DIY Pillow Spray

DIY Pillow Spray

A friend sent me a note recently asking if I had a recipe for DIY Pillow Spray to help her fall asleep more easily. She often has issues with mind-chatter at night. I can relate, often having the same problem when my brain just won’t shut off despite the fact that the rest of me is so tired! Usually, applying essential oils in a carrier oil or a diffuser will satisfy most needs. However, some people don’t have a diffuser, or they may not want to move their diffuser back and forth between locations. A spray of essential oil combined with another liquid (such as water or alcohol) allows the oil to be sprayed over a large but specific area. It also is less likely to stain fabric this way.

There are a few different ways to mix essential oils and water. I wanted a recipe that used commonly available ingredients, and settled on using an alcohol-based mixture. This doesn’t mix the oil and water for a long a period of time – eventually they will separate – but, so long as you shake your bottle before use, they stay mixed long enough to use it successfully as a pillow spray. An alcohol-based recipe also has the added benefit of not needing a preservative. I chose to use Witch Hazel because it is easy to find in the pharmacy, inexpensive, and doesn’t have a scent that overpowers the smell of the essential oils. Keep in mind that most essential oil experts (I am not one) will tell you that essential oils will start to break down when mixed with other ingredients, thus lessening the therapeutic properties of the oils. Because of this, you probably don’t want to mix a year’s worth all at once. I kept the recipe small enough to fit in a 4 oz (1/2 cup) spray bottle with a little room to spare.

I looked up essential oils that are useful for sleep, for decreasing tension, and for quieting the mind. It turns out that many oils that are good at one of those things are also good at the others. I chose two different oil blends that I enjoy and created my sprays. I can alternate based on my mood, or just to prevent my body from getting too used to one smell or the other. Happy sleeping!

Orange Cream Linen Spray
1/3 cup water (distilled)
½ tsp witch hazel or rubbing alcohol or vodka
40 drops vanilla essential oil
20 drops orange essential oil

Mix ingredients in spray bottle. Shake well before use.

Lavender Chamomille Pillow Spray
1/3 cup water (distilled or pre-boiled)
1/2 tsp witch hazel or rubbing alcohol or vodka
40 drops lavender
20 drops chamomile

Other suggested oils: Valerian, lavender, vanilla, chamomile, frankincense, orange, ylang ylang

DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner

DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner

Not too long ago I decided that there had to be a good DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner recipe out there that was simple to make, worked better than the blue stuff (so many DIY recipes are better), and didn’t use ammonia. Often, I can use just water & a microfiber cloth, but when I have a sticky fingered toddler around, there are times that I just need more grease & crud-busting power.

When I first started mixing my own cleaners years ago, I came up with a recipe that worked acceptably well, but it still wasn’t as great as the stuff from the store, and it had ammonia in it. Ammonia is one example of when “natural” might not be nicer. This recipe didn’t use a large amount, but I didn’t use ammonia for anything else, I didn’t want to have to buy & store it just to make this cleaner. So, I researched glass cleaner recipes on the internet. I tried recipes using baking soda, cornstarch, dish soap, rubbing alcohol, essential oils, and of course vinegar. I love vinegar. But all the recipes streaked or left a film on my windows & mirrors. I found one recipe that I almost liked, but sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I don’t need cleaners that have mood swings.

Then, recently our family took a turn cleaning our church building. I noticed that there was a new eco-friendly cleaner, so I looked at the ingredients. And, I did a double take; there were only two! It was simply peroxide and orange essential oil, diluted to two different strengths for different cleaning needs. And since I had just used the combination to clean the church building, I knew that it worked. Even better than the blue stuff. I came home and mixed up my own solution of peroxide, water and dash of orange oil and gave it a shot. Ta-dah! It worked on my finger-print laden mirrors every bit as well as the blue stuff.

Bonus! – it works as an-all purpose cleaner too! Because it doesn’t have the acidity in it like vinegar cleaners, it is safer for surfaces like chrome, stone, or granite that can become etched by some cleaners over time. If you use fresh peroxide and mix it just before use, it has some great germ-fighting properties. For heavy duty use, you can make it stronger to meet specific needs (double the peroxide & essential oil, keeping the water the same).

So here is my new favorite DIY Glass & Surface Cleaner, replacing two (or three) different things in my cleaning arsenal.

Super-duper Glass & Multi-purpose Cleaner
4 oz water
1 TB hydrogen peroxide (the regular pharmacy kind)
5 drops orange essential oil (optional, but it does make it smell nice and have anti-bacterial properties of its own)

Mix all in a spray bottle & go to town! Bump up your cleaning power a notch and use micro-fiber cloths or another lint-free cloth with it for the best experience. I will never go back to paper towels.

Just to be safe, keep your cleaning cloths away from other fabrics until the cloths have dried. I kept this recipe small because the germ-fighting power is stronger when it is fresh. My peroxide was so old that it didn’t fizz when I poured it on anything, but it still cleaned just fine. 
Heavy Duty Glass & Multi-Purpose Cleaner
4 oz water
2 TB hydrogen peroxide
10 drops orange essential oil
DIY Deodorant ?!

DIY Deodorant ?!

