Making a soothing essential oil

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I have been enjoying making various creams and oils, ever since I started the livinglifeknowledge.com endeavor.  Some of the oils are made from common, native, or easy to grow plants.  And… since I lOVE LOVE LOVE to make my own (just about everything)… I decided to make calendula oil. So that I would have a ready supply to make soothing cream.  After considering the total expense I have put into buying oils, I’m pretty sure this should help cut costs.

I wanted some natural herbs/flowers that are soothing and nutricius for skin. I selected yarrow, for it’s healing qualities.  The calendula also has skin benefits, especially as an anti-inflammatory and assists in healing wounds.  I have been seeing all over the social media how popular it is as a staple for making essential oil and coconut oil base creams.

dried yarrow and calendula

dried yarrow and calendula

purchased items are pure organic, yarrow is local grown

purchased items are pure organic, yarrow is local grown

 

I used a regular-sized jam or jelly jar and lightly crushed a big handful of dried herbs.

 

Then I merely covered it all in Apricot Kernel Oil, put the lid on it, and left in a semi-dark warm place.  (Which in my house was on a wooden stool in a corner by the heater vent.)

wait oil                So after a couple weeks, (don’t worry about counting days exactly).. I strained                                   the oils, then added some more to go another couple of weeks.

Straining the first part of process

Straining the first part of process

adding oil the second time to process

adding oil the second time to process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After waiting another couple of weeks, it was time to make the final oil.  I used cheese cloth this time so all oil from the saturated herbs could get squeezed out.  (I like to use every drop.)  I noticed that the scent was pretty neutral, so I added a couple drops of benzoin, but I won’t hesitate to add some happy scents whenever I mix a batch of creams. These will be perfect for summer, and if I mix them with  Shea butter, I will have a soothing, natural sunscreen!

final step in the process

final step in the process

Fresh batch of Yarrow/Calendula alongside a recent batch of pepperming

Fresh batch of Yarrow/Calendula alongside a recent batch of peppermint

make feet soother gifts

I have had aching feet for a long time.  I tried many things, and now I know that stretching, shoe inserts and foot soaks are the best remedy.  I like to experiment with making things from natural sources; especially essential oils, but I found that some good, old fashioned ingredients are also helpful.

I work with other women who also are plagued with the aches/pains of aging-&-daily-life. So, I decided to make some feet soak powder for Christmas presents.  I searched the internet and found this was the base recipe to start:  (BUT read on- note that I modified it!)

3/4 cup epsom salts                                                                                                             1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda

Most of the recipes called forepsom essential oil, but I didn’t want the powdery stuff to glob.  Yet, of course, I wanted it to include some scents and herbs.  I found Lavender and Honey Epsom salt (faithful Calgon-take me away), and purchased a jar of “Village Naturals Therapy” (found at Walmart) concentrated bath soak. There are several scents/herb mixes available, but I picked Eucalyptus, Spearment, Menthol simply because it was green and I figured the green color would be a nice touch for gift effect.

I doubled the recipe in order to make multiple little jars.  I just spooned in what looked like a good mix of green crystals.  There is not a certain recipe, this will be strictly to taste.  Fell free to pick other variations, or just the basic recipe as above with a few drops of you favorite essential oils….and relax!!

footgift

 

Mushrooms at your fingertips

inoculating small logs at our tree farm with Shitake mushrooms spores PAYS OFF A FEW MONTHS LATER.

Sound different?  Difficult?  We were clueless the first time we heard about this, but found how just how amazingly easy and inexpensive it is- really.During a tour at one of the Missouri Forest and Woodlands Association conferences for tree farmers, was a family farm where some short logs were propped up in a row on their place.  There were mushrooms popping out all over them! He told us briefly that he cut some logs, drilled holes, and the kids put spores in, covering each with wax.  Well, that still sounded a bit foreign to us.  The very same afternoon, the University Extension center, which is a partner with the Missouri Conservation Department, had some brochure handouts on … would you know?  GROWING SHITAKE MUSHROOMS!!!  

THE place referenced to get spores is Field & Forest.  They are real experts, with a large variety of mushrooms, advice, starter kits, tips, tricks and more.  So, we ordered spores and got started when the weather was right.  First, the logs we cut were approximately 6″ White Oak (because size matters.)  They need to be fresh cut for moisture, and the bark on Oak doesn’t disintegrate as much as other barks, so that the moisture is kept in the log.

For our third time inoculating, this is the method we chose:

1. Drilling
2. Thimble Spores
3. inserting the spores

This year, we filled with “thimble spores”.  First, the hole is drilled with a special bit, fitted for the spore.  The tray shown in photo 2 contains the spores, shaped like a thimble.  They are pre-measured, so just insert, press in, making sure the styrofoam is secure.  VERY SIMPLE

4. Inoculated logs

As I mentioned earlier, we have tried other methods, which also are not difficult at all.  We just like trying different ways, then comparing the process and results.
I recommend you check out Field & Forest, as they have more information than I can possibly begin to offer here in a blog.

