Silky Lip Balm Recipe

I love making products for myself and others, and recently made my own lip balm recipe. It’s easy to make and I love how well it works! It’s silky smooth and feels buttery when applied. You can decide to add flavoring if you want, or leave it unflavored for less risk of irritation. I like my lipbalm super soft, and I like when it melts as soon as it touches my lips. Bear that in mind when deciding to use this recipe by the book or switch up some ratios! Here’s the recipe, which yields about 75 tubes in total:

  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • 1/2 cup beeswax
  • 1/3 cup mango butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. of a lavender infusion made with sweet almond oil and jojoba oil (2/3 sweet almond, 1/3 jojoba) OR an infusion made from another herb such as calendula
  • 1/3 cup sweet almond oil (omit or use much less of this for a firm lip balm. I like mine super soft)
  • 1/6-1/4 tbsp. vitamin e oil

Next time, I’m going to replace the olive oil with an olive oil infusion made with calendula, and might replace the other infusion with Hibiscus infused in olive oil for flavour. I’m not sure I’ll like the flavour, but it’s worth a shot!

You can also use this as a skin balm for minor abrasions or sunburns. To make it into a lotion bar or a firm salve, remove the 1/3 sweet almond oil!

A quick swatch of my balm

Let me know how it goes for you if you make it yourself! I currently have a bunch in a jar and have shared many with my friends and family!

Salvaging Ugly Thriftstore Jars

I say ugly, but what I really mean is painted and not your style. This particular jar that I salvaged had some scratched up paint printed onto it, but I really loved the seal and shape it had. This is a super simple and speedy tutorial for painted jars that you want to keep sans the paint.

All you need is 100% acetone (weaker nail polish remover will work too, but it may be more difficult to remove the paint) and something to scrub with. Cotton rounds, old rags, toilet paper, etc. will all do the job just fine.

If you want to pre-treat your jar and make it easier to scrub, wrap an acetone soaked towel or rag around it and place inside a plastic bag for a minute or two. It’ll slip right off. If you’re impatient like me, you can soak a small piece of cloth in acetone and go to town on the paint.

If you have your nails painted (and/or shaped with acrylic/gel), have dry or sensitive skin, or just don’t want chalky fingertips, wear gloves for this. Also bear in mind that acetone is super flammable, so no smoking while scrubbing off this paint.

When you’ve gotten the paint off, clean off any streaks or residue with warm soapy water. Dry and voila! Jar salvaged.

I ended up getting mine for 50 cents, most likely owing to the gaudy snow man pattern and it being out in June. I filled it with some tubes of my homemade lip balm and I’m super happy with it! I even made a tik tok sharing the process. Give it a watch if you’re more of a visual learner!

@maiden_of_moths

I found this jar at goodwill for super cheap and removed the paint that was printed onto it #upcylced #thrift #fyp

♬ original sound – Olivia 🌹

I hope this inspires you to not give up on ugly jars when you thrift shop! If you like the bare bones of it, give it an acetone bath and enjoy! Let me know if you found this helpful, and what fun thrifting experiences you’ve had in the comments below! Bye!

Identifying Wild Plants with iNaturalist

As a child, my Nana would share the plants she knew the names of with me. Some of that stuck, and it definitely gave me a desire to know more about the natural world. Now that I’m grown and have a repertoire larger than my Nana’s casual knowledge, I turn to new sources when I want to identify a particular herb, tree, or berry, using the same skills of observing that she shared with me many years ago.

While I have several books with guidance on identifying herbs, sometimes I want an answer without having to spend too much time deciphering leaf patterns and structures. Just today, I spotted some pretty yellow flowers in the grass outside my cousins school, and I wanted an answer without my books handy.

