Before we went “green” a few years ago, I think it’s safe to say that I was completely obsessed with commercial air-fresheners. Spray fresheners, plug-in fresheners, scented candles, you name it. Every room in our home had some sort of air-freshening device that left a strong, fruity, cheery scent in the air.
Now that I know better (thank God!), commercial air-fresheners have become a thing of the past. And now that we don’t live with the constant strong scents in our home, it gets pretty overwhelming when we’re at a friend or family member’s house and all we can smell is those strong chemicals wafting through the air! Ughh, I still can’t believe we ever used those things, but as we’ve removed them from our home, our sense of smell has become much more sensitive to all those chemicals. I can barely make it through the cleaning and laundry aisle at the supermarket without getting a headache or watery eyes or a very irritated nose.
Homemade air-fresheners is an area that I’ve dabbled in only slightly because until now I was just in the “no smell is a good smell” camp. And that’s still very much true, but sometimes you just want a gentle, light scent to tickle your senses and lift your spirits.
I’m going to be experimenting with a few different options over the next few weeks, and today I’ll show you how easy it is to make some homemade reed diffusers – you know, those little jars of scented oils with all the sticks popping out of them? Yeah, those…
There are five items you’ll be working with here and all of them can be sourced pretty inexpensively.
I picked up these jars from the thrift store for $1 each. I didn’t know what I’d use them for but I knew I just had to have them, and I’m so glad I got them because they’re perfect for this project!
When choosing your jars, look for small, short jars with a narrow opening at the top. The smaller the opening, the slower your oils will evaporate. My jars had somewhat large openings but luckily, they came with cork tops, so I just drilled about a 1″ hole into the cork and voila! Smaller opening!
Examples of jars you can repurpose for this project include old perfume bottles, small oil bottles, small vases, spice jars and shakers, etc.
The Reeds (Sticks)
Technically, you’re supposed to use reeds made from rattan because it contains small channels that help the oil travel up the stick to scent the room. But I’m using regular bamboo skewers I picked up at the dollar store and they’ve been working ok so far. I did just order some of these reeds online to use once these diffusers stop working. Just make sure your reeds are about twice as tall as your jars so they can distribute the scent well.
Carrier Oil (Base)
From what I’ve read online, it seems the most common carrier oils to use are safflower oil and sweet almond oil, as they are lighter oils that will travel up the reeds more easily. I had just picked up some inexpensive grape seed oil (a fairly light oil) the other day so that’s what I used. You’ll use about 1/4 cup of oil for each diffuser, depending on your jar’s size, so try to source inexpensive oil, even if you have to order it online. Along with my reeds, I also ordered some safflower oil to have on hand for the next batch.
If you can’t find these oils, or don’t want to use oils as your base, you may also use plain water as the base. However, your diffuser base will evaporate much more quickly. Also, you’ll need to add some alcohol to help the essential oils bind to the water (see note below).
Essential Oils (Fragrance)
This is where it gets fun! You can either play it nice and simple with one or two essential oils, or you can get creative and experiment with different oil blends to create all kinds of lovely aromatic concoctions. Here’s a great list of essential oil blends that you can try.
For your 1/4 cup of carrier oil, you’ll use about 10-15 drops, depending on how strong or light you want the scent. I blended 2 oils for each of my diffusers – cinnamon and lavender for the living room, and spearmint and rosemary for the bathroom.
You’ll also add a splash of alcohol (about a teaspoon) to the oil mixture to help the oils travel up the reeds more effectively. You want as high a concentration of alcohol as you can get – at least 90%. You can use either perfumer’s alcohol, rubbing alcohol, or vodka. We don’t drink alcoholic beverages, and I don’t have access to perfumer’s alcohol, so I used 95% rubbing alcohol I picked up from the drug store.
There’s nothing like a big bowl of salty, buttery popcorn to dig into while you curl up on the couch and watch a movie, is there? I just love the smell, the taste, the texture, and the yummy buttery goodness! What I don’t love, however, is nasty chemicals leeching into my food, and if you’re making microwave popcorn at home, that’s exactly what you’re getting!
Did you know you’re supposed to clean your coffee maker?! Or am I the only who’s been living under a rock? LOL
Pot after pot of brewed coffee really takes a toll on those things! From hard water deposits, to lingering coffee oils going rancid overtime, it’s a good idea to give your coffee maker a good cleaning about once a month to purge it off all those impurities.
