DIY Lip Balm

3 DIY lip balm recipes

Are you a lip balm connoisseur? Picky about what goes on your skin and lips? Outraged at the high price of natural products from big stores and little vendors?

It’s time to start making your own!

Lip balm is very simple to make. I can make a batch in about ten minutes and it gives me about 10 tubes of amazingly silky soft lip stuff.

And it’s cheap. It costs about $2.00 for a whole batch of DIY lip balm. Yeah. Totally worth it!

Its an amazing gift for friends and family. Give them a tube of lip balm that you made and you’ll be admired for years to come. It’s like science.

So are you ready for three amazing DIY lip balm recipes?? Check out my guest post on Smithspirations! I share all the fun details on my secrets to amazing lip care. —> DIY Lip Balm Recipes!!


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DIY Beard Oil

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DIY Beard Oil

Does the man in your life have a beard?

Beards are amazing…as long as they are maintained properly! A scraggly and unkempt beard puts a man in the not so desirable category. But with a nice trim and a little beard oil, he can be back into the confident, manly-man group in no time.

A freshly grown or scruffy beard can be very scratchy. When my husband recently started growing his beard back in he was complaining about the itchiness. He needed something to soothe his skin as well as keep the prickly hair from scratching his face. Instead of ordering an expensive beard balm, I looked around my DIY supplies and found the perfect ingredients for beard oil.

Beard oil softens the hair and soothes the skin. It will help tame the wild hairs and keep a beard from getting frizzy. The oils are nourishing to the skin and hair and also promote strong, healthy growth.

With my husband’s input, we found these ingredients to work great for beard oil:

Avocado Oil – this is my favorite oil for maintaining a clear complexion. It’s light and non-greasy feel will keep a beard and face clean and clear.

Argan Oil – this non-greasy oil is a natural conditioner and keeps the hair from frizzing or drying out. Also acting as a toner and great for reducing acne, argan oil is perfect for the skin.

Jojoba Oil – this oil is long known for benefiting the skin and hair. Used in many beauty products this vitamin rich oil is similar to the natural sebum that excretes from skin. Jojoba oil will naturally nourish the skin without drying or causing the skin to over produce sebum.

Essential Oils – there are various essential oils that are amazing for skin and hair. Rosemary, peppermint and frankincense are excellent choices. They stimulate hair growth and keep the skin and hair clean. Choosing other essential oils to create the perfect scent will give a variety of aromatic benefits.

To make beard oil, mix your base oils of avocado, jojoba, and argan in a 1 oz dropper bottle until it’s ¾ of the way full. (Reusing an old essential oil bottle works great too.) Add in 20-30 drops of essential oils. Top off with a little more base oil leaving enough room for the dropper. Shake gently to mix.

To use beard oil, drop a dime size amount on the hands and rub into a freshly washed beard. Brush with the fingers or a natural bristle brush to smooth the hair.

Beard Oil

The exact recipe we used is as follows:

DIY Beard Oil

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix base oils in 1 oz dropper bottle.
  2. Add essential oils.
  3. Top with a base oil leaving room for the dropper.
  4. Shake to mix.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2016/03/08/diy-beard-oil/

 

For a soft, kissable, woodsman look, make your man some beard oil. He will thank you for it.


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Create a Cleaning Routine that Works

create a cleaning routine with printables

Writing things down will change your life.

I’m not kidding! It sounds a little dramatic to say it like that, but it’s true. Just check out any of those “what successful people do” articles or books and that’s always part of it. That, and having a routine.

Write a list and create a routine for your housecleaning and be amazed! List out your chores and stick to a routine. The list keeps you on track. And the routine streamlines your efforts which in turn frees up your time for more enjoyable things. Creating that chore list and routine may be easier said than done. So I have a few tips that I’ve learned in my short experience as primary housekeeper.

Free printable chore chart —-> Download

First, for your typical housecleaning tasks, determine if you are a do-one-thing-each-day kind of person or a bust-and-get-it-all-done-in-one-day person. I am the latter.

I’ve tried both methods, when Little Man was very little the first approached worked pretty well. In those first months of motherhood, I was too tired to do a whole day of cleaning, but doing a little something every day kept the house at a reasonably clean level. I see how this would also work very well for families where the parents both working out of the home. Freeing up your weekends for family time instead of housecleaning sounds appealing to me.