In times like these, I use an app called iNaturalist to quickly decipher what the plant may be. It isn’t always right, but it offers a starting point to work with. Often, it can help me get right down to the species! All I do is upload a few clear images of the plant in question (although bugs, fungi, animals, etc. are also in the database) and see what it comes up with. It’s an amazing tool for anyone starting out with herbs or naturalism of any kind. I love using it to confirm my identifications. It even offers an easy comparing function so you can feel confident in your identification.

It also has a social aspect where other naturalists can offer insight or agree on your match until it reaches research grade, aka three positive species identification from separate sources. This is added to their research grade database for others to use alongside you!

This is my favourite app so far. I’ve tried a few others, but find this is the one that suits me and my needs best! This post isn’t sponsored, I just wanted to share something I love with you all! It’s a tool I use nearly every time I leave my house, even if it’s just to document where I have seen certain herbs. I love the guides it offers in the explore tab, and often find myself browsing nearby observations and learning more about the plants near me. I also appreciate that it saves your observations and the ones you help identify. It makes it easy to go back and see what you’ve spotted!

Let me know what you’re favourite app is, and how it helps you in your journey. I’ll see you soon! Bye!

Making an Herbalism Journal From Upcycled Materials

I love making my own journals and notebooks. I get to upcycle paper materials and fashion custom covers to represent me and the contents the journal will hold. I just finished one for holding my recipes and how I feel they went, as well as ratios and measurement guidelines for oil infusions and tinctures! I’m really pleased with how it came out, and hope that sharing my process will inspire some of you too make your own!

Materials I used:

I cut my pages into the same size rectangle (except for one special insert in the middle that’s much smaller) and sewed them together as three signatures. I’m not too savvy with binding methods, so I just sewed the middle signature to the ones on either side and then sewed the two on the side to each other. Then I modpodged a piece of tissue paper I’d gotten in a package over the stitching ant onto the front of the first and back of the last signatures just a tad.

After binding them, I made my cover. I cut out a sheet of magazine text just a little bit bigger than the papers with enough room to cover the spine added in. Then, after measuring it again and ensuring it was the right size, I laid down some mod podge and a piece of white tissue paper. On the back side, I folded the tissue over and used more mod podge to secure it.

I let these both dry before putting them together. Then, I cut out a mostly white page from a magazine (mine says chanel on it, but it’ll be covered eventually). It needed to be the size of the signature pages x2. Then I glued one piece to the pages, making sure to go close to the spine. Then, I folded it by closing the book, opened it up, and glued it to the inside of the cover. I repeated this process with the back cover.

Sometimes I add ribbons or closures to my journals, but I kept this one simple.

After this, I drew some herbs on the cover and used some an extra scrap piece of homemade paper to label it “herbalism” and glue down.

This is usually how it goes when I make my own journals! Not perfect, but functional and dare I say aesthetically pleasing for the most part. Let me know if you have any fun journals like this!

Thanks for stopping by! See you again soon! Bye!

Building Your Skills in Self Sufficiency | Part Two

In my first post about building your skills in self sufficiency, I mentioned a few skills you can pick up on, like sewing or soapmaking. While these kinds of skills are important to learn, I thought I would bring to mind some more trade-style skills that could potentially save you a lot more money should you have to use them. These are all things I have seen build up into expensive mistakes if done incorrectly or neglected. I hope we can all learn some of these skills to avoid accidents due to being uneducated! I’ve been trying to learn about them as I go, so feel free to drop your own advice or tips in the comments!

