After I mentioned making our own foaming hand soap in yesterday’s post about household cleaners, more than a couple people have asked how to make it.

Here is the super easy recipe I use to make the foaming hand soap. I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap as the base.  This product got an A from the EWG Healthy Cleaning Guide. Tea tree oil is also a great addition because it has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic qualities.

I reuse the foaming hand soap dispenser from CleanWell.  This line of products is a favorite and when I need a fresh bottle.  They have antibacterial soaps without triclosan, which is a big environmental hazard.

DIY foaming hand soap recipe

Foaming Hand Soap Recipe

Keyword: Soap

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Castille Soap
  • 2 drops of Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 drops of Essential oil I use lemongrass currently

Instructions

  • Add ingredients to empty foaming hand soap dispenser (about a 9 oz size). Fill the balance with water and shake gently.
Tried this recipe?Mention @emilyroachwellness or tag #erwellness!

 

DIY foaming hand soap recipe

 

This is a super cheap way to keep up with the kids overuse of the foaming hand soap.  I have found Madison “cleaning” the bathroom sink with half the bottle.  At about 25 cents a bottle, I don’t have to stress about it.  Plus, there’s no sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan or synthetic fragrance involved in her cleaning project.

If you can handle making your own hand soap, now you can move on to making your own bubble soap for kids!

Happy washing!

Disclosure: Some affiliate links are included in this post. 

A few months ago there was a great conversation on our Facebook page dealing with life without a microwave.  I haven’t taken the plunge yet but I was intrigued by my guest writer Stephanie’s experiences.  Do you think you could do it?  Please welcome Stephanie and share some feedback in the comments.

Guest post from Stephanie of Stephanie’s Projects.



Are you thinking of weaning yourself from using the microwave? Not really sure where to start? I have been there!
I am very excited about this post because of the many discussions about this subject in blogland. On a previous post on my own blog, I mentioned that my microwave died. When the machine busted, I took that as an omen and so recycled the old without replacing it… But I had already begun my journey to get along without a microwave, so the shock was minimal.

Here is how I did it… with some tips on how you can do it too!

I was a microwave-o-holic. I can freely admit that I had no clue how to cook an entire meal without a microwave. The convenience of precooked rice and reheating leftovers or making a cake in a matter of minutes (I do miss that recipe!) was a great pull. But I was also making an effort to eat real foods and toss out the chemicals in my home and food… I realized after researching online, that—just maybe—the microwave was inhibiting my efforts to have a healthy home.
I read posts from people who no longer used the microwave and why. Then I read research about health effects and the evolution… Did you know that microwaves were actually banned in Russia in 1976?! Very interesting.

The first Step: Plan meals ahead of time

It took me a little time to understand that this is the first step. But the truth is that cooking the conventional way takes a little more planning. That is why it’s the first step once you make the decision to use it less or completely cut it out of your cooking routine.
You need to find a planning method that works for you. I use a combination of a weekly meal plan, and a scan of the pantry to see what I have an excess of. It doesn’t always work out that I have a written meal plan, because some weeks are too uncertain and spontaneous (for those times, freezer meals are handy to stick in the oven). I do try to know for-sure what is for dinner the night before so I can search for recipes, thaw meat or prepare ingredients. I typically have 3 different meals in mind that can be prepared in no time (this is a handy trick to have up your sleeve in case you have unexpected guests to cook for).
It is helpful to look at your calendar when making a plan so you can gage the amount of time you will have to cook. If you don’t get home until at least 5:30 and you like to eat by 6, precooked meals from your freezer or slow cooker meals are the best! I have a relationship with my crock pot…

No more whole meals/entrees in the Microwave.

