DIY Plastic Free Aloe Vera

An essential part of my skin care routine involves aloe vera. I have come to rely on the cooling, healing elements of this amazing plant. The reason I feel so strongly about it is partly because I found a microbiologist’s blog about skin care and her views aligned with everything I already felt and was basically the routine I had intuitively been following for a while. I’ll be honest though, I’m not always the best practitioner of skin care on a regular basis. I love masks, and oil cleansing, even rose water and making facial sprays, yet I still am just not as disciplined with doing these steps every single day.

The easier thing would be to just own an aloe vera plant, and I do. However, it isn’t large and I think I would end up using it up super fast. I don’t live in the climate the plant needs and therefore the growth is stunted and is really only for decoration. There are places where I have sliced off the ends, and it heals well, so this is an option.

When I spotted very large aloe leaves at my local co-op, I snatched one up and decided to get started on making my own liquid.

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First, I sliced it into manageable pieces. Working with one piece at a time, I took a serrated knife around the perimeter, in between the pulp and the skin and was able to squeeze out a large chunk, then used the knife to scrape out any pulp still attached to the skin.

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The leftover pieces go into compost, and the pulp now will get blended up.

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An immersion blender will work, as will a stand up blender.

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When done, it is frothy and smooth. Now is the time to strain it using a mesh strainer or even a nut milk bag, or some tripled cheesecloth. There wasn’t much pulp left over, so not much is going to waste or the compost gods.

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Pour the strained liquid into a container of your choice. It is best to keep it in the refrigerator, which has been heavenly since it reaches 100° every day in the summer. You will notice it is less viscous than anything bought in the store, but it still works really well and has no additives.

I have read that this lasts a month, but I’m going to see how long it stays fresh and update. I don’t know if it could go in a freezer, but I know I won’t be able to use this much in one month, and I don’t have a way of getting more aloe during winter months.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Organic Non-toxic Garden Bug Spray

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As a person who tries her best to leave a smaller footprint on the earth, I am not interested in using products on my plants which use unfamiliar ingredients. Certainly, I could spend hours doing research into each chemical and its origins and impact on the earth and then buy a product packaged in plastic to use on my organic garden, but it seems counter intuitive to me.

In an ideal world I wouldn’t feel the need to use anything on the plants I grow. However, my garden can be a bug-infested oasis. I like it, cats like it, plant eating bugs like it, even weeds like it.

My precious carrot leaves were eaten away overnight, something has gobbled my clematis, and my potato plants are more holes than green in places.

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I needed to take action. I needed a simple, effective, low-cost solution. The good news is this spray meets all those requirements and I love it! I made it last year as well and stored it in an old vinegar bottle, but when I went to retrieve it, the glass had broken. Time to make some new bug spray!

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Ingredients needed:

1 onion

A few cloves of garlic

1 Tbs cayenne powder

1 tsp – 1 Tbs soap

To make:

Blend the onion and garlic until they are nice and mushy.

Place the mush in a saucepan or pot with about 4 cups of water and 1 heaping tablespoon of cayenne powder, then turn to a simmer. Let the mixture simmer for a good 30 minutes.

Let that cool.

Use cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to squeeze out the liquid and compost the remaining material.

Pour into a spray bottle with a teaspoon to a tablespoon of liquid soap. I use Sal Suds because of how effective it is and because it is extremely concentrated and biodegradable.

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Spray on any bug-eaten plants directly and reapply if it rains or if much overhand watering has occurred. You don’t need to worry about this spray when it is time to harvest because it is made out of mostly food and a safe soap. Obviously rinsing is a good idea, but don’t worry about health problems later on in your life or depleting soils of microbes.

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My potato plants already look much better and whatever was eating my carrot tops has stopped their destructive ways.

Do you have any favorite gardening tips?

Peace and love,

Kristan

Linen Bowl Cover DIY

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This was an attempt at doing away with plastic cling wrap. I actually saw a version of these from Quitokeeto, the shop run by Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com.

I didn’t want to pay for them, as my sewing skills are passable, and linen is easy to come by. In fact, I already had linen in my closet waiting to be used.

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I used my largest Pyrex bowl as a guide to draw a circle on the linen, making sure I measured 2 inches wider around the entire circumference. Cut 2.

Sew pieces together near the edge with wrong sides facing, leaving ample space for elastic, as well as turning out. I don’t think linen has a wrong side.

Turn outside out. Sew the elastic encasing about 1/2 inch from edge. Use a safety pin to weave 1/4 inch elastic into the encasing through the gap. Cut and sew elastic ends together.

Turn in raw edges at opening, then sew shut.

The green bowl pictured is a medium-sized bowl, and this linen can be used on a range of sizes.

I wanted it to not be thin, so that is why I doubled up on the cloth. I use this for proofing bread, covering up a salad in the refrigerator, traveling food items, and as a shower cap. Just kidding, but it looks just like one.

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Peace and love,

Kristan