How to make your own Granola

Making my own cereal was never a big deal for me since my grandma, Sybil made her own and taught me how to do it. We called it Sybil Cereal, and it’s still a staple at our house. So when I came across this granola recipe with two of my favourite things, coconut and maple syrup, I couldn’t resist trying it. It’s become a new staple in my breakfast rotation!

The beautiful thing about granola (and cereal) recipes is that they’re super adaptable. Don’t like sunflower seeds? Use a seed you do like! Don’t like raisins? What about dried apricots? Don’t like coconut? We can’t be friends anymore.

Granola

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
dash salt
1 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 120 C (250F)

Combine oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and brown sugar in a large bowl.

How to make your own Granloa

Combine maple syrup, oil and salt in a separate bowl. I usually just use a measuring cup, since it’s easier to pour with than a bowl.

How to make your own Granloa

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and mix.

How to make your own Granola

Pour onto a baking sheet. Spread it around into an even layer.

How to make your own Granola

Cook 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

How to make your own Granola

Remove from the oven and let cool. Resist the urge to snack.

How to make your own Granola

Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.

How to make your own Granola

Transfer to airtight container.

How to make your own Granola

Enjoy!

How to make your own Granola

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Sheets

A long time ago, my dad’s colleague, who has an apiary, gave him some beeswax to give to me. I’d made some hand butter before, and was keen to try to make lip balm as well. The lip balm was a bit of a failure, which is why I haven’t written about it… When I saw this facebook post, but I decided to use the leftover beeswax to make some reusable waxed sheets!

The reason my lip balm was a total failure was that I used the wax as it was given to me. It turned out to not be pure wax, but instead a mixture of honey, wax and random bits of hive and bees. So step zero for me was to make pure beeswax out of the mixture I’d been given.

0. Extract beeswax

Melt the beeswax mixture

You’re definitely going to want to use a pot set aside for this purpose only. I reused the one I used for my hand butter and have set aside for these types of things only.

From everything I read, it’s important to keep the mixture at a temperature high enough to melt it (around 65°C/150°F) but not so hot as to boil it. If you heat beeswax above 85°C (185°F), it could change colour.

Separate the wax

I found an old milk container in the recycling box and used that to collect the strained mixture. I used a few layers of cheese cloth as my strainer.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

Once the mixture has cooled, you’ll have a layer of wax and, as an added bonus, a layer of honey. The milk container worked well as a vessel since I could rip it apart to get to the wax.

Make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

Repeat

I found the first time I strained the mixture the resultant ‘wax’ was still quite flexible and contained other things, so I strained it a second time and was much happier with the results.

Make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

I saved the honey from the second time through the strainer, and it was delicious!

1. Cut fabric into squares

I used some leftover cotton fabric I had from my drawstring bags to make my waxed sheets. I cut them to be about 30 cm (15 inches) square, but the size isn’t too important.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or other protective covering before putting the fabric squares on it. As with the melting pot, if the wax gets on your regular baking equipment, it shouldn’t be used for baking again!

2. Grate beeswax

Since I didn’t have a second grader and didn’t want to buy one and store it at my parents house, I instead used some scissors to cut the wax into small pieces and spread them over the squares of fabric.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

Knowing the amount of wax per sheet is a bit difficult to figure out. I put too much on in my first attempt, but it’s not too hard to fix, as you’ll see from step 5!

3. Put in the oven

Heat the oven to 65°C (150 °F). As noted above, if you heat the wax above 85°C (185°F) discoloration could occur.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper.

I found this step didn’t take too long, maybe 10 minutes at most.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

 

4. Let cool

Once all the bits of wax have melted, take them out of the oven and let them cool.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

5. Fine tune wax

From the top, my waxed sheets looked great! From the bottom, it was clear I’d put far too much wax on the two sheets I had.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Sheets

The fix for this problem was really easy! I had 2 extra squares of fabric already cut, so I just put them under the original ones and put them back in the oven to melt again.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

To use these sheets, just place them over the container you’d like to cover, warm the sheets a bit with your hands, and mold into place. When you’re done, they should be cleaned with warm (not hot) soapy water and hung to dry. I wouldn’t recommend putting them into the washing machine or dishwasher for fear the wax would melt and get all over everything.