Basic Plumbing & Drainage System Knowledge

Most of us can unclog a drain with a snake or plunge a wad of toilet paper through a pipe. However, When bigger things come up and you need to figure out what’s wrong quickly, having some basic plumbing and drainage system knowledge can get you pretty far. You may still need the expertise of a professional, but you’ll be able to diagnose the problem before poking around and flooding your basement. Over at my house, for example, we just had a massive blockage in a pipe that branched off where it was super difficult to reach. Our kitchen was full of buckets and towels to catch the water that made its way downstairs. While it wasn’t something we could fix on our own, my Dad had been told by a previous plumber who came by to fix a bad clog (in the same spot) that it was a “double Y”, and it would most likely happen again due to the size of our family and the abuse our poor drainage system gets. Knowing this, my dad pulled down the dry wall and followed the leaky pipes to a common source. When the plumber got here, he knew exactly what to pull out, and the issue was resolved. If we had any extra knowledge on plumbing, we may have been able to rent some tools, remove the problem, and fix the issue without too much help. Seeing this happen and how easy the fix was (he removed the pvc joint and replaced it with one that had two separate channels, added sealant, replaced the toilets with new wax rings, and was finished) makes me wonder if taking a few classes wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’m not afraid to ask for help if I don’t know what’s wrong, but I think with enough training we could have fixed it ourselves. It took a long time and some expensive equipment, though, so maybe we would have opted for a professional. Still, it sparked some intrigue in me, and who doesn’t love the feeling you get when you fix something without needing to spend too much money? For now, I’m sticking to mending faucets and removing the hair from drains, but I do plan on researching avenues for some basic education.

Woodwork and Dry Wall Basics

We have basements here in Missouri, and basements mean extra usable square footage without too much of a hassle. I’ve watched my family renovate basements for years in one capacity or another, and it really is amazing what throwing up some drywall can do for a space. And while physically taxing, it usually isn’t very difficult to do. Of course, you need to follow the legalities and code of your area and keep in mind how easy it is to access important things such as your only manners of egress, which is usually a few of those tiny windows. However, if you follow the rules and understand the safety protocols for working with wood, drywall, flooring, etc., then you can finish your own basement. Or, if you live somewhere without basements, or just need a change, you’ll have the know-how for a more open floor plan and how to carefully remove walls without knocking a support beam out of place. This one obviously takes more than a few google searches, and I definitely recommend consulting professionals every step of the way (for the first few projects at minimum), but it’s a cool way to change up your own home, by your own hand. You may even have some fun modifying an attic into a kids play area if you feel confident enough!

Building Your Own Furniture

There’s nothing like using something you created. For me, that’s usually something like soap or paper. Going even further into something that lasts much longer, I’ve always thought building your own furniture would be an amazing way to feel at home in your space. Woodworking in this capacity isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t the safest thing to just give a go, but if you have someone in your life that is willing to show you the ropes, I recommend giving it your best shot. With help, it can be a much more enjoyable and less scary endeavor! And you may find that you love making things from wood, maybe even out of wood from your own property!

Car Maintenance

If all you know is how to change oil, you’re a step ahead of many of your peers. If you like cars and enjoy working on them, then learning to do your own maintenance safely is a great way to be more self sufficient. You’ll need to do some learning on not only how cars actually work, but how to examine them without getting hurt. Learn the ropes of car maintenance with someone who is already an expert. This may be a parent or friend, or maybe you decide to learn through courses online. Whatever you do, be diligent about learning about safety before anything else.

What are some large self sufficiency skills that you enjoy or have seen? Where are your favourite places to learn? I enjoy learning online with sites like You Tube or blogs. Let me know in the comments! Bye!

31 Things to Make With the Natural Resources in Your Area

Today I compiled a list of links to beautiful DIYS and tutorials that use wild and cultivated plants. Take a look and get inspired by the fresh ingredients you have all around you! Let me know what you make and if you have any other ideas! Have a great one, everybody!

  1. Birch Bark Paper
  2. Paper from Invasive Plants
  3. Raffia Baskets
  4. Willow Baskets
  5. Making Baskets from Natural Materials
  6. Cordage
  7. Cordage from Cedar
  8. Netted Bags from Cordage
  9. Wattle Fencing
  10. Flour
  11. Wooden Spoons
  12. Wooden Crochet Hooks
  13. Solar Dyes Made from Plants
  14. Bundle Dyed Scarves
  15. Eco Prints
  16. Botanical Prints on Paper
  17. Mineral Pigment Paints and Pastels
  18. Wooden Hair Comb
  19. Pine Needle Hand Brooms
  20. Broom Corn Brooms
  21. Coconut Leaf Brooms
  22. Pine Needle Baskets
  23. Black Walnut Ink
  24. Buttons from Twigs
  25. Activated Charcoal
  26. Linen from Flax
  27. Maple Branch Wreath
  28. Grapevine Wreath
  29. Rose Petal Beads
  30. Clay from Soil
  31. Biodegradable Confetti

Don’t forget to like and share with your friends and family. Bye!

