Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade lavender lotion

I don't know about you, but it seems to me sometimes that lotion is kind of... pricey. Also, I don't like using lotion with all kinds of chemicals. Then, I think, well, I'll just get a natural/organic brand, but that costs more. What I want is lotion that has an ingredient list I know how to pronounce, without the expense.

Then I thought, why not just make my own? I have all these ingredients left from making lip balm this past Christmas. (Future blog post alert!) Surely, there's something in my box of tricks to create lotion.

I found this recipe from Care2, and I was surprised at the short list of ingredients: Almond oil (check), beeswax (check), water and essential oils (check!).

(Fyi on Care2 -- check their "About Us" page. Apparently they only have 50 employees, and they are shooting out some majorly green info at a rapid pace. They are also busy supporting all sorts of causes. Nice!)

When I was making lip balm, beeswax was the hardest thing to source. Shoot for a local source if you can. Here in the QCA, that means local beekeepers, local stores or even Hobby Lobby.

If that doesn't work, try Amazon. A pound should run anywhere from $7 to $15, or more if it's a local source. You'll need 2 tablespoons, so you'll have a lot left! One tip — go for organic yellow beeswax, not bleached! At 2 tablespoons, it won't affect the color, and the less synthetic material, the better.

Also, you can get the beeswax pellets, but they cost more. I like to grate my own. You'll want to dedicate a grater for this particular job.

I use the Now brand of oils, and for this recipe, used 100 percent almond oil. This costs about $10.

Essential oils -- I either buy mine at a local health food store, or online at The Ponte Vedra Soap Shoppe. I used 20 drops of a 1 oz. container of Lavender essential oil, which cost about $7 for 1 oz. There are 600 (!) drops in 1 oz.!

Be sure not to use synthetic oils -- they are invariably cheaper, but they don't deliver the goods, and can affect the final product and you!

I used tap water for this  -- seemed to be fine, but filter away if you want to!

So here is what I made and how I made it. Note use of hand mixer, rather than blender:

You'll need:

2 T beeswax pellets (grate, then measure)
3/4 cup of almond oil
1 cup water
20 drops/1 teaspoon essential oil
A hand mixer or blender

Melt 2 Tablespoons beeswax in 3/4 cup almond oil in a small saucepan on low heat. Once beeswax is melted, remove from stove and cool 1 minute. Add water to 4-cup mixing bowl. Begin blending the water with a hand mixer on high speed. Pour oil and beeswax mixture into bowl in a steady stream. Mixture will emulsify when about 3/4 of mixture is in there, so just keep at it even if it looks wrong at first! Once blended, remove mixer and add essential oil. Pour lotion into glass jar and store in fridge.

Fyi, I totally thought this would not work. Oil and water emulsifies into lotion? What?? But sure enough, it worked beautifully. I'm a believer!

Total costs for items used: Beeswax - 25 cents; oil - $4; essential oil: 20 cents; water: free; jar: 50 cents (or in my case free, but if you had to buy it, that's about what a jar costs). So, about 4.95 for ... wait for it.... 16 oz. of lotion! Yep, that's a 16-oz. Ball jar there, full of handmade, synthetic-free lotion.

AND, keeping it in the fridge is great — cool lotion feels awesome, especially in this heat. I used it this morning, and it is totally worth every penny. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ch ch ch ch ch ch Cherry Bounce — Part 1

When life hands you a bowl of cherries, you could blog about it until you exhaust every cherry metaphor out there. You could eat them all, or make pie. Or, you could make Cherry Bounce.

Cherry bounce is the oldest drink in the United States. Martha Washington made this stuff, people. It's a vintage vintage, if you will.

I first heard of cherry bounce after reading The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. At one point in the series, (spoiler alert!) the characters end up in the U.S. colonies pre-Constitution. Cherry bounce, according to the book, was made in a keg with cherries, sugar and grain liquor.

Then a friend of mine mentioned that her sweet cherry tree was already producing fruit, keeping with the trend this year of every plant being a month ahead of schedule. So, I decided to look up cherry bounce.

I found a recipe at Beekman 1802. The Beekman boys are all-natural folks, and seemed knowledgeable enough on the subject. I only needed the ingredients of old -- the cherries, sugar, and some grain liquor. I also decided to add star anise.

So, I took my cherries -- four quarts, unpitted -- and divided them among four large sterilized Mason jars. Then I funneled in about 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar in each one.

Then I put the lids on each one, dated them, and put them in the basement to wait.

I have to admit -- not having to pit the cherries? Best part about this deal so far.

About two and a half weeks later, I noticed a syrup around the cherries.

I brought them upstairs, and broke out two 750 mL bottles of Jim Beam. As soon as I uncapped the jars, each one began to fizz! Weird!! It freaked us out. :)

After we stopped being mesmerized by the fizzing, I measured out about 300 mL of bourbon and poured it into the first jar. It came all the way to an inch below the edge of the jar, and I decided that was about right, even though I still had a little bourbon in the measuring cup. I poured bourbon to this level in each jar.

Now, as I was pouring, I noticed there was still sugar in the bottom of each jar. I'm going to pretend that is not an issue. I shook up two of the jars, but the sugar settled. Whatever.

I'm so glad I left dishes in the sink before I did this. It really makes the photo, don't you think? :)

Finally, I wiped down the lids and edges of the jar, and re-capped the bottles. I dated the lid, and then set them downstairs in the darker part of the basement again. We'll see how it goes. As of right now, about two weeks later, it's looking deliciously red... mmmm!