How to make your own Reusable Waxed Paper

How to make a Reed Diffuser

When RB and I moved into our new apartment, there was an odd, old water smell in our shower room that was noxious. So against my better judgement, I bought a vanilla reed diffuser from the local store. They certainly helped, but I knew there had to be a better, less toxic way.

Reed Diffuser

Enter the essential oil reed diffuser! I re-used the reeds and pot from the one I’d originally bought, and I already had carrier oil (grapeseed) and essential oils in my stash. I asked which essential oils RB preferred, and he picked sweet orange and eucalyptus.

Reed Diffuser
Ingredients

Picking the scent was the hardest part! To make the diffuser, simply add the carrier and essential oils to the pot, swirl to mix, and throw in the reeds. Voila!

How to make a Bag out of an old T-Shirt

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I`d seen this photo of a t-shirt repurposed as a bag on pinterest what feels like a long time ago, and I had always planned to use this for the T-shirt I got at the end of the Inka Trail Trek. I knew I would never wear it but I also knew I could never throw it out. Well, I finally got around to actually making my t-shirt bag, and it was super easy!

1. Cut a semi-circle around the neck

Start by taking a plate or other flat, round object of similar diameter, and draw a circle around the neck.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

Cut along the line you just drew.

2. Cut along the seam for the sleeves

Next, cut along the seams for the sleeves to remove them, making sure to leave the seams in place.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

3. Sew the bottoms together

Next, turn the t-shirt inside out, and sew along the bottom bringing the front and back together.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

4. Make gussets (optional)

I opted to sew gussets on my bag, which turned out to be super easy! On the two bottom corners, bring the side and bottom seams together to make a triangle. Draw a line about 4 inches long along the bottom of the triangle.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I pinned along the line to be sure the t-shirt wouldn`t move on me.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

I then sewed along this line, and cut off the excess.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

And that`s it. A bit of cutting, 3 lines of sewing and it`s done! Complete with a gusset.

How to make your own t-shirt bag

How to make a Travel Jewelry Pouch

My mom has this awesome Jewelry Pouch that she takes with her on every trip she goes on. It’s big enough to bring a few statement pieces and small enough that it fits in any tight space in her suitcase. It also boasts some lovely space separators to keep smaller items, like rings and earrings, from getting lost and/or caught in bigger items like necklaces and bracelets.

So I set about making two of my own; one to bring all my jewelry with me to the Netherlands and one to travel with on all my other trips! These instructions are for the smaller travel pouch.

Jewelry Pouch

Start by cutting the following pieces:

  • 2 – 11″ diameter piece (large)
  • 1 – 8″ diameter piece (medium)
  • 1 – doughnut shaped piece – 8″ OD, 3″ ID
  • 1 – 3.5″ diameter piece (small)
  • 1 – 1.5″ x 8″ piece

I spent some time putting different fabrics together before deciding on what I wanted. This was a great way to use up some scrap pieces of fabric I had. I used an old, ripped pair of pj’s, fabric from an old, ill-fitting dress, and leftovers from the drawstring bags I made several years ago.

For those big-picture people like myself, here’s a diagram of what the final product should look like:

jewelry pouch diagram
Jewelry Pouch Diagram

Instructions

Press the the 1.5″ x 8″ piece in half lengthwise. Press each side in half again, so the rough edges are together in the centre. Press in half lengthwise again, and sew together. Alternatively, you could sew it together, lengthwise and turn right side out. I’m pretty crappy at turning small thing right side out, so I opted for the press method instead. Cut into 2″ pieces which will form the tabs for the inside of the pouch, where I thread my necklaces through. Sew these tabs int the small circle, facing in.

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch

Sew the small circle into the doughnut shaped piece, making sure to keep the tabs loose. This was by far the hardest part! There’s a small wrinkle that I couldn’t get rid of, and it sometimes drives me a bit crazy.

2015-01-Jewelry Pouchy
2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
Sew two button holes in the large circle, approximately opposite to each other, and approximately 2” from the outside of the circle.
2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
Sew the large circles together, wrong sides together.  Slash a hole in the middle of the large circle that doesn’t have the button holes, and turn it right side out. For a bit of extra security, I used a fusible interfacing to ensure the slashes don’t rip, but seeing as I sewed around this slash, it’s a step that can probably be skipped.

 

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch

Repeat this step with the medium circle and the small circle with doughnut piece, making sure to slash the medium circle not the small/doughnut combo!

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch

Sew around the large circles at the top and bottom of the button holes to create a pocket for the ribbon.

