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Category Archives for "Homemade"

Dec 14

Grow and Preserve Your Own Food With These 6 Tips

By chadchaffin | Homemade

Being self-reliant in the wake of a disaster—whether it’s natural or manmade—doesn’t just mean you have to find shelter. You’ll need sustenance to keep your mental and physical strength, and
you probably can’t rely on any grocery store to provide it for you. Consider these six essentials when preparing your survival pantry.

  1. Ready your soil in advance

    If your contingency plan is to grab a cucumber from the refrigerator after a disaster and plant the seeds in your yard, you’ll be hungry for quite a while, experts say. Instead, know what type of soil you have, and prepare it for a garden well in advance of a disaster. “A family should first begin with the richest quality soil possible by developing it,” advises Lisa Bedford, author of “The Survival Mom” and editor of the blog at “This is an enormous factor in successful gardening. Begin a compost bucket, or if space allows, a larger compost area outdoors.”

  2. Determine what to plant

    Do you love avocados? Don’t start planting the pits right away. Instead, visit farmer’s markets to find out what grows best in your area, rather than trusting the home improvement store nurseries or seed catalogs, Bedford advises. “Get to know your growing season and region,” she says. “Your county extension office can provide a wealth of information for your area.” You should also track what produce you already buy and use most. “Don’t plant celery, for example, if you rarely use it and no one likes to eat it,” she says. If they grow well in your region, you should consider planting ingredients commonly used in soup and stew recipes, such as onions, carrots, tomatoes and green beans, because those can go far for large groups.

  3. Start a small garden

    Once you’ve developed rich soil, you should plant a few seeds to see whether they’re successful. But don’t fall into the common trap of sowing thousands of seeds right off the bat, because you could end up wasting precious time and money if they don’t sprout. “Start with a small 4×4 plot or raised bed, or even just a pot or two,” Bedford says.

  4. Keep a garden journal

    You should maintain a written record of what you plant and where, Bedford advises. “Trust me, you’ll forget which varieties of tomatoes died off and which thrived,” she says. “As the growing season progresses, take note of successes and failures as well as your own actions, such as watering schedules. You’ll likely figure out why some plants didn’t thrive while others went on to be productive.”

  5. Food preservation methods

    Once you’ve grown a thriving garden, you’ll want to preserve your surplus in case you’ll have to subsist on it for long periods. Contrary to popular belief, preserved foods aren’t limited solely to jerky and pickles. “Just about every food can be preserved at home,” Bedford says. “For example, spaghetti sauce and cooked risotto can both be dehydrated. Meat and chicken can be safely home-canned, as can homemade soups and stews.” The easiest way to preserve food is to buy a food dehydrator (or build one using online instructions). You can dehydrate your own garden’s bounty or prepare for the future by buying vegetables now.
    “When you come across bags of frozen produce on sale, buy multiple bags,” Bedford advises. “The produce can be placed on the dehydrator trays without being thawed. It has already been washed and cut into small pieces, so it’s ready to go!” Likewise, fresh produce gleaned in bulk from farmer’s markets can be dehydrated, as can canned fruit. If you’d like to can your own fruit and vegetables, keep in mind that the process requires more supplies and takes a bit of training.
    “However, having wholesome food without any unwanted additives makes it worthwhile,” Bedford says. “The key is to

  6. Comfort foods

    Once you’ve got your fruit and vegetable plan underway, consider stocking some of your favorite menu items. “Any time a family must rely on their stored food will be a time of stress, so familiar comfort foods should be included,” Bedford says. “Make a list of several breakfast, lunch and dinner meals your family enjoys, and begin looking for ways to store those ingredients.” If young kids are still at home, be sure to store some foods that will be essential to their health, such as instant milk, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and various grains.
    “Food storage companies, such as Shelf Reliance, now offer enormous varieties of products that include organic foods, gluten-free products and non-GMO produce. Food storage doesn’t have to be limited to buckets of wheat, rice and beans!” Bedford adds.

