Annie's Homestead


Make It Yourself: Candlemania!

Posted on October 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (1)

When i decided to take on candle making a few years ago, I thought it couldn't be easier. Melt the wax, pour into molds with a wick, and let it dry. "How hard can it be?"- famous last words!!

Making candles can be fun and easy if you know a few tricks, and I am here to share mine with you today! I purchase all of my candle making supplies at Candlewic- they have excellent quality, and haven't steered me wrong yet. (Yes, I am an affiliate, but only because I believe in their company so much!)

So let's get to it!

What You Need:

Candle wax: (1 lb. of wax will make about 10 votive candles)- votives are small, so a specialty wax really isn't necessary. Beeswax works fine as well as the soy wax work just as well as the pillar/votive wax for these.

Double Boiler (if you don't have a double boiler, a soup pot and a glass pyrex measuring cup with canning lids in between works great)

Wicks: I prefer to use wicks that are made for votives- they have metal discs at the bottom to keep them flat and anchored.

Coloring: This is optional. I use coloring made for candles, but I have heard of people using crayons as well.

Scent: Also optional, but who doesn't love a great smelling candle! I use scents designed for candles. A good amount of scent to use is 5-7%.  Essential oils work for this as well, but remember that essential oils are potent, so start small and increase as desired.

Molds: I as lucky- When I first decided to make candles, there was an offer for free votive molds, so mine were free! In case don't want to spend the money on metal molds, I experimented for you, and found that the little plastic "bath cups" you buy at the grocery store work too! The cups I used were 3 oz. plastic cups that I picked up for a couple of dollars for 100 cups. These are bigger than votive candles, so you will get fewer candles per pound.

After the tutorial, I will show you a few other candle ideas I have done with make shift containers and molds.

Thermometer: A candy or meat thermometer is great for this- 175 degrees is the perfect temperature for votive candles.

Parchment or Wax Paper: No matter how careful you are, making candles is messy. Having this layer between the molds and your counter not only speeds up clean-up, but will save your counter from the coloring stains. (voice of experience)

Let's make candles!!

1.) Set up the double boiler on the stove and put your wax on top to melt.

2.) While you're waiting for your wax to melt, set up your molds, wicks, coloring, and scents. Don't forget your layer of parchment or wax paper!!! Once your wax is melted, it goes pretty quickly.

3.) Once your wax is melted and consistently has a temperature of 175 degrees, it's time to put in your color and scent. Stir for several minutes to make sure evenly is mixed evenly.

4.) You're finally ready to pour you wax into the molds! Pour it close to the top, but not quite. Save some wax- once this has cooled, you're going to top it off with more. This is one of the tricks I had to learn along the way...

5.) Once you start to see a bit of wax hardening along the top edge, it's time to put in your wicks. Focus on getting the bottom centered- once that's centered, you'll have a few minutes to play with the string part. Don't worry about messing up the wax- we're going to add another layer, remember?

6.) Once the wax had hardened and cooled, reheat the remaining wax, and pour to top off your candles. I personally like a little lip at the top of my votives, so I pour as much as I can in mine. Make sure your wicks are straight. This will dry relatively quickly- about 15 minutes and you can remove from the molds.

7.) Enjoy your candles!

Tips For Easy Clean Up

Since you used parchment paper on the counters, that's easy, but you still have your molds (if you're using reusable molds) and your pans from your double boiler. Here's a fantastic trick I learned along the way:

Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Place your waxy stuff upside down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and put in the oven for about 15- 20 minutes. The wax melts off, and can be wiped clean with a paper towel! Then, wash as normal.

Other Fun Candles:

You can use just about anything that will hold hot liquid as a mold, but there are a ton of things you can use for container candles as well! The only differences in technique from above is that you will hot glue your wick to the center bottom of your container, and obviously, you won't pull your candle from the mold! Check these out!

Tea cups or coffee cups! Hot glue the saucer to the cup- these are too cute! Keep an eye out at thrift stores for cute looking cups!

Using canning jars is an easy, accessible option. These are little 4 oz. jars. I have done up to pint jars. If you want bigger candles, make sure your jar is a wide mouth so the flame gets enough oxygen to keep it going.

I have seen cute candles made with terra cotta pots as well, but I haven't personally tried it yet. Use your imagination and see what great things you can come up with!

Looking for incredible candles without the mess? Look no further! Check out our Homestead Candles!

Candlewic Candle and Soap Making Supplies

Make It Yourself: All Natural Hand Sanitizer

Posted on October 2, 2013 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I get it- the world is a germy place...and everyone wants to keep away from all of the icky germs that make us sick. BUT I have always been against using store bought hand sanitizer. Not only is it full of nasty chemicals that I have a hard time pronouncing, but most hand sanitizer not only kills the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria that protects us from the bad.

