April 21, 2012

Homemade Lip Balm

This morning, my daughter and I have been experimenting with making homemade lip balm. She had to come up with a chemistry-based project for an upcoming science fair, so she decided to study emulsifiers and how they stabilize liquids. Since I have some experience with whipping up my own concoctions, I was enlisted to oversee the project. 

My girl has a major lip balm addiction, and since we're both sensitive to almost everything, we spend a lot of time (and money) trying to find products with no scent, colour, or flavour; sadly, there's not a lot out there. So, if this science project can teach her (us) something, and fill a need, it'll be win/win all around.

Our first attempt was a total blobby flop (we think the aloe had its own stabilizers in it that kept it from blending into the other liquids), but this version is a combination of shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax. Despite the lack of essential oils, it smells wonderful and feels fantastic! The best part? We made two pots and two tubes for less than what one tube usually costs us in the store. We've got a few more recipes to try, but this one will be hard to beat.

Now, excuse me while I go find someone to try it out on.

Edited May 27, 2012: For those who have asked, here's the recipe for the version we liked the most:

Cocoa/Shea Butter Lip Balm 

1.5 oz. shea butter
1.0 oz. beeswax
1.5 oz. cocoa butter

Melt solids together in a double boiler. Remove from heat and add:

4-6 drops of peppermint (for flavoured balm) or safflower oil (for plain)

Stir well, and pour into containers. Let cool.

We made half a batch and got what you see in the photo. This version is quite solid, which we like because it stays on well even while swimming or bathing, but feel free to play with adding more oil if you like a softer balm.

April 17, 2012

Cute Find of the Week

I was driving through the alley behind my mom's house yesterday and spotted this adorable little side table sitting out waiting for garbage pick-up (gasp!). Of course, I screeched to an immediate halt and threw it in the trunk. 

It could use a little sprucing up (who couldn't?), but I think it has very good bones.

It's obviously been well used and lovingly adorned over the years, though I'm not sure about the plastic "hand"le.

Now I just have to figure out what colour it wants to be...

April 11, 2012

Garden Markers on the Cheap

I think I'm going to have to file this one under "Now why the heck didn't I think of that?". I was perusing Pinterest a while ago, and came across this brilliant idea for cheap (free, actually) row markers for the garden. I was happy with the stone markers I made for my potato bed, but perfectly smooth river rocks aren't always easy to come by. Alder branches, on the other hand, are something that we have in abundant supply.

So I cut myself a bunch of sticks, and shaved a flat spot onto the end of each one. Easy peasy:

I let the flat sides dry in the sun a bit while I was planting, thinking this would prevent the ink from bleeding (not sure this matters, but whatever):

Using a UV stable felt pen, label your fancy-pants marker accordingly:

How cool is that? Now I've got a lovely set of matching rustic garden markers. And they're compostable, to boot.

The remainder of the winter leeks in the foreground, with last fall's arugula and this year's garlic crop in behind.

We've spent the last few weeks prepping the garden for planting, including mulching the rows with wood chips. We lined them with empty feed bags to keep the weeds down, and piled the wood chips on top. It's a little thing, but it makes the garden feel so much nicer. We're going to build a long, narrow chicken run along the back fence as well. Nothing grows that close to the alders anyway, and I'm hoping the birds will keep the forest from encroaching on our little veggie plot.

Ahh, spring!

April 10, 2012

Hide & Seek

It seems a certain someone is well on her way to joining the resident broodies in their stubborn refusal to leave the nest (the Brahmas are well into their third month now), but I've got to give her credit, she's a lot smarter about it than the others. Reepicheep appears to have figured out that if she hunkers down in the coop where I can see her, she's just going to get herself booted outside. Having had the opportunity to raise a batch of babies last year, she's not taking any chances, and has built herself a secret woodland hideaway. 

 Nothing to see here.

The dried ferns are the perfect camouflage for her red/blue laced feathers, and it's amusing to watch the cat and other chickens when they happen to wander by, peering suspiciously in her general direction, unable to shake the uneasy feeling that they're being watched.

At this point, she's still going back to the coop at night, but we'll have to keep an eye on her. In the meantime, we'll let her have her fun.

Speaking of hideouts, I posted this photo to my Facebook page a while ago, but for those of you who aren't on there, here's what happens when you relocate a bunch of sneaky hens out from under the front porch:

The Easter bunny has got his work cut out for him at our house, searching for eggs has lost its appeal for us.

April 07, 2012

Easter Feaster

What are the odds that we'd have two sunny days in a row over the long weekend - it almost never happens, even in the summer. As a result, I've spent an inordinate amount of time puttering around the yard over the past 48 hours, digging things up, and planting them somewhere else (will I ever be happy with the placement of things?!).

I did manage to pull together an early Easter dinner though, and thought I'd share the recipes in case you happen to be online looking for last minute ideas (or am I the only person who combs the internet incessantly, looking for new things to try? Pinterest is becoming a bit of a problem).


Baked Kale Chips. I harvested a big bowl of kale from the garden while I was out and about today, and thought these would be a great accompaniment to our pre-dinner drink (I added a sprinkling of sesame seeds before baking). They were a big hit, and were quickly gobbled up.

Main Course:

My mom brought a ham, so I made some creamy scalloped potatoes and roasted whole carrots to go with it. The kids were worried because this isn't my usual scalloped potato recipe, but the flavour of the gruyere cheese was perfect and everybody loved them. A new favourite!

Instead of dinner rolls, I made a couple of loaves of Armenian Easter Bread  (Choereg). The recipe calls for a spice called mahleb, which is a little tricky to find, but thankfully there's a good Middle Eastern market in my mom's neighbourhood that brings it in for the holidays. The mahleb gave the rich, eggy loaves a lovely, subtle perfume, and was worth the effort it took to find it. I will definitely be making this again.


We finished off with a Lemon Trifle topped with fresh raspberries. I used my mom's much easier and lighter version of lemon curd, and the trifle came together in no time. It was a lovely spring dessert.

So, what are you making this year? Feel like sharing?


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