Category Archives: recipes, tutorials + DIY

twenty four + the beauty products, recipes + methods i love

Since moving to the country I go out into the world a lot less.  Since there isn’t even the off chance that I might run into the mail lady, I find I put less and less into my appearance and wardrobe.  At first it was liberating, but I have grown tired of always looking like a rumpled rag.

Every morning I think it will be the morning that I get myself into the shower before Mike leaves for work, but I always find something else to tidy or it is just too damn cold.  This morning, though, I forced myself into the rather unwelcoming shower stall; the worst part is always the wall of ice that smacks up against you just after shutting off the water and opening the glass door.  Once I had some warm layers on again I felt so much better.  I know, I know, poor little Muffin and her First World problems!  😉

Now, I love a good jammie day just as much as the next person; probably even more so.  But I have noticed a marked improvement in my mood, patience, productivity, and general well being when I take that 20 or 30 minutes of self care each morning.

I used to be a bit of a product whore.  I loved going to the drug store to find new products that would make my hair shinier, my skin dewier, and my eyes poppier.  I have admitted to you on many occasions just how much I enjoy shopping and browsing, but in the last few years I have really begun to think about the nasty, carcinogenic crap they put in our products and have made it a goal to remove it from our home.  I have found wonderful replacements for pretty much everything, but my hair products.  I often have people ask me what  products I use and have been meaning to make a post telling you just that for quite some time.  To cram it into this post feels quite suitable, no?

Shampoo + Conditioner:  Let me first tell you that I have insanely thick hair which has natural loose curls.  My favourite product is Dove, but they still test on animals and contain all the usual chemicals so I try to buy the products not tested on animals.  I have tried going “poo free” in which I used baking soda, water and apple cider vinegar and I thought I liked it until I caved about a month and half in and washed my hair with real shampoo and it felt like my scalp could breathe again.  I have tried pretty much every natural product out there, but it always makes it feel heavy, frizzy, or just unclean.  I am not quite so picky about my conditioner and do like Nature’s Gate.

Mousse: Again, I have tried all the natural brands in hopes of finding something that makes my hair work, but my favourites are Herbal Essences or Dove though they are, once again, full of chemicals and tested on animals.  I even boiled flax seeds in hopes of using the gloopy bi-product for hair gel.  It was nasty and turned really fast.  I am still searching.

Hair Dryer:  I use a  Barbar Ceramic hair dryer (I bought it a couple years ago with a free shipping and 60% off coupon).  I also have a CHI hair straightener which I bought on clearance when we were a dual income household.  It is covered in hideous skull and crossbones, but the colour just wasn’t worth paying a premium.  I only use it when I have bangs..

Moisturizer:  For the body I like to use my homemade sugar scrub in the bath or shower which removed the need to moisturize afterwards.  For my face, I mix a little cocoa into my Green Beaver facial moisturizer to create a chemical free, sun free self tanner because I am of the opinion that everyone looks best with a little tan (how very 1980’s of me).

Face Wash:  Water.  Though I have heard good things about the oil cleansing method.  I use Witch Hazel as a toner.

Lips: I use my homemade lip balm and am wanting to try a decent DIY lip stain for the days I need a little colour.

 Makeup:  I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup.  Nearly everything I would use (mascara, eyeshadow, and eye liner) was in this kit for 24.99 at our local-ish health food store and sometimes I will use their subtle blush for these white wintry days.  I feel better when I wear a touch of makeup, but usually only where it when I leave the house.

Toothpaste:  As a formal dental hygienist, I feel a little torn about the whole fluoride controversy.  In an ideal world we wouldn’t need it and everyone would eat whole foods and have impeccable oral hygiene, but that just isn’t the case.  I don’t believe it should be in our drinking water.  We have been using this toothpaste for nearly 2 years and love it.

Deodorant:  I will only use the very best homemade deodorant ever created.  Some people say it can stain your clothes if you dress right after, but I have never found that.  Some people think baking soda contains aluminum, but apparently it is our baking powder that we should be looking more closely at.  If you’re still unsure, just get the aluminum free stuff like I did before I read that post.

Baby Wash/Shampoo – If you’re like me, you thought you were safe buying the unscented baby shampoos, but they contain all the shitty chemicals our stuff contains so I stopped buying it.  First I stopped washing Poppy’s curly hair and just used a tiny bit of conditioner, but when I ran out of that I just started wetting and/or brushing her hair at bath time each night and it is just the same.  I don’t even have to brush Silas’ hair.  You’d think their hair would stink or get oily, but it never does.  I just use homemade soap that I always seem to have given to me as gifts.

