Sunday, November 24, 2013

Homemade Eyeshadow Primer

Eyeshadow primer not only makes your eyeshadow 'stick' more and crease less, but it also allows you to use less eyeshadow as it turns your eyelid into a nice even surface.

This recipe requires three ingredients: moisturizer/lotion of your choice, liquid foundation, and arrowroot powder

In a small bowl, combine equal parts moisturizer and liquid foundation. Stir in arrowroot powder 1/4 teaspoon at a time until you reach a frosting-like consistency. Place finished makeup in a small jar. Apply with either your finger or a small foundation brush. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homemade Shine-Free Powdered Foundation

One of my must haves is loose powder (thanks to the great state of Texas, without it I'd look like a complete grease ball). So needless to say, I love what it does for my skin but I definitely don't love the price. For six dollars, I get 0.7 ounces of product. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the majority of my money is going towards marketing and not the actual product. Recently I came across a recipe to make my own loose powdered makeup. The recipe was lengthy and included several exotic ingredients (most of which were used in such small quantities that I honestly didn't see the point). I spent the next several minutes skimming the comments section and found out that many people simply used the three main ingredients and didn't bother with the rest. They reported good results and the main ingredients were familiar to me so I decided to go ahead and try it. Let me just say this: the resulting product is AMAZING. It is light and provides nice shine-free coverage just like my beloved Maybelline loose face powder. Oh, and let's not forget it costs a fraction of the price. For $10 worth of ingredients, I'm going to be able to make at least 40 batches of this stuff (each batch being enough to refill my old Maybelline container).

Like I said, all you need are three ingredients. Arrowroot powder, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. I recommend you splurge for the good cocoa powder and all natural arrowroot as this stuff is going on your face. If you aren't familiar with arrowroot powder, just know that it is similar to cornstarch except that it is gluten free. You can find it in the baking goods aisle along side other flours. It is available at all health food stores. 

In a bowl, combine the three ingredients until you get your desired shade. Arrowroot powder is going to be the base, so start with that and very slowly add in tiny amounts of the cinnamon and cocoa powder. I can't tell you how much because your skin color isn't the same as mine. Just know that the cocoa powder will darken the makeup but leave it a slight grey tone while the cinnamon will darken the makeup while adding in warm tones. Keep some of your existing loose powder makeup nearby to compare colors. Once you've found your shade, transfer into an old makeup container or any container that's short and wide and enjoy your awesome cheap makeup that smells absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reel Mower: The ONLY green way to mow your lawn

Did you know that running a gas powered lawn mower for one hour creates approximately the same amount of pollution as ELEVEN cars being driven for one hour? Did you know that the EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of fuel is spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment? That's more than Exxon-Valdez oil spill of 1989! An electric mower might seem like a better option since it doesn't directly contribute to pollution like a gas mower, but it does require electricity which may or may not be generated from renewable resources. The best option when it comes to mowing your lawn is to use a manual (push) reel mower.

Reel mowers are very inexpensive, with most reel mowers costing around $100. They're also easy to maintain, only requiring the occasional greasing. If the blades become dull, a sharpening kit can be purchased for $15. We've had our reel mower for 3 years and have yet to sharpen the blades.

Besides being cheap to buy and maintain, reel mowers are also safer than powered mowers (75,000 people go to the ER every year for lawn mower related injuries) since powered mowers have a tendency to turn rocks into projectiles. They're also quieter, allowing you to mow your lawn any time you'd like. Finally, real mowers are better for the health of your grass. The blades of powered mowers, whether gas or electric, cut by chopping and shredding. This leaves the grass more vulnerable to moisture-loss. A reel mower snips the grass much like a pair of scissors. This cleaner cut keeps your lawn healthy and looking neat.

The only downside of reel mowers is that they are slightly more difficult to push than powered mowers. If your yard is larger than a half acre, a reel mower may not be for you (however, if you have more than a half acre, I'd recommend xeriscaping the majority of your yard since lawns are wasteful in the first place). 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Soap Nuts - Natural Laundry Soap

Laundry in our household has just gotten cheaper and greener as we have made the switch to soap nuts.

So what exactly are soap nuts? Soap nuts are the dried shells of soapberries. The shells contain a substance called saponin, which creates a soaping effect. It has been used for centuries across the globe for cleaning laundry, for personal hygiene, and for several other cleaning purposes. They are hypoallergenic and naturally fragrance free.

For laundry, measure out 1/2 ounce of soap nuts (4-5 shells), place into a drawstring bag and tie it securely. Toss the bag into your washing machine prior to adding in clothing then wash using warm or hot water. Once the washer has completed all cycles, remove the drawstring bag containing the soap nuts (don't leave it in your washer). Air drying the soap nuts is not necessary if you have another load of laundry to do. If you wash with cold water (which I usually do unless I'm washing kitchen rags or cloth diapers), simply soak the drawstring bag containing the soap nuts in a cup of hot water for 3 minutes, creating "soap nut tea". Remove the bag and pour tea into your washing machine. Again, allow the drawstring bag containing the soap nuts to air dry.

