it, rubbed my face, dropped it on my bare foot….a bit of good lotion (like my Lavender Lotion) and a washing gets the sting out really quick.  You will also need a plastic pitcher, a plastic spoon, a plastic mixing bowl, and a plastic spatula (see the pattern here?).  I get mine from the dollar store and only use them for soap making.  You will also need a red solo cup, a measuring cup, and a soup pot.  Only the things that touch lye need to remain solely for soap.  My soup pot and measuring cups stay in the kitchen.  You will need an immersion blender and a laser thermometer as well.

You can purchase molds or you can chop the top off of a paper milk carton and use that.

16 oz. of liquid.  I use goat’s milk.  I have also used half goat’s milk and half wine and one time I did half goat’s milk and half coffee.  That was a great bar of soap!  You could use beer, water, or store bought milk.  How about beet juice for the color or green tea?  Just don’t use anything acidic like orange juice or pineapple juice as the lye will react to it.

7.4 oz. of lye.  Pour this into the plastic cup when measuring it on the scale and simply rinse out afterwards.

16 oz. of olive oil

16 oz. of coconut oil

16 oz. of palm oil (I am not crazy about using palm oil but it is what makes the soap hard.  Later we’ll learn to make lard soap and then we won’t need the palm oil.)

2 oz. of castor oil (This is what makes it sudsy.)

2 oz. of essential oil.  Now don’t get crazy and get 2 ounces of cinnamon or something, you don’t want the soap to be super hot!  Try vanilla, or lavender, rose, maybe orange and peppermint, a combination of oils, or pine for Christmas, or maybe just coffee scented if you used coffee as your liquid and skip the essential oils!  I am not a proponent of multi-marketing oils, just find a good essential oil at the local health store at an affordable price and use it.  Don’t use fragrances!

soap 18

soap 16

soap 12

1. Now that we have everything assembled let’s get started!  Place the liquid in the plastic pitcher and put the plastic spoon in it.  Put your glasses and gloves on and pour the lye into the cup.  Now put the laser thermometer in your apron pocket and take the pitcher and the lye outside.  Make sure there are no chickens around to tip the thing over or curious dog noses!  Slowly pour the lye into the liquid while stirring.  It will get super hot, about 175 degrees and will change color.  We have this outside so we don’t asphyxiate folks in the house.  Outside it will cool faster as well.

soap 9

soap 13

soap 11

soap 10

2. Back inside measure all oils, except the essential oils, those go in at the end of the process, and place in a pot.  Warm on a wood cook stove (or regular stove) until the oils have just melted.

soap 4

3. Taking temperatures.  Now here is where we get our workout.  Check the temperature of the oils.  You can alter the temps by sticking it in the snow or fridge or reheating it.  The oils will cool down faster than the lye.  Once the lye cools down there is no reheating it so this is the point that you have to be rather diligent about watching temps.  The goal is to get the oil and the lye to 105 degrees at precisely the same time.  There can be a three degree temp difference.  But ideally, 105.  Bring lye in when it is 120 degrees to slow it down while you work on the oil temp.

soap 7

soap 6

soap 3

soap 2

4. Prepare the bowl, set up the immersion blender, have the tops off the essential oil ready to pour in all at once and have some paper towel on hand.  Put gloves and glasses on.  When the oil and the lye are ready pour the oil into the bowl, then slowly pour the lye mixture in.  Keep the immersion blender below the liquid line or you will spray soap everywhere!  Blend until the mixture starts to feel like pudding.  When you can swirl the blender (turned off) over the top of the mixture and it makes swirly lines that is called tracing.  Add essential oils, and any additions for exfoliation (oatmeal, coffee grounds, poppy seeds…) and continue to blend until almost cake batter consistency then pour into mold.

soap 5

5. Place a piece of cardboard over mold and wrap in a towel.  Leave for 24 hours.  After 24 hours peel back paper or take out of mold and slice with a kitchen knife into desired size.  I generally like one inch thick pieces of soap.  Place small side down on dresser and let cure for four weeks.  Wrap and give as gifts or store in a zip lock bag to retain scent.