Herbal Spotlight: Calendula Officinalis

Calendula is a flowering herb known for its cheery, orange-yellow exterior and array of medicinal uses. Its name stems from the latin word kalendae, which translates to “first of the month”, and has been known to speckle the landscape of its native terrain (the Mediterranean and parts of Asia) near the first of many months[3]. We know it’s been used in natural healthcare since the 12th century [4], although its remedies may have been around for much longer. It shares some common names with the ornamental marigold, being called “Pot Marigold”, “Poet’s Marigold”, “Mary’s Gold”, and simply “Marigold” [3]. While they share the family “Asteraceae” Calendula is different than the common marigold (genus tagetes) in both appearance and the medicinal properties it possesses.

It’s very resilient in neglected conditions and thrives under the full sun to part shade. It grows well in pots with well-draining soil and ample access to organic material. It reseeds very quickly, spreading itself wherever you allow it to. During the most intense, hot days of Summer, it is recommended to provide some shade and extra water, but in terms of care, calendula is easy to grow and maintain. It ranges in colour from bright orange-red to soft cream and apricot, but always seems to hold onto a soft touch of orange. It is a perennial in the right environment, but can be an annual if you live in cooler regions. [5] It is a very beginner friendly herb to grow, and its potential as a medicinal herb makes it a wise choice for budding herbalists.

Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany

There are about 20 different species in the genus “Calendula“. The species used most often for medicine include, “Calendula officinalis Linn., Calendula arvensis Linn., Calendula suffruticosa Vahl., Calendula stellata Cav., Calendula alata Rech., [and] Calendula tripterocarpa Rupr” (A Review on Phytochemistry and Ethnopharmacological Aspects of Genus Calendula). To simplify my research, I will only be diving into Calendula Officinalis, which has been evaluated in scientific studies aimed at pinning down the properties of this ancient remedy[2]. For more information on the various species of calendula, check out my sources; there is so much information to dig through in those pages.

Calendula Officinalis in Traditional Herbalism

Out of all the species of calendula, calendula officinalis is the most common and widely used. In traditional herbalism and folk tradition, it is used as a topical anti-inflammatory, as a conduit for finding balance in and to ease symptoms of menstrual cycles, and even for conjunctivitis, aka “pink eye” [3]. Others make use of it for gall and kidney stones, perhaps spurred by its anti-inflammatory qualities. [2] Many herbalists use it for its antiseptic properties, and to disinfect wounds and abrasions. Even bruising can be treated with calendula officinalis, used here to reduce swelling and pain. In fact, most skin ailment made painful, swollen, and inflamed have been treated with Calendula, including insect stings and bites, burns, cuts, rashes, bed sores, and more (Engels). There are some herbalists today who use calendula essential oil as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections [3]. It has also been used as a means to reduce fever, or cause sweating during one, acting here as an antipyretic, similar to how many people use Tylenol nowadays. It is often prepared in oil infusions, tinctures, extracts, and can even be ingested for both medicinal and culinary benefits, although most use today comes in external preparations[2,3]. It is an herb used to treat ailments in the pharyngeal mucosa, also known as the mouth and throat. It has also been used in treating stress, anxiety, and insomnia[2].

