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

Harissa White Bean Stew

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Harissa is one of my favorite spice blends. Here, I’ve mixed my own using garlic powder, dried chilies, caraway, coriander, cumin, and salt. I know it is probably most frequently seen as a paste, but I had never tried it in a paste until recently when the local branch of Cost Plus was going out of business and I picked up a few tubes of it. The tubes are metal, so I can recycle them, and the spice is super tasty!

I recently soaked and cooked some small white beans, I think perhaps navy beans, and knew I wanted to turn them into a delicious dish.

The original recipe calls for this to be slow-cooked, but since my beans were already cooked, I chose not to do that, and this dish was ready in about 30 – 40 minutes.

Other than that, I followed the recipe quite closely.

Saute onion, then garlic in butter, then add in harissa and tomato paste.

I do still buy organic cans of tomato paste, but use so little and so infrequently, that I transfer it into a small glass jar and keep in the freezer.

Add in cumin and paprika and stir until fragrant, then deglaze the pan with a few cups of water.

Add in beans, approximately 2 cups, and 2 sliced carrots along with bay leaves, and thyme.

I found the soup to be quite smoky, and it needed more salty flavor, so I added my homemade bouillon, and you may want to as well. Also add additional water if desired.

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I let that simmer, then browned some butter and turmeric, about 1 TBS each, then added in some plain yogurt to stir in. A squeeze of lime was needed to top it all! It was very satisfying, and had a depth of flavor that is sometimes difficult to find with soups.

The light through my window was causing rainbows to appear above the stew, so even though you cannot see the contents, I thought it was fun. 🙂

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Peace and love,

Kristan

Homemade Beauty

Powder is something I have rarely used, but I had a Juice Beauty powder I used occasionally and wanted to have a powder on hand just in case an inclination to feel fancy came up.

I cleaned up a vintage Merle Norman makeup container from my collection. In a mortar, I mixed together bentonite clay and arrowroot powder until a certain shade was achieved. I’m not exactly pasty, but I’m nowhere near olive-toned. Also, I have a face full of freckles so I’m never sure what color to use on my face anyway. My clay was sort of green, but the powder basically is translucent on my skin; it didn’t add any tint but rather gave me that powdery look.

Another vintage container was cleaned out to house my latest eye cream. Yes, it is blue!

I melted together beeswax, shea butter, rose hydrosol, tamanu oil, avocado oil, jojoba, aloe vera, chamomile eo, frankincense eo, lavender eo, and rose eo (diluted with jojoba).

It’s the perfect texture – gliding easily over my eye area and it doesn’t show up blue on the skin.

The amber bottle on the second shelf is a roller ball of perfume.

The scent is one I continue coming back to, even after making many others. It’s simply sandalwood and rose, it’s subtle, floral, and grounding. It’s definitely an everyday use perfume. I use sandalwood and rose that are already diluted (grapeseed and jojoba respectively) so then I can add them to a roller ball as they come. I frequently use NOW brand as it is what I can get locally.

I also concocted a small batch of healing skin serum using chamomile, frankincense, helichrysum, tamanu oil, lavender, and rose. I use it as a spot treatment for any blemishes, as well as for any residual redness or scarring.

Any of these would make great gifts to a loved one.

Peace and love,

Kristan