I started looking for natural beauty and cleaner recipes a few years ago, I found a few good ingredients and recipes that I liked and that’s where I stopped.
I always meant to find more recipes for other cleaners I wanted to replace but I never got around to it.
Until this weekend.
I was going to clean our bathrooms only to find that we were out of toilet bowl cleaner.
The last toilet bowl cleaner I bought had been “natural” (I didn’t look at the ingredients so I can’t attest to how natural it really was) and it barely worked. Honestly, I don’t think it worked, it was my scrubbing that made it work.
So, since I didn’t want to run to the store I started looking up some recipes online. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for any kind of recipe (beauty, cleaning, food. etc) I tend to look at five to seven recipes, find the ingredients they have in common and then go with that.
That’s what I did this weekend and not only did I have all the ingredients already on hand, I came out with a really great multi-purpose spray that actually works for toilets (way better than the “natural” stuff I bought).
I started out by using the cleaner for the inside of the toilets (I used the “stream” on my spray bottle and then let it sit for about two minutes) and it worked so amazingly well I’ve been going around and using this cleaner everywhere: the bathroom sink, counter, tub, shower and in my kitchen too!
The recipe is super simple and includes these ingredients:
VINEGAR – something I always have on hand because it is good for so many cleaning recipes (plus I use it for my conditioner and I just realized I’ve never shared that recipe here . . . I’ll have to change that soon!).
ESSENTIAL OILS – I used tea tree because it is a good disinfectant and then I also used a combination of citrus-y oils to give it a good smell.
CASTILE SOAP – this is like the Holy Grail of cleaning supplies I think (or, it’s at least tied with baking soda and vinegar for first place). The one I have is citrus scented because I really like the smell of citrus when I am cleaning something.
If you are looking for more natural cleaning and beauty recipes you can find them here!
Simple Natural All Purpose Cleaning Spray
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops citrus scented essential oil (optional)
- 1/4 cup castile soap
Using a funnel add the ingredients into the spray bottle in the order listed.
Close spray bottle and shake gently.
To use, spray on surface and let sit for a minute or two before cleaning.
If you are looking for more natural cleaning and beauty recipes you can find them here!
I thought it would be fun to document our garden this summer. Living in Saskatchewan we have a much later planting season than a lot of other places so we just got everything in the ground.
We aren’t doing anything crazy in the garden this year but I love documenting it and seeing the plants grow and how much the trees grow from year to year.
The first summer we were in living in our current home Jared made some raised garden beds. We didn’t have grass or a fence but we had a garden! #priorities
In our previous homes gardening had been very unsuccessful. A lot of that has to do with my own brown thumb (or wait, maybe that’s just called neglect) and part of it was definitely because we had really bad soil. We figured the garden would stand a better chance if we built raised beds and filled them with good dirt.
Year one . . .
This is now our fourth summer with the raised beds and I can tell you they have made a huge difference! (Because I still struggle with neglect when it comes to the garden.) We mostly subscribe to the idea of square foot gardening, though this year we stuck to it a little less as we just tried to use up some old seeds we had.
If I am being completely honest (and you know I am), Jared does a lot of the gardening. He usually plants some of the seeds indoors with the kids in March, mainly peppers and tomatoes. This year he planted the entire garden and has done at least half of the weeding. For the most part he puts the garden in and I deal with it when it comes out.
Because we live in the Canadian prairies the produce in our garden cannot be as diverse as I wish it could be (I’ve been drooling over this backyard garden/forest for years and years), but we’ve figured out what works for our climate and gardening abilities and have a few things that grow really well for us.
Next year I want to try more deck/container gardening. I believe a smaller living space is in our near-ish future and I want to see what we can all make work. I also want to try some indoor winter gardening, is this even a possibility (other than herbs)? I have no idea but I want to give it a try.
Okay, on to the garden! We have a potato patch, which we pretty much never weed, and then nine raised garden beds.
Strawberries have always been my favorite fruit so of course we’ve attempted to grow those. I’m always surprised at how well they produce but then every winter we’ve had major troubles with a lot of plants dying off. We always get runners from my mother-in-law and her strawberries are fine. I’m wondering if this is a raised bed issue? We’ve tried covering them with a variety of things over the years so there is a barrier between the plants and the snow but we still lose more than 50% of our plants each winter. I should do some research and see if there is anything we can do to avoid this again this winter.