Calendula Officinalis in Scientific Studies

According to St. Luke’s Hospital’s page on Calendula in alternative medicine, it is known to have “high amounts of flavonoids”, which are antioxidants produced by plants. These antioxidants prevent cells from being damaged by free radicals. In addition, “Calendula appears to fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria,” making it an incredibly useful herb (VeriMed Healthcare Network). The oil and extracts of calendula in particular are noted to be “antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antitumor, cytotoxic, anti-HIV, and wound healing” (Engels). Even the seeds of the calendula plant have potential medicinal benefits. Their high calendic acid content show strong antioxidant properties[3]. Many traditional uses of calendula hold up very well throughout the studies and trials done to find these properties conclusively, effectively giving herbalist the green light to keep using and enjoying calendula.

While researching calendula and the studies done on it, I ran across some interesting examples. I really recommend reading my sources cited for all of the details, but in several different studies, calendula was observed to help with things such as venous leg ulcers, inflamed nipples, prevent the dermatitis associated with chemotherapy radiation, and is even noted as “healing ulceration[s] caused by herpetic keratitis (inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva caused by herpes virus type I)” (Engels)[2,3].

The evidence for calendula being a potent medicine is strong, and its safety record is equally as robust. The only dangers I could find for calendula were allergic reactions and potential interactions with medications that are sedatives, made to control diabetes, or meant to balance blood pressure, and the ever-so-common warning for pregnant and breastfeeding women to steer clear[4]. So, if you’re allergic to any other plant in the Asteraceae family, stay away from Calendula, but barring interactions for internal application or pregnancy concerns, it’s a very safe herb to be handling and using.

A Note on Calendula Arvenis

I don’t want to write another entire section or two for Calendula Arvenis, but I do want to note that it has some remarkable uses. In some of the aforementioned explorations into the benefits of calendula, they recorded that calendula arvenis was an effective treatment against Staphylococcus aureus (staph infection), and that when aerial parts of it were in a saponin, they showed “hemolytic activity invitro and anti-inflammatory activity against carrageenan induced paw edema in rats[58]”( Arora, D., Rani, A., & Sharma, A. ). It was also noted that “saponins showed antimutagenic activity against benzo (a) pyrene 1 μg and mutagenic urine concentrate from a smoker (SU)”, which are all findings worth looking into ( Arora, D., Rani, A., & Sharma, A. ).

Overall, Calendula is powerful herb with little drawbacks. The small amount of scientific evidence we do have on it show promising results, and align well with traditional use. I’ve been experimenting with my own calendula products, focusing mainly on its usefulness in irritated, angry skin. Stay tuned for those adventures and for more information about other incredible herbs! See you in the next one, bye!

Sources

All of my sources are linked below and are also formatted as PDFs! Simply skip to the second list to download those. Feel free to share your own sources if you have any you recommend reading! Bye!

Whelan, R. (2011). Calendula. Richard Whelan ~ Medical Herbalist. https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/calendula.html.

Arora, D., Rani, A., & Sharma, A. (2013, October). A Review on Phytochemistry and Ethnopharmacological Aspects of Genus Calendula. Pharmacognosy Review. http://www.phcogrev.com/article/2013/7/14/1041030973-7847120520.

Engels, G. (2008). Calendula – American Botanical Council. https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/77/table-of-contents/article3229/.

VeriMed Healthcare Network. (2015, June 22). Calendula | Complementary and Alternative Medicine . Calendula | Complementary and Alternative Medicine | St. Luke’s Hospital. https://www.stlukes-stl.com/health-content/medicine/33/000228.htm.

Badgett, B. (2021, April 26). Calendula Flower: How to Care for Calendula Plants in the Garden. Gardening Know How. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/calendula/growing-calendula.htm.

PDF Sources

How to Upcycle Seed Beads From Plastic Bottles

As someone who loves making jewelry and also loves to upcycle, I found this beautiful intersection of the two very useful! All you need to create these seed bead-esque beads is:

  1. hole puncher
  2. type 1 plastic bottle
  3. needle or pin
  4. candle
  5. lighter
  6. container to keep the beads in

It’s super simple to make these beads! I actually managed to fit all of my instructions into a minute-long Tik Tok video! I’ve included that below for all of my visually inclined readers, and the written instructions under that.

