DIY Clay Ornaments

As mentioned in my post about minimizing your waste associated with holiday decorations, DIY clay ornaments are a great place to start. With only three ingredients and a simple recipe, you can get started making your own decorations. My mom used to do this with us as kids and I remember loving being able to pick my own shapes and paint them myself. This is a great thing to do as a group or with kids. With Christmas music playing, popcorn to munch on, and all the creativity flowing you won’t even miss the pricey new ornaments at Target.

Ingredients:

2 cups of baking soda

1 cup of corn starch

1 1/4 cups of water

1) Mix all the ingredients in a pot on the stove over medium heat until combined.

2) Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

3) Knead the ingredients until it takes on a dough like consistency.

4) Roll out the dough on a parchment paper or a silicone mat. Aim for a thickness of about 1 cm. What’s more important is making sure all your ornaments are about the same thickness for consistency.

5) Cut out your ornaments into whatever shapes you’d like. You can use a cookie cutter for this or free hand them. Make sure to put in a hole at the top for a string or ribbon to hang the ornaments.

6) Gather the excess dough and complete steps 4 and 5 until you have no dough left.

7) Lay ornaments on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat and allow to dry overnight.

8) Once the ornaments are dry, paint them however you’d like and let dry. Once dry thread a ribbon or twine through the hole at the top, tie a knot and it’s ready to hang!

Below are some examples from other sites of what your ornaments can look like!

DIY Kombucha

I recently started making my own kombucha again, after taking a break from brewing for about a year and a half. It's honestly so fun and so simple. I think any one who has the right tools for the job and can set a reminder in the phone to check the kombucha as it brews, can do this well. 

To start you'll need:

  • A large glass jar (I use half gallon jars, but many people use 1 gallon jars)
  • Coffee filters
  • Organic green or black tea bags
  • Organic sugar
  • Filtered Water
  • A scoby
  • Some patience

This recipe will use ratios appropriate for a half gallon batch of kombucha. Just double the recipe if you are using a one gallon jar. 

1. Boil 7 cups of filtered water. Pour the hot water into your sterilized jar (just wash it in the dishwasher before brewing kombucha so that it's nice and clean). Then add 5-6 tea bags of your choice. I use organic black or green tea. Just make sure not to use any herbal or flavored teas. Let the tea steep for 10 minutes.

2. Once the tea has finished steeping, remove the tea bags and compost them. Add 1/2 cup of organic sugar and stir until dissolved. 

3. Let your sweet tea sit on the counter until it has cooled down to room temperature. (This is where the patience first comes into play). 

4. Once the tea has cooled, you can add your scoby. Make sure you have clean hands before touching your scoby. Also, never allow any metals to touch your scoby. it can damage it. Use wooden or silicone spoons or tongs, or just clean hands. 

5. After the scoby is added to your tea, top the jar with a coffee filter and secure the filter on with a rubber band or just use the metal rim (like in the picture below). You want your kombucha to have good airflow, without allow anything to get into your jar. I find that coffee filters work well (as a bonus, they're compostable). 

6. Allow your scoby to go to work for 7-14 days. You'll begin to notice a faint, vinegary smell as the kombucha brews. Deciding when the kombucha is ready is mostly about taste preference. The longer it brews the less sweet it will be, but you don't want to let it sit too long. I usually wait about 10 days. As your kombucha brews, a new scoby will begin to form. Often it will form along the top of the tea, or will grow on the existing scoby. This means it's working! You can taste your kombucha to see if it's done brewing, but putting a straw into the kombuca and taking a little taste. you don't want to drink it just like a soda. Instead, stick your straw in a few inches, put your finger over the top of the straw to develop suction, then remove the straw from the jar and taste your kombucha. If you try to drink straight from the jar with the straw, you can contaminate the kombucha with your germs. 

7. Once the kombucha is brewed to your liking, remove the scoby with clean hands and put in a separate jar with one cup of the brewed kombucha. Strain the remaining kombucha through a collander and into a large bowl. Add the strained kombucha to a jar that hsa a tight seal. I use these. Then add flavors of your choice. You can add whole fruits or fruit juices, ginger, mint, or other herbs. Some of my favorite combinations are strawberry-blueberry-mint and lemon-ginger-mint. 

8. Seal the container and let sit for a few more days. You can let it brew in the refrigerator or on the counter, but I recommend the fridge if you're using whole fruits or herbs. It may take a few extra days in the refrigerator, but you avoid the threat of mold (which is a big plus for me). You can use mason jars, empty kombucha bottles, etc. for this stage. Just make sure whatever bottle you use has a tight seal, as that will help develop some bubbles in your kombucha. 

