DIY Winter Shea Butter Body Balm Recipe – Scented or Unscented

November 30, 2014

My parents moved to California from the southeast a couple of years ago. Coming to an arid environment from the humidity of the southeast was challenging for my mom’s skin and especially her face, since she spends so much time outside gardening. She struggled with itchy, red, dry skin her first winter here. I formulated this body balm, which she immediately began using, and her skin was completely healed! Now she has all of the ingredients and makes it on her own… I’m so happy to have discovered something that works so well!

This is a thick, silky body balm – ideal for winter. The shea butter adds a superior layer of protection to the skin that you just can’t get from anything else (besides maybe cocoa butter). The coconut oil helps with absorption, and the olive and grapeseed oils add nutrients and more emollients. The beeswax is a skin protector and emulsifier, helping to combine all of the ingredients together. We love this body balm in our family and will be using it all winter long. I even use it on my face when it’s really dry and cold out.

Recipe (with links to ingredients):


  1. Add the shea butter and beeswax to a double boiler on low heat.
  2. Stir until melted. Do NOT allow the oils to boil, so keep the heat low. I like to use a chopstick for stirring.

    Here are the shea butter and beeswax all melted in the double boiler (which is just a glass measuring cup in a pan of water)
  3. Add the coconut, olive, and grapeseed oils.
  4. Stir until melted, then remove from heat.

    All melted down to a beautiful golden yellow.
  5. Add the optional essential oils and/or the optional grapefruit seed extract. Stir until combined.
  6. Pour into a container of your choice, while still in liquid form.
  7. Leave unopened for about an hour, until it solidifies. Then cap it and use it all winter long!


  • If you’re wondering where to buy ingredients, they can all be purchased online. I’ve provided links in the ingredients list for all of the products that I use.
  • Be sure to use this body balm within 4-6 months.
  • You don’t want to boil your oils because heat causes rancidity in oils. The less heat they experience, the longer your oils will last.


All-Purpose Spray Cleaner With Natural Ingredients | Homemade Cleaner

June 25, 2014


My daughter was coming home with headaches after school all year in 1st grade. It didn’t hit me until the last two weeks of school to ask her if anything was being sprayed in her classroom. She confirmed that her teacher was having the students spray and wipe down their desks before leaving school in the afternoons! I knew that this had to be the culprit for the headaches, because she is not accustomed to harsh conventional chemical sprays. We only use water and vinegar in our house to spray down surfaces. After talking to the teacher and confirming that she was using a harsh chemical spray on the desks, we agreed that I would make a more natural spray for the kids to use in class that also smells good (water and vinegar mix doesn’t smell so great for people who are not used to it). I made the spray below, and many of the kids loved the smell. One child went as far as to exclaim to my daughter: “Your mom is awesome! I love how this smells! This is awesome!” That put a smile on my face when I heard about that! And the most important part… my daughter’s post-school headaches were no longer.


  • 16 oz water
  • 2 oz white vinegar
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract (not the same as grapefruit essential oil)
  • 15-25 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 10-15 drops lemon essential oil

Mix them all together in a spray bottle. Shake well before each use. This all-purpose and all-natural citrus scented spray cleaner is perfect for counters, floors, sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and SCHOOL DESKS!


Homemade Soft Scrub for Healthy Home Cleaning

July 24, 2013

Healthy Home Cleaning - Homemade Soft Scrub Recipe for Kitchens and Baths

When it comes to home cleaning, my cupboard looks very different today than it did 10 years ago.  Back then I had a different cleaner for virtually every surface of my home.  Advertisers had me thinking it was necessary to have one toxic bottle of chemicals for my kitchen counters, another for my bathtub, and yet another for my toilet.  My cleaning supplies today consist mainly of baking soda, Borax, vinegar, a little lemon, and some powerful essential oils for their antibacterial qualities.  Today I’d like to share with you my favorite formula for deep cleaning most surfaces in my home.

This soft scrub is comparable to Ajax or Comet, but without the harsh chemicals and scratching.  It takes me literally 1 minute to make! I like to scent it with a combination of lavender and grapefruit essential oils.  Both of these essential oils also carry some antibacterial qualities.  I use this on kitchen and bath sinks, bath tubs, showers, inside the toilet bowl, on my flat glass stove top, and anywhere else that needs a good cleaning.  I don’t recommend it for wood furniture.


