How to Make Your Own All-Natural Solid Perfume

The most straightforward items seemed to be the solid perfumes I was buying, so I decided to try making those first. And, it is really, really easy. There are some initial costs involved in this project, but the supplies you’ll be buying will provide you with several batches of perfumes, and can be used for other items as well, such as candles and homemade lip balms.

What  You’ll Need:

  • Olive Oil or Sweet Almond Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Essential Oils
  • Bamboo skewer or chopstick for stirring
  • A clean tin can or glass measuring cup (you can still use the cup in the kitchen after you make this)
  • A small pot or pan
  • A small container to pour finished perfume into.

There are several things you could use for your perfume container: a used, clean chapstick tube, little watchmaker tins (craft stores and seed catalogs sell them). You could also use the plastic tops to milk jugs or other bottles — they won’t have covers, though, so the only downside to this option is that you wouldn’t be able to have them with you on the go.

How to Make Solid Perfume:

1. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and about 3/4 tablespoon (I’ve also seen recommendations to add equal amounts of both oil and beeswax, but my perfume seemed a little too firm to me with that ratio. Add more beeswax if yours seems like it’s not thick enough.)  of beeswax to your can or glass measuring cup.

2.  Place the can or cup into a pot that has about an inch of water in the bottom, and place it on the stove on medium-high heat.

3.  Once the water starts to boil, the wax will melt pretty quickly. Stir it every once in a while.

4. Once everything is melted, remove it from the heat and add your essential oils. Between 5 and 15 drops of your chosen oils is about right, depending on how strong you want your perfume to be. You can go with single-note scents such as lavender, patchouli, orange, sandalwood, or rose, or you can do combinations. I’ve done a patchouli perfume with just a hint of sweet orange oil, and a lavender/vanilla combo that turned out to be one of my favorites. For more ideas on scent combinations, check out this article (they have instructions for making alcohol-based perfumes, but the essential oil combos they use should give you a few ideas.)

5. Stir the essential oils in well, and carefully pour your perfume into your container of choice. Let it sit and harden for at least 30 minutes, and it’s ready to use.

Sources For Perfume Making Supplies:

Here are a few local Etsy shops for purchasing supplies for this project:

  • Natural Light Co.  — Michigan shop selling beeswax pellets, candles, and cocoa butter wafers
  • Swarm Natural  — Michigan shop that sells beeswax by the pound
  • Z Oils  — Michigan company that sells a wide range of essential oils

(Note: I don’t know any of these shop owners, and I haven’t purchased from all of them. I just thought a list like this would be useful for all of us — myself included!)

 

How to Transplant Borage

Borage is one of those plants I just NEED to have in my garden. The perfect blue-ness of its blooms (unless you get the occasional errant pink bloom, which happens sometimes, usually after very wet weather, I’ve noticed) and the cucumber-y flavor of the leaves and blossoms makes this a must-grow plant for me.

I planted borage in our side yard garden a couple of years ago because we grew tomatoes there, and borage and tomatoes are good companions. I haven’t had to plant borage seeds on purpose since. Borage self-sows pretty reliably here in our Detroit area garden, so I’m never without a few seedlings each spring. Continue reading How to Transplant Borage

Make a Simple, Natural Holiday Centerpiece

Our dining room table gets a lot of use. In addition to the obvious (eating) it is also our craft table, school table, and sewing table. And because you can see it from both the living room and kitchen, it’s kind of also the centerpiece of our home.

So I knew I wanted to put something festive there for the holiday season, but with a 2 and 3 year old in the house, I didn’t want anything breakable, messy, or overly delicate. It needed to be something I could move often to get it out of the way when we need to use the table. And, as always, I wanted to do something that I wouldn’t have to spend money on.

This arrangement fits all of my requirements. It is in keeping with the country casual feel in our home. I can move it around without messing it up. I can change things out if they start looking tired. And, maybe best of all, it was FREE!

 

I found my inspiration on Simply Klassic Home (probably via Pinterest somehow…). The inspiration uses a galvanized trough, and I thought I’d do the same since I have one of those, but it’s larger, and rectangular, and just didn’t look right. So I went with a terracotta planter instead, and I love it.

All I did was put two pint-sized jars in the planter, with a couple of inches of water in the bottom of each. I filled in around the jars with pine cones the kids have collected from the yard the last few years (I was hoping to find something to do with them!)

All of the greenery were things I collected from our yard (as well as a few trimmings from our Christmas tree): white pine, red twig dogwood, trumpet vine, and rose hips. I just stuck them in the jars. I wanted a fuller look than the inspiration. You could always use less.