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
Centre the medium circle in the large circle and sew along the small circle seam to connect the two pieces.

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch
Mark approximate locations for pockets with pins, and sew along these lines from the small circle to the edge of the medium circle. I have 8 (approximately) evenly spaced pockets at (approximately) N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, and NW. That’s one of the things I love about sewing this type of thing: approximate is a-okay!

2015-01-Jewelry Pouch

Thread two ribbons through, with the ends starting and ending on opposite sides of the circle. Pull these to close. I like to wrap the ends around the top for a bit of extra security.

Jewelry Pouch
Fill with beautiful jewels!

Jewelry Pouch

Simple Baby Blanket Pattern

I have been knitting this baby blanket for years, ever since my friends started having children. It’s beautiful and delicate, but also super easy and quick. A friend from work wrote it out for me, so I unfortunately don’t know it’s origin. I did find a very similar pattern on Ravelry, and I want to be sure to give credit where I can!

finished blanket (medium)

When knitting this, I generally use my 4.5mm (US 7) bamboo needles, though I’m sure that anything in that size range would work. Similarly, I usually use a medium weight (aran) yarn, but have also used a fine weight (sport) using the bigger pattern and ended up with basically the same size blanket. It’s a very forgiving pattern!

work in progress

Small pattern gives an approximately 18″ wide blanket. Medium is noted with parentheses and gives an approximately 24″ wide blanket, depending, of course, on what size of yarn you choose. For other sizes, simply add or remove 18 stitches when you cast on to increase or decrease the blanket width.

Pattern

Cast on 82 (100) stitches. Knit 7 rows garder for the edge

  1. knit across
  2. K5, purl across to last 5, K5
  3. K5, {(K2tog) 3x, (YO, K1) 6x, (K2tog) 3x} 3x, K5
  4. K5, purl across to last 5, K5

Repeat pattern until piece measures approximately 27″ (35″)

knit across
K5, purl across to last 5, K5

Knit 7 rows garder, and cast off.

How to make a Foot Scrub from old Coffee Grinds

It felt like every time I went on Pinterest in the last little while there was a link to a coffee scrub. Since my feet were looking the worst for wear, I thought I would give a coffee foot scrub a try. Except rather than using new coffee, which most of the links seemed to use, I just used the grounds that I used to make my coffee in the morning!

Coffee Foot Scrub
freshly brewed coffee grounds

I started with this recipe from the little dutch wife, but made some small changes based on what we had in the kitchen which included only olive oil. While we have cinnamon and nutmeg, I wasn’t really sold on putting them in, although I’m sure they’d add a lovely scent!

Coffee Foot Scrub
olive oil and coffee grounds

I mixed enough olive oil in the coffee grounds to make a paste, and brought it with me to the shower. I did a good scrubbing on my feet, and then rinsed everything really well.  My feet and hands were a little bit yellowy brown after putting the scrub on, but it came off easily with a bit of soap and water.

Coffee Foot Scrub
slightly foggy action shot

When I get home, I’d love to do something like this as described in the recipe with coconut oil!

How to make your own Hand Butter

I recently moved to a house heated by electric baseboards (yikes!), which means my house is exceptionally dry. When I ran out of my hand butter and the cracks in my knuckles started bleeding where they were cracked (double yikes!), I knew it was time to get on with my plan of making my own. So I started with Minimalist Beauty‘s DIY Hand and Nail Care recipe, and made a few minor changes.

The recipe calls for equal parts of shea butter, cocoa butter, and grapeseed oil and vanilla absolute oil for the smell.

I did a small bit of research (aka reading reviews of the products from New Directions Aromatics) and decided that I didn’t want my hands to smell like cocoa for fear I would constantly be craving it, so decided to substitute aloe butter instead of the cocoa butter. Even though I requested they use as little packaging as necessary, I still felt there was way too much. Especially for a box full of plastic containers!

I also substituted lavender essential oil rather than vanilla, because it was something I already had in my possession and therefore didn’t need to buy. Less waste and less money!

I also went to my local thrift store and got a lovely super thick walled small pot to use. It cost me a whole of $5 and means I don’t need to worry about mucking up my cooking pots with these types of experiments.

As per the directions, I put the butters and oil into the pot and put it on the lowest setting to melt.

Make your own Hand BUtter

Once the butters were melted, I turned off the stove and added the lavender.