Now that Little Man is a little older I’ve switched back to my favorite method. I really love the feeling of a fully clean house once I get it all done. Working at home gives me the flexibility to spend a half or full day cleaning during the week. This allows freedom on the weekends for friends or family time as well.

Once you have your method determined, you need to write a list of tasks and plot out a rough routine. Bathrooms on Tuesdays? Floors on Wednesday? Whole house on Fridays? Personally I like to clean on Thursdays or Fridays. We often have friends over on the weekend so if the house is already clean, I don’t have to make a big to-do about having guests.

cleaning clothes

There are some cleaning tasks on your list that can be done monthly or seasonally. Rotate those in on a particular day or as part of your weekly cleaning day. As long as you do them regularly, it makes the cleaning process so much easier. I tend to add in organizational or decluttering tasks to this list as well. Clearing out my closet of unused items is always freeing.

Don’t forget to write down the daily tasks as well. Most likely you won’t forget to do the dishes since you’re going to need them for the next meal, but writing it down will help lock it in as part of your routine.  Instead of always playing catch up with your daily tasks, be proactive in getting them done.

I’m not going to claim perfection in that area, but I do strive to always clean up after myself before moving onto the next thing. One of the most helpful proactive tasks I’ve done is to do a quick pick-up before bed. I go through the living room and straighten blankets and pillows, pick up stray toys, and ensure shoes aren’t scattered about. It makes for a smooth morning.

After you have your chore lists written down and a rough idea of when you need to accomplish those tasks, it’s time to start implementing a routine. It may take a few tries to get into the swing of things or find the right fit.

I have my master cleaning list on a chore chart you can print here —> Download

If you are the primary housekeeper like me, it can help keep you on track and stick to your routine. Or if you share responsibilities with a spouse or older kids, this is a great list to post on the fridge so you can assign tasks or see what’s already been done.

Again, I’m more of a get it all done at once kind of cleaner so this chore chart is laid out in that manner, but it could be adapted to a daily cleaning list too. Pick a different room each day and do the chores, rotating monthly and seasonal tasks as well. Remember you have to find the routine that works for your family.

Now you have some tracks to run on to create your own housecleaning routine. Start writing that list and change your life!

Print your chart here —> Download


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Clean Your Microwave in 3 Easy Steps

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clean your microwave

How often do you clean your microwave? If you’re like me, not often enough! Yikes!

I don’t use my microwave very often. Growing up, we didn’t even have one, so I’m used to reheating food in the oven. I don’t think I could ever actually cook a meal in a microwave…that just seems gross to me. And I’ve read somewhere or other that microwaving your food kills all the good things in it during the quick heating process.

If you’re sticking to a minimalist kitchen, you don’t need a microwave, but currently we have room for one and it is convenient sometimes. I’ll use it for reheating coffee, melting butter, and the occasional reheat of lunch when I’m in a time crunch. I’ll also use it to speed up my soap making. Cocoa butter and shea butter take forever to melt in the slow cooker.

Regardless of how often you use your microwave, you do need to clean it every so often. I had some butter pop in mine the other day, and just realized I had left the mess when I pulled my sticky coffee cup out. (As I write this it makes me sound like a complete slob. Hm…maybe I should reconsider this confession…)

Instead of ignoring it, I decided to test one of the many life-hacks I see all over social media. I saw a fancy little meme about placing a wet sponge in the microwave for a few minutes, heating it up, and then bam, steam bath for the microwave and all the grim comes off in seconds. Of course I’m skeptical because I read it on the internet (and even more so because it was on Facebook).

But I thought I’d give it a try. And guess what? It works!!

I didn’t have a sponge, but tried a dish cloth instead. I added a little soap to the process since it seemed like the right thing to do. And the whole thing only took about 2 minutes.

Clean Your  Microwave in 3 Easy Steps:
  1. Place damp cloth in your microwave and “cook” for 1 minute.
  2. Carefully remove the cloth and add a dab of liquid castile soap. (It may be hot!) Wipe out the grime.
  3. Rinse the cloth in hot water and wipe out any remaining stickiness.

Yeah, it’s that easy. Why did I put off this simple task? Now that I know it works, no more excuses. None for you either!