@maiden_of_moths

here’s how to make some super tiny beads from a type 1 plastic bottle! stay safe and remember to reduce waste! #foryoupage #zerowaste #upcycle

♬ original sound – Olivia 🌹

Step One: punch out a bunch of holes from your type 1 plastic bottle. My hands started cramping after a while, so I had to come back later to finish punching out the rest! Some areas may be stiffer than others, so its okay to skip those spots. I recommend trying to keep your holes closer together to avoid wasting too much of the bottle!

Step Two: Pierce one of your circles with a pin or needle. The thicker the needle, the bigger the hole will end up being inside your bead. You can pierce it easily by stabbing the center of a circle, wiggling it around to get it nice and stuck, and then carefully putting pressure on either side of your circle against your needle. You can do the beads one at a time like I did in the video, or you can stack several circles on one needle, space them apart, and heat them all at once. Just make sure to be careful with the flame and hold the needle with pliers to ensure all of the plastic can be reached safely.

Step Three: Holding the very end of your needle, or the ball of your pin, lower your plastic near the flame of your candle. To avoid any burns, or if you are having trouble holding the pin, fill the pin with circles (about 10 at a time works well for me) and hold the pin with pliers over the fire. Rotate the plastic to ensure it is evenly heated, and the plastic shrinks inward around the entire circle.

Step Four: using a cup, jar, etc., push your circles off into a container. They cool rapidly once away from the heat of the needle, and are ready for use immediately. String on thread or keep loose. Mine are kept loose in an old play dough container.

Notes: If you have any leftover plastic circles, store them away for later use. I’ve found that even the circles with moon-shaped bites taken out of them work just fine as seed beads once they melt down a bit under the fire! Don’t toss the circles if you can avoid it, because they are small and are considered microplastics, and we all know how bad those are.

Have fun finding raw material in something you might otherwise throw out! Stay tuned for more upcycling adventures and DIY projects. Bye!

3 Creative Ways to Use Spent Herbs

I hate tossing out herbs after using them to make oil infusions or medicinal teas. It’s so frustrating to see them going to the bin or a compost pile when they seem barely touched on the surface. Here are three ways to reuse spent herbs and enjoy them just a little longer.

1. Add them to a cloth sachet and throw them into a bath. You can use them as is in your bath for a luxurious herb (or oil and herb) soak. If you want to add a bit more oomph to it, you can mix in some Epsom salt or powdered oatmeal and slip in for an impromptu spa night. Just make sure not to soak past 20-30 minutes if you opt in for Epsom salt! If you have a bunch of oily herbs left over, you can store them in a sealed container in the fridge, keeping an eye on them for any mildew or mold growth. I’d toss after two weeks either way just to be safe! Remember to be cautious with herbs in every area, and ensure they are skin safe before using!

photo by wettinok // Pixabay

2. In the case of tea, you can add them to a batch of homemade paper. There’s something incredibly fulfilling about making your own paper, and adding a bit of your herbs only adds to the magic of making. You can also let the herbs dry and use them in paper at a later date. I make paper by blending up a variety of paper scraps, cardboard boxes, and the remnants of other paper batches. I fill up a bucket with them and plenty of water. Then, using a splatter guard, catch the fibers and sift them up before flipping them over on a towel and blotting with another. If you have an exorbitant amount of a particularly fibrous herb, you may be able to make paper with them alone! Another option includes adding seeds to your fibers and creating seed paper! The herbs would act as a delicious source of compost once planted!

Photo by Yvonne Huijbens // Pixabay

3. Before lighting an outdoor fire, add the herbs to your wood pile. Allow them to dry out as much as possible beforehand. If they’re particularly aromatic, you may still get some lovely whiffs of their fragrant oil as they burn. If not, they’ll contribute to the fire and may even make a great starter if fully dried and bunched together! Just make sure the herbs are safe to burn!