I never thought I would say this but tomatoes are my favorite part of the garden. I don’t even like tomatoes. BUT I have found an amazing spicy pasta sauce recipe (well, found one and then adapted it) and now I can’t eat store bought pasta sauce. Due to hail demolishing most of our tomatoes last summer it’s been a long time since I’ve had the pasta sauce and my mouth is almost watering just thinking about it. If you guys want me to share the recipe I definitely can! (After I make it again and remember exactly what my ratios all are, I should definitely write it down.)
I know people have told me before to make homemade salsa but honestly, I like store bought salsa and I would rather save all my tomatoes for pasta sauce. The last thing I want is to only eat homemade salsa, I’ll have to start a tomato farm to support my habit!
We always plant peppers and they never do very well. We actually have a ton on our two plants this year but I think we planted six or so plants and most of them died. Also, we never had success with carrots – except this year. Jared was going through and trying to use up a bunch of carrot seeds, so we now have two and a half beds of carrots . . . good thing they are delicious fresh and cooked!
We also planted some beets this year – at Raeca’s request. Her friend makes a beet cake she really likes and she wanted to make it. But we ended up attempting to make beet chips instead. They were disgusting. Moving on.
So, my theory is, if you want to feel good about your gardening skills plant these two things: zucchini and rhubarb. They are the easiest to grow, produce a ton and just generally make me feel amazing when it comes to my gardening abilities. But what do you make with them you ask? Well, I use both in a fruit crisp I make, zucchini I also add to my pasta sauce and a gluten-free ministrone-esq soup and then with the rhubarb I also make a homemade syrup for our own twist on Italian soda.
We generally also plant a few peas because Jared likes them fresh. And this year our raspberries have actually turned into a bush! Unfortunately I found out too late that they were producing such small fruit because they needed more water. Next year I’ll try to be more on top of that.
I think that is our little backyard garden in a nutshell! We’ve tried other things before without very much success. Corn doesn’t seem to grow, either it’s us or it’s the raised beds. We’ve done watermelon and pumpkin before but they take up a lot of room without much return and since we have such a small space it doesn’t seem worth it. I wish we could try to grow more exotic stuff here but we have such a short growing season it doesn’t work.
Oh, I almost forgot! We have two twig-like dwarf apple trees in our front yard that produce a handful of small apples each year, I usually end up chopping them up into the aforementioned fruit crisp.
If you have any questions about our little garden or want me to share any of the recipes I mentioned just let me know in the comments below! And if you have any tips on deck/container/winter indoor gardening I’d love to hear those!
I’ve been dabbling in the essential oil world for a few years now.
After trying a few different companies I’m still not completely brand loyal. I have a few companies that I order from regularly. In my initial foray into essential oils I tried out a number of companies right off the bat and wrote a post about the pros and cons of each essential oil company, I plan on writing an updated post soon with some more companies and thoughts added but it’s still a pretty accurate post.
The one thing I have not done is order oils from some of the more expensive companies. I prefer to not have a middle man and have the opportunity to purchase oils at a lower cost.
At the beginning of the new year my mom texted me letting me know about an essential oil subscription box through Simply Earth. I loved the idea from the get go because no only do you get essential oils sent to you each month but also recipes and all the supplies needed to make the recipes.
Today I wanted to share a bit of a review on our experience so far with Simply Earth and a peek inside the January and February subscription boxes.
The boxes are $39/month, which is a great price considering you get four essential oils (their oil size is 15ml which is a bigger standard than most other essential oil companies), so far in my experience there has also been one carrier oil per month, and then extras often in the form of roll-on bottles and whatever else is needed for that month’s recipes, you’ll see more as I show you inside the boxes below! All in all, it’s a great value. If you live in Canada like myself, yes, that is in USD, but, there is free shipping! Which you know is rare and amazing.
You also have the option of skipping a month whenever you would like or canceling your subscription at any time.
If you are interested in ordering your own box, if you purchase your first month through this link and use the code: FREEGIFTCARD you will also receive a $40 gift card! Seriously, can a deal get any better than that?!
After ordering my first subscription box I ordered their wooden oil box and a few oils with my free $40! (And, once again, free shipping, even to Canada!)
Before I get into sharing the January box, I want to say that the customer service team was great to work with, I had a dumb mistake (completely my error) when I ordered my box and they fixed that up right away. Then, after they sent my January box I was tracking it and somehow it got stuck in Canada customs and never made it through. I think someone that works in customs is enjoying a box themselves . . . but Simply Earth sent me a replacement box because they are awesome like that.
So, on to the January box!
For essential oils January included: geranium, bergamot, angelica root (5ml cause it’s a more expensive oil), and their curb hunger blend. There was also camellia oil as a carrier oil.