Bubble Bath:  Bubble bath just isn’t bubble bath without Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.  So I try to use epsom salts and essential oils instead, but I miss my bubbles.

Perfume/Cologne:  Pachouli has always been my scent and I have never ever been able to use anything but the more beyond The Body Shop’s perfume oils (I am sure they contain just as many chemicals.  Also they don’t make them anymore).  I have not bought new perfume in years, but when my oils run out I will just use Pachouli.  Mike has been saying he’d like a signature scent; something that when the kids smell it they think fondly of their daddy and his love. I am hoping one of these recipes will fit the bill.

Laundry Soap: I love this homemade recipe, but when I don’t have all the ingredients on hand or just don’t feel like taking the time, I use Ecos Laundry Soap.

 

There you have it.  My biggest pet peeve is when something doesn’t do what it it supposed to do so these are the recipes, products and methods I have found to be better for us, the earth, and are actually effective.  I have started a Pinterest board where I will be pinning recipes and ideas I would like to try so if you’d like to see more of what catches my eye, feel free to follow me.

What are your tried and true recipes, methods, and products?  What little things make a big difference in your day?

 

go gently + be wonderful

e

 

Also posted in 365 photo project, frugal living, life, wellness | 13 Comments

we’re getting kind of good at this

After an entire weekend devoted to work on our entertainment cabinet, it is finally complete.

As many of you may have noticed, we live in a 104 year old cabin so much of the wiring could not be hidden in the walls since they are made of giant logs.  One wall contains huge tats of wires, panels and plugs.  We did our best to place the biggest pieces of furniture and curtains in front of it to both hide and keep the kids out, but it has been a thorn in my side since day one.  We originally thought we would pay someone to build a false wall there, then we thought we would build it ourselves, and then we decided to build a very large cabinet that would nearly perfectly cover most of the wall.  These plans fit the bill perfectly and since we had such great luck with Ana White’s plans for our harvest table and Poppy’s bed, we jumped right in.

With the addition of a chop saw (an early birthday present from Mike’s dad) and a Kreg Jig the project, though time consuming, was fairly simple for us newbies.  That being said I am glad it is done.  It contains a lot of blood, sweat, tears and maybe even a little piece of our marriage.

We used pine and finished it with two coats of “White Oak” stain.  We placed four drawer pulls and will be making the remaining door knobs from driftwood or cut antlers.  Though we don’t have a big television (actually it is just an old computer with a 20 inch monitor) we decided to leave the large opening since we may one day get a real one again.  It cost a bit more than we had anticipated, but when you factor in our learning of new skills, the quality and strength of the piece, and the feeling of pride we feel when looking at it, I would do it all over again.

Last night, the living room was put back together and, while I made supper, Mike chopped wood for the wood box.  We sat fireside last night and again early this morning.

Fall is no longer a whisper and I couldn’t be gladder.

Also posted in craft, homesteading, life, our cabin | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

watercolour portraits

I love Pinterest.

I love becoming inspired and creating the tutorials and ideas I find.

This DIY watercolour portrait tutorial definitely makes my top 10 list of favourite DIY pins to date.

This craft is incredibly simple with a high quality finished product.  I was able to do the one of Silas in about an hour while two kids napped and the other two watched the Magic School Bus, drew pictures, and climbed the counter to see what I was up to.  The one of Poppy took a bit longer due to the tiny details of Smitten’s face (masking fluid would be ideal for the more detailed pictures), but with Silas napping and Poppy painting with her own paints I was able to finish it in one sitting.

These are just begging to be framed and wrapped up as thoughtful Christmas gifts.

I have long wanted to learn watercolour painting, but usually just end up with a lot of muddy colours and can never seem to get the results I am hoping for.  That being said, it is tremendously therapeutic and meditative for me.  Knitting, crocheting, and sewing usually make me twitchy.  Seriously, it’s unnerving.  But when I paint, it is all I think about.  My mind easily slips into a silence I rarely know and serenity comes.

Just had to share with you!

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in craft, photography + writing, wellness | 6 Comments

oh snap, we made a table

.

I have been talking about this project for what seems like forever.  I loved our large round table that was given to us by my dad and step mom when we bought our first house.  It was large, round, and perfectly aged as it was from an old farmhouse.  It was perfect for our first house.  Many a deep discussion and good belly laughs were had around it.  Unfortunately, the dining space in our new house was just too narrow and plans were made to make our own.  So we have moved it into our pantry space where I will use it to let our carefully preserved jams and sauces set.

We had never made anything ourselves before moving to the cabin in the country, but we seem to have found our guts and glory in this new home of ours.  We are becoming who we are are here and it is good, really good.

