Category Archives: Green Living

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Natural Laundry Soap

laundrysoap1It’s that time again – with a larger family it seems like I am always doing laundry. I always chuckle when I read about folks with “laundry days” where they can bang out their laundry in an hour or two a week. I find myself needing to do one or two loads a day to keep up with the family’s needs. And to be honest I’m usually still overloaded with clothes and linens. If they aren’t dirty and piling up, they are clean and piling up, needing to be folded and sorted. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this problem though!

Here is my go-to laundry soap recipe.

Laundry Soap

(add 2-3 Tbsp to each load of laundry)

1 bar soap, finely grated (I typically use Dr. Bronner’s Lavender)

1 cup super washing soda

1 cup borax

1/2 cup – 1 cup baking soda

I mix all together into a large jar and give a vigorous shake to combine well. I keep a tablespoon measuring spoon in the jar.

I do not use dryer sheets (they contain animal fats) or wool dryer balls. But for a little added scent (though the lavender soap works quite well for this), I may put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on a scrap of flannel along with the clothes in the dryer.  

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The End of Summer

We are wrapping up our summer, along with our extended stay in Georgia. We’ve got a few holdouts in the garden, like the grape tomatoes, green peppers and our zinnias, but the cucumbers, squash and watermelons are done.

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Our green pepper plant has been productive too. Along with the tomatoes, it is one of the last plants still going strong in the heat of the summer. The new Rosemary plant is growing quite well!

Kyri has been eating the grape tomatoes straight off the branches as they become ripe, so no one else has had much opportunity to enjoy them. Maybe next year I’ll do two different tomato plants!

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Kyri won’t touch a cooked tomato, but she can eat fresh tomatoes all day long. We have had a very productive grape tomato plant this summer, and she has eaten most of them straight from the branches!

I honestly didn’t realize how popular zinnias were with  butterflies until we visited the Butterfly Exhibit at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in July. I shared some of our pictures on Instagram (my favorite site for sharing pictures and keeping up with people!), but will share them here on the site as well.

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Zinnias were Kyri’s choice for the garden this year, and they have been quite popular with the butterflies! We’ve had such a wonderful range of butterfly visitors to our garden this summer.

We will be heading back to Texas in a couple of weeks, just in time to start planning a fall garden!

sanitizer

Natural Hand Sanitizer

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With younger children running around touching everything, I try to keep a supply of hand sanitizer and other balms tucked in my bag whenever we are out. While I prefer to just have my kiddos use soap and water, it’s nice to have something quick for little hands. 
 
Natural Hand Sanitizer
 

6 ounces aloe vera gel

Essential oils:

10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops lavender 
10 drops peppermint
5 drops eucalyptus
3 drops lemon
2 drops clove
5-10 drops vitamin E oil
 
I combine aloe, essential oils and vitamin E in a bottle. This solution is thin enough that I could use a spritzer top, but a pump or dropper top would also work well.
 
Shake before each use to make sure oils are well dispersed. 

Vegan Body Balm

I have a new favorite skin care product!
 
bodybalm 
I usually struggle with dry skin in the winter months, suffering from cracked hands and flaking skin on my face. My skin usually recovers by spring. This year, however, my skin has remained dry and flaky long after the cold weather has passed. I suspect it has to do with being pregnant.
 
I’m very picky when it comes to any lotions I use. I dislike anything that leaves my skin feeling greasy. I also need something that can really penetrate and heal my dry skin.
 
I use this balm all over the body. I love using it on my hands. It does not leave my hands greasy, but has completely repaired my hands and kept them from cracking. I’m always nervous about putting anything on my face, with the exception of a little coconut oil, because I am afraid of clogged pores and breakouts. But this balm doesn’t feel heavy on my face and doesn’t clog my pores. It actually leaves my skin feeling supple and plump. I have even used this as my lip balm.
 
Because this is a thick balm, a little goes a long way. I split the batch I prepared in half, and have the second jar stored in my fridge.
  
Body Balm
 
1/2 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup carnauba wax
2 Tbsp cocoa butter
1 Tbsp mango butter
Essential oil(s) of choice 
 
All ingredients were combined in a pyrex measuring cup and placed in a saucepan of water, as a sort of double boiler. I heated on Medium heat until oils and wax were melted. Carnauba wax may take several minutes of heating in order to melt completely. This prep yielded a approximately a cup and a half of balm.
 