September 2014 after a few days of cooler temperature with rain

September 2014 after a few days of cooler temperature with rain

7 months later, in September, 2014, we had these show up one day.  This was after a few days of cooler weather and some rain.  These are about the size of a quarter.  In 2-3 days, they were the size of a hamburger bun and DELICIOUS!!!

We are proud to live sustainable, utilizing all that God-given nature has provided.  Trees are our passion.  They inspire us.  So much can be created from or about trees!

Cuckoo to get coconut oil?

So I found out that pure coconut oil is the anti-aging skin remedy. Then I saw how expensive it is and got a wild hair to extract my own. I do not recommend this for anyone lacking in the virtue of patience… After 3 days of tapping, cracking, peeling, shredding, squeezing, fermenting, separating, slow heating and extracting…I got 2 Tbs. But the coconut was $1.79!! LoLskincare 003

 

 

I started by drilling a hole to drain the milk, then placing the coconut in a big vice that we have, cracking it. I took all the pieces and separated the meat from the peel.  Then I ran the pieces through the food processor, adding warm water to make a paste.  The instructions I followed said   to squeeze the paste into a jar of the coconut milk, and wait for it to ferment and separate.   IMG_20130721_162456_375

 

A hard paste forms at the top of the jar, that is where the oil is. I took that out, melted it in a boiling bath, then ran it through the cheesecloth again to filter.  This was a long, labor filled process. IMG_20130721_171610_234

After all that, I decided to check prices and found the best price for quantity at http://www.bulkapothecary.com/. The refined comes in a gallon, or 5 gallon quantity.  The unrefined is better for cooking than the refined with smallest quantity 32 ounces. I wanted it to use it as an anti-aging product. I have been using it now, for over a year, and can tell a distinct difference.

I LOVE making things from pure nature, and went a little cuckoo for the coconut oil, but it was worth it! Check out more ideas about what can be created from or about nature.

HAPPY NATURAL SKIN HEALTH!!!

homemade prickly pear fruit margarita

If you live in the Southwest, or have the opportunity to visit, get out and about this time of year (late September, early October) when the Prickly Pear cactus fruit are ripe.  I had the pleasure of being in Albuquerque recently and found these in the foothills at the base of the Sandia Mountains.

This is what the prickly pear cactus plant with ripe fruit looks like in the wild

It is VERY IMPORTANT to use gloves when picking, the fruit has tiny, hairlike needles that can hardly be seen, but they sure are felt! These require tweezers and magnifiers to remove from the skin.  Look for the darkest of the fruit, a deep purple for ripeness.  We took them home and, still using gloves, peeled them.

cut out the core end

carefully remove the skin, it feels rough, sort of like peeling an avacado

REMEMBER – USE GLOVES!!! The fruit should be soft, so don’t squeeze too hard in order not to lose juice while cutting out the hard, core end.

 

 

 

While peeling, hold the fruit gently, removing the skin using your personal technique for peeling apples or similar.

Next, slice the fruit or you can quarter it, depending on the size. There are seeds inside that should be removed because they are hard, and have a tendency to stick in teeth. (They are edible, no real taste and not easy to chew).  Try different methods of seed removal that work best for you. We ended up using a pickle spear/fork.

The seeds are the granules you can make out that have a clear texture

Now the fun begins! Take about a cup of the fruit pulp (we used about 6 large fruit), put it in the blender and add 10 ounces of margarita mix (or your own margarita recipe).  This will taste wonderful with or without alcohol!!

Delicious, healthy AND gorgeous

The taste is mild, not sweet. Sort of hard to describe. The texture is similar to mango fruit.  I plan to look into what all vitamins are in these, but it is my understanding that the Native Americans could go for days eating these and nothing else. We put our extra fruit in the freezer and when we thaw it out and try it, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

November 10, 2012. Defrosted the prickly pear fruit and made another batch of margaritas. It separates sort of like tomatoes when frozen. The pulp lost it’s taste because the juice separated, and was somewhat watered down. Still, the margaritas were tasty! And the color was even deeper.

Frugally Sustainable- get info about anything DIY

Tomato Pie, anyone?

This recipe is so simple, easy, and delicious– ANYONE can make it!

a slice of Tomato Pie

I was feeling the need to get out of the same-o dishes, use some of the last of our garden harvest, and found out there is such a thing as tomato pie.  So I decided to try it, and wow, was it a big hit with the family! (even my husband, who is opinionated).