Raise your hand in the air if the first time you heard of homemade deodorant, your thoughts were something along the lines of: That is just GROSS, Those people are crazy, They’ve taken DIY/all-natural way too far, They must be a bunch of dirty hippies, Some people have too much time on their hands. If you could see me, I would have both hands waving in the air. I had heard the hype about aluminum & other nasty stuff in the commercial deodorant, but I was sure that there was aeasier way to get a nice safe deodorant without mixing it in my kitchen. Something along the lines of handing over some money for it at a store. Something that felt a little more hygienic or scientific or something like that. I mean, I make soap, shampoo bars, and lotions, but making deodorant felt like it was only one step away from making my own tampons and hauling my own water. I’m not quite ready to go there.
Then I was browsing a blog that interested me, and saw a link to a homemade deodorant post. And I had to pause, because the author was not a dirty hippy. In fact, she was really put together and organized. So I gave it a look, and it didn’t look too bad. Then, shortly after that I came across another post about making your own deodorant where the author listed all the scientific reasoning behind the ingredients she had used. And it made sense.
I mean, baking soda absorbs odors. And coconut oil has all sorts of great properties, some of which are that is kind to skin and anti-bacterial. The same goes for tea-tree, rosemary and citrus oils.
And then I noticed my deodorant was running low. And I did have all the ingredients on hand for one of the recipes, so I tried it. And I really liked it. I didn’t stink at the end of the day like I did with store-bought anti-perspirant/deodorant. I didn’t feel any more moist. And in fact, when I did get all hot and sweaty (in my exercise classes), I smelled really yummy when the essential oils were released as the oils warmed up. There were only a few problems.
1 – was that I wanted to keep smelling my armpits, which really isn’t proper social etiquette.
2 – the recipe I tried got hard on cold mornings and it had too much powder. The result was that it was crumbly, so if I pressed too hard (which I nearly always did), little bits would break off and fall into my clothes, or I would get a large smear of powder/wax across my armpit, which really isn’t the look I am trying to pull off. Also, nobody else in my family would use it this way. My husband just refused, and I didn’t offer it to my nearly teenage daughter because I could just picture her mashing it onto her armpits, only half paying attention, and running off to school with a trail of white pasty chunks falling out of her clothes as she moved.
So, I looked at other recipes and the ratio of powder to wax/oil ranges. I tried a few of those & felt waxy/sticky, and I was noticeably more moist. Not my favorite feeling in the world unless I am swimming in a pool on a hot day. So, I tweaked the original recipe some more, by softening it up a bit and lowering the amount of powder just a tad. The result is a creamy, non-crumbly concoction that stays soft, rubs on cleanly, and does not leave any white smears behind as evidence.
Citrus Vanilla Mint Deodorant
3 TB cornstarch
2 TB baking soda
2 TB arrowroot powder (or just use more cornstarch)
2 TB coconut oil
1/2 TB olive oil

12 drops essential oil (I used 2-3 each of Tea Tree, Orange, & Vanilla)

optional * 1 TB shea butter (to soften more)

Melt oil in microwave on 70% power. Start with 2 minutes and stir. Microwave for 30 second intervals at 70% power, stirring after each interval. Once fully melted, add olive oil and powders and mix with a fork until well blended. (If mixture firms up, return to the microwave to soften) Add essential oils, and mix again. Place in a clean container and rub a small amount on as you would a lotion.

I tried putting this in a clean roll-up container, and it was possible, but not really great. It is soft enough that unless I dabbed the deodorant on, I ended up using too much, and then I had to wipe off the extra white powder – which defeated the whole purpose of the container! So I just decided to come to grips with touching my armpit. And it really doesn’t bother me now because I know all the ingredients that are in the deodorant & I touch most of them all the time in some way or another. So go get friendly with your armpit & enjoy smelling great!


Banana Nut Smoothie

Banana Nut Smoothie

When the weather is warm, Banana Nut Smoothie is my go-to recipe after an intense workout. It contains a good balance of protein and carbohydrate for post-workout recovery, and it has nearly the perfect amount of calories to refill your glycogen stores and rebuild muscles. In other words, it helps you recover faster. Best of all, it is simple, fast, and filling. I don’t find myself running out of energy a few hours after eating this or having blood sugar dips that leave me feeling cranky and shaky. When I’m not in the mood for a cool drink, I do something similar and top plain yogurt with a chopped banana and granola, or I top granola with banana slices and almond milk.

2 bananas, frozen & peeled (if you remember to do this)
5-6 ice cubes if your bananas are not frozen
1 cup plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp honey
sprinkle of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts OR 2 TB ground flax seed OR 1/4 cup rolled oats

Cut the frozen banana into chunks. Place all ingredients into blender and blend on high until smooth.
With nuts, this recipe is roughly 600 kcal, with flax seed or oatmeal it it is about 500 kcal.

For a fun treat, this is really good with 1/4 cup caramel syrup added to it!


Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna

Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna

I am an alfredo-lover, so when I saw a recipe for Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna, I HAD to try it. I ended up combining a few recipes, making a few mistakes, and ultimately creating a new family favorite. My 11-year old pants like a dog with her tongue out when I tell her that we are having Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna for dinner!

Zucchini Alfredo Lasagna

2 medium zucchini (about 8 inches long)
6-9 lasagna noodles
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese, grated
optional: 3-5 pieces bacon or sausage,  cooked & chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place noodles on the stove to boil. Slice zucchini (1/4″ thick slices) and microwave for 5-8 minutes, or until tender when pricked with a fork.
In a saucepan on medium heat, whisk milk, flour, and butter together. Stir until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add parmesan and bacon or sausage, if desired. Return to stove and stir until heated through.
Drain noodles.
In 9×13 baking dish layer zucchini, noodles, and sauce. Repeat one or two more times. Top with grated mozzarella.
Bake at 350 F for 25-35 minutes, or until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbly.
If time is short, substitute macaroni or rigatoni noodles for the lasagna noodles. Serve directly from stove without baking in oven, topping noodles with zucchini and then sauce.