Essential oils, on the other hand, have been used for their antibacterial and antiviral properties for centuries. They can keep the bad bacteria away without killing off the good bacteria.

Making your own is so quick and easy, you'll wonder why you haven't done it before now. The following recipe has vodka in it, but you can easily substitute it for more witch hazel. Alcohol is a fabulous disinfectant, so please don't discount it quickly.


2 tsp. witch hazel
2 oz. vodka
5 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (antiseptic, antibacterial)
5 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial)
10 drops Lemon Essential Oil (antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, disinfectant)

Put all of the ingredients together in a spray bottle or roll top applicator and use as normal.

Another option is to add aloe vera gel until it's a nice thicker consistency /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} , and put in a small squirt bottle (like the store bought versions).

This is a power packed combination with a nice, clean lemon scent- you can't go wrong!

Want All Natural Hand Sanitzer, but don't have time to make it? You can buy it here!

Make It Yourself: Nail and Cuticle Salve

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Having healthy fingernails and cuticles isn't just for girly-girls. Admittedly, I don't spend a lot of time primping my nails- you'll find no sparkly nail polish, and in the summer, I'm lucky to get them clean. But, having healthy, strong fingernails has saved me from many potential finger disasters, and I can't deny the help they bring me on a daily basis.

Repairing and strengthening our nails and cuticles can be done without expensive product or chemicals- and I'm going to show you how!

What You'll Need

1/2 oz. Oatstraw- contains a high amount of silica essential to strengthening and repairing weak   and brittle nails

1/4 oz. Chamomile- anti-fungal and anti-bacterial

1/4 oz. Calendula- healing, nourishing, and strengthening

6 oz.  Olive oil ( I always make more than the needed recipe- 4 oz. for this recipe- some always gets lost)

1 oz. Beeswax

1 tsp. Neem Oil- Contains Vitamin E which is healing for both nails and cuticles

1/2 tsp. Tea Tree Oil- antiseptic and anti-fungal

1/4 tsp. Lavender essential oil- antibacterial, anti-viral, and it smells nice

Oven safe dish

Double boiler



tins or jars

How To Make

1. Put the herbs in an oven safe dish and cover with oil. mix together to make sure the herbs are covered in oil. Place in a 150-200 degree oven for 2-3 hours. Strain with cheesecloth- make sure to squeeze all of the goodness out of the herbs!

2. Place 4oz. infused oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted.

3. Remove from heat and add the neem oil, tea tree oil, and lavender essential oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly.

4. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.

Once it's completely cooled, label and apply twice daily to strengthen and repair nails and cuticles! It will last at least a year. 

 Want the benefits of this salve, but no mess? You can purchase it here!

My First Attempt at Making Lotion

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I have to admit, making lotion never seemed to be tops on the priority list. I don't use it very  often, I never have. When I researched making some to sell, I couldn't find a way to make it last very long without adding something unsavory to it...defeats the purpose. And, to be perfectly honest, a lot of lotion tutorials can be quite intimidating...until now.

Without being intimidating, the basics of lotion making is that you need a water base (it is the green tea here) + an oil base (calendula infused oil) + an emulsifier (beeswax) to bind the oil and water together. It's not too difficult when you put it that way, right? There is actually a lot more science to it-as in the percentages if your three major ingredients, and there are a lot of websites that go into it, but it may be better for this post to share the recipe and then let you make it your own.

So here it is!

Basic Moisturizing Lotion

This recipe will make about 16 oz. of lotion.

1 cup Green Tea, steeped and cooled- you can also use water, infused water, etc.

3/4 cup Calendula Infused Oil ( how to make infused oils) - you can also just use olive oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, etc.

1 oz. Beeswax- vegans can use candellila wax

Optional: a few drops of essential oil of your choice

How To Make Lotion

1. Pour your green tea in a blender.

2. In a double broiler (don't have one? Check below), heat your oil and beeswax until it melts completely. Once melted, remove from the double broiler and let cool for 2-3 minutes.

3. Remove the middle stopper of the lid, put the lid on and start the blender at medium speed. Slowly pour the oil and beeswax mix through the top to begin the emulsifying process. If there is still water on the surface, turn up the blender and mix until thoroughly blended. If you're adding essential oil or other additives, now would be the time to add them.

**I must intervene here- this is what the recipe said. What I found was that I had to stop the blender several times and mix through with my spatula- then blend more.**

4. Using your spatula, transfer the lotion from the blender into glass jars (or container of your choosing). Let sit, uncovered (you can lay cheesecloth on it if you'd like) for one hour, or until room temperature. Placing the lid on while it's warm will cause condensation to form under the lid, which will water down the lotion and form bacteria. When it's cooled, you can put on the lids.

This will last for 3 months on the counter, or 6 months in the fridge.