Have you cleaned your microwave lately?


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How to Make Beer Soap

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How to Make Beer Soap

I love that my husband and I share several interests together. Camping and hiking are at the top, but also simple living and the desire to be off-grid homesteaders one day. I also love that some of our independent hobbies overlap.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I love DIY projects, such as soap-making. It seems to have rubbed off on my hubby a little bit because he has a few DIY hobbies, one of which is brewing beer. And we found a way to combine soap and beer! Beer soap!

beer soap 2

I won’t get into how to homebrew because I’m sure I’ll forget some important step and it’s actually quite lengthy but part of the process uses crushed grain. It is soaked in hot water for a specific amount of time allowing the water to pull the sugars from the grains. After it is soaked and “spent” there is a lot of crushed grain left over.

Instead of wasting the spent grain, we like to find creative uses for it. One way we use is to dry it in a dehydrator and then add to breads and baked goods for a unique texture. When we had chickens they would love to nibble on spent grains. I like to use a bit of it in soap.

beer soap 3

Using my basic Hot Process Soap making technique, I adjusted my recipe to include beer and spent grains. It turned out amazing! Very soft and soothing, with a slight soapy scent. The spent grain foliates to soften the skin even more. SO without anymore introductions here’s the beer soap recipe:

How to Make Beer Soap

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wearing proper protective gear, measure beer by weight into a heat proof bowl. In a well ventilated area (I go outside), add lye to the beer (NEVER pour liquid into lye). Stir carefully to incorporate the lye into the beer. It will get very hot. Let rest while you work on the oils.
  2. Measure each oil and add to a large slow cooker. (Sometimes I will melt the hard oils/butters in the microwave to speed up the process.) Once the oil is melted, carefully add lye/beer mixture. Stir to combine.
  3. Using an immersion blender, mix soap together until it reaches trace, a pudding-like texture. Cover and cook on low for at least an hour. It will thicken and bubble strangely. At this point you can stir in the spent grains. This will add an exfoliating texture. Add more or less depending on your preference. You could also grind the grains into a finer texture if desired.
  4. Pour soap into a mold lined with parchment paper, a loaf pan works great as a mold! Nestle the mold into a cardboard box and cover with a towel. Place in a safe location to set. After a day or two, remove from mold and slice into desired size bars. The bars store best standing up without touching in a cardboard box.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2016/02/02/how-to-make-beer-soap/

You can find a photo tutorial of the hot process method on my original soap making post here. You can also add scent to this recipe at trace. I like to add scent with essential oils.

Beer soap is very gentle on the skin. If you leave out the spent grains it would make a great shaving soap.  Pair this soap with an old fashioned shave kit and you have an excellent gift for the man in your life.

beer soap

Have you ever made beer soap?


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How to Make Lavender Simple Syrup

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How to Make Lavender Simple Syrup

Have you ever tried lavender in your coffee?! AMAZING!

I would not have thought that lavender would pair well with the rich earthy flavors of coffee, but it does.

Just imagine the sun is rising, you are sitting in a rocking chair on a beautiful porch overlooking the serene beauty of the forest. You’re sipping on a lovely cup of goodness that brings into your soul all the wonderful feelings of joy and joyness. Add into that mix the delicious floral aromas of lavender. Calm, sweet, heavenly lavender.

Now, before I lose my non-coffee drinkers, this isn’t just about the coffee. You too can enjoy the delicious taste and flavor of lavender in a variety of ways. Keep on reading!

You might say I have a thing for lavender. I rarely go to sleep without rubbing a bit of lavender essential oil on my wrists before bed. I love using lavender in my homemade soap and body oil. The soothing scent combined with the sweet aroma lifts and calms me.

I honestly didn’t care for lavender before I discovered the essential oil and the dried flowers. Most commercial uses of lavender always had an off scent to them that I couldn’t place. Now I’m assuming it was the artificial aspect of lavender scented things. They tried, but you just can’t beat the real thing.

Lavender Simple Syrup 2

Back to the subject at hand, lavender simple syrup is a treat. It uses refined sugar, which I know is not a real food item, therefore, I really only use this recipe for special occasions. (Or on occasion because I made this batch up for the sole purpose to enjoy it and share with you.)