 
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Herb Thursday: Tea Tree Oil Deodorant

I finally took the plunge and made my own deodorant. My husband is under strict orders to give me his honest feedback on whether or not it works. This is my variation on a recipe that I have seen in many forms around the internet, so I have high hopes.

Here in South Texas, our coconut oil tends to be liquid at room temperature this time of year. Keeping my deodorant in the fridge is kind of inconvenient, as it is for most people I imagine. So I added some carnauba wax to keep it solid at room temperature.

Tea Tree Oil Deodorant

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1/2 cup baking soda

8 Tbsp coconut oil

2 Tbsp carnauba wax

20 drops tea tree oil

20 drops peppermint

I used a pyrex measuring cup in a pot of water to warm the coconut oil and melt the carnauba wax. Once the oil and wax mixture was completely liquid, I removed from heat and let sit at room temperature. I then added the arrowroot powder and baking soda and mixed well. I then added the tea tree oil and peppermint and mixed the deodorant by hand. I kneaded the mixture like playdough to distribute the oils. I then transferred to a glass jar and stored in the fridge overnight to cool completely. The deodorant was then stored at room temperature.

For daily use, a small amount (dime size) is removed and warmed in the palm. Deodorant is then rubbed into the skin under the arms. This is not an antiperspirant, so it will not prevent sweating. But the deodorizing and antibacterial properties of the ingredients will keep you from smelling bad. I added peppermint essential oil as an added scent, but any scent can be added to personalize the deodorant.

 

 

tea tree oil deodorant

 

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Herb Thursday: Body Powder

One of my fondest memories of my grandmother, who recently passed away, is of the body powder puff that was a fixture in her bathroom. It was not anything fancy, just a simple shallow container with a matching powder puff on top. She would dust herself with a bit of talcum powder after her shower.

While not part of my daily regiment, a light dusting of powder can be nice. It is deodorizing and refreshing. But store-bought powder is not something I am interested in putting on my skin.

This is a simple body powder recipe, adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health (an absolute necessity if you don’t already own this book!).

Orange Body Powder

1/2 cup kaolin clay

1 cup arrowroot powder

30 drops orange essential oil (more if you want a stronger scent)

 

Combine powders and add essential oil. Mix and cover with a light cotton cloth. Let powder dry for several hours before transfering to a covered container. Dust lightly with a cosmetic brush or a powder puff.

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Herb Thursday: Essential Oil Room and Linen Spray

Last year I started a series here at the vegan bee called Herb Thursday. My original intention was to focus on one herb for several weeks and write about different uses, background information, etc. Well, life happened and my project got put to the side. But I really like the idea of writing about herbal remedies and natural household products – I just haven’t been able to figure out the best way to schedule and plan everything out.

Well, I recently started a few different herbal projects and I decided to put together smaller posts detailing what I am working on . Rather than make it a project with a lot of research and writing, I figured I would keep it simple. I’ll be sharing the different herbal recipes and ideas I am working on.

As a homeschooling family, I firmly believe that one of the best ways to encourage a love of learning in my children is to model this. I’ve put off a lot of personal reading and personal projects in the past few years due to busyness, but recently decided that I needed to make the effort to spend some time working on my own interests. My kids need to see me do this. So I am putting a lot more effort into a natural products self-study. Look for weekly updates, posted under Herb Thursday, on the things I am currently working on.

We have four dogs and so it’s a constant battle to keep the house smelling fresh. I would love to be able to open up the windows a lot more, but our Texas summers almost require A/C be running at all times. I want to find a scent that I love, and that I can use to freshen the air as well as the bedding and furniture. I have tried commercial sprays and even the natural ones tend to be quite strong. And don’t get me started on Febreeze. That stuff is horrible – it makes everything smell like dryer sheets and it is so overwhelming. I can’t imagine the fumes from Febreeze are healthy for anyone.

Making a room spray with essential oils is quite simple and allows for a lot of personal experimentation. While I have been reading a lot about aromatherapy and different essential oil blends, I decided to keep it simple for this room spray.

1 1/2 cup distilled water

1/2 cup white vinegar

12-15 drops essential oil (I used Lavender)

Mix and store in a spray bottle. Gently shake before each use.

I spray this in the air and on carpet and furniture – not to soaking, just a few spritzes until slightly damp. Vinegar does an awesome job of deodorizing the room as well as carpet and furniture as it dries (and doesn’t leave a vinegar smell behind!). The essential oil scent stays behind. You might want to check colorfastness of furniture or carpet before spraying, but I didn’t experience any staining or color fading from the vinegar.

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