I have always been a bit of a nester. As a child, I was constantly redesigning, rearranging, and reorganizing my bedroom. When it came time for college apartments, I was most concerned with purchasing kitchen utensils. Little has thrilled me more than to shoot that little scanner gun at all my dreams incarnate in Crate & Barrel before Trevor and I got married.
And as a stay-at-home mom, especially now that we're out of baby stages, it's safe to say that 50 percent of my job could be classified as nesting. It's homemaking, is what it is, which is maybe a term I once cringed at a bit? I didn't want that to define me. But now, I place ownership on it. It is my job, my life, to make a home for my family.
I used to write a lot about natural living in our old home. We had a garden and a clothes line in the backyard, I would bake bread every week, and make my own cleaners. For so many reasons, it was hard for me to hang on to this when we were living in New York. It wasn't that I stopped striving for a natural household, I just went about it like a city girl living in an apartment instead of a young mother moonlighting as an urban homesteader. But since returning to Colorado, I've felt all of that well up inside of me again, and last week, my mom and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
These days I've shied away from traditional blogging and life sharing, but I posted the above photos on Instagram and I had a few requests to share recipes. It was fun to have that connection with people. I'm not an expert or a scientist or even an oils dealer. I have been incorporating most of these recipes or methods into our family's lifestyle for years, so I'm happy to share what works for us.
Laundry Detergent: By far the easiest recipe on the list. 1 cup Borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1 bar grated Ivory soap. I normally triple this recipe and it fits fine in a gallon glass air tight jar. Also, if you can't find washing soda, you can chemically convert baking soda by spreading it on a cookie sheet and popping it in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes. You only need one tablespoon of detergent per load, so this lasts forever.
Surface Cleaner: This recipe can be as easy as equal parts white distilled vinegar and distilled water. I also add an immunity boosting essential oil (like Thieves or OnGuard) and a citrus essential oil (like lemon or grapefruit). I keep mine in a 16-ounce amber glass sprayer bottle and use about 30 drops of each oil. I honestly use this cleaner everywhere, from my kitchen to bathroom surfaces, with the addition of a little Borax and baking soda to scrub my tub and the toilet bowl.
Face/Body Cleanser: I have recently been using a new recipe that I love. It is basically this, slightly modified and quadrupled to fit my 16-ounce amber glass pump bottle. I don't put essential oil in this because I use my face wash to remove my makeup and don't want it near my eyes; and I definitely use the Vitamin E oil, about 12-15 drops. After I wash my face, I follow up with rose petal witch hazel as a toner. And as a moisturizer, I order 100% Argan oil in an amber glass dropper jar and add several drops of frankincense, which is so great for your skin.
Body Lotion: I love to make my body lotion because it's so easy and so cool! I use about half of a large jar of unrefined Dr. Bronner's coconut oil (it has to be unrefined to work) and melt it to completely liquid. Use an electric mixer to fold in 45 drops of desired essential oil (I do about half frankincense, half sandalwood). Place bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Once oil begins to thicken (but not yet solidified) pull it out and whip it with the mixer for about 2-3 minutes. Put it back in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes, waiting for it to begin to solidify. Then whip it again and it will become a beautiful, white, fluffy consistency. I store mine in an amber glass jar with an air tight lid.
Sprays: I have recently begun experimenting with distilled water and witch hazel sprays. The witch hazel emulsifies whatever essential oils you use. I refer to Mama Watters' recipes on her Homesong blog, and am currently loving the calming spray (we use it as part of our bedtime routine) and the ouchie spray (because it skeezes me out to think about the chemicals in first aid salves).
Waves: I also use a sea salt spray on my hair, which is completely stick straight. I only wash about once a week and use a natural dry shampoo about every other night. On my wash day, I'll spray down my hair with the sea salt spray and, after it is mostly dry, throw it up in a loose French braid to sleep on. This combo gives me some good volume, that only gets better as the week goes on and my hair gets dirtier. (Gross, right?!) I will scrunch in some more sea salt spray every three days or so for a boost. I use a 2-ounce amber glass spray bottle and fill the bottom third with equal parts Epsom salt and sea salt. Then I add a few drops of Vitamin E oil and pure aloe vera. I drop in just a touch of lemon oil and then fill the bottle up with hot water.
Dry Shampoo: I have tried lots of options for dry shampoo, and if I'm being honest, I haven't found the perfect solution yet. I made a shampoo of oatmeal flour and baking soda which was effective, but I felt the baking soda dried my hair. Baby powder works too, but there are a lot of concerns with even pure talcum powder. I have a friend who swears by cocoa powder and arrowroot, but her hair is much darker than mine. My mom spoiled me on my birthday and sprung for the Lulu Organics recipe, so I'm using (and loving) that for the time being. Much of this is going to depend on your hair type and color, so it's really about trial and error.
Rollers: We do use a few rollers regularly on the bottoms of our feet. Rolling essential oils takes practically religious commitment to be effective, but I see really positive results from our use. My go-to roller is for seasonal allergies, a blend of fractionated coconut oil with added lemon, peppermint, and lavender. (The amounts you use will depend on the size of your roller, so please make sure that you are mixing safe proportions!) We also use another made from fractionated coconut oil and an immunity-booster (like Thieves or OnGuard, depending on what brand of oils you're using). I have a roller that comes in handy around that time of the month when rolled right over the ovaries made from fractionated coconut oil and then a mass of essential oils: ylang ylang, tangerine, orange, patchouli, chamomile, lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, and fennel.