Soap nuts can be reused 4-7 times. They are no longer effective when they turn light tan or grey or when they become thin and/or mushy. Spent soap nuts can be composted!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stain Remover

I have a toddler and a white microfiber couch so you can only imagine what I have to deal with on a daily basis. My couch has seen everything including chocolate, crayon, pen ink, and tomato soup to something I could only WISH was chocolate (gag). So, what's my secret to keeping my couch looking new and stain free? Why, a bottle of rubbing alcohol of course! After cleaning up the bulk of the mess and blotting up as much liquid as possible, I squirt the area with rubbing alcohol then scrub with a clean and dry white cloth. It really is just that easy.

Preserving Food - Pressure Canning

According to studies, the average American throw away 40% of the food they buy! Obviously this is a huge source of waste. By properly preserving your food with a pressure canner, you can not only save money and create less waste, but also create "convenience" foods out of items that would otherwise take hours to cook.

My favorite thing to can is beans. I love it because it cooks and preserves the beans in just a few easy steps. No overnight soaking is required and in just a couple hours, you can have plenty of beans for weeks to come, ready when they're needed. The directions below are for processing beans. If you want to pressure can something else, please refer to your owners manual for the pounds pressure and processing time.

1. Set 3 quarts of water to boil. 

2. Take all your clean jars and lids and place them in your dishwasher for a quick, hot rinse. This will prepare the jars for canning. Usually a full rinse cycle isn't required and the jars will be plenty hot after 5 minutes.

3. Remove the jars and lids from the dishwasher then measure the dry beans into the hot jars. If you have a food scale, measuring the beans is very easy and makes for perfectly uniform jars. Simply set the jars one at a time on the scale, zero it out, then add the following grams of dried beans per pint sized jar (double the amount if you're using quart sized jars):
  • black beans: 114 grams
  • garbanzo beans/chickpeas: 135 grams
  • great northern beans: 105 grams
  • pinto beans: 108 grams
If you don't have a food scale, simply measure out 3/4th cup of dried beans per pint sized jar (1 1/2 cups per quart sized jar). Now would also be the time to add any spices if you're wanting to flavor the beans. Simply add whatever you'd like to the jars right on top of the beans. You can add chopped onion, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and/or pepper just to give you some ideas. 

4. Next, you'll need to add water to eat jar, leaving about an inch of headspace. Place the lids on the jars then screw the rings on tight. Place the jars upright on the rack inside the pressure canner. 

5. Carefully pour the 3 quarts of boiling water into the pressure canner

6. Place the pressure canner over a burner, turn the heat on high and securely attach the lid, leaving the pressure regulator off or open (depending on your model).

7. Once the steam releasing from the valve pipe has been steady for ten minutes, close the pressure regulator (place it over the valve pipe). Allow it to build up to 11 pounds pressure then reduce the heat to maintain the pressure.

8. Process your jars for 75 minutes for pint sized jars or 90 minutes for quart sized jars. Check on the pressure often to make sure it hasn't risen or dropped.

9. Once the processing time has passed, turn off the heat and carefully move the pressure canner off of the burner. DO NOT OPEN THE CANNER. First, allow the pressure to drop completely. Once that has happened, open/remove the release valve and allow steam to escape. Only then is it safe to remove the lid. Remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool at room temperature.

10. Once completely cooled, check the seals by pushing on the center of each lid. If any of them give, they haven't sealed properly and you'll have to store them in your fridge and use them within the next few days. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dry place such as your pantry or cupboard.

Dry pinto beans, a tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and a clove of minced garlic

Just before securing the lid o the pressure canner. Jars are closed and surrounded by hot water. 

Finished product: REFRIED BEANS!! To use, simply heat and mash with a fork.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Use Your Local Library

I LOVE going to the library. It cost absolutely nothing to join and all that was needed was identification along with proof of residence. With a family library card, we are able to check out up to 35 items at a time. These items include books, movies, magazines, CD's, and even puppets (weird, right?). I can easily find things for myself, my husband, and even my toddler. Through the library's website, we're able to renew items, search for items, request items that aren't available, and have available items reserved and set aside to save us time. I can get in the library and check out an item that's being held for me in less than 60 seconds, making it incredibly convenient. Typically, checked out items aren't due back for three weeks (even newly released movies). So, what are you waiting for? Go check out your public library and stop wasting money at the bookstore (and on movie rentals). 