How to make your own Hand Butter

 

I split up the mixture into small screw top aluminum containers that I got for this purpose. I needed something I could throw in my bag without worrying that the top would come off! Once they were melted, I turned off the stove and let it cool just a bit.

How to make your own Hand Butter

 

I then let the containers cool overnight. When I woke up, I had two containers filled with hand and nail butter! No more need to buy hand cream!

How to make your own Hand Butter

After using the hand and nail butter, I decided the formula was too oily for my liking, so I scooped up all of the butter from the containers and put it back into the small pot to melt it down again. I then added another 1.5 oz of each butter and another 10 drops of lavender once the new mixture was cooled.

I am very pleased with the final results, and will continue to make this instead of buying hand cream! It still feels a little bit oily on my skin after putting it on, but it’s much better than the first iteration.

Materials to make this cost me $7.37 for 7 oz or approximately 210 mL. Less than half the price of the body butters at the Body Shop, and I have control over the ingredients.

P.S. The containers I got only hold 2 oz each, so I put the remaining 3 oz into a washed out yogurt container. Not as pretty nor transportable, but much better for reducing waste.

How to make Cleaning Powder

About 6 months ago my mom decided she was going to make her own cleaning powder. Apparently her cleaning lady requested she buy some Comet, and my mom wanted to find a slightly less toxic version. She made her own, and also mixed me up a small container for me, and I love it! The tiles and counter are clean and don’t smell chemical-y (like my roommate’s Pine Sol which hurts my nose and who knows what else) at all!

The recipe is simple.

Mix equal parts of baking soda, borax and washing soda.

How to make your own non-toxic Powdered Cleaner

That’s it!

I got my baking soda, borax and washing soda in bulk at Grassroots. This is a minimal waste cleaning solution!

Make your own Cleaning Powder

Soap Making Essentials suggested adding liquid soap and essential oil, and since I had some Eucalyptus Essential Oil sitting around from a previous project, I added it as well. It smells lovely, but I don’t expect it will make much of a difference to this concoction’s ability to clean.

How to make your own non-toxic cleaning powder

How to make a (Nearly) Waste Free Toothpaste

As I mentioned in my February Love List update, I started making my own toothpaste. The first attempt wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I’ve since made another batch and I think I’m ready to share the very simple recipe for (nearly) waste free toothpaste.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
5 drops of organic essential oil in peppermint

Directions

It’s as easy as mixing all the ingredients together in a small container! I use the small stainless bowls I got from Lee Valley Tools for Christmas a few years ago. Thankfully my family understands that I like to get useful items as gifts!

I buy my baking soda in bulk at Domino Foods at the St. Lawrence Market. They never make a fuss about meat me using my own reusable bags, and they’re super friendly!

Make your own (nearly) waste free toothpaste

I purchased my vegetable glycerine and peppermint essential oils from New Directions Aromatics. While it`s not completely waste free, since the glycerine came in a plastic bottle and the essential oil in a tiny glass one, it`s still less waste per tube of toothpaste than going to the store to buy a tube.

How to make your own (nearly) waste free toothpaste

How to make your own (nearly) waste free toothpaste

I used too much glycerine in the first batch. It wasn’t runny at first, but it separated over the time I was using it. The second time around I used more baking soda and less glycerine, so I’m hoping it doesn’t separate.

How to make your own (nearly) waste free toothpaste

I put my toothpaste in an extra GoToob that I had from my travels to store my toothpaste. I used a whole bunch of Toobs when I was in Peru, but my recent foray into zero waste means I use significantly fewer bottled products and don’t need all of the Toobs I have anymore. You can bet I’m happy that I’ve found another use for one of them! They’re wonderful for traveling with because they don’t leak, are super easy to fill (unless you’re trying to fill and take a picture which results in a totally blurry photo as evidenced below), and you can mark what’s in the bottle by spinning the top around. Unfortunately, “toothpaste” isn’t one of the options yet.

How to make your own (nearly) waste free Toothpaste

 

While this toothpaste takes a little bit of getting used to, I especially like it in the morning. I’ve never been much of a morning tooth brusher (sorry if you find that gross), but this toothpaste’s flavour fades quickly, which means that it doesn’t interfere with the taste of my breakfast. RB will be happy! 🙂

How to make your own (nearly) waste free toothpaste

You can find other homemade toothpaste recipes at Zero Waste Home and Say No to Trash.