Author Archives: Homemaker Chic

About Homemaker Chic

The author is a homemaker, baker, DIYer, undomestic goddess, interior decorator, mommy of 2 boys, wife to one fantastic man, housekeeper, executive chef of the kitchen du noelle, and craigslist aficionado. "There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." ~Thomas Wolfe

Homemade Vanilla Bean Extract

vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comSo, two Christmases ago, before I was the lucky mother of two children (and I had all sorts of free time), I decided to make all homemade gifts for my family. I made lovely gift baskets with lots of really cool homemade goodies including this glorious Vanilla Bean Extract. I couldn’t blog about it at the time because it would have spoiled the surprise for all my family. So I had big plans to blog about it in the fall of last year so my readers would have time to make this really thoughtful gift for their families in time for Christmas. Only I had a baby. So here we are in the last day of January 2016 and I’m not going to put it off anymore. Now you will have around 11 months to prepare to make Vanilla extract for everyone on your gift list. You could have a whole vanilla extract factory in that amount of time! Here’s how…

sks-bottle-amber-bottles-homemakerchic.com1) First you will need some dark amber bottles.

The dark color of the bottle keeps light out and preserves your finished product and helps it to last longer. SKS-bottle.com to the rescue! They have these lovely amber bottles that have the bonus of including tamper evident caps and pouring inserts that keep your vanilla beans from falling out every time you want extract. At less than $1.50 a piece for the 8 oz size (which by the way will hold enough vanilla extract to last your average home baker approximately a lifetime give or take) the price was definitely right! The 4 oz size are around $1 each. You just can’t find them any cheaper, I looked. I absolutely love the old fashioned look of these bottles.

2) Get some good quality vanilla beans.

For an 8 oz bottle you will need 7 beans per bottle.

I got mine from on Amazon. I got 1 pound of Madagascar Vanilla beans for $56.75. That’s over 100 beans. I looked and that price has gone up since I bought them, but you don’t need a whole pound. I got a bunch because I was making a lot of these for gifts and also using them for other projects (Homemade Kahlua!). If you’re only making a few of these you can get 25 beans for around $30.

3) Pick your poison.

You will need 1 cup 70 Proof Alcohol

Next you will need to decide if you want to make a bourbon vanilla or a vodka vanilla. Whether you use vodka or bourbon is up to you. Bourbon has more flavor than vodka and will yield a richer, deeper, final flavor. Vodka is a more neutral flavor and really lets the vanilla beans shine. Vodka is also less expensive if you’re trying to stay on a budget (Costco’s Kirkland brand is great!). You can also try light rum, I haven’t tried it but I read lots of reviews of people who loved it. Whichever you choose, avoid using alcohol with too high of an alcohol level as it can really break down the vanilla beans too much and it just won’t work right. 70 proof will do the trick.

4) Make the stuff.

Slice the beans in half and shove them down into your bottles. You can cut them into smaller pieces if you have a hard time fitting them in, but I liked the elegance of the long leggy beans.

Using a funnel, pour the alcohol into the bottle.

Press the white plastic strainer pieces firmly inside the openings of the bottles. (Sometimes they get hidden inside the caps if you can’t find them). Then affix the caps by pressing straight down firmly. If you’re having a hard time getting them on, try to twist gently to the right as you’re pressing down. Don’t twist too hard or you will break your tamper proof seal. It takes a little finesse but I love this feature. It makes them so finished and professional (especially if you wanted to sell these).

5) Labels & Presentation

homemade-vanilla-extract-homemakerchic.comI really love these brown Kraft labels for various purposes. They just look so old fashioned and I love the way they turned out against the amber bottles. I used a font called Chocolate Box from 1001freefonts. I used round ones but in the future I might use something with a different shape like these. 

And these scalloped ones are really cute too! And these would be nice if you were using smaller bottles. 

And rustic twine is just a must in my opinion. I buy twine by the roll and use it for everything. I wrap gifts with it, tie gift tags on with it, I wrap pencils in it, hang pictures with it. Tie my hair back with it. I’m a big time twine fan. Adding a little to these bottles just totally makes it special.

Finally, leave the extract for at least 8 weeks (or more!), shaking the bottles once a week for good measure.  Enjoy!!

