Saturday, April 30, 2016

Natural Tick Repellent Recipe

People tell me I should make and sell this stuff, but nah, this recipe's free. :)

Rose geranium essential oil is very effective in repelling ticks.  One of my mushroom hunting areas is heavily infested with ticks and I am very much NOT a fan of ticks!  This mix I put together is aimed at both ticks and mosquitoes.  I haven't had a single tick on me since using this recipe; it works fairly well for mosquitoes in open areas, but isn't effective enough for deep woods protection.  So, without further adieu:

Natural Tick Repellent
4 oz spray bottle
2 oz vinegar - doesn't matter what type, I've used both white and ACV
2 oz water
5ml total essential oil blend:
          rose geranium

Essential oils are not water soluble; you can of course use an emulsifier like polysorbate 20 to help keep everything blended together, but that you'll need to order online whereas the rest you can get at almost any natural foods and/or grocery stores since so many stores have now started carrying essential oils.

The rose geranium works for ticks and the cedarwood & lavender is for the mosquitoes.  You can skip those two and use just rose geranium EO if you wish, but personally I like the whole blend. 

Directions: Shake very well before use.  Spray yourself head to toe.  For extra tick protection in areas that are heavily infested, I keep the rose geranium EO bottle with me, soak a wee bit into a tissue, and then dab the tissue on my shoes, pants, and coat.

I have also used this spray successfully on my last dog (she passed away last fall and I haven't taken my new puppy out into the woods yet since she's still too young to go too far) - I sprayed down her chest, back, and legs.  She never tried to lick it off, but if your pet likes to lick, you may want to spray only in areas they can't reach.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lengthening Children's Gloves (or Mittens) with Fuzzy Socks!

I don't know about your child, but my son hates wearing mittens or gloves. He'll pull off anything that isn't attached.  I tried the clips that hold the mittens to the jacket but eventually he could pull those off too. And since we live in Minnesota, winters with no mittens (or gloves) aren't really an option. 

My first solution after the failed clips was to buy a pair of stretchy fuzzy adult sized socks and use them as mittens.  The heel stretches to just the right place and it fits perfectly at his elbow.  I slid the "mittens" on over his hands and up over his sleeves to the upper arm, then put his winter jacket on. Bonus - the winter jacket slides over the sleeves without the sleeves riding up! And he was not able to pull these off!  Even though he didn't have a "spot" for his thumb, he had enough dexterity he could pick up and hold onto things thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric.  He has such tiny little hands that are finally big enough he can wear now wear tiny little gloves.  But I knew he'd pull these off too . . . so I took the socks-for-mittens idea a little further.

Please note, this tutorial is for mittens/gloves for smaller children.  For bigger kids, I'd recommend the taller adult sized fuzzy socks and cut the socks off at the ankle above the heel rather than at the toe seam.

How to lengthen children's gloves (or mittens) :
You start out with a pair of stretchy children's gloves and a pair of adult sized fuzzy socks.  First thing you need to do is turn the socks inside out and cut off the toes at the seam:
Place the sock so the heel is on the underside.
Insert the right-side-out glove into the inside-out sock, fingers first.  You want to make sure the sides of the sock match up with the sides of the glove so the heel stays in position for the elbow.
Once you have the glove in far enough and the edges meet up, stretch out the edges and pin the glove and sock together.
8 pins does the job. 
Hold it so it's stretched and sew the edges together using a zigzag stitch so it stays stretchy after it's sewn.
It should look like this when sewn:
Now, flip the sock right-side out. They are stretchy enough as a finished item that you can easily get them onto a (cooperating) child's hands and get their fingers positioned into the gloves. (Top and bottom view)
It doesn't matter which direction you start the first one, of course, but remember when pinning the second one to put the glove in the opposite position . . . unlike what I did at first because I didn't pay enough attention and ended up with two exactly the same . . . and had to rip the seam out and start over on that one! You can also find adult fuzzy socks without a heel and just eliminate that issue. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Annual Holiday Special!

It's that time of year again!  For the 5th year running, Greenchild Creations is offering:
a FREE winter-themed flannel fitted diaper
with the purchase of $50 in diapers/diaper accessories (before shipping). 

Holiday Special runs until December 31st, 2015, or while supplies last.
Shop greenchild creations on Etsy.
Looking for holiday gifts?  Check out our Shop for Nursing Pads, Baby Blankets, Natural Skin Care, Laundry Items, Kitchen items, and Crafty Things sections!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gluten-free, kid-safe playdough made with lotion and arrowroot! And it's awesome!

Since my son can't use regular Playdoh for the wheat content, and the school asked for a recipe that is safe for him . . . I thought I'd try making my own.  I looked online and found so many different play dough recipes! What to try?? Traditional ones made with wheat flour (no!), gluten free ones made with rice flour, and any combination of the two made with either corn starch (another no-no here) or arrowroot.  Then there were the recipes using hair conditioner and cornstarch.  Then the one I remember from my childhood: salt, arrowroot, and water.

