Make Your Own Cleaning Products

Ditch the Ajax, and come over to the light side!

One of the easiest, most effective ways to begin removing harmful chemicals from your home and venture further toward that ultimate crunchy goal is to grab a giant trash bag, and empty out your cupboards!  As you are chucking things into the trash, pay close attention to all commercial cleaning products.

Are you ever scrubbing your shower down, and due to the confined space and haz-mat-worthy fumes, find yourself faint?

There’s a reason for that!  You are breathing in those incredibly harmful toxins as they whisk the dirt off your coutnertops.

Would you believe me if I said you can do the same quality of cleaning without the harmful chemicals flooding your lungs?

One of  my favorite gateways into crunchiness is making your own cleaning products!

So, here’s what you’ll need:

At least one spray bottle (I love larger ones so I have to make my products less often)

Vinegar

Tea tree oil

Hydrogen Peroxide

Baking Soda

And that’s it!  Say WHAAAAT???  Yep!  You know all those bottles beneath your sink, crowding out any actual utility?  You can now minimize with these simple ingredients in your artillery!!

Here are the formulas I stick to:

All-Purpose Cleaner and Windex

I fill my spray bottle with about 70% vinegar, 30% water.  I then add about 10 drops of tea tree oil for every 24 ounces or so.   Some people have complained about streaks as a windex, but I have never had any problems!

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Sprinkle a little baking soda around the bowl of your toilet.  If you need extra power, spray it with hydrogen peroxide (always make sure to store any and all hydrogen peroxide in the dark bottle it comes in to keep it activated.  Ideally, put a spraying nozzle screwed on the bottle).  Usually, I just squirt it with a little vinegar mixture though, and scrub as normal.

Disinfectant

Spray your vinegar solution followed by your hydrogen peroxide.  Or vice versa!!  This method has been shown to be even more effective at disinfecting than even commercial products on the market!  Just make sure you don’t mix the two together in one container!!  It creates peracetic acid, and has entirely different properties than the two alone!

 

That’s pretty much it!  No need to customize different cleaners for each job.  This works great straight across the board!  You don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients.

Occasionally, I like the smell of citrus when cleaning, so I will add a little lime, lemon, or grapefruit oil to my cleaner.  But the tea tree gives it a nice, effective smell!  I usually just stick with that.

Good luck!  Enjoy the crunchy cleaning!

~Cyndi

Placenta Encapsulation

I’ve done it!  I got the go-ahead from Darion, and I’ve made my mind up!
Come post-partum baby number 2, I am planning to have my placenta encapsulated.

I’m convinced!
Now, with Lincoln, I wouldn’t say I had post-partum depression.  What I WOULD say, is I DEFINITELY had the baby blues.  And I think most (if not all!) mamas do develop some level of emotional and hormonal instability.

What I went through was difficult enough for me.  I can’t imagine how trying it would have been were it more severe than that.

So I am in the market to do all that I can to ensure an easier recover next time around.

Let me put it to you this way: If there were a magic pill you could take that maybe wouldn’t completely fix it, but would help balance your hormones, alleviate pain, help you sleep better, heal faster, have more energy, produce more milk, combat infections – wouldn’t you take it?

Well there is!  And of course you’d take it!!  It’s just about hurdling those mental hang ups about the concept.

But God put it right there for us as a part of childbirth!  Isn’t that wondrous?!

In fact, almost all mammals eat their placenta after birth.

Now listen, I’m not suggesting you eat it in a stew (some cultures do!), but what I AM suggesting is look into encapsulation!

Most doulas include this option as part of their services.  If not a doula, there are multiple companies out there that will perform the encapsulation for right around $150-$200.

If you think this is a hefty price, just try to view it as the most absolutely effective and wonderful post-natal vitamin you can take!
If you think this is gross, just imagine what you might put into your body with conventional vitamins!  This is probably nothing in comparison!

Taking your placenta can also help replenish your iron stores.  With my first child birth, I was deemed iron deficient anemic.  I also had all sorts of problems with my platelet count being off the charts high due to a reaction to my c-section.

In short, I had a pretty rough recovery with a lot of n0-more-nursing scares.  I was referred to a hematologist.  It was a mess.

I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to avoid the difficulties I had recovering if you paid me!  Especially considering that next time I will already have an older child to chase after while recovering!

So maybe this is something you’ve heard of but were disgusted by, like I once was.

Maybe you’ve never heard of this before, it’s a completely foreign concept!
But I have arrived at the place where it is SO worth the trade off to me, take a pill when I’m feeling emotional, and be balanced and well.
It still grosses me out a little if I think about it too hard.

But you know what?  I am refusing to succumb to the weak gut, letting that keep me from the awesome healing powers of placenta encapsulation!
I suppose I had to have a horrendous recovery the first time around to arrive at this point.  I just hope I can spare someone the same!

~Cyndi

Homemade Bread

Leah finally did it!!  She talked me into trying out a recipe for homemade bread.