Also in the box were the oil recipes, stickers, roller bottles, an extra 5ml bottle and a package of bentonite clay. The recipes included were: Mud Mask (that’s what the clay is for), Bye Bye Eye Bags, Wrinkles Away, Oatmeal Milk Bath, Grounding and Energizing Blend and Fit Roll On (one to fight hunger cravings).
Raeca and I made and used the mud mask, we even took selfies but she asked me not to share them. 🙂 I had never made on before, it was a bit messy but mostly fun and my face felt great afterwards!
The roller bottles that came in the box were amber with black lids but I happened to have a “wrinkles” label leftover from a previous project so I used an extra blue roller bottle with gold lid that I already had for this one instead.
I actually skipped my February box because I hadn’t received my January replacement yet but Raeca and I borrowed my mom’s box to make a little video and show you what is inside.
Rae really likes making videos; as I try to listen and pay attention to her interests more this is something that keeps coming up. Video can be a lot of work though so right now I’m going to try to start including her here on the blog more and if she continues to show interest maybe she’ll branch out and do her own thing.
Remember, you can get a free $40 gift card after you purchase your first subscription box, just purchase through here and use the coupon code: FREEGIFTCARD
Like essential oils? Check out the rest of my oil posts here!
I love experimenting with new essential oil blends.
This particular blend I made quite awhile ago and has had a lot of use in our house, can you see how empty the bottle is in the photo? That’s my proof.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a naturally calm person. I’m a highly sensitive person, raising a highly sensitive and emotional child, that doesn’t result in a lot of calm in our house.
I always joke that my daughter and I would make good TV if we were on the Amazing Race, the pressure would completely break us. It wouldn’t be pretty but I’m sure it would make “good TV”.
So, a calming essential oil blend is just what we need.
When using this oil I prefer to roll it onto my wrists and neck.
Here’s the recipe for those who also need some calm in their lives!
CALMING ESSENTIAL OIL ROLLER BOTTLE BLEND
* 2 drops orange
* 2 drops lavender
* 2 drops cedarwood
* 1 drop ylang ylang
* carrier oil
Add the drops to a 10ml roller bottle and then fill the rest of the bottle with your favorite carrier oil.
Add the roller ball, close the lid and shake. Oil is then ready to use.
When needed, roll oil over wrists and neck.
Do you have some essential oil blends you love?
Shaving cream. It’s something I haven’t used in years and now when I think of it I am kind of appalled at the waste that goes into one tiny container that doesn’t even last very long.
Because it’s been so many years since I’ve used it I kind of wonder if anyone still uses it? Was I behind on the times and everyone moved on from shaving cream before I did? I’m assuming people must still use it since stores are still selling it so under that assumption I thought I would share my two favorite natural alternatives to shaving cream.
I have actually shared these methods before in my post about things I no longer buy but I wanted them to have their own dedicated post, plus I have tweaked one of them a little bit since that post. 🙂
TWO NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO SHAVING CREAM
#1 NORWEX BODY CLOTH
I’ve been using a Norwex body cloth as my main alternative to shaving cream for a year now. I still don’t understand how it works but if you scrub in the shower with a Norwex body cloth before shaving you can shave without getting razor burn. I don’t understand how it works I just know that it does!
The body cloths come in a pack of three and are initially more expensive than shaving cream but they aren’t something you need to continue buying so it doesn’t take long before it starts saving you money.
Because you don’t have any kind of container with the cloths or any chemicals going down the drain they are also a lot better for the environment than shaving cream is.
Also, we just came back from Mexico last night (a post on our trip to come!) and I took my Norwex cloth with me. It meant that there was one less liquid I had to deal with going through security because after our debacle coming home from South Africa we refuse to check baggage and every liquid counts.
#2 GRAPESEED OIL
For most people in most climates I think the body cloth would be a good year round alternative to shaving cream. For those of you that live in drier climates like myself may find you need something a little more moisturizing in the winter months.
I have used a number of different oils before picking grapeseed oil as my favorite.
I originally started by using coconut oil but because I mainly wanted to use it in the winter it was pretty much in a solid form when I went to go use it and I started to wonder if that would clog the drain, so I switched to almond oil cause I had some on hand and while almond oil works well it is fairly pricey. So I eventually came to grapeseed oil which is moisturizing, inexpensive and doesn’t clog the drains!
If you are used to shaving cream you’ll notice that grapeseed oil doesn’t lather, but I promise your legs will feel so smooth afterwards and it doesn’t take long before you forget that once upon a time you used shaving cream.
Do you have any natural beauty tip to share?