What I got on my most recent trip to the library

Reduce Drying Time with Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls reduce drying time by separating your clothes which break up any twisting/bundling as your clothes tumble around in the dryer. This not only saves you time but it also saves you money. They also claim to eliminate the need for dryer sheets and fabric softeners, although I've never used either of them so what do I know? 

I heard of wool dryer balls through friends and saw a few tutorials on Pinterest but I was a skeptic. I didn't see how it would make any significant difference. Recently, I was gifted some homemade dryer balls from a friend and I am absolutely blown away by the results. Before, I had to consistently add an additional 20 minutes to the end of every load of laundry that passed through my dryer. Since using the dryer balls (it's been a few months), I haven't had to add time to the dryer. Everything comes out perfectly dry each and every time. The best part is, you do NOT have to be crafty whatsoever to make these. All you need is some wool yarn (make sure it's 100% natural wool and not a blend) and about a half hour of your time. Wind the wool into a tight ball until it's about 3-4 inches in diameter, tie off the end, then place the ball in a nylon sock or pantyhose. Tie a not in the sock/hose so that the ball is tightly encased in the nylon. Insert another ball of yarn and tie another knot. Do this until you have all your wool dryer balls tied off in your sock, making some sort of funky looking ball chain. Over the next few weeks, be sure to include this knotted sock of balls in every load of laundry where you use hot water. Send the knotted sock through the dryer as well. Do this roughly 4-5 times before cutting open the sock to free your balls! Admire how fuzzy and felted they are. They will not unravel, I assure you (although, if they do, don't blame me!). Keep them in your dryer as that is their new home. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How to fix broken pressed powdered makeup

This easy trick may not result in the prettiest looking makeup, but it works great, it's cheap, and it works with any pressed powder such as compact powder, eyeshadow and blush. All you need is rubbing alcohol, a clean bowl and a small spoon.

The culprit: An eyeshadow that shattered after being dropped. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Making Baby Food part 2 - Reusable Squeeze Pouches

Squeeze pouches are all the rage among babies and toddlers (and parents) alike. They make eating fruits and veggies fun, they travel nicely, they can be squirted on top of yogurt or oatmeal, and they keep messes down to an absolute minimum. However, at around 35 cents an ounce, they can really put a dent in your wallet. They are also wasteful as you cannot reuse the store bought, pre-filled pouches. That's where reusable pouches come in.

After researching all the different brands and styles available, I decided to order a 4 pack of reusable pouches by Little Green Pouch. I decided on this brand for a few different reasons. First, the zipper style opening that is featured on most reusable pouches is located on the top rather than the bottom. This allows the bottom of the pouch to be able to flare out, giving the pouch a nice surface to stand on. The opening at the top also decreases the risk of accidental opening (which has never happened thus far). Second, I liked that these pouches were the collapsable bag-style pouches I was already used to. Some of the reusable pouches on the market aren't really pouches at all and are more like a silicone or plastic bottle with a spout on it. Reviewers of such pouches all agreed that the design made it hard to squeeze out all of its contents and that smaller children had a hard time using them. Finally, I chose these pouches because they are freezer-safe, dishwasher-safe, and durable. They were a little on the pricy side, averaging $5 per pouch, however, after just four uses per pouch, they will have paid for themselves.

6 oz reusable squeeze pouch by Little Green Pouch

Reusable pouches can be filled with a variety of things such as pureed fruits and veggies, smoothies, yogurt, or pudding. Making your own fruit and vegetable purees is easy, healthy, and cheap. I like to freeze pureed fruits and veggies into freezer trays (you can read about making and preserving baby food with freezer trays HERE). Each resulting cube is exactly one ounce and makes blending flavors easy by simply defrosting a few different cubes together. Once defrosted (either by being transferred to the fridge overnight or by using the microwave), the mixture can easily be spooned into the pouch. Another option is skip the freezer trays all together and to put the prepared puree straight into the pouch then into the freezer. Frozen pouches can be defrosted in a bowl of warm water. They also can be tossed into a lunch bag in the morning and by lunchtime, they will be perfectly defrosted. 

From left to right: blueberries, strawberries, carrots, apples

Frozen fruit and veggie purees kept in the freezer

Clean up is a breeze as long as you remember to do it soon after the pouch has been emptied. Simply rinse it out then use a bottle brush and dish soap to scrub the inside as well as the spout. These pouches say that they are dishwasher safe (and they are) but the dishwasher will not get these clean. Food will be left in the corners and dirty dishwasher water will be pooled on the bottom of the pouch. If you are unable to clean your pouch immediately, then the best thing to do is to rinse out all excess food then fill the pouch with warm soapy water. Seal the pouch and let it soak like this until you can get around to cleaning it. Cleaning a pouch left for days, or even just a few hours, will be quite the challenge so don't say I didn't warn you!