And as an extra bonus, your coffee will taste Ahh-mazing! Seriously, those first few pots of coffee after cleaning the machine taste so fresh and so clean!
So here’s what you do…
Fill up the carafe with 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar (or if this is your first time, do 1 part water to 1 part vinegar). Pour it into the machine, and run a regular cycle.
When it’s finished, let the pot cool down for about 15 minutes. Then discard the liquid and rinse the pot. I like to leave a little in the bottom of the pot and swirl it around with a scrub brush to clean the carafe.
Fill it up again with just water, and run 1-2 more cycles to help rinse out any leftover vinegar from the machine.
That’s it! You’re now on your way to a cleaner machine, and much tastier coffee!
Tiny Tip Tuesday Blog Hop!
Now for the blog hop! Thanks so much to everyone who joined us and shared their awesome links last week! If you missed them, head on over and check them out! Here are the top three most clicked links from last week! Congratulations, ladies! Feel free to grab the featured button below! NOTE: Featured links will also be added to my “Featured on Tiny Tip Tuesday!” board on Pinterest, as well as shared on my Facebook and Twitter pages.
1. Sustainable Shaving Options by A Life Unprocessed
2. 25 Magical Things To Make With Coconut Oil by Revitalise Your Health
Alright, now what are YOUR tips for this week?
- You may share any links (that you haven’t shared before) pertaining to anything natural, frugal, sustainable, or homemade. Things like kitchen tips, recipes, gardening tips, green cleaners, homemade beauty products, DIY projects, etc.
- Use the permalink to the actual post (NOT your homepage!)
- In the “Name” field below, enter the name of your post (NOT your name!)
- Make sure to visit a couple of the other links, and show them some comment love! We all love comments!
- Please include a link back to Nature’s Nurture in your post; either a text link or include the button below:
Another week is upon us, and that means, it’s Tiny Tip Tuesday again! Today we’re talking about freezing fresh herbs!
Up until a few years ago, before we started growing a vegetable garden, I had a love/hate relationship with fresh herbs. I loved the way they added deep flavors to our cooking, but hated that I could never use them up quickly enough before they went bad.
Now that we have our own garden, our herbs are usually the superstars, requiring frequent trimming and pruning on a regular basis…and that leaves me with a whole bunch of herbs! We mainly grow the basics: parsley, basil, cilantro. So I looked for the best way to freeze the herbs so that I could have them on hand when I wanted to add them to our sauces, soups, and anywhere else they’re called for.
Today, we’re making almond milk, and I think it’s just as awesome, if not more so! Mr. Nurture and I only recently started getting into the world of almond milk, to tell you the truth. Not because of any dairy allergies or anything like that. We were just interested in venturing out and trying alternatives to cow’s milk.
Why almond milk?
Turns out, almond milk is actually much healthier (and tastes better!) than cow’s milk! It’s lower in fat, calories and cholesterol, and higher in vitamin A, vitamin E and iron. The only significant area that cow’s milk is better nutritionally, is protein. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating for an all almond milk diet, just like I wouldn’t advocate for an all cow’s milk diet either. Everything in moderation, and variety is always nice.
That being said, I’ve been wanting to try making almond milk at home for a while, but it wasn’t until I read this article from Chrystal at Happy Mothering, which warned of the dangers of a common ingredient in coconut and almond milk, carageenan, which has been deemed carcinogenic. Yikes! Although the brand that we’ve been buying, Silk, didn’t list carageenan in the ingredients, it did have a whole bunch of other odd things on the carton:
That was it, I decided – I was going to make my own almond milk, once and for all. And I’m so glad I did. It’s so easy, it’s more natural, and honestly, it tastes waaaay better! Plus, you can add in your own extras to flavor it just the way you like!
Soak your almonds!
You’ll start out by soaking 1 cup of almonds in just enough water to cover them by an inch or two. The recommended time is 8-12 hours, but if you can only do a couple hours, that’s fine too! Soaking the almonds not only helps to soften them, but it also removes the phytic acid (an enzyme inhibitor), to aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.