We modified the plans we found here to make it a bit shorter, but we stuck with the original width.  The instructions were super easy to follow and I highly recommend her site.  We couldn’t scrounge up enough lumber around our house so we bought it from the local hardware store.  So, with the lumber, wood filler, screws, and stain we made this table for about $130 and completed the build on mother’s day weekend between taking care of the kids, a trip to Ikea, and other festivities.  I stained it tonight first using Minwax Wood Conditioner {I highly recommend using the conditioner as it makes for super simple and even stain application} and “Provincial” stain {I wanted “Driftwood”, but the local stores didn’t carry it} .  I would also like to try making our own, less toxic wood stains. I did two coats on the top and only one on the legs.  Next we will put a protective coat of varnish on to protect it from jam hands and grease monkeys.

I won’t lie, we feel pretty darn unstoppable now that we’ve built this table {a chicken coop, a compost bin, garden and yard fences and gates from found branches, a pine floor laid, board and baton in the bathroom, gardens, etc} together.  It was a perfect first timer’s venture into precise furniture building project and oh so fitting that we finished it so near our five year {wooden} anniversary.  It also goes pretty well with the kitchen cupboards I painted white just a couple days ago.  This house is feeling more and more mine every day.

Next we plan to make twin beds for the kids.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

 

Also posted in celebration, craft, frugal living, homesteading, life, our cabin | 24 Comments

dancing rabbit daycare

 

{I found and purchased the dancing rabbit image via etsy}

Many of you have been oh so curious about our decision to have a daycare in our home.

If you had asked me at any point in my life what I saw myself doing for a living, home daycare would have been the last thing I would have answered.  I have always dreamed of owning my own shop or some sort of furniture building.  But a few weeks ago, Mike and I were chatting over coffee about how we would like to have more regular play dates {I am sure I have mentioned how much I hate that term, but have yet to come up with a better one} for the kids’ social sides.  Minutes later I checked my email and there was an email from a local couple who had seen my poster in the post office and were wondering if I would be interested in caring for their two young children a few days per week.  The next day we met and all felt comfortable with making it a reality.

Now, I had considered doing home daycare, but never thought it would be someone’s first choice with our free range chickens and numerous pets, but we found out from chatting with them that there is both a need and a lack of childcare that doesn’t include plopping the kids in front of the television and feeding them poor quality foods.  I was shocked, but when you consider the average hourly wage of the home daycare provider it has to be  a labour of love.

Some of you may think I am insane for taking on more children as I have often written about how exhausting it is being a full time stay at home mom, but a lot of the exhaustion comes from worry and maybe even some guilt.  I worry that I am not enough or that my children are bored or under stimulated (they aren’t).  I think that home daycare will give me the focus and organization I often lack as well as provide a change of scenery and important  social skills for the kids.  We also hope it will loosen the financial cinch as a side benefit.

Some of you have mentioned that you have considered doing this yourself so here are a few simple steps I have taken to prepare:

  • Notified our home insurance provider that we will be providing home child care 2 to 3 days per week
  • Registered my business name with the government – this way I can claim things like food costs, toy and book costs, and even a percentage of home maintenance costs.  The tricky part will be to put the taxes away for tax time.
  • I have taken the full first aid course many many times in my life, so I purchased a concise laminated copy of the emergency basics to keep in the bathroom with a few first  aid items.  We also have a home first aid learning kit we got from the local EMS.  It is important to refresh the basics on a regular basis.
  • I refreshed our stock of basic craft supplies like scissors, glue, construction paper, and ingredients to make bubbles, cloud dough, slime, finger paint, etc.
  • I did some basic meal and snack planning and will continue to go through our cookbooks and Pinterest for great ideas.
  • When purchasing groceries and supplies I tried to fairly divide it into two purchases – home use and daycare use so that the receipts are simpler to tally up.
Need to do:
  • Make up a simple info sheet for the parents to fill out – birthdays, emergency contacts, general information, etc.
  • Create an invoice template to issue – because families can claim childcare costs most parents would require a receipt.
  • Find an effective and simple software to keep track of expenses, payments etc.
  • Organize a file folder for receipts and documents as well as purchase a ledger (I still prefer paper records though it would be wise to transfer it to the computer as well)
Yesterday was the first day and it was a good day.  There were no tears, though I know it was a transition for everyone involved.  The kids shared well and there were no arguments.  They are two very sweet boys, but it is still 4 children to feed and care for so it was a big change for me.  As we all get more comfortable, I would be open to taking on one to two more children depending on their ages, but will take the time to adjust to two extra bodies first and see if I think I could comfortably take on more.
We had some free play, lots of outside time, bubbles, water, sand, and ball play, painted with watercolours, paper cutting, gathered eggs, played with the bunny until it got too intense, reading and looking at lots of books, a healthy snack tray (a la Dr Sears) with orange quarters, apples, cranberries, crackers, cheese, and dry cereal and a homemade lunch of organic beef stroganoff.
Some activities I would love to do with the kids:
  • transferring their crayon drawings to a blank shirt
  • cloud dough
  • giant bubble wands
  • cut and paste with old magazines
  • colour matching with paint chips and clothespins
  • felt and button bracelets
  • simple baking and diy pizzas with homemade pita breads
  • gardening
  • nature walks
The day’s goal rhythm:
  • greetings, getting settled, free play
  • outdoor free time, let chickens out, check for early eggs, gather fresh grass for the bunny
  • morning snack
  • main activity/craft
  • tidy up
  • lunch
  • stories/reading
  • quiet time/nap time
  • wake up, afternoon snack
  • yoga dvd/outdoor time/or movie (weather depending)
  • gather clothes and items for home time
  • goodbyes
*all snacks, meals, and activities will be done outside when possible because a) it keeps cleanup a little simpler and b) outside time is good.
*if and when they do watch television I would do a quick tidy/catch up and then sit with them while doing some simple hand craft like knitting or crocheting.
go gently + be wonderful
e.
Also posted in dancing rabbit daycare | 16 Comments