Homemade Natural Anti-perspirant Deodorant Recipe that REALLY works!

homemade-all-natural-aluminum-free-deodorant-recipe

aluminum-free-deodorant-recipe-homemakerchic-comA couple years ago I posted a recipe for a homemade deodorant recipe. That recipe has become very popular and I have had many comments from readers saying how much they loved it. But I have also gotten responses from a few people saying that it caused them some irritation. I really did love this recipe because it worked on me, and kept the stink away. The crummy part is that it caused me irritation too. I was pregnant at the time I posted that blog and I figured maybe sensitive pregnancy skin was possibly the reason, but when it still irriated my skin after pregnancy I knew I needed to rework the recipe. In the interim I got insanely busy with a toddler, and becoming a doula, that I never got around to it. avaandersondeodorantI also came across a natural deodorant product that I absolutely loved from Ava Anderson, but at $14 a tube I knew I could come up with something that worked equally as well and cost less! So when I ran out of my last tube of super expensive fancy pants deodorant I knew it was time to go back to the drawing board and finally figure out a recipe that worked but didn’t cause irritation.

So recently when my buddies at SKS Bottle asked if I was working on any new projects I told them I could use some deodorant tubes to try out a new recipe. They sent me samples of every single tube they sell, and there are a lot! They have such an awesome selection. I used three different ones for this project.

So for my new recipe I was looking for a few things…

  1. A solid deodorant that could be used in a tube.
  2. Would be able to combat odor but not cause irriation.
  3. Have some measure of sweat control.
  4. I wanted it to smell great.

homemade-deodorant-sample-tubesAfter a few different formulations I finally came up with an amazing recipe that had all of those things! Using some of these super adorable sample size deodorant tubes from SKS I sent out samples to my friends to try. Among the test group was a fightfighter, a marathon runner, a friend who said her stink/sweat was unrivaled, and yours truly (plus some others). Almost everyone was dubious that a natural homemade deodorant would actually work, but we were so pleasantly surprised at how amazing this stuff is!

homemade-deodorant-natural-cardboard-tubesI am not one of those girls who can accidentally forget deodorant and still smell like flowers. I NEED deodorant. Its not cute if I forget. I’m not the heaviest sweater but I do want to smell good. The scent is a happy and mild blend of spearmint and vanilla that has just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering. It is nice for men or women. The texture is firm enough to hold up in a tube, but soft enough to glide on smoothly. The odor control is fantastic as is the sweat control! I have also noticed I don’t have staining on my clothes when I do sweat. Overall I am SOOO much more happy with this than any other storebought brand I have purchased. Normally by around 7pm my deodorant starts to work reeeeally hard, and I can tell I may need to refresh. But I could wear this stuff for two days without smelling. I honestly couldn’t believe it. And the best part for me… zero irritation. Even when I applied immediately after shaving. I have finally found my miracle deodorant recipe!

Full disclosure: I did have one tester who has very sensitive skin and has struggled with skin irritation in the past with natural deodorant. She did experience irritation with this formulation, and a pesky rash on her underarms. I guess you can’t win em all. If you have this reaction I would recommend leaving out the baking soda completely and adding additional arrow root. (Please let me know if you try this route as I would like to know if it helps!)

A little bit about the ingredients, and how I changed them this time: I have added beeswax to help the mixture set up to a firm consistency. I added arrow root and shea butter to help condition the underarms. I lessened the amount of baking soda considerably, to help reduce irritation.

This recipe made about 10.7 ounces – enough for me to fill 3 x 2oz cardboard tubes, 6 x .35 sample tubes, and 1 x 2.6oz white plastic tube. 

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup beeswax
  • 11 tablespoons non-gmo cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda (any brand will do – all baking soda is aluminum free!)
  • 7 tablespoons arrow root powder
  • 3 tablespoons non-gmo powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons shea butter
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 8 drops vitamin E oil
  • 60-70 drops vanilla essential oil
  • 8-10 drops spearmint oil
  • 8-10 drops tea tree oil

Instructions:

In a double boiler, melt together the beeswax, shea butter, and all of the oils. You can do this in a large pyrex measuring cup placed in a bowl of boiling hot water. Keep a kettle of hot water on the stove to replace the water as it begins to cool. (You can also microwave it at this point in the process if the wax is taking too long to melt. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. But don’t microwave once you add the dry ingredients, because it can sort of cook it and cause it to get weird.)