This is a recipe calling for wheat berries, ground.

I was intimidated!!

It took me so long to come to this point, where I was actually serious about making bread.

It seems like an overwhelmingly daunting task!  I’ve never even made bread much before turning crunchy, so the prospect had me in the corner quivering!!!

But Leah gave me some wheat berries, so I had no excuse!
So I dived right in!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that, even with some hang ups in the process, it was quite easy.

I followed this recipe per Leah’s counsel.

Now, our bread didn’t get a good rise.  It was okay, but a little dense.

I expected it would be more dense than a typical, store-bought, aerated loaf.  But that combined with a bad rise made it a little less than I had hoped for.

However, I felt much better about eating this than anything I could buy in a store, and I compensated by cutting our bread into thinner slices.  It helped!
So here was my experience making bread!

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Here are the wheat berries!!

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First thing’s first, I ground them up in my Blendtec (I love my Blendtec!)

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I poured my flour into the bread pan.

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Added the wet ingredients.

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Here is the bread, mid-knead.  I wound up having to add extra water and try to restart the bread maker because it got through the knead cycle, and I neeeeeeded (hehe!) it to run through the cycle again with more water.  My maker wound up overheating, and it took about ten minutes to kick back on.  I’m pretty sure this caused my flat bread, so now I know.  If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer (on my wish list!  birthday perhaps?), it’s awesome for this type of job because you can see your dough and adjust accordingly!

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Here is my “after” photo!!  The bread, as you can see, sank!  Yikes!!  More than enjoying the taste and texture of the bread, I think I enjoyed knowing what we were eating.  I can only imagine how great it would feel were it actually risen properly!!  ;]IMG_8079

I used the bread for some delicious egg salad sandwiches, made with eggs from a friend with chickens, European style yogurt, and turmeric!  Yum!  :]


So there you have my first attempt at homemade bread.  I’m hoping and praying for more success in my near future.  We aren’t big bread eaters anyhow, but it would be nice for those occasions when we do!

Good luck, crunchy bakers!

Cloth Wipes

I hadn’t planned to make the switch to cloth wipes.  I was perfectly happy using my more “natural” brand of disposables.  Then, literally the month I started cloth diapering, my shipment of wipes came in from Amazon, and they were completely different!!
The company had made changes to better their product.  I wasn’t a fan.

So, instead of switching to a different brand, it was just the motivation I needed to start using cloth!!  And I am so so so incredibly happy I did!!  I love cloth wipes so much more!  They clean better, are more gentle, and I know EXACTLY what is on my baby’s bum!!
I got some unbleached 100% cotton wipes (36 of them), and now I make my own solution.

I still put them in my wipes warmer, and even have a method of folding them so they come out just like disposable wipes do.

IMG_7675First, you want to lay one wipe on the other, overlapping about halfway

IMG_7678Then, fold the bottom one over the top

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Next, lay another wipe flat in the place of the very bottom oneIMG_7680

Fold the other half overIMG_7681

Continue on in this way until you have a nice pile!!  I try to only do about 10-12 wipes to a stack now so that they don’t sit in the warmer for too long.IMG_7683That’s it!!

For travel, we just use an old, empty Huggies container!  It’s so simple!  And I can switch the wipes back and forth between the warmer and the container if need be.

When I’m done with the wipes, I just put them in the diaper pail or wet bag along with the diaper, and throw them in the wash!!
Because the solution has vinegar and tea tree oil in it, it really helps cut down on any unwanted odors, and it makes the wash more effective!
So there you have it!
It’s super simple, and was just as great and fun a switch as diapers!  And it makes my life 100 times easier, just chucking them in with the diapers!  I really can’t express how much more convenient this is!

Also, because there is Castile soap in the solution as well, I really feel it cleans much better!

If you decide to make the switch, you won’t be sorry!!

~Cyndi

Just A Typical Sunday Night

So it’s just another typical Sunday night in this crunchy household!
You know, the usual:

Baked bread from the wheat berries my Sissy so graciously afforded me.

Made egg salad from my eggs bought from a friend with chickens.

Whipped up some from-scratch manicotti.

And now, to settle in and do some massive research on vaccinations.

Did you expect anything less?
What are you doing this Sunday evening?

Homemade Puffs

So I love the idea of puffs for my little guy.  He can work on his fine motor skills while ingesting some nourishment, all while giving Mommy a little break to get work done around the kitchen!

Win, win, win!

Unfortunately, most products like this on the market are saturated with grains, gluten, and gross stuff that little guys’ systems just aren’t designed to handle.

Enter: Coconut Mama.

I found this recipe on her website, and today I am making them!

A quick trip out to BJ’s, and we are on our way.

Check back for a pictorial guide!

Homemade Raw Milk Ice Cream

icecream

Note: this post originally appeared on the Riverside Homestead blog on 5/17/12.