Lavender simple syrup is of course delicious in coffee. Just add a dash of milk and there you go. Sweet, floral, and yummy. But it also tastes amazing in lemonade, orange juice, tea, and steamed milk. I’m thinking of trying a bit of it in some oatmeal with a little cream!

You could definitely come up with some delicious ways to use lavender simple syrup. The key thing to remember is you only need a little bit. You might be surprised at the amount of flavor it adds.

Lavender Simple Syrup

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat ingredients in a small saucepan on high until boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer about two minutes. Let cool. Pour into an airtight jar or container. (These work really well.) Store up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2016/01/27/how-to-make-lavender-simple-syrup/

Have you tried lavender in your coffee?

 


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How to Make Hand Milled Soap

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How to make Hand Milled Soap

Not long ago, I finally took the plunge into making my own soap. I was so nervous about using caustic materials like lye: what if I spilled it and burned my skin?! Eventually I got comfortable enough with the process that it’s really not a big deal any more.

I even shared my soap making secrets with you a few weeks ago! Hot-Process soap is my go-to for ease and quick use. The recipes are simple and there is a lot of room for creativity!

One of the reasons for getting into soap making was to start selling quality herbal soaps. The other was to limit the chemicals we use on our bodies and to save some money in the process.

There is a little bit of investment on the front end, but handcrafted soap can be a huge money saver. And I’ve got another idea for you to stretch your dollar a little farther.

Have you ever heard of Hand-milling? Hand-milling is the process of melting down soap scraps and creating an entire new loaf of soap!

You know those little scrappy pieces of soap that no one really wants to use up and get stuck to the corners of the bath tub? Save them and make new soap!

The hand-milling process is very simple and very frugal. Keep reading and I will walk you through it.

The Hand-Milling Process

If you want to make a full loaf, you need about 1 lb of scraps. When your soap reaches scrap level, remove it from the shower and let it dry completely. Store it in a container with your other scraps. It doesn’t need to be air-tight, the air will just continue to dry it out a little more.

Also, if you make your own hot-process soap, save the scraps from your crock-pot. Those are perfect for making hand-milled soap! I use a dish scraper to get the bits out of my crock-pot after it’s cooled down. The scraps go into recycled jars until I have enough to make a new loaf.

hot process soap scraps

Once you have enough soap scraps, chop them up or grate them into small pieces. The smaller the better so they will melt quickly. (I did not quite get mine small enough the first time and it took quite a while.)

chopped soap scraps

Set up your double boiler (or two pots stacked together) with water in the bottom and add your soap to the top. Add about 8 ounces of water per 1 lb of soap. If you are using less soap reduce the amount of water.

Soap and water

Get the bottom boiler water at an easy roll, not raging; you don’t need the soap to get too hot. Stir occasionally as the soap melds together and the water is absorbed.

While the soap is melting, line a loaf pan or soap mold with parchment paper. You don’t want to put soap in a mold without a liner. Its crazy hard to remove! (Trust me I know!)

soap melting

Once the soap is melted, you can add in some essential oils if you would like a new scent. My old bars consisted of Peppermint and Rosemary scent so I added in some Cedarwood which paired nicely with those two.

Scoop the melted, scented soap into your mold and press down with the back of a spoon so the top is somewhat smooth. Place your mold into a cardboard box and cover with a towel. This ensures that it doesn’t cool too quickly causing cracking on the top.

hand milled soap in mold

Leave your soap in the mold for 24-48 hours. (Sometimes it needs more time if you live in a humid climate.) Once you remove the soap from the mold slice into bars. If the bars seem soft, store in the cardboard box with the bars standing up with some space in between. This gives them air flow to dry them out a little bit.

Since this soap was already cured the first time it was made, it is ready to go! You now have fresh bars of soap made completely from old bars! You didn’t waste your handcrafted soap, and you were super frugal by utilizing resources you already had on hand.

handmilled soap in dish

Even if you don’t make your own soap or shampoo bars, this method works great for any type of soap. Handcrafted soaps are often the best for you since they won’t contain any harmful chemicals, but they can be pricy. Being frugal in your use and reuse makes an impact on your budget!

I love using my handcrafted soap and am very excited to make it last even longer.

Have you ever Hand-Milled your soap?

 


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