The first attempt, I used the recipe from Simply Recipes, but left out the tobasco. Luckily, I had some fresh Basil in my herb garden. I you want fresh, certified organic herbs, try Mountain Rose (click link on right).

  • 1 9-inch pie shell (see pie crust recipe for homemade version)
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut in half horizontally, squeezed to remove excess juice, roughly chopped, to yield approximately 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil (about 8 leaves)*
  • 2 cups grated cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack, or Gruyere or Mozarella)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) of Frank’s Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

*To slice basil, chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other, roll them up like a cigar, starting at one end slice the “cigar” crosswise in thin slices.

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place pie shell in oven and cook for 8-10 minutes or longer until lightly golden.  If you are starting with a frozen crust, you’ll need to cook it a little longer.  If you are using a homemade crust, freeze the crust first, then line the crust with aluminum foil and pre-bake it for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

2 Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the chopped tomatoes, using either paper towels, a clean dish towel, or a potato ricer.

3 Sprinkle the bottom of the pre-cooked pie shell with chopped onion.  Spread the chopped tomatoes over the onions.  Sprinkle the sliced basil over the tomatoes.

4 In a medium bowl, mix together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, Tabasco, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The mixture should be the consistency of a gooey snow ball.  Spread the cheese mixture over the tomatoes.

5 Place in oven and bake until browned and bubbly, anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes.

The second attempt, I didn’t bother to squeeze the moisture from the tomatoes, and the only difference I could tell, was that it seems to have more flavor. Some people just don’t have a taste for the mayonaise flavor, so, I decided to try cream cheese in order to eliminate the ‘twang’ flavor from mayonaise that some people, (like hubby) just don’t prefer.  I used 1/2 cup cream cheese and sour cream instead of the mayo, and it was; according to the hubby “a definite improvement”.  The cream cheese made it distinctly richer, so smaller portions were in order. For a healthy, tasty side dish (or entree), I highly recommend you try this!!  Low fat mayonaise, low fat cream cheese, could all be used for less calories, but not take away from taste. Gluten-free flour can easily be substituted in the crust.

 I got to use some of my fresh, home grown tomatoes and basil, and now have a family-approved quick, easy, simple side dish.  🙂

 

 

 

 

freezer tomatoes

The height of the garden season is coming to an end. So, what can you do with those last tomatoes? Even through the summer drought, it seemed that tomatoes came on in bulk, so I got sauce canned, salsa made and plenty to go in salads. I found out about freezing them years ago, so each year, I put some away in the freezer.  This is SO EASY Here’s how:

1. Select tomatoes without many blemishes, and cut out the core.  DO NOT PEEL

2. Just put in a freezer zip lock bag, place in freezer and WahLah!!

When you are ready to serve, after they thaw partially, the peel comes right off. They are soft just like canned, but fresh and ready to add to chili, pasta, stew, whatever your taste desires.    SO EASY!!!

Surprisingly easy homemade Shea Moisterizer

So, I surprised myself when I discovered how fast and easy it was to make my own shea butter moisterizer.  I love the natural ingredients products that are available out there from spas, but since I can’t afford them, I decided to save money.  Getting started was even easier than making the cream. First, I ordered the ‘unrefined Shea Butter’ and ‘almond oil’ from Mountain Rose Herbs.   They have fantastic quality and selection of just about any organic herb, butter, oil, anything that nature provides, with reasonable prices and quick shipping.  I chose Almond Oil because even though I have normal skin, my forehead tends to get oily, and Almond oil absorbs real well. I even got the recipe from them.  Shea is the ‘butter’ from the nuts of “Karite” tree, ground by hand as the livllihood for women in Africa. It has fantastic, nourishing qualities, as well as edible! I have to mention that, because my daughter, the esthetician jokes in a serious manner, that if you won’t put it in your mouth, why would you put it on your skin? You can find out tons of information on Shea, natural ingredients, and many, many health tips at: Care2 Make a Difference.

Next, Measure out: 2 ounces of unrefined Shea Butter and 3/4 ounce of oil.  I put them in a pyrex measuring cup in a hot water bath to melt. (This took like 2 minutes).  Then add a capsule of vitamin E, 4 to 5 drops of essential oil of your choice and whip it until it starts to set.

If it has a grainy texture when it cools, NO WORRIES, just re-heat it and whip it again. I have been using it on my legs after shaving, and I gotta say that it does wonders!!!  Mountain Rose Herbs also has several types of containers that you could put this in to impress and share with your friends as gifts. Give this a try!!!

I have been using this during the extended heat wave, temperatures over 100 and have NOT gotten sunburnt!!!  It’s true!!!

www.frugallysustainable.com  get information on anything homemade, money saving tips, just about anything you can imagine!