Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our First Homemade Cocoa Butter Soap

**NOTE - this is my own recipe.. Please do not steal this or sell it.**

copyright 2013

May 19, 2013
Bobby and I made our very first batch of homemade soap.  After researching different recipes and techniques, I came up with a great recipe that will be great for both of us.
Our soap bars turned out to be 1-inch thick and 3-inches wide - and they smell wonderful, like cocoa butter with a hint of coconut and tea tree 
You will need:
  • rubber gloves
  • goggles
  • apron or long shirt/sweater
  • (these are to protect you against the Lye)
  • Pringles Can (empty chips out and wipe with paper towel)
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • bowls - glass/pyrex measuring bowls work the best
  • digital scale
  • stainless steel pot (med or large - I got mine at a thrift store - DO NOT USE ALUMINUM, THE LYE WILL EAT THROUGH IT LIKE ACID)
  • wire whisk
  • emersion blender
  • large spatula or wooden stick/spoon
  • vinegar (to keep aside just in case you spill the lye)
  • knife to cut the soap bars
  • parchment or wax paper (to line the cardboard box)
  • cardboard or wooden box (to put the soap bars in)
  • 3.2 oz - Lye
  • 8 oz - Distilled Water
  • 3.5 oz - Shea Butter
  • 3.5 oz - Cocoa Butter
  • 7 oz - Coconut Oil
  • 7 oz - Olive Oil
  • 3.2 oz - Sweet Almond Oil
  • 10 drops - Vitamin E Oil (great for all types of skin)
  • 8-10 drops - Tea Tree Essential Oil (this is an antiseptic and healing properties for problem skin like ours - great for psoriasis and eczema)
  • 1-tbsp - Lemon Juice (this helps the PH balance and makes the soap extra soft) 
Have everything measured out before you start mixing
--melt each oil/butter in microwave, then measure on digital scale
--pour distilled water into stainless steel pot
--slowly add the lye, mixing constantly with wire whisk or spatula
--add the oils, one at a time, stirring constantly (don't inhale the lye - turn your head to breathe)
(the lye and water melts the oils)
--add the vitamin E oil, then the tea tree oil, then the lemon juice
--stir till well blended
--blend with emersion blender till thick like a pudding - this is called trace (takes about 5-10 minutes max)
(if you don't want to use the blender, then use the wire whisk - but it will take approx 45 mins that way)
--pour into Pringles can and put lid on it (i had a little more and used a 2nd Pringles can, which made an extra bar - it doesn't always turn out that way - usually fits into one Pringles can)
--set in a cabinet, closet, or even garage
--check after 2-3 days, will be hard enough to cut into bars
--peel or cut the Pringles can away from soap (kind of like opening a biscuit can)
--use a ruler or measuring tape and score at 1-inch down the soap, then cut the soap into bars
(if you want thinner bars, cut at 1/2 inch across)
--in a recycled box, line with parchment or wax paper
--set the bars in the box
--put in a closet, pantry or shelf (do not cover with lid - needs to breathe)
--put date on a calendar or write on the box the date you made the soap
--let set for at least 6-8 weeks for the lye to process (I marked my calendar for 8 weeks - this will make sure the soap is ready)
--now you can wrap them in parchment, wax paper or other soap containers
the Mad Soap Scientist - wear protective gear - i am wearing goggles, gloves and an old sweater
(my apologies for my appearance)

all the ingredients

stir well with wire whisk or spatula - constantly stirring

when soap starts to trace, thick like pudding, it's ready to pour into the Pringles Can

carefully pour into Pringles Can

Put lid on container/can

after 2-3 days, peel or cut the Pringles Can off the soap

soap is 7-inches long by 3-inches wide

score the soap as wide as you want - we scored at 1-inch intervals

you should have 7 bars

we lined our box with parchment paper
(you can use recycled trash bags or wax paper also)

bars are ready for storage

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Homemade Green Beans - Prepared and Frozen for Storage

We recently bought 9 lbs of fresh green beans at the market - Bobby snapped the ends off and we put them in our largest cooking pot along with onions, garlic, dried basil, dried parsley, pepper and salt - and we also added a ham steak (chopped into pieces) - cooked for several hours till tender, let cool, then filled up half-way in gallon freezer bags - labeled the date with a marker and put them in the freezer. 

Ready to thaw, heat and serve.

Our New Dehydrator - We Dehydrated Garlic First...

We are so excited - we got our first dehydrator - I read the book/pamphlet and decided to try garlic first - First, I peeled and separated 3 garlic bulbs, which equalled to 2 CUPS of garlic cloves - then I sliced them very thin and spread out on the dehydrator trays (took 2 trays for 2 cups of garlic cloves) - then turned it on according to the directions...and it took about 9.5 hrs for them to be crisp - then, I used my food processor to grind it down - makes about 1/4 cup of the strongest purest garlic powder I have ever seen.  The garlic powder is very very strong - much stronger than anything you will get in the stores (at least 2-3 times stronger) because it is pure and fresh - that 1/4 cup will last a long time - I put it in a ceramic jar with a tight lid.

