One of the things that really got me into a “crunchy”, or natural, lifestyle was getting into DIY around the house. It is really amazing how much you can learn to make at home from the comfort of your own computer and I have taken full advantage. It pains me to buy pre-prepared products, either food, hygiene or cleaning products now that I’ve had a taste of DIY. Some things I just haven’t gotten around to trying or I have and it just hasn’t worked out (if anyone knows a homemade dish soap recipe that doesn’t leave your dishes covered in soap scum, please let me know). But there are several projects I have had great success with and can’t even imagine buying again.
The really cool think about DIY is you learn a lot about the basic ingredients of things we tend to take for granted in modern life, and the energy it takes to make them. I feel like it’s made me much more prepared for any kind of disaster/massive economic collapse/any given end times scenario, both in that I will have more of an idea of what to stock up on and what to do with it. So these are a few things that I make at home that I definitely recommend giving a shot:
Toothpaste is one of the coolest things to make at home and it is actually incredibly good for your teeth. There are a ton of recipes out there, mostly either with baking soda, bentonite clay or activated charcoal as the cleaning agent. Mine is very basic, just baking soda, coconut oil and calcium powder. The reason I started making my own toothpaste actually was because I read that it can help to remineralize teeth, and of course we know mainstream toothpaste is full of flouride and junk. Try it out! My teeth have never felt cleaner or whiter and its a cinch to make.
2. Household cleaners
I honestly can’t imagine paying for any type of cleaner, when it is so ridiculously easy to make at home. All you need is a spray bottle and a few basic household items. My favorite combo is honestly just distilled water, vinegar and a dash of dish soap. It’s pretty amazing how much you can clean with that, even windows. The addition of deodorizing and sanitizing essential oils like tea tree, lavender, lemon or others, really help make the cleaner both smell good and clean better. There are many methods of making your own all-purpose cleaner, you can just browse the options on Pinterest to see what I mean and pick one that works for you. A simple spray bottle of half vinegar and half water also works wonders for any type of every day cleaning (ahem, especially if you have potty training children). Stocking up with a Costco-size bottle of vinegar and a bag of baking soda, a box of borax, a big bag of sea salt and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide (and optional essential oils) will equip you to clean almost anything for months.
So bread is something that I do still buy, just because I’m still perfecting a decent sandwich loaf and it’s nice to have sandwich bread on hand. But I do make sourdough bread regularly, which is made with my own culture that I keep alive on my counter. If you have no idea what I mean by this, allow me to explain: yeast is actually a bacterial growth that changes the metabolic structure of the wheat in our dough to make bread rise and taste delicious. Sourdough is really just a name given to the more traditional method of baking bread from live active cultures. So I keep a jar of cultured flour bubbling on my counter top that I feed flour and water every day or so (or it would die). I can also keep it dormant in my fridge for many months, which is where I keep my backup starter. I use this mixture instead of yeast in my bread baking and it is delicious. I actually recently discovered I can bake a loaf in my slow cooker and as I have a propane oven I use this method almost all the time. It works great.
Making bread is probably one of the most traditional things you can do. I have a whole other post drafted up on the beauty of baking one’s own bread so I won’t wax philosophical right now, but trust me, it’s a wonderful practice that produces delicious results, is easy to get kids involved in and excited about and, of course, saves money.
4. Balms, lotions and infused oils
This is one of my favorite and most luxurious things to make at home. It can take a bit of money to get set up to be able to do this, but it’s the sort of thing you can buy the supplies for and then be able to have on hand for months or years whenever you want to make something. (These are the supplies I use: beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, almond oil, hemp twine, coconut oil, olive oil, dried herbs and/or herb-infused oil and essential oils.) Again there are a multitude of recipes to be found online, I recommend starting with one simple project to get a feel for how to make balms and stock up on supplies and then trust me, you’ll think of other things you want to make as time goes by and find you already have what you need to make it! I was thrilled a few months ago when I was able to make some emergency candles on a whim. I started homwith homemade tiger balm, the moved on to lip balm, lotion, foundation/face lotion, sunscreen, comfrey balm and antibiotic ointment. There are many other recipes I want to try that I know I already have the supplies for as well so it’s a cool thing getting to experiment and play around without having to order something new on Amazon every time.
At-home infused oils can be added to balms to make them either fragrant or medicinal, such as the comfrey balm I make for aches and pains. Infused oil is really easy, you just stuff a jar with herbs, citrus peels or flowers and cover with oil. Almond or olive oil work great for this. Then you leave in a sunny spot for a few weeks and voila! Infused oil! They’re great to have on-hand for balm making or for a simple topical application.