diy headboard art + crooked art

Making my own headboard has been on my to do list for years, but I never could get my hands on some weathered barn board.  I saw this particular design on Pinterest and with all the broken barn boards from our recent shed demo, I had no more excuses.  I thought of using another quote, but this one spoke to me and fit so well I didn’t bother to change it.

It just so happened that the door from the old hunting-cabin-turned-shed was still in tact and the perfect dimensions for a headboard.  I removed a couple of wooden patches someone had nailed on and wiped it down.  I wrote the words on with chalk first and then simply painted over it with some latex paint.  I had my demolition king remove the crooked support board down the center.  I also wanted to remove the 2×4 along the top as it wasn’t as weathered as the rest of the wood, but it is nailed on with at least ten  rusty 4 inch spikes bent down and hammered in.  So instead of removing it, I grabbed some quilting charm squares I bought last summer, the last little bit of Mod Podge in the craft cupboard and slapped them on all wabi sabi like.  Poppy enjoyed helping me choose the colours and order they would go in.  Now I am so happy I was forced to come up with a creative solution because it takes it to the next level of awesome for me.  I think it is just begging for a tiny washi tape garland don’t you?

Now, I must run and make some lunch and perhaps some bagels, but I do hope you’re inspired to make your own headboard art!

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in craft, our cabin | 15 Comments

we be sprout’n

Winter is long, but today the sun was friendly.  Even the less than brave  ladies ventured out to scratch at the sun dappled snow.  The kids and I sat at the table for a late afternoon snack of kale chips, dried cranberries and fresh oatmeal cookies as the sun sliced across the table.

Last week Kira, Fern and Baby Meer came for a visit and brought along some homemade pitas, roasted carrot hummus and their own sprouts.  I am a fan of sprouts, but have never tried sprouting my own.  I think I thought it was a complicated process, but it is proving to be quite the opposite.  The next day, I went out and bought a few mixed packages as well as some mung beans and alfalfa and began the simple process.  Soak them overnight, rinse and drain in the morning, rinse daily until ready, store in the fridge and eat ’em up.  Thank you Miss Kira!

They should be ready for eating tomorrow and I look forward to the tasty, nutritious snack.  I must say it is quite a welcome delight to see something sprouting to life in these long, final months of winter.

What lively greens keep you going through the winter?

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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bits + bobs

I was awakened in the dark hours this morning with a mysteriously sour stomach.  I was weak and queasy and the thought of chasing the kids seemed daunting, so Mike stayed home to help me with the kids.

In short, I took a sick day.

I stayed in my jammies under a beloved quilt by the fire and took the day slowly.

I sat in the lull and thought about our plans.

I thought about the things I want to talk about in this space in the near future.

I crocheted a few stitches on my rag rug.

I enjoyed the things we are accomplishing.

I got excited about upcoming articles,  features and growth.

I thought about how we are evolving + becoming.

We had our homeschooling goals re-affirmed.

We talked about baby names should we ever get around to having a third babe.  We have some pretty great ones so it would be a sad thing not to put at least one of them to good use 😉

I mulled over how thinking outside of the box and doing things unconventionally seems to work best for us.

We ordered our seeds and talked about this years garden.

I chatted with Dad about the beef we are getting from them and the freezer we will fill with veggies, fruit, and meat to carry us through next winter.