I should probably mention here that I stink at any kind of flower arranging. What I liked about this arrangement was that you really could just kind of stick stuff in the jars, and, because it’s such an informal arrangement, it looks right!

So, there you have it: free, easy, and natural. My kind of holiday arrangement!

Oh, and if you’re looking for something to do with your porch planters, Dave over at Growing the Home Garden has a similar idea for those. Stop by and have a look!

Edit: Here it is in the galvanized planter. I love the way it looks, but I’m not sure it looks right in our dining room. I’ll live with it for a while and see if I want to go back to the terracotta or not.

 

Where to Buy a Locally-Grown Michigan Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree season is upon us, and we Michiganders are particularly lucky in this department. Did you know that Michigan is the third largest grower of Christmas trees in the U.S.? Or that we grow more varieties of Christmas trees than any other state?

So it makes sense that if we’re from the mitten, and we’re planning on a real tree, that we make sure we’re supporting our local tree farmers and buying a locally-grown tree. Fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do.

Finding a Christmas Tree Farm

 

Michigan has many Christmas tree farms, where you can either spend a day going out and chopping down your own tree, or selecting from one of their already-cut trees. Either way, it can be rewarding to go right to the place where your tree was grown, and meet the people who grew it.

If you’re looking for a tree farm, the Michigan Christmas Tree Association has a helpful map on their site, where you can put in your zip code and find the closest farm. If you live in the southern part of the state, there are tree farms all over the place; those of you who live farther north may have a harder time finding a tree farm, but there are a few up north.

Finding a Christmas Tree Lot

 

You can also buy Michigan Christmas trees at retail lots, which are spread throughout the state. There aren’t many of these, unfortunately. while we see tree lots all over the place, these aren’t necessarily selling Michigan Christmas trees. To ensure you’re getting a locally-grown tree, check out the Michigan Christmas Tree Association’s website, where, again, they have a map of all of the retail lot locations, which you can search by zip code.

Farmer’s Markets

If you have a farmer’s market nearby (I’m lucky in that Detroit’s Eastern Market is very close) you can shop there for your tree. I know that Eastern Market carries not only locally-grown trees, but also wreaths, swags, and garlands grown and made locally. To find a farmer’s market that sells local trees, LocalHarvest.org is a good place to check. Simply go to LocalHarvest, and in the search box on the right, click “All,” then put in your zip code and search for “christmas trees.” The site will provide you with a list of all the farmer’s markets in your area that sell trees. You can then check out each entry to see if they are selling locally-grown trees. At a farmer’s market, it’s very likely that they’re local, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries

If you’re lucky enough to have a local independent nursery nearby, they are a great place to check for locally-grown Christmas trees as well. Here in the Detroit area, I know that Allemon’s Nursery in Grosse Pointe sells Michigan trees. I’m sure there are others as well.

So, support your Michigan tree farmers this year! It’s easy, and we’re lucky to have all of these tree farms right here in the mitten.

Tree farm photo by Lori Stalteri, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.
Tree lot photo by carrier lost, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

Make a New Garden Bed: No Digging Required!

Fall is when I add new beds to my garden, or expand my existing beds. If we’re planning a new raised vegetable bed, we usually build the frames in fall, fill them with leaves and fruit/veggie scraps, and let them sit over the winter, then fill them up the rest of the way with good quality soil and composted manure in the spring.

But if I’m planning to add a regular (non-raised) bed, my method is even easier. Here it is:

1. Figure out the size/shape of your new bed. You can measure it out with stakes and string, use a hose to get the shape perfect, or just eyeball it (this is usually what I do.)
2. Grab several sections of newspaper, or a few flatted corrugated cardboard boxes.
3. Lay the newspaper (a section or at least 4 to 5 pages thick) or the cardboard down where you want your bed to be. Overlap the sections of newspaper or cardboard by a few inches.
4. Yes. Just lay them right on the grass. Really.
5. Go rake some leaves and/or mow the lawn. Dump leaves or grass (or both!) right on top of the newspaper.
6. If you want to neaten it up and avoid having leaves blow all over the place, get some shredded bark mulch and put a good layer of that over the top of the leaves/grass.
7. Done.

OK, you’re not really done. Now you sit inside your house, comfy and cozy all winter. And while you’re doing that, the grass under your pile ‘o newspaper and leaves dies. And the leaves start breaking down into leaf mold, which the worms will start tunneling up through your newspaper to devour. And then they’ll tunnel back into your soil and poop. And then you end up with really great soil, and, in the spring, you can plant in this beautiful, crumbly soil that you didn’t even work up a sweat to create.

Lazy is good!