In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Once the oils and wax are melted, stir in the powdered ingredients about ¼ cup at a time, using a small wire whisk. Be sure the bowl stays very hot while you’re doing this as the mixture can thicken up and become hard to stir if it cools. You want it to be about the texture of soft toothpaste.

how-to-make-your-own-natural-deodorantIf you’ve used a pyrex cup, then you can now just pour directly from the cup into the tubes. Again, making sure the mixture is very hot so it pours nicely and fluidly. Pour quickly and precisely into the tubes trying not to spill down the sides. (FYI I like to work on a silicon mat for easy cleanup.) Scrape the bowl in between fillings and stir to make sure you don’t have any bits that have hardened. You want the mixture to stay smooth and velvety so it pours nicely. Do not over fill the tubes. After filling each tube, you can gently tap the tube on the counter to work out any air bubbles. Then allow them to set for several hours to cool and harden before using. Do not put them in the fridge as this can cause them to crack.

homemade-deodorant-recipe-aluminum-freeI made up some nice kraft labels on the computer and printed them out so they would have a polished look. I really love how they turned out! The cardboard tubes are my favorite look, but they do get a little hard to push the deodorant out once you get down to the bottom. I just stick a mascara tube in the bottom to push it up. The white plastic tubes look a little more simple but they work great! Easy to twist up, and easy to apply. They also have some more manly looking tubes if you wanted to make some of these as a gift for a man. I love the assortment of tubes SKS has to choose from! Happy deodorant making friends. Definitely let me know if you try it and how it works for you!

How To Remove Pen Ink From Leather Furniture

how-to-remove-ink-from-leather-furnitureHaving a toddler is lots of fun. Everyday I get to witness all the new and exciting things he is learning. Like today for example, I got to see him learn how to draw… with a pen… on my white leather sofa. Palm:Meet:Forehead.

toddler-drawing-on-leather-furniture-how-to-remove

A quick google search yielded a few options for ink stain removal one of which included using rubbing alcohol. Since the first idea that came to my mind was rubbing alcohol anyway I figured I’d go with my gut. Now I didn’t find this beautiful work of art until about 2.5 hours after he did it, so I think this method will work great even if you don’t catch the problem right away.

remove-ink-stain-easily-from-leather-using-alcohol

All I needed was a couple of cotton pads, a bottle of rubbing alcohol (or isopropyl alcohol: you can find it at any supermarket, drugstore, or chemist) and a little elbow grease. It came right off!

how-to-clean-ink-from-leather

For the areas where the ink had seeped in between the cracks of the leather I just used the corner of my finger nail to work out the ink, and then scrubbed it with more alcohol and cotton pads. Good luck! Hope it works as well for you as it did for me!

Hot/Cold Rice bags – A group craft project

DIY-rice-bag-tutorial-how-to-homemakechic.comIn my last post I talked about the recent ladies retreat we had for my church. And being the Crafty McCrafterson that I am, I ended up being elected Craft monger for the retreat. I wanted to come up with a few crafts that would be fun to do, easy to prepare in bulk, and something that would be useful and appreciated by the women. Who wants to make lame crafts that just end up being thrown away or junking up your house, or that everyone has 1000 of already? Seriously, if I see one more bible verse bookmark or wwjd bead bracelet I’m going to hurl.

So I came up with 3 practical and fun craft projects for the girls, one of which I will be sharing with you today. (I’ll be sharing the others in the next few weeks.)

The hot/cold rice bags are simple to make, relatively inexpensive, and super useful! Even your hubby will be able to use this one! You can heat them up in the microwave for a few minutes, or freeze them overnight for a nice cold pack. It works both ways.

Craftsy

4-compartment-rice-heating-bagI had seen rice bags like this that had 4 compartments. This makes it so the rice doesn’t all pool to one spot, which I liked but I knew that wouldn’t work for our purposes since the bags would have needed to be filled with rice in small amounts in between sewing on the machine and then there would be nothing left for the crafters to do.