 

It is an exciting time for us and for the blog and I can’t wait to share more with you in the form of articles, features, more sponsor giveaways, eco product reviews, recipes, and finally putting words to so many thoughts many homesteading and lifestyle topics.

 

We continue to weave while the Universe is provides the thread faithfully and at just the right speed.  So with a deep breath and a good night’s sleep, I will begin weaving again and share the good things with you.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, family, frugal living, homeschooling, homesteading, life, sponsorship, wellness | 3 Comments

our first egg

Oh, how my heart swells with joy.

We brought our 6 laying hens home from my dad and step mom’s flock on October 29th.  Dad and Janet have been getting eggs for a couple weeks now from their 19 hens and asked every time we spoke if we had any ourselves.  We worried they had begun eating the eggs due to cold weather, boredom and/or the light-filled nesting boxes.  We had built two nice nesting boxes, but with two 4’x4′ south facing windows in our small coop, it was impossible to keep light out.  In an effort to appease the ladies we dug out an old cat carrier, removed the door, placed it in a corner facing the wall with just enough room to squeeze in for privacy, and filled it with fresh straw.  That was yesterday, and by mid morning today we had our first egg (in the cat carrier of course).  So it was either coincidence, or hens can, and will, hold out for more ideal laying quarters.  Lesson learned.

 It is such a simple symbol of all that we are trying to do here.  It feels like an important milestone and another nudge in the right direction. I actually squealed when I cracked open our egg and compared it to the other (organic, free run, store brand) eggs; so yellow and vibrant! I actually felt sad that so many people may never know this joy.

And once again, I am reminded of how blessed our simple life is.  Thank you for that sweet ladies.

go gently + be wonderful

e.

 

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Also posted in ellenberger organic farm, homesteading, life, photography + writing, wellness | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

kid friendly snack ideas + homemade graham cackers

I thought I would share a few of our kids’ favourite snacks because, lets face it, kids can be tricky to feed when attempting to eat whole, unprocessed foods.  I am posting this for myself as much as I am posting it for you.   My kids are picky and this is a list of successful snacks I have come up with thus far.  It is always growing and changing.

This may be the beginning of a wee series, you never know.

Homemade hummus – I promise to share my favourite simple recipe soon

Homemade Tzatziki made with plain organic yogurt – again, I promise to share my favourite recipe soon

Dried fruit – we plan on buying a food dehydrator soon so that we can make our own with organic fruits and no additives

Apples – lots and lots of organic apples; this is much cheaper in apple season I must say

Bananas, berries, oranges, etc – My kids devour any fruit put within reach

Quinoa or couscous with tomatoes, cucumber, pesto, lemon juice, salt and pepper

Plain organic yogurt drizzled with honey, vanilla, and cinnamon

Pomegranate seeds – this is one I had never tried with the kids until my friend at the knitty gritty homestead mentioned it

Nuts

Homemade Guacamole – my kids won’t eat it plain, but with the addition of some lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper, they love it

Homemade pitas

Lara bars – spendy, but so yummy and simple.

Hard boiled eggs spiced and sliced or deviled eggs

Fruit and yogurt smoothies

Homemade crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers – Recipe for some tasty ones found below

Kale “crackers” – my kids, especially Poppy, will not touch a vegetable, but the kale chips are a hit.  Parenting win.

Apples with organic peanut butter

Organic cereal or granola with organic milk or yogurt

Homemade  apple sauce

Some snacks I will be trying out (and sharing with you):

Moroccan spiced roasted chick peas

Homemade fruit leather

Homemade Lara bars

Homemade poptarts with homemade jam

Homemade Nutella

Dark Chocolate, peanut butter, banana bites

Apple rings dipped in homemade pancake or crepe batter

Coconut Honey Graham Crackers

::These are quite tasty and the addition of honey and coconut oil were a great choice::

3 cups organic all purpose flour

{I am still waiting for my ONFC order to arrive, but will add a mixture of wheat germ and spelt flour in the future}

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

a dash of freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 cup organic butter, softened

1/2 cup full flavour organic coconut oil

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons local honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter, coconut oil, brown sugar, and honey into the bowl of an electric mixer; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and divide into quarters and roll out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch.
  4. Using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter, cut into desired size.  I did wabi sabi 3x 3 inch squares.
  5. Pierce crackers using the tines of a fork. Transfer to large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until dark golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes.
  6. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

As you can see, I could use some more crafty veggie snacks if you care to share those.

What are your family favourite snacks?

go gently + be wonderful

e.

Also posted in family, life, wellness | 20 Comments