I’d love for you to let me know in the comments below!
Like this post? Check out the rest of the natural beauty posts here.
This winter is like every other Saskatchewan winter – cold and dry.
We have spells of -40 weather and the furnace is running constantly, sucking all potential moisture out of our home and leaving our skin dry and itchy.
It doesn’t help that we have a problem with dry skin to begin, Raeca has a long struggle with dry skin and eczema and Ephraim’s beautiful African skin needs a lot of moisturizing.
So, I’ve been experimenting with some different lotions and have come up with one that we love!
I originally intended to make a body butter but it turned out more lotion-y and that ended up being a pleasant surprise because it works even better than I expected!
In the last few years as I’ve been turning to more and more natural products (or more like, DIY-ing natural products), I’ve realized how horrible beauty store lotions smell. I’m not even sensitive to smells and I think they smell overpowering and unnatural. With this recipe you can ditch the store lotion and just use this.
The fact that it only takes a few ingredients: shea butter, coconut oil, grapeseed oil and essential oils makes it even better!
I’ve only been using grapeseed oil for a little while now but I’ve been reading up some of it’s great benefits for your skin and I love how affordable it it is, so it’s perfect in this recipe.
The essential oils I used are all supposed to be moisturizing and good for skin so I used: frankincense, ylang ylang, rosemary and lavender, though you can feel free to use your own preferred combination of oils.
DIY Moisturizing Natural Lotion
- 1/2 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 2 drops frankincense essential oil
- 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil
- 2 drops rosemary essential oil
- 1 drop lavender essential oil*
- Place the shea butter in a microwave safe container and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until partially melted, mine took one minute.
- Add the coconut oil and using an electric better whip the two together until smooth.
- Add in the grapeseed oil and essential oils and mix with a spoon.
- Place it in a container and use just like lotion! I like to use this lotion out of the shower and for extra moisturizing for my son, after he has the lotion on I rub plain grapeseed oil on his skin.
*Neither my daughter nor I really like the smell of lavender oil, hence the one drop, if you love it feel free to use two drops.
Do you have a favorite DIY natural lotion? What kind of ingredients do you use?
If you try this recipe let me know how it goes!
I got my first essential oils three years ago. I was a total skeptic but my theory was “it doesn’t hurt to try!”
Now, three years later I think I can finally put myself in the fully convinced category.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not loyal to one oil company. I’ve had three companies that I’ve purchased from since the beginning and I still like all of their oils.
I purchased some roller bottles awhile ago and have been creating my own blends and wanted to share a few of them here over the next while.
If you are looking to buy some roller bottles I’d highly recommend these ones (here in Canada), or at least looking for ones with stainless steel balls (they work so much better), and either colored or amber. Light can affect the lifespan of oils, I made the mistake of buying my first bottles in clear so I keep them in a roller bottle case (here in Canada).
One of my favorite blends so far has been this one. I first labeled “headache”, but had I known how multi-purpose it was going to be I would have labeled it “miracle”.
So far I’ve used and loved this blend for: headaches (especially tension headaches, which are pretty much the only kind I get), joint pain and muscle soreness.
Ready for the easy blend “recipe”?! Here it is:
Miracle/Headache Essential Oil Blend
- 2 drops peppermint
- 2 drops spearmint
- 2 drops rosemary
- 2 drops eucalyptus
- 1 drop lavender
- carrier oil*
Add the drops to a 10ml roller bottle and then fill the rest of the bottle with carrier oil.
Add the roller ball, close the lid and shake. Oil is then ready to use.
When needed, roll oil over sensitive area.
*My personal preference for carrier is grapeseed oil. It has a good shelf life and is a great price (it’s also a great massage oil!). My other favorite carrier is almond oil but because we have friends that have nut allergies I stick with grapeseed. (I know a lot of others like fractionated coconut oil but my daughter has a sensitivity to coconut so that one is also out for us.)
Because of the eucalyptus oil this blend isn’t recommended for kids under ten years of age.
Full disclosure: I have actually used this on my daughter for growing pains. She is seven and eucalyptus isn’t recommended for kids under ten (and I believe peppermint isn’t for kids under six). I have done my own research and am personally okay with such a small exposure once in a while but I would highly recommend doing your own research.
What are your thoughts on essential oils? Do you have some blends you love?
Two sidenotes before we begin:
One: This post is going to sound like it was sponsored by Norwex, it’s not. I just seriously love their stuff. I’ve actually thought about selling their products because I’m constantly raving about them but for right now I’ll just continue sounding like a spokesperson for the company.