By Torrey Kim

Dec 13

How to Make Homemade Soaps with Herbs and Plants

By chadchaffin | Homemade

Making soap from scratch is a complicated process. However, if you start with a natural 100% pure soap base and add herbal ingredients it becomes fun and easy. By including healing herbs, you’ll increase the soaps’ soothing, moisturising and cleansing properties.

What to make homemade soaps with herbs and plants

You can make a range of soaps from solid soap bars to exfoliating scrubs for cleaning hands and greasy stovetops. To make a solid bar, no water is added to the melted soap. For a scrub, water is used to make a softer consistency. Both solid bars and softer scrubs can have a variety of ingredients added to enhance them, including ground-up pumice stone, herbs and herb-infused and essential oils.

What you’ll need to make homemade soaps with herbs and plants

  • Soap base. I use Farmhouse soap, from The Soap Barn, made from coconut oil and clay. One hundred percent natural, it’s easy to melt and infuse with herbal oils to make a variety of soaps from facial scrubs to shampoo bars (ideal for travelling). Glycerine soap is clear and good for making hand soaps.
  • Double boiler or a glass bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water.
  • Herb-infused or essential oils. Olive or coconut oil are good choices.
  • Fresh herbs or other ingredients, optional.
  • Plastic soap moulds, silicone sweet moulds or you can use
    oiled bread tins and cut your soap into squares afterwards.
  • Notebook to keep track of recipes and ingredients.

How to do it

  1. Cut the soap into chunks and place in the top of the double boiler then set it over gently simmering water to melt.
  2. Add herb-infused oil, essential oils and any other ingredients, stir through to mix and remove from heat.
  3. For solid soaps: Pour into the moulds, tapping gently to remove bubbles. Leave to set. To remove, run a sharp knife around the edges, turn over and give a sharp tap.
    For a scrub: Add water, stirring while you add, until it reaches the desired consistency. (It will solidify further as it cools.) Decant into wide-mouthed containers and seal.
    To make herb-infused oil: Place one part fresh or dried herbs and one part oil in a double boiler over gently simmering water for three hours. Strain. Use 1 teaspoon oil per 200g of soap.

What plants can be used to make soap?

  1. Lavender

    Its Latin name is derived from lavare which means to wash. The flowers have antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
    Growing tips: A hardy perennial, it likes full sun and is drought tolerant. Plant it in well-drained soil with good air circulation. It dislikes damp, wet conditions. Prune in early spring. Cut flowers regularly to keep it producing.

  2. Calendula

    The petals have soothing and healing qualities ideal for face soap.
    Growing tips: Grow from seed in full sun in well-drained soil. It flowers from late autumn, throughout winter into early summer. Deadhead flowers to encourage further flowering.

  3. Soapwort

    This soothing and anti-inflammatory plant is good for dry skins. Its leaves contain high levels of saponins, which foam when mixed with water.
    Growing tips: It’s a perennial that prefers full sun but will grow in semi-shade. Plant in well-drained, poor soil, as it can become invasive in rich soil. Don’t grow near a fishpond as the saponins can harm fish.

  4. Rosemary

    An antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, rosemary is good for skin blemishes and ideal for facial soaps. It also encourages hair growth and leaves hair shiny.
    Growing tips: Its preferred climate is hot and dry, but it does well in more temperate areas. Choose its spot carefully as it’s a large perennial that can live up to 20 years. Cut it back in late spring. In frost areas, don’t cut it back in autumn.

  5. Peppermint

    An aromatic herb, it’s a refreshing antiseptic and toner.
    Growing tips: Peppermint spreads quickly and is best contained in pots. It likes full sun and plenty of water. If it dies back in winter, it will pop up again in spring.

  6. Tea Tree

    A graceful tree with peeling white paper bark that grows up to 7m tall. The leaves of this powerful all-purpose healing plant make a good addition to soap for problem skins.
    Growing tips: Although it prefers moist soil, it will grow in most well-drained soils. It’s hardy and likes sun. Keep well watered throughout summer. Trim it to keep it smaller.