I absolutely LOVE ice cream.  Growing up, I had a big bowl after dinner most nights (something I happily inherited from my mother!).  Unfortunately, once we started eating “real food,” commercial ice cream posed a number of problems.  Many commercial ice creams contain propylene glycol (translation – antifreeze), and apparently the manufacturers do not even have to include this as an ingredient on the label because it is an “industry standard” food additive.  Sarah at the Healthy Home Economist has done an excellent article on it if you wish to do some extra reading here.  Another issue is that all of them use pasteurized (and most likely not grass-fed) milk/cream and refined sugars (even the organic varieties or Breyers, which is one of the better grocery store choices).  These are two things I strive to avoid.  And if we expand our scope to the more popular commercial offerings in the grocery store other than the more natural brands, we’ll find a plethora of unpronounceable chemical additives, thickening agents, dyes, etc…

Enter homemade ice cream to the rescue!  Last summer, I picked up a 1.5 quart Cusinart ice cream maker at a garage sale for $5 (much like this one).  We got more than our money’s worth out of this little machine…sadly, one day, the freezer bowl piece “jumped” out of the garage freezer and cracked, and we sadly had to retire the little champ.  I looked into buying a replacement bowl, but I was hesitant to invest the $30 they were asking when I had no clue how old the machine was and how long before the motor part might give out.  Vowing to be FAR more careful about situating the freezer bowl on stable terrain in the freezer going forward, I upgraded to this very similar 2-quart model, knowing it would earn its keep and be worth every penny after our many successes with the garage sale model.  I thought I would share our favorite recipe for a basic chocolate chip vanilla ice cream.  You can take the base recipe and add different things to it for different flavors, but it’s just so darn good I usually stick to plain old chocolate chip!

Homeade Raw Milk Ice Cream (Vanilla Chocolate Chip Flavor)

Serves about 6

Ingredients:

2 cups cream (preferably grass-fed and raw – I just pour the cream off our raw milk)
2 cups milk (preferably grass-fed and raw)
2 raw egg yolks (I would skip this step unless you can buy from a clean, organic, pastured source)
1/2 cup sweetener (my favorite choice is maple syrup – you could also use honey or rapadura)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (use real vanilla extract if possible)
1/4 cup or so of chocolate chips (I found a wonderful organic, fair-trade, 72% dark chocolate bar at Trader Joe’s which has NO SOY – I am in heaven!  I chop part of this up and add it to our ice cream)

Directions: Combine the cream, milk, egg yolks, sweetener, and vanilla extract in a large bowl or pitcher.  Whisk together with a fork.  I use my immersion blender to ensure a very smooth texture.  This also incorporates a lot of air into the mixture which will give your finished ice cream a much softer texture.  Pour into your ice cream maker and run according to the machine’s directions (about half an hour or so on the Cuisinart we use).  You can add in the chocolate chips at any time, but most machines recommend adding towards the end.  Once done, the ice cream will be a “soft-serve” consistency.  It is delicious at this point, but if you desire, you can scoop into a shallow dish or into pint-sized jars in individual servings and freeze for an hour or so to get a firmer texture.  I like to make a big batch, freeze in jars, and then we have ice cream on demand for a couple of days before we devour it all!

Here are a few more comments I have from lots of personal experience, trial and error…I don’t advise putting the ice cream mixture into a blender for the pre-mixing step.  I did this once, and it heated my ice cream mixture into an unpleasant custard texture.  My immersion blender is great because it does not heat the mixture up – a whisk would do just fine, too, as I mentioned above.  No matter what you do, homemade ice cream tends to have a more “icy” texture than commercial varieties.  This is why you want to lightly scoop into individual jars or a shallow dish.  Do NOT pack the ice cream down or you will eliminate the fluffiness that helps make for a smoother texture.  Also – make sure your freezer bowl is VERY frozen.  I usually have to leave our’s in the freezer for at least 2 days for it to be fully frozen.  We have a nice big freezer in the garage for storing our meats, and I make darn sure there is always enough room to keep our ice cream bowl in there so I can make ice cream whenever I want!  You also want to be sure to run the machine long enough to get the ice cream as cold and frozen as possible.  If your ice cream is very melty before you transfer to the freezer, it will still taste good, but it will have an icy sorbet texture to it which is edible but not desirable.  I have read that adding a little vodka or rum to the ice cream also helps to make for a softer ice cream because it does not harden when it freezes.  I think this really does work because I make our ice cream with my homemade vanilla extract, which is made by combining vodka and whole vanilla beans and allowing to sit for weeks, months, even years to draw out the vanilla flavoring.  You are only adding 2 tablespoons for six servings – so it’s not enough to cause any harm, and it has the added benefit of improving the texture of the ice cream!  If your vanilla is not made with vodka or rum, you might consider adding a little to improve the texture.

As you can see, I am very enthusiastic about our homemade ice cream.  When made with grass-fed raw cream/milk and such a small amount of natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey, I would honestly consider this a health food.  I have justified eating it for breakfast on many occasions because I believe the raw milk, cream, and egg yolks are so nourishing!  So go ahead and indulge!

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