I hope you all are enjoying your Friday, or whatever day it is when this post finds you. Let me know what you like to do with your spent herbs!

Bye!

Building Your Skills in Self Sufficiency | Part One

I live in the primitive world of HOAs and suburban soccer moms that yell that our fireworks are too loud at 8pm on the Fourth of July. I have all of my veggies struggling along in pots that rabbits continuously crunch on, and I am at the mercy of my parents who just aren’t too sure about my jar hoarding “problem”. That said, I’m doing my best with what I’ve got and the rules I have to follow. A lot of what I want to do just isn’t possible for one reason or another, but I have found several things that I can do to here and now to prep for a more self-sustaining future, and to lessen my wastefulness along the way.

When I started this whole thing, I first did a pseudo-audit of what I would ideally change in the future. For me, it included trying to be more zero waste and also learning to create more of what I needed. Here are some of the skills I have identified that I think any pre-homestead or current waste-reducing person could benefit from learning.

Community Building

A daunting part of homesteading or self-sufficiency is just how much you need to “do” or learn. I’m guilty of forgetting that self-sufficient doesn’t mean you do it all alone. To get things done and spread out work among other nearby homesteaders and yourself, you should learn to trade, barter, and sell within a community of like minded people. For example, I make soap, and I love to do it. I can trade some of my soap for other necessities like mittens or some food from another person. Not only do I get to make all the soap my little heart desires, I get to share and trade it for what I need but may not have the time or ability to create. There are many groups online and in-person that you can join. Some great ones that are found all over the US include Buy Nothing groups, where you give and receive items that aren’t being used, as well as the many facebook groups set up for local zero waste swap meets, clothing swaps, etc. This is one of the most important parts of being more self-reliant (as opposed to grocery store- or fashion chain, etc-reliant). Find communities and swap tips, tricks, and products. There are usually more people nearby that think like you than you’d expect! You can also head out to your local farmers market or artisan market and make friends there. Learn from others and share what you know!

Container Gardening

I have several small plants growing on my patio, despite the rabbits dining in every once in a while. I’m learning how to grow a variety of things now, and how to deal with furry buddies wanting in on the yumminess. By learning this now, I won’t be utterly lost when I decide to grow a large garden to feed myself and anyone living with me. I’m currently working through soil, water, nutrient, and light needs, as well as troubleshooting when things look off. Even if I don’t get much this year, I’m happy to be learning and growing food of my own. There are many great places to gain useful information, including the above recommended communities of fellow homesteaders! I’d also like to add that my veggies finally seem to be doing well, and that feels really good (especially when I stop to consider how many seeds I’ve planted, nurtured, overwatered, and lost).

Upcycling

I’ve always loved upcycling, so this comes naturally for me! Giving old, unusable things new life is a great skill to have. Another part of this is learning to think outside of the box, take a step back, and come up with a creative solution. You can do things like spin yarn out of plastic bags or newspapers, make produce bags from lace valences, and even upcycle old oatmilk containers into soap molds. Practice this sort of thinking when you want to buy something new or you are throwing something out. Can this be melted and used later (HDPE Plastic for example is a great material to add to your stockpile)? Can I replace what I need with something I already have (ex: a flower pot can be substituted with an old yogurt container)? Even if you don’t actively pursue upcycling for your own reasons, it’s good to start thinking critically. Break everything down to its bare bones and the raw material it can provide.

Mending/patching/darning

Mending is something everyone can use, no matter where you’re at. Sure, your family might be confused and ask why you’re darning those socks instead of buying new ones, but the skill is useful and practice makes perfect. Learn this skill before you need it. You can have a lot of fun with this, too, by adding aesthetically pleasing techniques to your work. I say all this assuming you can sew, at least by hand. That’s a skill that will serve you now (seams always split open when you can’t afford to buy a new pair of jeans, trust me) and later. If you can get your hands on a reliable machine, that’s even better! But if this skill does not come easily for you, learn the basics and turn to your community if you need help.