  • 4 cup (or larger) plastic container for storage of your formula
  • 1.5 cup baking soda
  • 1.5 cup Borax (available at Target in the laundry detergent section)
  • 20 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 12 drops lavender essential oil

Homemade Soft Scrub Recipe for Healthy Home Cleaning

  1. Add your baking soda and borax to your container, cap it, and shake well.
  2. Add 10 drops of the grapefruit essential oil and 6 drops of the lavender essential oil, cap the container, and shake well.
  3. Add the remaining essential oils, cap the container, and shake well.
  4. Dust the formula onto your surface and rub it in with a wet sponge.
  5. Wait 10 minutes and scrub scrub scrub.  A little elbow grease goes a long way!

Homemade All-Natural Bug Repellent Recipe | DIY Bug Repellent

July 21, 2013


Recently, we went camping in the Idyllwild area, a beautiful alpine spot in Southern California.  The pine trees were quite majestic, the air was fresh and woody, and the campground was a perfect place to relax.  A funny habit that my kids – ages 2 and 6 –  have when we’re camping (or any other time we’re in nature, for that matter) is that they like to strip down to their underwear and run around wild and free.  I know that they enjoy this immensely, and I also know that on this trip the mosquitos enjoyed their nakedness immensely as well.  My older child was bitten at least 30 times all over her body before I realized what was going on!  And to my dismay, I had forgotten my homemade all-natural bug repellent, which actually works just as well as the stuff in the stores.  So off my husband went to the nearest grocery store to buy the dreaded OFF spray, which I used for the whole trip with reserved gratitude.  I was grateful that my kids weren’t getting bit, but at the same time I was bummed to be spraying them with poison.

I’m working on creating a camping supplies list, so that this mistake never happens again.  In the meantime, here’s my all-natural bug repellent recipe for all you lovers of the DIY.  It really works at bite prevention, smells wonderful, nourishes your skin, and best of all… you’re not poisoning yourself when you use it.  I must warn you that it works well here in Southern California, where the bugs are not overly voracious.  If you’re somewhere with a serious bug population, be sure to apply liberally and often, and be sure to cover your body with long sleeves, collars, hats, and long pants tucked into your boots.


Homemade All-Natural Bug Repellent Recipe

Combine all ingredients in a dark colored bottle of your choice.  I have never used it in a sprayer, but that could work very well.  Shake well before applying.  Apply liberally and often.

All of the ingredients can be purchased via Amazon from the links above.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

November 14, 2012

It’s that time of year…  Everyone is breaking out the hand sanitizer to keep the viruses and bacteria away.  In my daughter’s Kindergarten class, her teachers apply hand sanitizer on the kids’ hands four times a day.  Four times a day!  I almost fell out of my chair when my daughter told me this.  Conventional hand sanitizers contain a plethora of toxins.  Things like fragrance and toluene should not be applied to anyone’s skin, much less a child’s skin.  And four times a day…. well, I just had to do something.  After speaking with my daughter’s teacher and coming to an agreement about the excessive use of hand sanitizer, I pledged to provide the whole class with my homemade hand sanitizer for the entire school year.  I am so relieved that these kids will not be doused with that stuff anymore!

Hand sanitizer for the whole class

My hand sanitizer recipe is made from all-natural ingredients that can be found at any health food store (or online at, and it takes about 3 minutes to make.  We do not use hand sanitizer that much in our household, because hand-washing has been proven to be more effective at combating germs than hand sanitizer.  But since we are not always near a sink and soap, I do carry my own hand sanitizer for those times when it’s needed.   The alcohol, witch hazel, grapefruit seed extract, and essential oils are excellent germ-killers.  The vegetable glycerine is used to help moisturize the skin.  And best of all: none of these ingredients are toxic to the body.  So yes, this stuff can be used four times a day without this mommy falling out of her chair.  This recipe is also quite cheap in the long run; buy the ingredients once, and you have enough to make hand sanitizer for years to come!

Quick and Easy DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe (with links for where to purchase)

Add the following ingredients to a measuring cup:

Mix ingredients together with a spoon, and pour into a spritz bottle through a funnel.  Shake well before using.  Apply sparingly (1-2 sprays, and rub the hands together).