Homesteading skills like making soap are fun, save money, and will always come in handy!  Look at our Homesteading School on the menu to see what fun classes are coming up.  We’ll start anew after the holidays.

 

 

 

Homemade Toothpaste (and the problem with fluoride)

IMG_0051

When I was on a witch hunt for poisonous chemical products in the house when the kids were younger, I was surprised to find toothpaste on the list.  Artificial sweeteners are undoubtedly toxic for us, there were some other pretty sketchy ingredients listed, but the surprising toxin?  Fluoride. But, fluoride is a natural occurring mineral  in the soil, right?  That is called Calcium Fluoride.  It is found in small trace minerals in the ground and water and these small amounts are good for the teeth.  The added synthetic parading as fluoride in water and toothpaste and dental products?  Sodium fluoride, a byproduct of the aluminum industry, illegal in every other country.  Big dollars are paid to cities to dump it in our water supplies.  This chemical is added to dental products and big marketing dollars go into telling us how our teeth will fall out without it.  Even the dental schools are under the influence of big business.  Fluoride actually causes tooth decay and even cancer.

Our teeth have never been cleaner since we started making our own toothpaste.  It is so easy.  I stopped selling it and started telling folks how to make it ’cause it’s  just too easy.  This recipe is so versatile but for a good general start I have given you measurements.  Feel free to do what you want!

Lime Mint Toothpaste

1/2 cup of baking soda

1 teaspoon of lime essential oil

1 teaspoon of mint essential oil

Shake well.  Wet toothbrush and touch toothpaste, the perfect amount will stick.

Orange, Vanilla, Mint, and Clove Toothpaste

1/2 cup of baking soda

1 teaspoon of orange essential oil

1 teaspoon of mint essential oil

2 drops (hot, not too much!) clove essential oil

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

The Last Laugh (and bug spray)

flea beetle

Today I was going to write about how I beat the flea beetles.  The itty bitty cruciferous eating machines.  Creating lace wherever they go; eventually decimating delicious crops, and then without even a thank you or a how do you do, they fly off to their next unsuspecting victim.  I tried the diatomaceous earth and the organic pesticide and then felt very guilty about using them as lady bugs and other beautiful insects were not who I was trying to kill.  After the rain, the bugs came back anyway.  I sat out there frustrated and just started spraying them with my homemade bug spray that I sell in my shop.  It keeps mosquitos and flies away, I imagined it would make the flea beetles head for the hills.  And it did!  For the past week I have been strutting around, blowing kisses to the cabbage and kale, imagining them stir fried in butter, not a care in the world.  Ready to brag to you of my incredible discovery!

As I strutted by yesterday, they laughed.  They scoff at me in their ignorant bliss from their perches.  Their only concern themselves.  The flea beetles are back.  I will regain my composure and re-hit them with my bug spray and laugh back.  We shall see who has the last laugh, my friends, we shall see.  I want that cabbage!

In the meantime, you can easily keep bugs away from you without the use of dangerous chemicals.  Here is my super secret recipe for Quit Bugging Me (a bug story). 

In a 2 oz. spray bottle (www.sunburstbottle.com) add an ounce of witch hazel and a half ounce of water.  Then add 60 drops of citronella oil (you do not need multi-marketing, ridiculously expensive oils, just go to the health food store or order online (www.mountainroseherbs.com)), 10 drops of lavender, 4 drops of geranium, and 2 drops of clove.  Top off with water or witch hazel.  You only need a few spritzes.  Sit bug free for several hours on lawn chair.  Have the last laugh.

http://gardenfairyapothecary.com

The Clean Green Homestead

Butterfly

Spring cleaning time!  Did you know that conventional cleaners are very toxic?  They can cause issues like asthma and even cancer.  They do seep through the skin and are inhaled.  They are also very expensive!  Not only that, but they are very hard on the environment as they never really go away, just go sit in our waterways.  You can save a bundle, and have a really clean, green, and healthy home by making your own cleaning products.  And yes, they work every bit as well as conventional.