I definitely plan to make some more and make garlic salt.

our kitty seems to have taken over the box LOL

Monday, April 15, 2013

Update on Growing Green Onions Inside Home

My green onions project has turned out great, so far.  One of them grew to nearly 12 inches - and i ATE it!  Well, I ate the GREEN part - and left the bulb with roots, put back in water, and it is growing again - it's so cool!

The rest of the onions are coming along nicely - some faster than others.

Here are the pics - as of April 14, 2013:

this is the one I ate

the others are coming along nicely - you can see the one that I ate the green off in the back - re-growing another one

(the sweet taters in the background look yummy too - i am researching "inside" project for that also)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Coconut Oil - Where Have You Been All My Life?

I can't believe it took me so long to try Coconut Oil - since I have been making my own body butter, etc. and researching natural products and how to make them, I have been in LOVE with Coconut Oil - I put it in my homemade body butter/oil/shmootz - I am going to put it in my first batch of homemade soap this summer - and I also use it straight.

Every morning and night, I put straight Coconut Oil on my face, neck, arms/hands and legs/feet. 

It is also great for makeup remover - as well as Sweet Almond Oil.  Most makeup removers you get in stores irritates my eyes.  Sometimes I will use Baby Oil or Vaseline, but prefer to use the Coconut Oil or Sweet Almond Oil - it's better for the skin.

Throughout the day, I use my homemade body butter/shmootz, which also has Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil and Olive Oil in it - but at night, before I go to bed, I use straight Coconut Oil. 

I recommend this to anyone with sensitive skin and problems like psoriasis, eczema - check wth your dermatologist first, because some people are allergic to coconut and oils made from "nuts" like Sweet Almond Oil.

I can testify that I have not had any skin problems since I switched to making my own body butter and started using Coconut Oil every day.

ALSO - I found out that "eating" a teaspoon or tablespoon of Coconut Oil every day helps with stomach problems - and it also helps with pets with their digestion, which I also have. 

You wouldn't believe this - but once or twice per week, I give my pets (2 dogs and a cat) a "finger full" of Coconut Oil and I can attest that my 6 year old cat has fewer hairballs and my Boxer dog has less tummy upset.  My husky gets it too - she's a tough girl, so it's just a treat for her.  Plus they love the taste.  It's a healthy treat for them.

I urge anyone to try Coconut Oil - and thank You Tube and Blogger for having a plethora of information and resources for people to use.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Homemade Body Butter, also known as, Janet's Body Shmootz

copyright 2013.  Please do not steal or sell this recipe or soap made from this recipe.

This is my simple recipe for easy body butter/balm.  It has NO PRESERVATIVES, so it will not last for long.  I make a small container full at a time - about 4 oz.

You can use this for an eye makeup remover, moisturizer - body and face, and hand cream - it's an all purpose cream.

Sometimes I will alternate and use more of one item - or add items, like olive oil

Janet's Body Shmootz (2 types)

you will need:
--glass bowl
--immersion blender, or wire whisk
--container or jar with lid (if recycled, please clean out first)

--3 TBSP coconut oil
--3 TBSP shea butter
--3 TBSP sweet almond oil


--3 TBSP coconut oil
--3 TBSP shea butter
--1 TBSP sweet almond oil
--1 TBSP olive oil

Mix ingredients together in bowl till well blended.  Put in freezer for 10 minutes - this will harden the mixture.  Then, blend for a few minutes or until whipped the way you want it -  OR, use the wire whisk until whipped up nicely.

Put in jar or container.

Keep in refrigerator when not in use - it will last longer that way.  It will be a hard butter and will melt on its own, but if you want to use it right away, put it in microwave for about 10-15 seconds OR, set container in sink of hot water for a few minutes - then, shake it up and it's ready to use.  I carry it in my purse all day, then put it back in frig at night.

Homemade Minced Garlic

Have you ever wondered how to make minced/chopped garlic?  It is so easy, it's STUPID easy.

And, it's cheap.

--one whole head of garlic (or more if you want to make a big jar)
--olive oil
--jar with lid

--peel garlic, chop into small pieces, or just put them in a small chopper or food processor
--pulse till finely chopped
--slowly add Olive Oil till saturated
--pulse till well blended
--put in jar - tighten lid

put in refrigerator - will keep for several weeks

yes, it's THAT easy.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

There are several homemade all purpose cleaner methods - i made my own recipe based on what would be the most sensitive to my asthma - nothing to harsh, but cleans well.

