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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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 Hot Process Soap

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How to Make Hot Process Soap in your Crock Pot

It’s no secret that handcrafted soap is amazing!

Handcrafted soap, also known as Castile soap, is moisturizing, nourishing, cleansing, and all-natural. It suds well and doesn’t leave your skin dried out. There are many recipes available online for hot process soap and a lot of room for creativity!

I love hot process soap because it is easy to make and ready to use right away. Sometimes I go for a basic recipe like I’m going to share with you here and sometimes I like to make herbal, coffee, or coconut milk soap!

Basic Hot Process Soap:

Ingredients:

Supplies:

Note: It is very important to wear protective gear when handling lye. It is a caustic substance and will burn the skin! This is not a good DIY to do with the kids around.

To start your hot process soap, measure your oils by weight and add them to your crock pot. Melt the oils on low.

Measure out your water by weight in a heat proof bowl.

Wearing your protective gear measure your lye into another bowl.

Carefully add the lye to the water (you may want to step outside, it can put off some strong fumes). Stirring as you pour. Note: Never add water to lye, it will cause an overflowing chemical reaction!

Once your oils are melted, add the lye mixture to the crock-pot.

Continuing to wear your protective gear, use your hand blender to mix your soap to “trace”. Trace is when your soap appears like pudding.

soap at trace

Cover your crock-pot and let the soap cook for about an hour to reach neutrality. If you desire you can test the soap to be sure it is between 7 and 10 pH. This is the neutral zone for soap. (You can find test strips here.)

At this point your soap should be starting to bubble over itself. (See the photo, it’s hard to explain!) Add in your essential oils if using and stir well. Your kitchen will smell fantastic for the rest of the day.

hot process soap cooked to neutral

Line your soap mold with parchment paper. Carefully scoop your soap into the mold, it’s hot so don’t get it on your hands! (I speak from experience…)

Place your mold in a cardboard box and cover with a towel. Set it where it won’t be disturbed for 24 hours.

hot process soap in mold

Once your soap is set, remove it from the mold and cut into bars. Hot process soap cooks to neutrality so it is safe to use right away!

For the remaining bars, place them in a cool dry place slightly spaced out from each other. (I use a cardboard box.) This helps the soap to continue drying. Fully dried soap will last longer once you start using it in the bath or shower.

And now you have handcrafted soap!

hot process soap bars

Additional soapmaking tips:

If you’d like to create an herbal soap, simply replace the water in the above recipe with herbal infused water. I like to steep lavender in water to make a skin soothing soap.

For an exfoliating coffee soap, replace your water with strong brewed coffee. Instead of adding essential oils, mix in fine ground coffee to create an exfoliating texture.

Making coconut milk soap is a little trickier. Cut your water amount in half and sub coconut milk for the rest of the liquid. The trick is that you wait to add the coconut milk until the soap is at trace. Mix your half amount of water and lye, add to the oil mixture, blend until trace, and then add the coconut milk before cooking.

The coconut milk adds a nice nourishing softness to hot process soap. It doesn’t smell much like coconut, although that would be nice with a little lime essential oil!

There is some upfront cost to soapmaking, but in the end you are saving quite a bit per bar of soap compared to purchasing handcrafted soaps from shops like mine. If you are a little leery to get started you are more than welcome to try a bar of hot process soap from my shop Southern Vines Soap Company.

Green Tea and Lemongrass

Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions! I love making soap and I make a lot of it. My friends and family are always asking me to bring them soap!

Have you tried hot process soap making?


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How to Make Garlic Oil

how to make garlic oil revisedGarlic is one of THE BEST real food ingredients that you can use to boost the immune system.

It has high antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties to it that will strengthen your immune response and help your body fight bugs. (I wrote more about it a while back on Wellness Wednesday.)

If you have a little one, feeding them raw or honey infused garlic is not the easiest thing! It’s very strong in flavor and not very easy to swallow by itself. A good alternative for use for children (and adults!) is to make Garlic Oil.

Garlic oil won’t be quite as strong in its benefits but it will help nonetheless! It is especially helpful for potential ear infections.

This past week our little man came down with his first bug. It was not fun. He ran a very high fever and indicated a sore throat by his behavior. I didn’t want it to develop into an ear infection and promptly made some garlic oil.

Although little man was very clingy while he was sick, he did lay down and sleep a lot which allowed me to make him some garlic oil! I applied it to his neck and ears to absorb into his skin and help fight the infection in his throat and prevent any issues with his ears.