So I made a modified version with two long compartments. This allowed the rice to be divided into sections, and give the bag some structure and  flexibility at the same time. I’m pretty happy with the finished result.IMG_3623

You will need:

  • Flannel Fabric – I made 30 of these which ended up being about 6 yards of fabric. You could easily adjust for your needs. I chose several different colors and patterns to suit the styles of different ladies.
  • Each piece of fabric will need to be 40″ long x 6″ wide (these will be folded in half lengthwise). Or alternatively you could make them 20″ long x 12″ wide (folding in half widthwise). The finished bags should be around 19″x5″ +/- depending on your seam allowance.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Needles

Here’s what you do:

DIY-hot-cold-rice-bag-tutorial-ladies-retreat-homemakerchic.com

DIY-rice-bag1. Start by cutting out your fabric strips. Iron the fabric so its nice and smooth, then fold in half rights sides together, lengthwise and press the fold down flat. 

how-to-make-a-rice-heating-bag2. Sew a straight line down each side. You can do whatever size seam allowance you like. It really doesn’t matter as long as its even on both sides. Be sure to backstitch. Snip off the corners at the bottom, being careful not to cut into your stitching.

DIY-rice-bag-sewing-tutorial3. Flip your bag right side out and press the seams nice and flat. Fold the opening in 1/2 inch and press flat. (This will make a really clean seam opening for the crafters so all that is left to do is fill with rice and stitch closed.)

hot-cold-rice-bags-DIY-tutorial4. Fold the back in half lengthwise and press the fold flat. This will create a guide for your middle stitch.

how-to-sew-your-own-rice-bag5. Using either a complimentary or contrasting fabric color, stitch a straight line right down the middle of the bag.

This will create your two rice compartments. double-compartment-rice-bag-DIYAt this point your bags are complete and ready for the crafters. 

To set up the craft station for your group you will need the following:

how-to-set-up-a-craft-station-for-ladies-retreat

  • instructions-how-to-make-rice-bagsComplete pre-sewn bags for all the crafters
  • Bowls for the rice (I had 4 bowls, since there were other crafts going on and the girls were going through each station in small groups).
  • Measuring cups for the girls to measure the rice
  • Funnels (you’ll want funnels wide enough for the rice to flow freely. I ended up making paper cones for the girls using card stock and tape.)
  • Rice – 2.5 lbs per bag (I needed 75lbs of rice. I found huge bags at Costco for dirt cheap.)
  • Various Essential Oils – Optional (if you use different oils you may want to designate a specific bowl for each flavor. I didn’t do this and the scents started to blend by the end of the evening.)
  • easy-sewing-running-stitch-example-drawingInstructions for the girls (I framed mine so it was easy to see). I also included a sewing diagram for those who do not know how to sew. I used a simple running stitch for the example.
  • A sample rice bag so they can see the finished product. I used a contrasting thread on my example bag so it would be easy to see how I stitched it closed.how-to-hand-stitch-a-seam-closed

Instructions:

fill-rice-bags-with-rice1. Fill the bowl with 2.5 cups of rice.

2. If desired add 5-6 drops of essential oil to the rice and mix throughly. 

3. Using the cone, fill each side with half of the rice.

closing-rice-bag-with-simple-stitch4. Using the needle and thread provided, hand-stitch the top of the bag closed.

5. Use at home by heating in the microwave, or chilling in the freezer. Apply to the back, neck or shoulders for relief of minor aches and pains. 

The girls had a great time making these bags and I was really happy with how everything turned out! Why not try this at your next group event, craft party or ladies retreat?
Craftsy

ladies-craft-night-homemakerchic.com

Citrus Splash Body Scrub – REVISITED

homemaker-chic-citrus-sugar-scrubSummer is on its way here and there’s no better time to revisit this refreshing citrus scrub. diy-sugar-scrub-homemakerchic-comA couple years ago I made up this recipe and used these charming jars from SKS bottle.

When I was asked to make some goodies to go in gift bags for a ladies retreat at our church I knew this scrub would be a hit. But there were a few things I needed to do differently this time.

Craftsy

First of all I wanted to use a jar with a plastic lid. Since metal and water are not best friends, I thought it would be better to use a completely waterproof jar for use in the shower. I landed on this 4oz plastic jar with a white dome lid. I like the look of the dome lid, it just looks like something you’d find in a cosmetics store and it really adds a nice professional touch to the finished product.

