UPDATE: Since publishing this post, the dates of the New Year New You Summit have been changed to January 20-24, 2014! You can find links and information below regarding this amazing online conference, but please note that the dates have changed!
Happy 2014 everyone! What better way than to start the year with a healthy living summit. Talk about getting your inspiration in check!
The New Year New You Summit is a FREE live online virtual conference that is being held from January 13-17, 2014. You can hear from 31 health enthusiasts; including doctors, bloggers, farmers and health activists all while hanging out in your own home. (more…)
I thought the butcher gave us a bag of brains when we picked up our quarter cow last month. Everything was packaged and wrapped in white paper, and very nicely labeled. And then there was this clear plastic bag of what seriously looked like a brain. As I started to dig deep and pull my knowledge up from the depths of my college anatomy class, Nic blurts out, “That’s a bag of fat.” A big bag of beautiful tallow!
Well, actually it wasn’t tallow yet. What I had was a big bag of suet, the interior fat tissue of the cow. To get good use out of suet, you first need to gently heat it to remove the fat from the rest of the tissue. This heating and separation process is called “rendering”.
Rendered tallow can be used for many things, including high heat cooking (just like butter and lard) and in beauty products. It’s an excellent remedy for eczema! Click here to get my recipe for Deep Moisturizing Body Salve made with tallow. I recently made a new batch that spreads on your skin more like lotion. I just increased the amount of olive oil in the recipe to make it more spreadable. My skin feels ah-MAH-zing. (Happy Endings, anyone?)
How to Render Tallow in a Slow Cooker
A hunk of suet (2 lbs or so)
Remove any muscle tissue or blood that you can see. Cut the suet into very small pieces or use your food processer to chop it into pieces. The smaller you make the pieces, the shorter the cooking time.
Set your slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Check it periodically and stir. You can turn off your slow cooker when the tissue is golden brown and is separated from the liquid tallow. This took about 6 hours for the amount of tallow I was rendering. Pour through cheesecloth and into a mason jar or other glass storage container. To make sure my tallow was completely smooth (I wanted to use it for lotion), I strained it through a coffee filter. Allow to cool. Store tallow that you plan to cook with in the fridge (it has a very long shelf life). I didn’t bother refrigerating the tallow I’m using in skin products.
I try to pamper my skin at least once a week with a nice, homemade face mask. I don’t like messing around with figuring out what ingredients are in the store bought varieties, and I’m a little cheap when it comes to pampering myself. So, the DIY face mask is always the way to go. This pumpkin version is perfect for this fall season. We use pumpkin in so many recipes this time of year that I always have a little extra in the fridge.
DIY Honey Pumpkin Face Mask
2 Tbsp pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp plain yogurt (Thick yogurt works best. Strain to thicken, if needed)
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp jojoba oil
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and spread evenly over your skin. Be careful not to get it in your eyes. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse clean.
All of the ingredients in this recipe have a purpose in pampering your skin:
Pumpkin contains antioxidants and enzymes
The lactic acid in plain yogurt helps exfoliate the skin
Jojoba oil moisturizes without clogging pores
Honey is anti fungal and anti bacterial to reduce breakouts
Have you tried any of our other face mask recipes?
But doesn’t pinterest make you feel like you can create anything? I’m embarrassed to say this, but most of the projects I find, Nic ends up doing most of the time. That’s so bad! But he’s so handy and good at creating things that it just ends up that way. I wouldn’t use the word “crafty” to describe Nic. More like a hands on-perfectionist-likes to get projects done, kind of guy. Love him.
So. I finally did a project on my own. I created a height chart for Lyla. She is growing so fast and is so tall (95 percentile – holla!) that I really wanted to start tracking her height. I saw some super cute wooden height charts on pinterest, mostly linking to etsy.com. I thought, c’mon, I can do this. I bought all the supplies – the board, paint, brush, and we already had the color stain I wanted to use. And then, six months went by.
Here is the thing with me and crafty projects: I hate starting something that I can’t finish RIGHT AWAY! Mom of a two year old + working + running a household= No time. That’s why I procrastinate on these things. But last weekend I started and finished Lyla’s height chart!
Not to toot my own horn (but I’m going to): I really liked how it turned out! Should I start selling these babies on etsy, or what?!
(When we hang this on the wall, it will be mounted 6 inches from the floor. We just haven’t chosen a place for it yet.)
So, I finished this one and then thought it would have really been cool to stain it with a more natural option. I attempted creating my next height chart with a coffee stain.
How to Stain Wood Naturally with Coffee
What you need:
1 cup of coffee grounds (the darker, the better)
1 ¼ cup of boiling water
Whatever piece of wood you want to stain
Fine grit sand paper
Towel or rag
Put the coffee grounds into a bowl that can withstand high heat. Carefully pour your boiling water over the grounds and let sit for at least 30 minutes and until cool. Place a coffee filter in the mesh strainer and slowly pour the water and coffee grounds mixture through the filter and into a container that will hold your coffee stain. It’s also good to choose a container that you can easily dip your paintbrush into.
Setup the wood you wish to stain in a safe area to get messy or cover the floors/surrounding furniture (I like to do this entire project outside, if weather permits. I get Pandora going, sip on some tea, zone out, and get crafty.) Use a fine grit sand paper to sand the surface, edges, and sides. Wipe the surface clean with a dry rag or towel to remove any dust.
Now you can get to staining! Dip your paintbrush into the coffee stain, let most of the excess drip off for a few seconds, and brush the stain onto the wood. Use even strokes and be sure to cover all visible areas. Do not use so much stain that it pools on the surface. Allow to dry (I did not wipe off excess stain, as opposed to if you are using an oil based stain. I let it soak into the wood). Repeat stain layers until you achieve the desired shade.
In my eyes (which really, really, really love dark wood stain), I wasn’t totally in love with the final product, even after four coats of the coffee stain. I want to be honest here and let you know that I did end up re-staining the board to get the dark color I desired.
I still thought it was important to share this technique because:
There is a noticeable difference in the wood color (which I wish the before and after pictures better depicted), so if you are looking to stain wood and aren’t hoping for a very dark color, this might be a great option for you.
The staining process was much more enjoyable with the coffee vs. conventional oil based stain which is stinky and can really do damage if it accidently gets on a surface you didn’t want it to.
If you are pregnant, very sensitive to fumes, or need to stain something in an area that is not well ventilated, coffee stain may be the way to go.
Have you ever tried staining wood with anything other than a conventional stain? How did it turn out?