Dusting Oil- This makes wood look brand new and super shiny.  The oil does dissipate.

Combine 3 oz. of olive oil and 1 oz. of lemon juice with 30 drops of lemon essential oil (or orange!)  Use an old cloth to apply.  Dust as usual.  Note: I use pieces of old socks.  I just throw the piece into the compost heap and not get oil all over everything in the wash.

Window Cleaner- Make sure you clean windows when the sun is behind the clouds or you will get streaks!

Combine 8 oz. of water and 8 oz. of white vinegar with 10 drops of lime essential oil into a spray bottle.

soap

All purpose Cleaner- Add water to spray bottle first so that it doesn’t bubble over and all the soap is lost!

Combine 14 oz. of water and 2 oz. of Dr. Bronner’s soap with 30 drops of essential oils of your choice

Wood/Floor Cleaner-

Combine 4 oz. of Almond Dr.Bronner’s, 1 T of almond oil, 10 drops of orange essential oil in a container.  Squirt a little bit into a big tub and top with hot water.

Toilet Cleaner-

Toss in baking soda then add vinegar and watch it bubble, bubble.  Add a squirt of Dr.Bronner’s and use a brush to scrub.

Room Spray-

Combine 3 oz. of witch hazel, 1 oz. of water, and 60 drops of essential oil of your choice in a squirt bottle.

rose

Aromatherapy Choices-

Tea Tree- Anti-bacterial, anti-viral, as good as bleach, kills mold, anti-fungal

Citrus (Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit)- Uplifting

Floral (Lavender, Rose, Jasmine)- Romantic

Peppermint or Spearmint- Uplifting

Cinnamon, pine, cedar, clove, or any of your favorite scents make fabulous cleaning products and room sprays.

We use Dr. Bronner’s to clean dishes and laundry.  Borax, washing soda, baking soda, and vinegar are all powerful artillery in the home cleaning arsenal.

www.drbronner.com

www.sunburstbottle.com for cleaning product containers

Soapy Girls and Their Lyes

IMG_0462 IMG_0467

Nancy and I have always wanted to learn to make soap.  I have looked at soap making ingredients and have talked with soap makers and after hearing every warning under the sun about blindness, explosions, and eating through skin, I thought in my innate clumsiness that perhaps working with lye was not for me!  Yet, the customers keep asking for soap.  The homesteader in me wants desperately to know how to do everything myself.  Soap making is just one more thing we needed to conquer on our quest as farmgirls.

IMG_0468 IMG_0469

My friend, Kathi, innocently put up a picture on Facebook of the soap she had made before Christmas.  I don’t think she expected the barrage of “teach me!”s that came her way.  Among those was me, and Nancy and I signed up for a class.  We were as giggly and excited driving down to Colorado Springs for our class as we would be the first day of school.  Instead of spiffy new shoes and clothes and a book bag, we wore old clothes, stained aprons, and a bag of accoutrements like a scale, and milk cartons.  We also opted to take our own essential oils rather than use fragrances.  I was ready to make cedar, pine, and balsam soap to mimic a soap I pay entirely too much for.  Nancy chose lavender and rose.

IMG_0476 IMG_0478

We measured and scooped, not much different from how I make lotion but with many more exact measurements.  The goat’s milk was frozen to slow the cooling of the lye.  We added the goat’s milk and a little water into the pitcher.  We carefully measured the lye. It did not jump out of the cup and raise havoc as I expected.  My skin was still intact and my goggles were a stunning fashion statement for these photos.  Nancy looks pretty hot too.  Outside we went to put the lye in the pitcher with the goat’s milk so not to have the ammonia-like fumes filling Kathi’s house.  It was a gorgeous, clear day and Pike’s Peak in the distance was lovely and grand as we stirred our explosive mixture.  We left it outdoors to cool.