Canning

You don’t need to can enough to get through the entire winter if your fridge and pantry are packed as it is. In my situation, not only would no one eat anything I canned (it’s foreign to them, so I can’t blame them), but I would run out of room very quickly. To combat this, I’ll be trying something simple every few weeks to get the skill going. I’m going to have fun and learn all the tips and tricks along the way, and heed the many rules and safety protocols of canning as I do so. I’ll have a head start for when I go to harvest a bunch of tomatoes and find I have too many to eat! I can’t wait to can up some delicious apple butter in the fall, and ripe strawberry jam any day now. Mmm.

Simple Skincare Knowledge

Speaking as someone heavily invested in and pursuing the skincare industry, trust me when I say there’s a lot to learn. So many bloggers recommend things that make me cringe, and skincare experts like Dr. Dray, Cassandra Bankson, the Golden Rx (link is to a video I definitely recommend if you’re looking in to skincare DIYs) and Lab Muffin Beauty have all added their own informed opinions on this topic. Learn what to avoid by watching these amazing women and others who offer their advice and knowledge to us. They provide so many great scientific viewpoints, and it’s important to consult the realities of science when making your own skincare.

That said, there are ways to make your own great skincare essentials. I’ll be posting my recipes and those I have tried and truly believe in! I’ve recently posted a few in my last post, 7 things to make instead of buying! Until then, be very wary of posts using lemon essential oil in after-sun lotion, or apple cider vinegar as a toner.

Soapmaking

Oh man, I do love making soap. It’s a really fun way to customize your showering routine, not to mention you get to add delicious scents and beautiful colours! Learning how to make your own soap is quite the journey, but a very rewarding one if you find the perfect recipe.

Even if you never make it yourself, knowing how it’s made and how it works is a great benefit to anyone wanting to be more self sufficient. There are three basic ways to create bar soap: cold process, hot process, and melt and pour.

Melt and pour is by far the easiest in terms of finding recipes and starter kits, and involves simply melting a brick, adding things like colour and scent, and pouring it into a mold of your choice. That said, there is little room for customization or additions to melt and pour, as the soap bricks you get are already prepared.

After melt and pour, we have hot process. Hot process requires a lot less attention than cold process, but shares more similarities to it than to melt and pour but is kind of ugly in my humble opinion. I just made a shave soap using the hot process method and am waiting impatiently for it to cure. I didn’t have to give it nearly as much focus or attention as I usually do with my cold process soaps, and it seems much more forgiving if you forget about it for a few extra minutes. It does use lye, whether that be KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) or the more commonly used NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide). Lye can be dangerous to use and handle, so I recommend getting the proper protective gear in advance and learning about all the potential dangers, even if you only soap once or twice a year. And please, I speak from experience when I say this, get a tarp or a thick towel to use on your counters. Any drips of lye water onto a laminate counter top will stain them (sorry Mom) and by stain I mean eat away at. Permanently. Oof.

Cold process is the most nuanced of the bunch, and also uses lye in either of its common forms. It can be a pain due to its finnickiness when you add fragrances, soap at too high or too low of a temperature, or leave it in too cold or warm of an environment. However, this is the best method to use if you want to add aesthetically pleasing aspects to your soap! I have used ethically sourced mica for all of my soaps, but you can also use natural colorants like turmeric or rose clay, which each come with benefits of their own! Here are some of the beautiful bars I’ve come up with, each one made with a very nourishing recipe to soothe and moisturize skin!

It feels great to cut down on one more thing I would have to be buying at the store, and my skin likes this soap better, anyways.

How self-sufficient are you? What skills do you think are the most important to learn in today’s world? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share this post with your friends! I’ll be back later with more skills to hone. Bye!