Make Your Own Everything!

        Hi, world! Tonight I want to share with you some reasons (as well as recipes) why I've chosen to make the switch to not just all-natural but all home-made. Okay, home-made what? Well, everything, really. I can even tell you how to make (flippin' delicious) chocolate sprinkles from scratch (another day!). Today, I think we'll focus on home cleaning and personal care products. Making your own everything is rewarding, and it really imparts character and wisdom that you don't get from putting a $30 bottle of goo in your shopping cart. Even when I score a beyond awesome bargain on all-natural goods (let me tell you about my $.99 and under Christmas Tree shop trip sometime...) the satisfaction of saving that money doesn't begin to compare to the self-worth I feel when I put something together with my own hands. It's just refreshing. Probably lowers blood pressure, too.
          If you're still dragging your feet and "I can't because"-ing about this, maybe I can persuade you. I happen to have a big mouth connected to my big brain full of big ideas about not ingesting/inhaling/slathering yourself with things that are outright poisonous, laughably expensive (I'm the one cackling like a hyena in Nature's Marketplace, I won't lie) or both. Here are my best arguments for home-making everything within your means, and why home-making everything really is within your means.
  • Let's get this one out of the way: It's dirt flippin' cheap. Really. Now, it may not seem that way when you pay $20 for the baking soda, essential oils, and coconut oil to make your toothpaste if you're not familiar with the concept of unit pricing. The unit price of an item is the cost per ounce, pound, 100 count, or whatever basic unit the product is measured in. Always keep unit pricing in mind to get the absolute most for your money if price is the main factor. If you're currently paying full retail price for natural products like toothpaste (I paid seven dollars for a 6-ounce tube of toothpaste once) then home-making is a super-frugal alternative. Depending on the ingredients you choose, you can get several servings worth for pennies per ounce. Now, if you're using xylitol and calcium-magnesium powder and sea salt in your home-made toothpaste, that's another story. It will most certainly be cheaper still than buying toothpaste with those ingredients, but not as much as the basic recipe I use. This point brings us to the next benefit:  
  • You have control over what goes in/on your body. Go ahead, be a control freak. It's   okay in this instance. Self control seems to be rare these days, so why not control of what goes into the self? If you aren't already aware of the downright poisonous properties (I feel I personally have grown numb to the word "toxic," let's say "poisonous" or "will-boil-your-guts-and-kill-you") of common ingredients in "food" and personal products, there's no reason not to be. Take a look at your favorite lotion or perfume or what-have-you. Read the ingredients. I mean it! Get up from your chair right now, go get your favorite bottle of goop and bring it to the computer. Look up any ingredient you can't with 100% certainty tell me what or where it comes from and what its purpose in the product is. What is methylchloroisothiazolinone and what is it doing to my kidneys? The Skin Deep database is a quick and easy third-party resource for getting the down-and-dirty on your favorite personal care products, their ingredients, and their potential health hazards. What might rock the boat for some fair-weather "crunchies" is that the more popular "natural" brands are heavy offenders as far as use of toxins. Keep in mind, "all-natural" does not mean safe. Arsenic is all-natural. Think about it. 
  •  Home-making everything is a skill worth developing. I used to be a (lazy deadbeat) artist. I used to be a (sub-par) musician. I've even tried my hand at (depressing) poetry once or twice. Heck, even blogging I'm not that good at (yet). I can say with confidence that I am a skilled do-it-yourself-er. God has blessed me in turning me from a lazy rotten teenager to a hard-working mother and wife. It's useful to be able to fabricate necessities and comforts, especially in hard times. I was never regaled with heirloom stories of bread lines or tenements, but I've experienced and observed enough austerity to decide to make it my lifestyle choice. If national forced austerity ever became a reality (tick tock...) I want my family to be able not only to survive but to thrive! My husband and I admire our Mennonite and Amish brothers and sisters for their industry and diligence. They are taught to work with their hands, men and women, from the time they can lift a hammer or thread a needle. I want to pass this mindset on to my child(ren)!
          I used to cruise through Wegman's, wide-eyed and gleefully tossing anything I fancied into my cart when I first got into natural living. I felt like I was really doing something good for myself. That was just the beginning. Now, I go there to buy pantry staples, things I honestly can't make myself (seaweed chips, mmm) and to find inspiration."I wonder if I can make this from scratch." Actually, after all that toothpaste talk, I had the idea just now to make your own toothbrush, there's a project!
           If you are impatient and refuse to learn patience, home-making is not for you. If you are a brand-addict and want guests to see your fair-trade-organic-vegan-raw-gluten-free-locally-sourced snake oil when they use your bathroom, either get creative with storing and labeling your homemades (part of the fun!) or don't bother. The (sensibly) industrious woman is a blessing to her house. The proverbial Virtuous Woman "worketh willingly with her hands" and so should we!