Mac and Cheese is just as easy in a pan. Hot dogs are great the old fashioned way. Rice is great cooked in boiling water, or better yet, chicken broth. Water boils just as well in a pot or kettle. Cakes should be cooked in the oven…
Now, you can jump head-on into this, or you can start by experimenting for a couple days a week. Then once you get comfortable with that add a couple more days to challenge yourself. Once you make the decision to cut the habit (so-to-speak) you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip a couple times with this… it happens to the best of us in a time crunch.
I imagined that initially cooking without a microwave would affect my kids in a more positive way than starting with reheating food. Again, this takes a bit of planning. No more taking items out of the freezer 10 minutes before you want to cook it – because if it needs to be thawed you would need to use the microwave and the goal is to ignore it.
When I began to make a conscious effort to make foods from scratch without using the handy microwave, I was a bit shocked at the pile of dishes. (Unfortunately microwave bowls don’t go in the oven) I really don’t like dishes… once I accepted the unavoidable; I began to change my dishwashing methods. For example, instead of piling the dishes in the sink until dinner was over, I found less stress in multitasking; cleaning in shifts while cooking made for fewer dishes on a full stomach (and a cleaner kitchen). I also found it advantageous to cook in shifts. If you have a vegtable dish and a main dish you can prepair the ingredients earlier in the day or the night before to save time when you get around to cooking dinner.

Reheating Foods

This can seem tricky if you have a love for left overs. It also may take a little time to get accustomed to heating up food. I do this one of 3 ways, depending on the food and quantity.

  1. Add it to a pan. I have gotten in the habit of leaving a sauté pan on the stove to drop left overs in to heat. It takes about 5 minutes to reheat and the food tastes just as good as the first time around! You can reheat anything this way; I particularly use this method for pasta and rice meals, cut up food as well as breakfast foods (leftover eggs or pancakes).
  2. My toaster oven is great for heating leftover or frozen burritos, pizza, or french fries on a piece of foil. A pie tin fits great in my little toaster, so I purchased a ceramic pie dish for this purpose. My favorite thing about putting leftovers in the oven is that you no longer have to settle for soggy food! Breaded chicken is crunchy. Pizza is crisp. Writing this is making me hungry.
    But only so much fits into the toaster oven, which brings me to …
  3. You can use your large oven for the same purpose if you have a large quantity of food to heat up. I have some stoneware pieces that I keep in my oven (because I use them almost daily!) like a pizza stone that you just need to place food on and let it heat up. I really like stoneware because I don’t have to scrub them with soap—I did mention that I dislike dishes.
    You can save time (and dishes) by storing leftover casseroles in glass or ceramic that can be put directly into the oven—rather than plastic containers or ziplock bags.

Heating to Cook

Think butter or hot fudge. I found the loss of my microwave very sad when it came to heating butter for recipes or fudge for my ice cream. But in the end, I don’t even miss it! You can heat little things up in a glass jar in a toaster oven or in a small pan on your stove. If you need a container to heat it up in the microwave anyway, you are not even creating more dishes to clean!

Another use for your Microwave…

Can you think of what to do with your microwave? You can donate it, give it away or recycle a busted one. But if you have a built-in unit, you might want to use it to store mason jars or keep bread. Come up with another way to use it!

Stephanie loves being a busy mom to two amazing little kids; ages 4 and 2. She is an over-educated freelance writer, blogger, dance instructor and stay-at-home momma. She loves to share what she has learned on Stephanie’s Projects and through simple ideas, encourages others who want to live full, healthful lives. She and her husband enjoy working for each other on their own financial business in California.

What do you think? Can you live without your microwave?


I’m sharing this post with Frugally Sustainable.

Keep Pests Out of Your Garden Naturally

There is nothing worse than spending loads of time and money on your vegetable garden, only to have it decimated by natural predators.  This is our first year doing square foot gardening in our raised beds.  I’ve had to do some research into how to keep our neighborhood bunnies, foxes and friends away from my young vegetables.  We have had containers on our farmers porch the past few years and didn’t have to deal with any pests, aside from the curious toddler. Here are a few things we plan to try out in the garden, plus some that my Dad has done for years.

Source

~Dried blood keeps the bunnies at bay.  Rabbits don’t like the smell of dried blood, or hair from it’s predators (coyotes and foxes). Get these items at your local garden store and sprinkle them around the perimeter of your garden.  Too gross?  Build a 3 foot high fence instead.