How to Make Garlic Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Slice or smash the garlic and let sit for a few moments. (This allows the allicin to react with the air, increasing the strength of its infection fighting properties.)
  2. Warm the olive oil up in a pan to warm but not hot. Add the garlic and let heat for about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cover. Let sit over night. You can use some after a couple of hours if needed, but the longer it sits the more garlic will be absorbed into the oil.
  4. To use: apply oil around ears or topically near potential infection or inflammation.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2015/05/28/how-to-make-garlic-oil/

Don’t worry about the garlic scent being too strong. The scent is rather mild and not irritating at all. It is also not near as strong as essential oils or certain herbal tinctures and should not interfere with the use of homeopathic medicines.

Garlic oil is also useful for other things besides infection and inflammation. You could use garlic oil as a drizzle on salad or bread. Use it on your pet’s collar to help repel ticks, or even in your door frames to prevent pests.

Have you made some Garlic Oil? What do you use it for?

Note: I am not a medical doctor. Please read my full disclaimer here. Consult your medical practitioner if you have an illness.


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Improve Your Water Drinking Habits

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Improve Your Water Habits

Slurp…Ahhh…The refreshing sip of cool water…

Water is DELICIOUS! I really do love water. Most often it’s my beverage of choice. But I know many people struggle with getting enough water. And that’s not good. We need water!

It is so important to drink plenty of water. Our bodies will function optimally when we have the right amount of water each day. It promotes good digestion, flushes out toxins, and can relieve headaches and boost the immune system. Hydration is key to good body function!

Since the toxins and digestive system are working so well, you may be able to lose weight just by drinking enough water. Who doesn’t want that kind of benefit?!

Your energy will increase when you have the right amount of water intake each day. Considering the improvement in body function, your heart, digestive, and other body systems won’t have to work as hard when you are hydrated, giving you the extra energy for other activities.

Drinking enough water will also help improve focus and mental clarity while lifting your mood. When you can think and function clearly, you are less likely to be frustrated and moody.

Additionally, good water drinking habits bring about healthy skin, hair, and nails. Your complexion will look much brighter when you are well hydrated. Just think about a raisin. They are all shriveled from lack of moisture. Drink water and your face won’t shrivel! (Maybe a little extreme but you get the picture.)

Drink more water

There are varying suggestions on how much water is right for each person. It probably depends a lot on your weight, overall health, and amount of physical activity. Eight 8-ounces is a pretty common rule of thumb. I’ve also seen the suggestion of half your body weight in ounces. And also 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women.

So as you can see the suggested amounts are all over the place. Personally I go for 9-10 8-oz cups per day. I feel best when I drink about that much, plus I’m breastfeeding so extra water is important. I can also tell when I haven’t had enough water. My eyes get really dry in the night and I’m extremely thirsty. Not fun!

In order to make sure I do get adequate amounts of water, I found I need some sort of system to keep the liquids flowing. Here are a few different methods that might help you out:

  • Get a big water bottle or jug (like this or this) to drink out of and know that you need to drink two full bottles per day. It’s easy to remember to fill it once in the morning, and then once again mid-day.
  • Pick a favorite cup from your cupboard and measure how much water it holds and then number some post-its and stick the correlating number on your cup. For example, if it holds 16 ounces, and you need to drink four of those in a day, make four numbered post-its and stick them on in the order that you fill your cup.
  • Set yourself a timer to go off every couple of hours to remind you to drink your water. You can also write time marks on your large water bottle to make sure you drink your water in a timely manner. It’s not good to guzzle!

My habits are fairly well built so I generally go with a mix of method one and two. I have a specific cup and I keep count of how many times I refill it. I try not to be too anal about it since I have enough other things to keep on my mind. But the benefits of water are pretty important!

Note: If you want to avoid middle of the night bathroom runs, get your fill of water earlier in the day. Plus your body benefits better from the water when you drink it throughout the day instead of all at once in the evening.

Do you have good water drinking habits?

 


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My Favorite DIY

This post contains affiliate links. My favorite DIY

It seems to me there is an innate sense in each of us to create. Whether its drawing, sewing, building, crafting, writing, or even household products, we all want to make things of which we can be proud. I know I get an immense amount of satisfaction when I’ve created something new for my home or family.

I have gathered a few of my favorite ideas and recipes for creating things around your home. You can also find more ideas on my Pinterest boards DIY Home, DIY Crafts, Homemade Beauty, and Green Home. And all of my own ideas are listed on my DIY page.

Go forth and be creative!

Bath and Beauty:

Home:

Crafts:

What are you going to create?

This post is shared on these blogs.

 


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