Enjoy the scent of lavender and grapefruit, without the toxic onslaught of chemicals!

DIY Deodorant

June 17, 2012

I am one of those people who can get pretty smelly within a couple of hours if I forget to use deodorant.  This means that I need something strong and effective.  For most of my post-pubescent life, this meant using chemical-laden antiperspirants such as Degree or Secret.  The problem with these products is that they literally glue your pores shut to keep you from sweating.  Scary.  Plus, they are loaded with aluminum, artificial fragrances, and all sorts of other odd chemicals that we shouldn’t be applying under our pits.  Let’s all turn away from the conventional antiperspirant isle, shall we?

Here is a very effective recipe made from 4 ingredients that are readily available at your natural foods store.  I promise it works much better than any of the natural deodorants out there.  My husband and I have been using it for about 5 years now, with no problems.

Whisk the corn starch, baking soda, and tea tree oil together until well-blended.

Fold in enough coconut oil so that you have a good solid consistency.  After working it around a bit, mixing and smushing, it should look something like this:

Stuff it into an old deodorant container (I like the push-up style).  Refrigerate.  Use it straight from the fridge.  Yeah, it’s weird to put your deodorant on while standing at the fridge.  But I promise you’ll get used to it.

The corn starch and baking soda help to absorb moisture, while the coconut oil and tea tree oil both have antibacterial qualities that combat stench.  Granted, you will still sweat… but it’s good for you!  Your pits are supposed to sweat!  It is the bacteria under your arm pits that cause the smell, not the sweat.  I have grown to like the feeling of sweating under my arm pits.  It feels cleansing, in an odd way.  I love this recipe for another reason: the tea tree scent is appropriate for men and women alike.  So you can buy just those four ingredients and have enough deodorant for literally YEARS of homemade deodorant, especially if you buy them in vats like I do (I love you, Vitacost).  An added bonus with this deodorant, at least for me, is that I don’t get an underarm rash anymore.  The ingredients are all pretty mild (compared to the chemical arsenal that is Secret) and the coconut oil is ultra-moisturizing. Win!

Variations, if tea tree oil ain’t your thing:

  • Clean and fruity:  15 drops lavender essential oil + 20 drops grapefruit essential oil.
  • Herby: 15 drops lavender essential oil + 10 drops rosemary essential oil.
  • Flowery: 15 drops lavender essential oil + 5 drops geranium essential oil + 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil.
  • Woodsy, masculine: 15 drops cedar essential oil + 5 drops rosemary essential oil + 5 drops lemongrass essential oil.

Do you have any scent combinations that you like?  Leave me a comment below!

Homemade Popcorn Recipe

May 2, 2012

Do you make popcorn from those store-bought Orville Reden-whoever bags?  Once you see how easy it is to make homemade popcorn, you’ll never want to buy those bags again!  They are lined inside with chemicals (specifically, perfluorinated carboxylic acids or PFCAs) that should not be heated up.  Heated PFCAs enter the bloodstream and their effects are largely unknown, as is the case with so many of the chemicals used in food products these days.  These are the same chemicals that are used in junk food wrappers and non-stick pans, among other things.  Also, the chemicals they use to flavor the popcorn are all artificial.  Making popcorn from scratch takes about two minutes longer than the bagged stuff, and it is significantly cheaper and much more environmentally friendly.  It’s worth it!

Just three ingredients:

  • a handful of popcorn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons oil that can handle heat (I use grapeseed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt

Heat the oil in a large stock pot on medium heat.  Add the salt and stir it around some.  Add the kernels and stir to coat them all with the oil/salt mix:

There are some kernels in the photo that have already started popping!

Put the lid on the pot but leave it slightly open so steam can escape:

The kernels will begin popping rapidly after a few minutes of heat.  Once 2-3 seconds pass without any popping sounds, remove the pot from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a bowl.  Salt to taste.

Enjoy your chemical-free popcorn!  Variations – after popping:

  • Drizzle melted butter for a movie theater popcorn experience
  • Drizzle honey or agave nectar for a sweet ‘n salty popcorn similar to kettle corn
  • Sprinkle garlic powder and crushed seaweed for a gourmet treat
  • Sprinkle garlic powder and Italian herbs for a fresh, herby popcorn

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