9. Once the second ferment is completed, strain out any whole fruit pieces or herbs and put the flavored kombucha in bottles of your choice. I usually put mine back in the bottles I used for the second ferment, but you can use single serving sized bottles as well. 

10. Enjoy!

DIY Cleaning Spray and Kitchen Wipes

This cleaning spray recipe is super easy and works like a charm. It uses Thieves essential oil blend which has antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. The vinegar is antibacterial and works great for cleaning. Check out this article for more in-depth information on the benefits of cleaning with vinegar. 

Recipe:

1 cup distilled water

1/2 cup white vinegar

10-20 drops essential oils of your choice (I recommend theives blend)

1 amber spray bottle

Take one spray bottle (I purchased a set of two amber glass bottles from amazon, but you can also just reuse ones from past cleaning products) and fill it halfway with distilled water and halfway with white vinegar. Then add 10-20 drops of your essential oils (I recommend Thieves Blend which is sometimes called Good Samaritan, but you can use whatever kind you'd like). Close the bottle. Shake to incorporate. Then get cleaning! 

To boost the germ-killing power, you cut the vinegar down to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup vodka. 

DIY Cleaning Wipes

For cleaning wipes to replace products like Clorox wipes, use the same ingredients, but in a large glass jar or another container with a wide lid. I recommend a large mouth mason jar or one like this. Mix the wet ingredients. Cut up an old cotton t-shirt or some larger rags, into smaller rectangles (you choose the size that works best for you), then roll them up and stick them upright in the jar with cleaning solution. Let the cloth soak fully, then remove one at a time as needed. Use a small bin to collect the dirty rags and wash them with your next load of laundry. 

 

DIY Lip Balm

Recipe

  1. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  2. 2 tbsp Shea butter
  3. 2 tbsp beeswax
  4. 15-20 drops essential oils (my favorite combination so far is lemongrass and lavender)
  5. Lip balm containers (about 15 per batch)

Add all the ingredients except the essential oils to a glass container and place over a double boiler. Melt the ingredients together using the double boiler. Stir often while melting. Once all the ingredients are melted remove it from the heat, add the essential oils and stir. Pour into the lip balm containers quickly before the mixture begins to harden. The beeswax will make the mixture harden fairly quickly as it cools. I often will reheat the mixture one more time to melt down the remaining mixture that hardens while pouring. Let the lip balm containers cool and harden for at least two hours, or overnight if you're a patient person. This recipe is gold and has rave reviews from my friends. 

DIY Toothpaste or Tooth Powder

This is one DIY that I have really loved. With so few options for waste-free toothpaste, I wanted to try my hand at making my own. I tried four different recipes that were all pretty different. The first uses activated charcoal for its whitening power. The second uses bentonite clay, baking soda, and coconut oil for a simple but effective option. The third uses baking soda, spirulina, and trace minerals for support remineralizing your tooth enamel (Some people think you can actually heal cavities with effective remineralization. I don't know about that, but it doesn't hurt anything to add some extra support for your pearly whites). The final option is similar to the second but omits the oil to provide a powder that you dip a wet toothbrush head into for a fresh and thorough cleaning. I've been to the dentist twice since switching to DIY toothpaste and the dentist has raved about how good my teeth are, so give it a try!

Recipe 1:

  1. 1 tbsp aluminum free baking soda
  2. 6 tbsp coconut oil
  3. 4 tbsp bentonite clay
  4. 2 tsp activated charcoal
  5. 10 drops orange essential oil
  6. 10 drops thieves essential oil

You can choose any essential oils, but the two above are good for oral health because they are antibacterial.

Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. 

Recipe 2:

  1. 1/3 cup coconut oil soft but not melted
  2. 1 TB baking soda
  3. 1 TB bentonite clay
  4. 1/4 tsp liquid stevia
  5. 4-10 drops of your choice of essential oil

Mix the first three ingredients well, then add the last two and combine. Store in a small jar or a squeezable silicone container (Silicone travel containers work well). 

Recipe 3:

  1. 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  2. 2 TB Baking Soda
  3. 1/2 tsp Spirulina Powder
  4. 15-20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Mix the ingredients together and store in a jar or silicone tube. 
 

Recipe 4:

  1. 2 TB baking soda
  2. 4 TB bentonite clay
  3. 1/4 tsp stevia drops
  4. 10-15 drops of your choice of essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together and store in a small jar. Wet your toothbrush before brushing then dip the head of the toothbrush into the powder until you have an amount similar to a small layer of conventional toothpaste. Then wet again or go straight to brushing. The tooth powder is probably the strangest sensation of the four, but ended up being my preference after the adjustment period.