          And now, how's-about a tutorial? Here are step-by-step instructions to make a Home-made Honey Facial Wash, great for acne-prone skin!

          You will need:

  • raw honey, about 1/4 cup -- I used buckwheat because I think it tastes gnarsty, this is a better use for it!
  • filtered (not distilled or boiled, we want minerals) water, about 1/2 cup
  • castile or other all-natural soap, 2 tablespoons
  • any light oil (apricot, jojoba, etc), one teaspoon (optional)
  • tea tree oil, 10 drops
  • other oils for scent or aromatherapy purposes -- I used Patchouli and Spearmint, both good for acne
  • rosewater, one teaspoon
  • empty pumpy soapy container
  • measuring cup or bowl
  • funnel or quick hands
Make sure your baby is strapped in for the ride!

pour your soap!
pour your manure-tasting honey.
pour your filtered water.
Note: I failed to make sure I had enough soap for this recipe left. In the spirit of frugality, I poured the teaspoon of rosewater into the soap bottle and swished it around to get every last bit out!

add a little oil (this was $.50 cents, by the way!)
not cheap to buy, but I'll show you how to make it someday
Tea tree is a natural antibacterial, patchouli and spearmint have many uses including battling acne! add your wee oilies!
caution: it will look like mud unless you use a light honey
this recipe calls for a lot of pouring...

Ta-da! One or two squirts on a wet face, lather, rinse!

           There you have it! The irony is that it took me about three hours to write this post, valuable time I could've spent home-making more everythings! Maybe tomorrow I can post my favorite Red Cabbage Salad recipe faster than the Titanic sunk. Night, y'all!

Verse of the day: Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (KJV)
What's for dinner? Organic, grass-fed ribeye steaks, red cabbage salad!

                                                  Very truly yours,
                                                           Alpha Delta

off to a great start?

          Well, I thought this might happen. I'm too busy to blog! This is due, in part, to the fact that I'm a mawmaw.

I spend approximately 89,0578% of my day doing this.

The primary culprit, however, is my lack of discipline and haphazard daily routine! Discipline of any sort was never imparted to me as a child, so naturally I struggle with this as a mother and wife--keep those words in mind if you're raising unruly kids!

          If you're like me, you find yourself wondering where all those hours went as evening approaches and the bulk of tasks you've set on your plate for the day haven't even been touched. Sure, you could blame it on the constant interruptions of a young child (who despises naps outside of your arms), you could point the finger at the inadequate resources you have to work with, you could place the blame on any shoulders you choose. But if you put your pointing away and examine how you handle your day, where every minute goes, you'd be surprised at just how much fluff you could trim from your schedule. We are all given the same number of hours in each day, but the Proverbs 31 woman whose candle doesn't go out by night is sure to achieve more for her house and the glory of God than Mrs. Delta-Facebook-addict (I keep telling myself I'll delete it-hah!). The key here is maximizing usable time throughout the day and counting every minute as precious. And, really, if you think about how your life is but a vapor, every minute is in fact very precious.