You will need:
--a spray bottle for the cleaner (or recycle a used bottle, but clean it out well first)
--cooking pot - small or medium sized stainless steel with lid

--1 cup of orange peel, finely chopped or sliced
--2 cups of filtered or distilled water
--3 TBSP white distilled vinegar

--chop or slice 1 cup of orange peel
--cook in cooking pot of filtered or distilled water till boiling - turn off heat, let steep for about 30 minutes (or longer)
--strain the orange water through a funnel into bottle
--add vinegar
--fill rest of the way with distilled or filtered water
--shake well

READY TO USE!   We use it all the time - works great!

If you feel it doesn't cut grease as well as you would like, add more vinegar or add more cooked orange/water

You can also add about 1 or 2 TBSP of Borax to the mixture and see if that helps on those real stubborn stains.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

copyright 2013.  Please do not steal or sell this recipe or laundry soap made from this recipe.

After researching the internet and You Tube, we decided to make our own laundry detergent.  I ordered some of the soap supplies online and we also went to thrift stores.

For approximately $5 in soap ingredients, we made a year's worth of laundry detergent.  And, it is great for sensitive skin.  Plus, it smells great.

1-bar of ZOTE (14 oz) or, for heavy duty cleaning, use 1 bar of NELS-ZAPTHA (7-oz) [i use ZOTE and keep NELS around for stains]
1/2 cup Borax (20 Mule Team Borax)
1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer Washing Soda - NOT baking soda)
1/2 cup Oxiclean (optional)
5-galons of water (filtered is best - or you can use distilled or tap - if your water is hard, it might not be as gentle)

you will also need:
1  grater (to grate the soap)
1  5-gal bucket with lid (got mine at ACE, you can get one at LOWES or HOME DEPOT)
1  gal container with lid to use for soap once it's done - or use a recycled laundry detergent jug with lid
1  wooden stick or long spoon/spatula to stir with - i use a large wooden stick
1  large stainless steel pot to melt soap in
1  measuring cup
1  large bowl to grate the cheese in
1  funnel (unless you are good at pouring without spilling)

--first, grate the soap bar
--boil 1 galon of water into large pot - then add grated soap
--stir constantly with spatula or wooden spoon till completely melted
--remove from heat
--put 3 galons of hot tap or filtered water into 5-gal bucket
--add melted soap
--stir well
--add 1/2 cup of Borax, Washing Soda and Oxiclean
--stir will with long wooden stick or spoon
--add last gal of water
--stir will
--put lid on bucket
--put bucket in garage or laundry room or like i did, my sunroom
--leave for minimum of 24 hours
--remove lid - should be gel-like - stir well with wooden stick or spoon
*now it's ready to pour into laundry detergent jug--use funnel to fill your jug half-way with the soap
--fill rest of way with water
--put lid on jug and shake till mixed well
READY TO USE - 1/2 cup or if you are using a recycled laundry detergent jug, 1/2 lid

if you find you need stronger cleaning - use 1-cup or 1 full lid

I found the ZOTE on ebay - got 4 bars for cheap - found the other items on

I spent a total of $25 on supplies which I used only maybe 1/10th of the supplies - estimating could make over 50 galons of laundry detergent - you can also use the leftover supplies for making your own all-purpose cleaners and things like that - so it goes a long long way - total cost for a 5-gal bucket is LESS than $5

IMPORTANT - I found my large pot, spatula/spoon, etc. at a thrift store - if you have an extra pot and equipment you can dedicate just for soap making, then you won't need to buy anything.
DO NOT use the same equipment for food that you use for soap making - can be toxic - so, if you don't have extra, go to thrift stores and get something you can set outside in your garage or in a separate room that you know will never be used for cooking with.  I set mine outside on my sunroom.  ALSO - all the videos I watched said to stay away from aluminum because soaps can eat away at it - so use a stainless steel pot only.
PS - I watched several tutorials on how to do the laundry detergent - one called for ZELS-NAPTHA, which is heavy duty and for 1 full cup of Borax - I felt this might be too strong - you may try it that way if you wish - I also watched one that only used ZOTE and 1 cup of Borax only, which would also work if my recipe turns out to be too strong for my sensitive skin - I decided to make my own recipe and go inbetween the two methods and see how it works.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

This was a fun project.  And so cheap to make.  All you need is:
--vodka (any kind - cheaper the better)
--5 whole vanilla beans
--glass container with tight lid (mason jar or whatever you have)

We found an old salad dressing cruet at a thrift store for $1.79. 

Homemade Vanilla Extract
--slice down the middle of vanilla beans
--put into jar
--cover with Vodka (this was about 16 oz)
--put lid on and place in pantry or other cabinet
--shake well once per week
note - if the vodka doesn't cover the beans in the jar or if the beans are too tall, then cut the beans in half

You will have pure Vanilla Extract in about 2 months!
And, a jar this size will last forever - unless you drink it (duh)

Have fun!