IMG_3128I also needed a water proof label. The paper tag label I used was nice for packaging, but once you took the ribbon off you might forget what was in the jar! (except you’d know exactly what it was when you opened it and smelled that delicious fruity aroma but I digress.) I had since made other scrubs and used these really cute Kraft paper labels, but they get wet in the shower and eventually peel off. So I found these fantastic plastic adhesive labels that you can print right from your standard printer. The clear labels made it look like I had the lids custom printed! They looked to clean and professional. This would be a good option if you wanted to sell your scrubs. These are Avery #22825 and you can download the template here.

30 scrubs later and we had lots of happy ladies with presumably VERY soft skin! sugar-scrubs-for-ladies-retreat-church-gift

So I hope you make this fun recipe and share with all your friends. Enjoy!

***FIND THE RECIPE HERE***

refreshing-diy-sugar-scrub-recipe-all-natural

Apple Cider Vinegar Cold Remedy

This time of year the weather in Florida changes more often than I change Luke’s diaper. We can go from 42 degrees to 80 in a matter of 1 day, and then back again, and reverse. It takes a toll on our nasal passages and unfortunately Luke and I have both come down with sore throats and sniffles. Luke get’s to rely on good ol’ fashioned breastmilk to make him feel better but Mommy relies on this tried and true remedy. I thought it was worth revisiting in case any of you are feeling crummy too. Here’s to feeling better fast!

Homemaker Chic

natural-cold-remedyWell I’m sick. Boo! I almost never get sick, and here I am sick as a dog for the fourth time since Luke was born (4 months ago). Now before you say my immune system is probably down due to lack of sleep I have to say that God blessed me with one of those fabled, magical, unicorn babies who has slept through the night since birth! I figure He decided to throw me a bone after all I went through. I digress.

I guess its probably just one of the joys of the postpartum phase where my body is unrecognizable and nothing works the way it used to, including my immune system.

Since I’m breastfeeding I was leary to take any over the counter medications lest I negatively affect my milk supply. So I got to thinking and googling and came up with this super awesome get-better-soon-elixer.

organic-raw-acv-apple-cider-vinegarHere’s…

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Beet Juice Recipe PLUS Juice Pulp Muffins!

beet-juice-recipe-homemakerchic.com

Recently I’ve gotten into juicing! My dad loaned me his Jack Lalaine juicer several months ago and I’ve been meaning to try it. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when a friend introduced me to a new vegetable stand about a mile from my house that sells organic veggies at great prices that I finally got the itch to make some tasty juices! I decided to start with beets. After trying a few different blends I finally came up with one that is so delicious, surprisingly sweet and super nutritious. Beet+Carrot+Cucumber+Apple.

I was shocked by how quickly the juicer did its job! In just a few minutes it had pulverized my fruits and veggies into a glorious deep red beverage, and spit out about 8 cups of pulp just as quickly. I was really surprised by how much pulp was left over. And I felt like it was such a waste to throw out all that good stuff, so I figured why not whip up some healthy muffins while I’m at it? So today you get a bonus Carrot Beet muffin recipe.

JUICE RECIPE:

  • 2 med/large Organic beets
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 2 small apples
  • 6 large carrots

WHAT TO DO:
Prepare the beets by cutting off the hard stem area, and peeling them. It is very important to use organic root vegetables because they are steeped in the soil and if that soil has pesticides in it you will have pesticides in your juice. Yuck. The first time I made this recipe I did not peel the beets and I found it had much too strong of a “dirt” flavor even though I thoroughly washed them. Cut the beets into small enough pieces that they will fit easily into your juicer. Craftsy The apples should also be cut into halves or quarters depending on the size. The cucumbers and carrots should fit just fine. Now juice! Since we are only using the pulp from the carrots, beets and apples, juice those first then set the pulp aside. TIP: After trying this recipe a few times I found that I was left with quite a bit of sediment in the bottom of my jug of juice after it settled in the fridge. To eliminate this I decided to pour my juice through a coffee press. You could also pour it through cheese cloth. This helped a lot!

carrot-beet-muffins-homemakerchic.com-juice-pulpMUFFIN RECIPE:

  • 4 cups juice pulp
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mix sugar, oil, and eggs. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and blend well. Fold in juice pulp, raisins, and blueberries. (Be sure to pick through your pulp firstto make sure it doesn’t have any large pieces that didn’t get chopped up by the juicer). Grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray (the kind with flour mixed in). Fill the cup almost completely full as these muffins do not rise a whole lot. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Eat them HOT! Enjoy. :) P.S. My toddler loves these healthy muffins!