         I've been reading a great book lent to me by a dear friend, a mother of five great kids (with number six due in December!). It was watching her buzz like the queen bee around her hive with the coolest of heads and the calmest of nerves as five different little bees (13 months to 7 years) buzz around on their own trajectories. She keeps a beautifully clean house (but is not a neurotic basket case about it like I can be), prepares every meal on time (without burning or undercooking it, which is my specialty) and still has time to enjoy and teach her kids and do things like sew and garden and study, and she still has the time and energy to spend quality time with her (awesome) husband! Who the heck invited Super Mom? I confided in her my feeling of drowning in maternal mediocrity compared to her example, when she handed me this book:
available from Amazon
          In the past, I've been highly skeptical of any solutions offered from a book. I grew up in a house littered with Woman's World magazines whose covers were emblazoned with all manner of self-help offers (Gorge Yourself Skinny!) and saw no effects in the person reading them. I simply put two and two together than authors of self-help books are just money-grubbing quacks. This book goes beyond self-help. Like when I first began studying the Bible, I realized I can't help myself. I'm truly very weak. I needed help from an outside source. The introduction of this book made my eyes light up:

          "Many years ago, I was the mother of one small baby boy in a little rental house. My husband and I were committed to having me stay at home to raise our little boy. I remember being embarrassed because of the dust, laundry piled up, and dirty dishes, and I scrambled to make something for supper just minutes before my hard-working husband came home.
          Why couldn't I handle the basics? My shortcomings as a homemaker frustrated me. I had read enough to know that I had it easy compared to women in the past. I didn't have to go outside and pump water like my grandmother did. I didn't have to kill a chicken and dress it to make supper. I had a gas stove,a refrigerator, a freezer, a crockpot, a washer and dryer. I was rich compared to women throughout the ages, and I knew it. What was wrong with me?"
           Wait... there's more than one of us? I'm sure I won't make any friends by saying this, but Hurricane Feminism has left a lot of poorly disciplined girls and women in its wake. We now have this primadonna mentality running rampant, but I won't follow that rabbit trail this time. Stay-at-home moms now seem to be something revolutionary when really it's one of the simplest and most natural occupations. How the tables have turned! Motherhood and homemaking were once the locked chains around women to which Feminism and all its tenets (a rewarding career, no obligation to a husband or children, so-called equal standing with men) were the key. Now, I see women bound to their images, slaves to fashion, bound to their jobs (whether menial or "rewarding") in order to keep themselves within four walls in this rotten economy. I found liberation in my role as a mother and wife. I used to say I wanted to go back to work after my son was born because I was too lazy to be a stay-at-home mom!
          Anyway, I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you're one of those who has been told "there's no manual" to things like managing a family and a house. I beg to differ! Because of what I'm picking up as I read this book, I find myself not only with the energy and the plan but the desire to make the absolute most of my resources and make my shoebox apartment (I'm thinking I'll start calling it the Abiding Place) a home! I too, am blessed! I'm done complaining about this apartment, something I could do with no end! Plenty of women make homes of sod and straw, why not me with my apartment? I'm not owed anything better than what I have. I work with what I have and I pray about the rest. The author, Kim Brenneman, suggests putting encouraging scriptures up throughout the house. My verse for this apartment?
Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. (KJV)
          So, if you read this blog, I'm glad for it. I do more noteworthy things with my days than I've mentioned so far, and I believe I'll work some space into my routine for regular blog writing. You deserve to know how awesome life is through the Alpha Delta lens :)
          Is there any habit you've had to train yourself out of in the transition from teenage years to adulthood? I'd love to hear your success story. I used to eat nothing but Stauffer's frozen dinners until I started literally forcing myself to eat vegetables and whole foods. I no longer have nightmares about mushrooms and bell peppers. How about you?

                                      Alpha Delta

What's for dinner?: When my taller half gets home, I hope to coax him into taking us out to the Blue Ribbon Smokehouse in Phelps, NY!
Verse of the day: 1John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (KJV)