First up, I wanted to try re-creating the one I remember making somewhere in the neighborhood of *cough* 25 years ago . . . I used the recipe I found online as I don't know what happened to the recipe I used as a kid - at any rate, all I can remember of it is that it was flour-free and used arrowroot.  The dough came out sticky and grainy, even though I ground down the salt to a fine powder.  I kept kneading in more arrowroot, but just when I thought it was okay, it would get all sticky again.  Not what I wanted. Sighed and threw it out.

I turned to the recipes online for both play dough and moon sand made with the same two ingredients: hair conditioner and cornstarch.  I understand why conditioner + cornstarch would be so silky smooth, and hoped I could recreate the same texture (or close to it) with the lotion I make and arrowroot.  Now, not wanting to waste perfectly good lotion, I took about 1/2 oz of the last batch I made and whisked in some arrowroot.  Hmm.  Used too much arrowroot; now we have moon sand.  Nice, but not what I wanted.  So, I thought . . . let's let arrowroot do its thing: add cold water, stir over medium heat, and let it thicken.  And it worked!  (This first attempt is the white blob of play dough in the center of the photo above.)

Now, if you already have lotion you feel comfortable using, please feel free to use your own.  But if you want to control the ingredients used, here is the recipe I used.  The oils I chose to use could be substituted by others - I chose them only because I had enough of both on hand I wouldn't feel bad if this play dough recipe didn't turn out!

Lotion base for playdough:
Making lotion is pretty easy.  You have your water phase and your oil phase and need an emulsifier to bind them together.  You'll need a double boiler (although a glass measuring jar placed into a skillet of water works just as well!) and having a stick/immersion blender makes the whole process much easier, too.  The raw honey is optional - I just like it in there for raw honey's benefits.  You'd also probably be fine without the stearic acid, but I find a mixture of emulsifiers is more stable long term for lotions than only one.
Water phase:
1/2 c. distilled water
1/2 tsp raw honey (optional)
1/2 Tbsp potassium sorbate (inhibits mold)

Oil phase:
1 Tbsp emulsifying wax
1 tsp stearic acid (another emulsifier)
2 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp sweet almond oil

Up to 5 ml essential oils
a few drops of Vitamin E oil

Stir together the ingredients in the water phase in a small glass container; the raw honey will take awhile to disperse unless heated, so if you want the process to go faster, you can use the double boiler to gently heat the water phase.  Place the oil phase ingredients in a larger (at least 2 c for space) glass container, and place that container in the double boiler.  Stir over medium heat until all the wax is fully melted.  Remove from double boiler and set on a heat-safe place.  Give it a few whirs with the stick blender, then slowly pour in the water phase, using the mixer to fully incorporate.  Then add your choice of EO's and the Vitamin E oil, stir again to fully incorporate.  I used a combination of lavender and sweet orange EO's.

This recipe makes just over 6 ounces of lotion, which I separated in to 6 - 1 oz amounts so I could make 6 different colors of play dough.
To make the playdough:
1 oz lotion
colorant of choice
6 Tbsp arrowroot
5 - 6 tsp cold water

There are a variety of ways to color your play dough: food coloring, mineral oxides, or natural liquids/powders from food sources.

If your colorant is concentrated liquid (food coloring), mix a few drops into the 1 oz of lotion before adding the arrowroot. 

If your colorant is dry powder, mix it into 1 Tbsp of the arrowroot before adding it and the rest of the arrowroot to the lotion. I used the mineral oxides I have on hand for making cold process soap, at a ratio of 1/8 tsp dry colorant per 1 oz lotion.

Place 1 oz lotion into a cereal-sized bowl.   

Add either your liquid colorant to the lotion or your dry colorant to the arrowroot and stir whichever one got the colorant.  I mixed the dry colorant with 1 Tbsp of the arrowroot before mixing it along with the rest of the arrowroot to the lotion.

Combine the lotion and the arrowroot until it looks like moon sand, then pour it into a small saucepan. A double boiler isn't strictly necessary here, but since I already had it set up from making the lotion, I used it.

Add 5 - 6 tsp cold water to the saucepan's contents and stir over medium heat.  (You could also use cold food-colored water here.)

The moon sand consistency will give way to a frosting consistency.

Then it will get lumpy.

Keep stirring until all of it is stuck onto the whisk.  Gently push it out of the whisk onto a plate - be careful, it's hot!  You should probably let it cool before doing this step! 

Once it's cool enough to handle, knead/roll it until smooth.  

If you find the texture to be a little too dry, you can break it up into small pieces back into the saucepan.  Add 1 - 2 tsp cold water and stir on medium heat until it all sticks to the whisk again.

And there you have it, kid-safe, silky smooth, DIY play dough with ingredients you can control! :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Introducing the new Wool Dryer Discs!