ALSO - you can do this with orange peels or lemon peels to get orange or lemon extract - just place the peels in the jar (fill about 2/3 up - and fill the rest with Vodka - i do recommend that you cut off as much of the pith as possible - and if you slice up the peels as thin as possible, it will work better)

Getting back to my country roots isn't as easy as I thought...LOL

Howdy ya'll.  My name is Janet.  My hubby is Bobby. 

I grew up on a farm, but also lived in the city - we commuted from a small town to our family farm - so in essence, I had two homes growing up.  We had large crops of veggies and fruits and also had cows.  My gramma, who lived with us most of the time, raised the chickens.

Well, like most folks, Bobby and I grew up in the country, but moved to the city when we got older. 

This is how we got back to each other and our country roots and started our small urban homestead.

Bobby and I married in February 2013.  We reconnected after 30 years of living separate lives and getting divorced within a year of each other and reconnected.  Somehow we both ended up living within 30 miles of each other, 850 miles away from where we grew up and knew each other before.  When we found out that we both lived here in Coloardo, we met for lunch, and the rest is history.  It's a cool story.  And we are both very happy.  I had just purchased a small older home in town about 9 months before we reconnected.  So, when we got married, he moved in with me.

Both of us grew up in the country back in Texas.  But both of us spent most of our adult lives in the city and away from the country.  We both want to get back to our country roots, as much as possible, even though we currently own a home in a small town north of Denver, Colorado.

We both work full time, so homesteading can be a challenge, but worth it.  The first thing I did was start doing research on the Internet - especially You Tube.  Found TONS of videos and started writing down notes.  Very helpful.  Thank God for You Tube.

I was surprised to find out that I have lost (or temporarily forgotten) my knowledge of how to grow things, canning and basic country homesteading.  But, I am sure that it's buried in the back of my mind somewhere and I am determined to dig it out.

So, how do I start bringing my country roots back while I am living in a small home within city limits?  It's called "urban homesteading" - just need to find out what the city ordinances/municipal codes are, and go from there.


I looked up our city's municipal code and found out that we can, indeed, have backyard chickens.  There are strict requirements, so it may take a year to get everything ready according to code.  We are allowed 4 hens (no roosters) - and they must be in a completely enclosed coop (preferably a chicken tractor) - there are also size and location requirements.

Bobby is a wonderful carpenter, and I forwarded him the code, so he could start planning how to build our future backyard chicken coop.  

We also want to have a small garden - most likely a raised garden, because it is so very dry here.  So far, we have scoped out the back yard and found a spot that would work, right by our little red barn/shed.  Going to be a busy summer!


Since I am very rusty, I researched canning food, etc. and found tons of helpful videos.  I used to can food many decades ago, and, two years ago, I purchased a new pressure cooker canner.  I already have canning books, so I am prepared to start.  I started reading them and discovered I really have forgotten how to do all of this.  It's true that if you don't use it - you will lose it - or at least, tempoarily forget it.

Both of us love to cook.  I frequently cook large pots of soups, stews, etc. and freeze leftovers.  Bobby is also an excellent baker, especially cheesecake.  Therefore, there are many opportunities to plan economic ways to do canning and freezing of food.  We are always looking for bargains on meats and veggies.


It is our desire to make a lot of things homemade, like laundry detergent, soaps, cleaners, etc.  I have very sensitive skin, including psoriasis, and Bobby has a mild ecsema.  Therefore, I knew it would be cost effective and beneficial for both of us if I learned how to make these items homemade. 

The cost of laundry detergent, like "All Free and Clear" and even dollar store brands are so outrageous (over $12 for a bottle to last me one month) that I definitely want to make that first.  I did some research on You Tube and the Internet and found a plethora of helpful information. 

Some things are so easy, I almost feel stupid not figuring it out before.  Oh, well, that's that.  I tweaked a few recipes I saw online and made my own very sensitive laundry detergent. It smells wonderful and does not itch my skin at all.  And, for approximately $5, I made a year's worth of laundry detergent.  Yes, ONE YEAR'S WORTH OF LAUNDRY DETERGENT FOR APPROXIMATELY $5. 


For the past several years, I had been ordering homemade goatsmilk soap and Skin Free body butter online.  Skin Free is going out of business.  I panicked.  Everything OTC itches me and finding something else can be a challenge.  Therefore, I did some research and found out how to make my own body butter, lotions, etc.  I made my own simple recipe and jokingly call it "Janet's Body Shmootz" - it is fabulous - no itching or redness - and it is all natural.

The following posts will be on how I (or my hubby and I) make things homemade and how we make our little urban homestead.

It is very liberating to make things yourself and to save money also. 

Happy reading!