After soaking, drain the almonds and rinse them. Add them to your blender, and cover with 4 cups water. For a thicker, creamier milk, you could do just 3 cups water. I think I may try this next time, and use it as a coffee creamer! More on that later, if I try it. UPDATE: Tried it, loved it!
Turn the blender on high and let it go for at least a full minute.
Turn it off. It will be nice and frothy. Taste the milk, and if you like it, you can move on to the next step. But if you’d like to sweeten it like I did, you can add some honey and dates. I added a big tablespoonful of raw honey and 3 dates. Turn the blender back on for another 30 seconds or so.
Now, you can either leave it like this and drink as it is, which is a bit gritty, or you can strain the milk to remove the almond pulp. Simply line a fine strainer or sieve with 3-4 layers of cheesecloth (or better yet, use a nut milk bag!). Place the strainer over a bowl, to catch the milk, and pour your almond milk through the cheesecloth-lined strainer.
It will take a while, about half an hour or so, for all the milk to make it through the strainer. You can help the process along by pressing the almond pulp with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Or you can just get really impatient like I did, and proceed to squeeze the living daylights out of that pulp! … I don’t recommend this though. Patience is a virtue, afterall.
After you’ve strained all the milk, you’ll be left with a good amount of almond pulp. Do NOT throw this away! You’ve just made almond meal (or flour), and can use this in a number of recipes for muffins, cookies, quick breads, etc. More on that below.
Transfer your milk to a glass jar and keep it in the fridge, and use it as you would normally use cow’s milk. Put it on cereal, use it in smoothies, drink it plain or with chocolate syrup. We’ve also been using it in coffee, but it’s not creamy enough, so I’ll be trying the 1:3 ratio for that. UPDATE: Tried it, loved it!
Some extra notes:
- It should keep in the fridge for up to 4 days, although we’ve kept ours for about a week without an issue. Just smell the milk; if it smells funky, then its time has come.
- After a while in the fridge, the milk will begin to separate, so just make sure to shake or stir it real well before you use it.
- You can experiment with flavoring the milk: increase the dates, decrease the honey, add some vanilla or cinnamon, cocoa powder, maple syrup… whatever your heart (or tummy) desires!
What about the almond meal?
I’m glad you asked! Like I said before, please don’t throw this away. It’s very nutritious stuff, and it’s not everyday you can make something that uses the ingredients AND the byproduct for a truly no-waste product!
Your almond meal will be very wet and chunky, so you’ll need to dry it out before you can use it in recipes. If you have a dehydrator, you can put it in at 115 degrees and leave it overnight until it’s dry. If you’re using an oven like I did, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the almond pulp into a thin layer, and put it in your oven on the lowest possible setting.
Start checking on it after a couple hours. Stir it up every once in a while so it dries evenly. Mine was done after about 3 hours. I’ve read you can also leave the door open to release any moisture, which helps it dry faster. I couldn’t do this because of Baby Y running around, so I imagine it could go even faster if you’re able to do this.
Once it’s dry, put it into your food processor and give it a good whirl to break up the pieces and process it to a fine powder.
Behold, you now have almond meal (or almond flour)! The one cup of almonds should give you just about a cup of almond meal. You can use it in any recipe that calls for almond flour, or you can replace some (not all) of the wheat flour in your favorite recipes – muffins, cookies, quick breads are all great choices!
Have you ever thought to make your own almond (or any other) milk? What is your current milk of choice? Dairy or non-dairy? Any dietary restrictions that dictate your choice? What other milk alternatives do you like to use in your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
|Homemade Almond Milk (+ Almond Meal)||
- 1 cup almonds, soaked and rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)
- 3 dates (optional)
- Blender and food processor
- Sieve/strainer, bowl, and 3-4 layers of cheesecloth
- Baking sheet and parchment paper
- Place almonds and water in blender and blend on high for one minute.
- Add honey and dates, and blend for another 30 seconds.
- Line strainer with cheesecloth and place over bowl. Pour milk through strainer and let sit for about half hour for all the milk to drain.
- Transfer milk to glass container and keep in fridge for up to 4 days.
- Spread out almond pulp on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at lowest setting for about 3 hours, until completely dry.
- Put dried almond meal in food processor and whirl until it’s a fine powder. Use in baking recipes that call for almond flour.
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