5. Makeup and beauty products
I also make my own makeup and other girly products at home, including face powder, dry shampoo, mascara, eye liner and baby powder. I actually don’t use many of these things that often but they’re all super simple to make, require stuff you probably already have lying around the house or could find easily, and are nice to have on hand when you need to spruce up a bit from a long day of crunchy motherhood and fringy Christian truth-seeking. (Because that will wear any woman down eventually right?) I also dabble in things like sugar scrubs, food-based face cleansers and other natural beauty and health treatments. There’s just so many options when you look to the kitchen for beauty and first aid!
6. Food Items
There are of course many food items I do not make at home, I don’t grind my own flour or butcher my own meat, I don’t make very much cheese, yogurt is one of the things that I’ve deemed not worth the effort, and as I mentioned I do buy sandwich bread. But still a significant portion of the meals I prepare use simple, whole ingredients. With the exception of the previously mentioned items as well as things like pasta, tortillas/tortilla chips, some condiments, sausage, cured meats, and nut butters, most of what you’ll find in my house has been made there. I shop almost entirely in the bulk and produce sections. And I think its safe to say almost everything I buy is an ingredient, not a ready-made item. No packaged cookies, crackers, snack bars, box pasta, frozen meals, powdered drinks, candy, pastries, lunch meat, instant noodles, etc. The reason for this is not only is it immensely cheaper to not buy processed foods, its also much healthier. It gives me an overall sense of control over my diet. It teaches one so much about food to get accustomed to ingredients and their uses. It’s really great to be able to improvise and experiment in the kitchen, this is another valuable skill for future scarcity. Learning to cook food from scratch will enable you to use what you have when times are tight more efficiently, nutritiously and deliciously.
7. Garden beds and soil
OK, so it is not actually me, but my husband who makes the garden beds, as I mentioned in How Gardening Led Me To God. And let me just say, I am so blessed to have such a clever and enterprising mister. He collects free pallets, the kind you can find outside big box stores, and spends many weekends breaking them up and nailing them back together to make totally free garden beds. Because we don’t have a lot of good, nutritious soil where we live, he also builds soil by collecting wood chips and manure and organic waste. He makes big piles of said material and surrounds it with chicken wire, then turns them every few weeks. When he builds a new garden bed, he fills it up with this compost and more organic material and lets that rest for a month or so before planting. It is a really amazing, and incredibly cheap, way to do one of the most empowering at-home self-reliant things you can do-grow food.
I’m just getting into tinctures but they are very easy and a great thing to know how to do. A lot like infused oils, you just stuff a jar full of dried herbs and fill with good-quality high-proof vodka or other liquor. Let sit for several weeks or months and then strain, put in a dropper and there’s your tincture! Very easy and a great way to stock up on herbal remedies that last.
9. Nut milk
I could have mentioned this under food, but I felt it deserved its own section because it’s something a lot of people don’t realize is really easy to make at home. And as stories are surfacing about how bad the additives in almond milk are for you, I imagine now more than ever will you want to learn how to make it. All you do is soak almonds or your nut of choice overnight, dump out the soak water and put in a blender with fresh filtered water and strain. You can even reuse the nuts for a second batch or dehydrate to make nut flour. Super simple, super yummy, super great make at home item! I absolutely love making-and drinking-almond milk.
I saved this for last because it’s probably my favorite. I wrote about water kefir last year and I still brew it regularly on my counter. I have also brewed kombucha in the past and I now make sauerkraut and other lacto-fermented vegetables. And man…fermenting is awesome. It’s so cool how you can harness the amazing power of beneficial bacteria-which are crucial for gut health-and make amazingly delicious pickled food or delicious fermented beverages right on your counter. As with sourdough, I often think about how even the protolife of bacteria was created by God, and bacteria really isn’t as terrifying as the post-Pasteurians want you to believe. There’s tons of good germs that were created by God that help our digestive system and add nutrients to food as they slowly process them. Evolutionists still cannot account for life but we know that life comes from God. So eating living food is about as good as it gets!
Making things at home is such a wonderful way to hone in one your homemaking skills, save money, increase efficiency, get healthier, learn new skills and prep for end times disasters. When we look at the Proverbs 31 woman she was so industrious and creative, and we live in a time where even if we weren’t raised with domestic, self-sufficient skills, we can still connect with millions of people the world over who have. All this I have learned to do in just a few years, and I’m sure over the years I’ll learn much more as time goes on and needs arise. And I can learn from you too! What’s your favorite thing to make at home?