IMG_0480 IMG_0483 IMG_0482

Back indoors, we measured out our coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and castor oil.  We melted the collaboration.  Using a handy dandy laser temperature checker we were able to check when the oil and the lye solution each reached 105 degrees.  Then it was show time.  We poured each together and using an immersion blender, whisked the hot combination together.  I promptly lifted my blender too high and sent lye all over Kathi’s counter.  (I told you there was good reason I shouldn’t play with lye!)  Ever calm, Kathi simply wiped it up with a paper towel.  As soon as lines started dancing in a circle around the top we added our essential oils.  We whisked those together and poured them into the mold to set.  The molds were ready to transport home wrapped in a fluffy towel.  We went to grab lunch and a beer.  We were celebrating our new skill!

IMG_0484 IMG_0486 IMG_0488

Back home the next day, I impatiently waited for the clock to strike fourteen hours after our endeavor.  I carefully unwrapped the cardboard.  Then got more tough and pulled the rest off.  The knife sliced through the soap beautifully as it was still quite soft.  The aroma is of Christmas trees and vacations in a cabin by a lake and I was instantly transported.  Nancy’s is a flower garden, sweet and soft.  We have to wait four entire weeks now before we can try out our luxurious, didn’t blow the house up, soap.  I’ll have some in my shop soon and Nancy and are planning on making much more!

IMG_0489 IMG_0494 IMG_0491 IMG_0495

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

IMG_0363

One of the great pleasures in life is the bath.  It is often overlooked for its relaxing abilities.  It is basically a gift to oneself!  I personally have a great deal of trouble relaxing.  I feel like I have to go-go-go all the time.  I have lists of lists to do and I must fill every moment doing something or I get antsy and quite grumpy.  I promptly fall into bed at 9:00 and sleep great.  However, I think a little balance is due.  I am not a super young person and though I love to keep busy and I will be even busier on my next homestead, my body, mind, and spirit could use a little break.  I practically have to trick myself into relaxing!  A bath is just the ticket.

One of the great things about this house is the claw foot tub.  Oh mama, it’s wonderful.  I am nearly 5’10” and the ordinary bath tub doesn’t cut it.  I love its curved back and circular bath curtain.  I can hide from the world…at least until I get bored!  So, I include a few implements to keep me in the tub for a bit.  A great glass of wine, a book, sugar scrub, a candle, and a wonderful soap.  My girlfriend, Deb, brought over a few bars of delicious soap.  Despite my being vegetarian she insisted I would love them (they are made from a bit of her cows).  Sure enough, it is like slathering on lotion.  They are heavenly bars of soap!

IMG_0364

And tonight being New Year’s Eve, we are going to a hotel with Rodney and Pat and swimming in the pool, soaking my very cold muscles in the hot tub, and then ending the evening with a swing dance.  I cannot wait! There isn’t likely a claw foot tub in the hotel room, but I am loading up my bath stuff and am going to enjoy every second of the hotel bath.  A little pampering to start the new year.  I am going to trick myself to relax!

Sea Salt Bath

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda into the bath.  Baking soda balances the PH level of the body while pulling out toxins.  (A great way to get rid of chlorine out of the skin if the kids are avid Flippers.)  The baking soda leaves your skin very soft as well.

Then add 1/2 cup of sea salt.  I know most people use Epsom salts but they are large and hard to dissolve.  The sea salt dissolves wonderfully, also pulls toxins from the system, and relaxes muscles.

A drizzle of olive oil all the way across the tub (for heaven’s sake, don’t slip!) to moisturize the skin.

Essential oils to transport you.  Do not use volatile oils like rosemary, mint, tea tree, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, etc.  They sound tempting but you will burn your skin! (Been there, done that.)  I personally am taking rose, jasmine, lavender, ylang ylang, and a touch of cedar.  Citruses are uplifting, florals will take you on an instant vacation.

Sit, sip, read, relax.

A quick thank you as we wind down this year.  I have had a terrible case of writer’s block for years.  I wrote three cookbooks to fill the time.  Only an occasional poem would come forth.  This blog has broken through the barriers and I am writing like a friend.  I hope to chronicle our journey while inspiring and teaching (and learning from) all of you.  So, thank you for reading.  What are your dreams this year?  What do you hope to create and achieve?  I am listening….

Love, Katie