Source

~Cup of beer to drown garden slugs.  There were always little cups of beer in our garden growing up.  Usually filled with slugs.  They are attracted to the yeast and barley in the beer.  I would use a little yogurt cup filled halfway with beer.  Replace as needed.
~Plant an onion border around your garden.  Bunnies don’t like onions!

Source

~Marigolds are your friend.  Plant them around tomato plants to help deter pests like tomato worm, white flies and nematodes.

Source

~Garlic Fire Spray.  Keep the bugs at bay with this homemade recipe from No-Dig Vegetable Garden. This will take care of ants, grubs, caterpillars and most small bugs.  Be nice to the ladybugs though, they are your friend. They eat aphids!
~Cats may not be nice to your garden. Discourage them by giving them a little squirt with a hose.  Don’t let them take a cat nap on your little seedlings.
~Groundhogs.  If you got them, build a fence.  A tall one.

There are loads of other natural gardening remedies online and I support giving them a shot if you end up with some pests in your garden.  Think twice about chemical pesticides that have been linked to cancer, nerve damage and birth defects.  Keep your garden and your food clean and healthy with these natural gardening tips. Good luck!

After last week’s pantry project, I had some time to think about how to maintain a healthy, real food pantry.  I want to be able to open the pantry door and find things that I will use regularly and will work easily into each week’s meal plan.  There will always be some boxes in there of crackers, cereal and possibly Trader Joe’s Cornbread mix.  That is our reality as I have yet to see a super easy cracker recipe that I can make with two kids hanging off my leg.

In the meantime, here are my suggestions of how to work on creating a real food pantry.  Divide it up into categories and take it one step at a time.  This is a list of the items nearly always in the (new) pantry,or main kitchen shelves.

Baking
-Rolled Oats, old-fashioned not the quick variety
-Steel Cut Oats
-Unsweetened Coconut
-Flaxseed
-Sunflower Seeds
-Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
-Honey
-Agave
-Molasses
-Maple Syrup
-Whole Wheat Flour
-Coconut Oil
-Baking essentials like Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Brown Sugar

Main Dinners & Sides
-Variety of Beans (I have started cooking beans in my pressure cooker)
-Whole Wheat Pastas (& Gluten free pasta for visitors)
-Variety of Rice (I use short grain brown rice and arborio most often)
-Barley
-Quinoa
-Lentils
-Coconut Milk
-Artichokes
-Good Tuna packed in oil
-Olive Oil
-Sesame Oil
-Variety of vinegars (Red Wine, Rice and Champagne)

Nuts are also a big part of our “pantry” storage.  However I store them all in the refrigerator to keep them as fresh as possible.  Although we go through them fast, I want to keep them as fresh as possible.  The oils in the nuts can go rancid if left in the cabinet too long.  (Same for Wheat Germ, that is also stored in the fridge.)  The nuts we always have on hand are Walnuts, Pecans and Almonds.  Peanuts are generally only purchased if I’m making pad thai.

This year I want to try out some recipes using some alternative flours like brown rice flour or coconut flour.  We have so many friends, or their children, who have gluten issues and I would like to be able to offer a fun, healthy treat for them at an event or playdate.

Whole Foods self-serve bulk buying section

Maintaining a real food pantry doesn’t need to be expensive.  I find buying from the Whole Foods self serve bulk section the most affordable option for me.  Costco is also where I buy a lot of basics like old fashioned oatmeal, brown sugar, agave and many of the nuts we use.  Coconut oil is always purchased online as I tend to find better deals on bulk sizes.  Eventually I would love to get really large quantities and organize a co-op, but this project will just have to wait.

Reuse your tomato sauce jars for your pantry and it’s another way to reduce costs.  You don’t need to buy more plastic containers for bulk/pantry items.  Use what you are already using.  I even use some of our old Tupperware for storage, then I won’t risk putting it in the microwave.

Don’t forget some fun labels…see more in my Creating a Pantry post!

What are your must-have’s for a healthy pantry?