Two: I wrote a post with this title two years ago but a number of things have changed so instead of just updating the old post I decided to write a completely new one.
Over the last five years or so I’ve really been making an effort to live a life of less, I don’t think I initially thought of the environmental benefits but they really go hand in hand.
This is a list of things I no longer buy, some we simply do without and others I’ve bought items that will last longer and be more environmentally friendly in their place instead.
As like most of life, this is a work in progress. Ultimately I’d like to be a good steward of what God has given us, I’d like to buy less so we can bless others, have less so we can spend more time together as a family (instead of always cleaning up our clutter) and I’d like to choose experiences over stuff.
Like all my essential oil posts, I’m not getting paid or compensated to talk about certain oils or companies, I’m just as girl who started out a little skeptical about essential oils and thought I’d share my journey for any others out there that may feel the same way. You can read my previous posts about essential oils here.
Two weeks ago I went to a seminar at Saje given by the co-founder of the company, Jean-Pierre. It was a very informative seminar, not because he really told us anything about essential oils that I hadn’t already heard or known but I found it so very interesting to hear his personal story and how when he was at his lowest point (mentally and physically) he heard about and started looking into essential oils and that’s how the company all began.
I love that Saje is that it’s a Canadian oil company (finally!) and they offer free shipping in North America for orders over $75 so my American friends aren’t left out. 🙂 Plus, they have a physical location not to far from me, other than the seminar I’ve never been in there (and it was packed that night so I’m not sure if that counts anyway) but I love that they have testers and you can go in and talk to the staff, I’m definitely going to do that soon – you know, one day when it warms up and I don’t have to lug both of the kids out with me 🙂
After the seminar I purchased the pocket pharmacy because I’d been wanting to mix up some oils in roller balls to have in my purse anyway and this way I got a bunch of oils and a handy case as well. I love that it gives me a chance to try out a couple of different blends and the rollers are all refillable so when they are empty you can either put in your own blends or just purchase bigger bottles of the ones from Saje and refill them.
The pocket pharmacy kit contains 5 oils: peppermint halo, immune, eater’s digest, stress release and pain release. Since I’ve had a few weeks to use the oils I thought I would share my thoughts on each one!
A sidenote for anyone interested in the carrier oil used, Saje uses grapeseed oil in these blends.
peppermint halo (headache remedy): unfortunately this one doesn’t seem to work for me. I get headaches every few days, it always stems from my neck/jaw and this doesn’t work for those headaches for me. That being said, I’ve heard that this blend works really well for some people. I’m definitely going to keep trying it for awhile and if it still doesn’t work for me I might make my own blend to pop in this cute roller ball.
immune (germ & virus fighting): this little oil has been getting a lot of use in our house. I’ve been rolling it on my neck and feet and on the kids’ feet as well. Raeca asks for it and both kids like to roll it on their own feet. Our colds have definitely been reduced this year and I definitely think essential oils in general have made that happen. Having this blend in a handy little roller means I remember to use it more which definitely means it’s more useful.
eater’s digest (digestion easing): to be honest, no one in the house has really needed this oil yet (yay!) so I can’t comment on whether or not it actually works for us but it smells really good!
stress release (reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation): I haven’t used this oil much because I personally don’t like the smell but I have been using it on Raeca a fair amount (down her neck and onto her shoulders), she asks for it a lot. I haven’t noticed a difference with her yet but this one might be one of those oils where the results take awhile to show.
pain release (reduces inflammation and relieves muscle pain): absolutely my favorite oil in the kit. Truthfully, my roller is almost empty. I use it on any sore muscles I have and it works in a matter of minutes. I also have a problem with achy knees, ankles and feet, I think they usually flare up in the cold weather and when I’ve been on my feet a lot, so almost every day lately. This has been happening to me for years and I never found anything that eased the pain until this oil. I just use the roller to put some on my hand and then rub my hand all over my knees and within a few minutes the pain goes away. I actually never even realized that my ankles and feet also hurt because the pain in my knees was so bad, the first time that I tried this after a few minutes my knees felt better but I noticed my ankles hurt so I added some oil there and then after a few minutes they felt better but I noticed my feet hurt . . . and since that time I’ve realized that they all hurt but my knees are just so much more that it was blocking out most of the other pain, so now when they get back I just rub the oil all over my knees, ankles and feet and within a few minutes I’m good to go! This is one that I will definitely be refilling over and over again!
Have you ever purchased from Saje? Any product suggestions?
Do you have any blends (from any company or that you’ve mixed yourself) that you find work really well? If so, please share!