Wool Dryer Discs: a project that's been a few months in the making.  When I first read about using salt in the dryer to reduce static, I wanted to try it and see if it was all the rage the author (and others) spoke of.  Most recommended using a muslin bag tied shut.  I have tons of cotton fabric scraps, so it was quick and easy to make a little bag for the salt.  I used pink Himalayan salt. 
I've been using wool dryer balls, which are nice, but don't eliminate as much static as I'd like them to.  They do help cut down drying time, though, because of their ball shape.  So, out went the dryer balls and in went the bag of salt . . . and it WORKED.  Then it began to work a little less, and a little less.  In the article I read, the author mentions the same thing happened and recommended wetting the bag of salt before putting it in the dryer with the wet clothes.  I did that, and it worked again . . . until I realized the salt was dissolving with each wetting and eventually I had an almost empty cotton bag. 
So, I thought, I like the wool dryer balls, and I LOVE the salt, now how to combine the two?  Salt is heavy, and I felt balls of salt would beat the clothes too much, especially smaller loads.  And if using yarn, the wool would have to be felted in order for the ball to stay together well.  But felting requires water, which would dissolve the salt.  Then I started to look into wool fabrics, and found some lovely upcycled wool in a beautiful light sage green.  Perfect! 

Wool Dryer Discs
A little experimentation with sewing, and the Wool Dryer Discs were born. Their disc shape helps distribute the salt's weight. Next up was trying out different combinations between using the discs by themselves and also in conjunction with the wool dryer balls. After all was said and done, the best ratio was 6 Wool Dryer Discs with 2 wool dryer balls. The Wool Dryer Discs do a better job reducing static, and the wool dryer balls help reduce drying time. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic will always have a little static, but it can be greatly reduced by using a combination of Wool Dryer Discs and wool dryer balls. 

I have noticed the resulting dryer lint is less fluffy than usual, which is an interesting side effect.  I don't know why the salt bag by itself worked and then worked less, unless it had to do with being in a cotton bag rather than using wool.  I have not had the same experience using the wool dryer discs, so my assumption is that it has something to do with the fabric used, as wool is already naturally anti-static.

Now as best I can figure out, the science behind it goes something like this: using the Wool Dryer Discs in the dryer cycle heats up the salt, like a pink Himalayan salt lamp. When the salt heats, it naturally generates negative ions. Salt is also hygroscopic (it attracts water). As the clothes are tumbling in the heated dryer, the constant tumbling (where the materials repeatedly come into contact) creates static electricity; an imbalance in positively and negatively charged ions. As the salt is heated, the naturally generated negative ions attract the positive ions and neutralize them, thereby reducing static electricity. 

I do believe the salt will eventually completely dissolve in the wool dryer discs (as is the nature of salt with water), but the wool dryer discs will last much longer if not dipped in water. Using the above 6:2 combination, my laundry has been much easier to work with. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Introducing the new, thicker fitted diapers!

And the winner is . . .
My testers, from this post.
The thicker fitted diaper! 

I'm really excited about this!! I thought I loved my fitted diaper design the way it was - after all, I've been making & selling it the same way for over 4 years.  But, there were things I've been wanting to try, and having tried them, it's time for a change - an upgraded design! 

Serging the edges cut so much time off making a diaper that I could use more layers of better, thicker fabric and still offer the diapers at a reasonable price. I've been testing these two diapers out with heavy use for over two months and the thicker diaper is my favorite for several reasons - most of which boil down to one main reason: well, it's thicker. 

The outer printed flannel remains the cute cotton flannel prints that I've always used, but the inner layers including the pocket are now made with thicker, double-napped diaper flannel.  Making the diaper with 3 full layers plus a pocket means the diaper now offers 7 layers of flannel (5 of which are the thicker diaper flannel) when the front flap is folded fully to the inside for smaller babies.

Having the diaper made with better thicker fabric means it's more absorbent, more durable, and it holds its shape.  The serged edges also offer something else - better poop containment! 

Because the new fitteds hold their shape, the fit will be a bit different; although the same pattern is used, the thicker fabric stretches less.  Speaking of stretching less, the bamboo diapers got an upgrade, too.  The bamboo velour fitted diapers are now made with not one, but TWO layers of double-napped diaper flannel sandwiched between the bamboo velour and the bamboo fleece, giving baby 9 layers of fabric when the front flap is folded fully to the inside for smaller babies.

As usual, absorbency needed depends on baby's age and wetting habits, so there will always be the inner pocket available for stuffing additional absorbency.  The diapers are wide between the legs, but the fabric will relax after a few washes.

My fleece diaper covers will also be changing to serged edges, while the cotton-outer (and fancy floral ones) will remain turn & topstitched for the time being, though that may change in the future.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

In the news again! :)

Last March we started a fundraiser to get a speech device for our son, Kaiden - this is our happy update, aired 12/23/14! :)

KAAL TV 6 ABC News Interview