And that's it!

This is the one and only time I have made lotion. If I do it again, I may forgo the blender and use my stick mixer. The blender was a pain to clean afterward, and I think I may have more control with the stick mixer.

Hopefully this basic recipe will get you to try to make lotion. From here, you can create lotions to suit you!

You can use infused oils with herbs that work with your skin type. I used Calendula infused oil because it's great for all skin types, soothing, and simple.

You can use different water bases- rose water, some even suggested milk, but having not tried it, I can't say how it works.

Use essential oils that are good for your type of skin, or just pleasing to your sense of smell. We used the blend I make for my Love soaps and sprays.

The sky is the limit with what you can do with this basic recipe!

Dont have a double boiler? Try this!

Three canning lids at the bottom of your pot! Fill half way with water and insert your pyrex measuring cup to add your oil and beeswax.

Make The Most Out Of Your Milk

Posted on April 27, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I was born in the Dairy State (yes, Wisconsin, not the other one), and I can't remember a time that dairy wasn't part of my life, and life was good. If you know me at all, I can't imagine life without cheese!

Wednesday I pick up my milk. The first thing I do is skim the cream off for butter. There are a lot of different ways to make butter, but I'm going to stick with mine.

Making Butter

I fill a mason jar (or four) half way with cream. This can be heavy whipping cream from the grocery store as well, just stay away from the Ultra Pasteurized stuff.

I let it sit on the counter until it warms up a bit- a little cooler than room temperature. I was talking to someone the other day about using it frozen, but I haven't tried that yet.

Once it's a little warmer, shake it! Shake it like it's nobody's business. My kids call it my shake weight! This step takes about 10 minutes. You'll know when it's ready- you'll see the butter, and the buttermilk are now separated.

Drain the buttermilk into a container- you can use it in baking. (I completely forgot about this for the picture!)

Rinse the butter to remove excess buttermilk, and lay on a plate. Take a spoon or spatula and smoosh it (technical terms) to remove every last bit of buttermilk. Your butter will go bad quite quickly if you skip this step.

You're finished! You can put it in a dish, or put it in pretty molds- you decide! I always throw mine in the freezer until I need it.

The next step I took with the milk was String Cheese!! Yummy, yummy string cheese! since I already have a post showing how to do that, I'll skip by it. If you would like to see it, you can check it out here!


Once the string cheese was done, I decided to make Ricotta cheese with the whey! I had made ricotta from milk before, but never from whey. Here's what I did...

Making Ricotta Cheese From Whey

What You'll Need


* 2 large stainless steel pot or any aluminum or non-cast iron pot. You can also use a large heat resistant bowl for one of them.

* Thermometer (it will need to read accurately to 105 degrees F)

* Colander/strainer

* Cheesecloth or flour sack towel

* Slotted spoon

*small pitcher or Pyrex measuring cup


I used two gallons of milk to make the string cheese (we REALLY like cheese), so I had plenty of whey left.

Put your whey into your large, stainless steel, thick bottom pot, and set your heat to high. Your whey needs to get to 200 degrees. the directions said to stir occasionally, I stirred quite a bit. You may or may not begin to see the curds start to form at around 180- I didn't, so don't worry if you don't.

While you're waiting, line your strainer with the cheesecloth or towel and place it over the large pot or bowl.

Once your whey heats up to 200 degrees, take it off the heat. This is what mine looked like.

Here's where it got interesting. I personally didn't see anything going on with my whey, and almost gave up. DON'T! Your ricotta cheese is really in there!

With your pitcher or pyrex measuring cup, begin to pour your whey/cheese into the cheesecloth. My set up looked  like this...

As you continue pouring, you'll have to scrape the cheese on the bottom of your cheesecloth. Keep doing this until all of your whey/cheese is through. This process took quite awhile for, I ended up doing this...

Once the whey is completely drained, you have ricotta cheese! I began with almost 2 gallons of whey- this made about 2 cups of cheese.


I was still left with a gallon and a half of whey! Don't throw this away! My cats love it, my dogs love it, my chickens love it! There are also certain plants that love it! You can use it in baking! Use it! Use it! Use it!

To Recap: I started the journey with two gallons of milk. I hit the finish line with a two molds of butter, about 18 oz. of string cheese (it's actually an estimate- we eat a lot of it while it's still warm), roughly two cups of ricotta cheese, and a 1 1/2 gallon of whey for my plants and animals! Not too shabby!

I personally felt that the ricotta from the whey was more trouble than it was worth. As I said earlier, I have made ricotta from milk, and nothing could be easier- this was time consuming, messy, and all for about 2 cups of cheese. Next time around, I think I'll go right to the "give the whey to the animals" after the mozzarella/string cheese.

As far as getting the most out of my milk, I think I did pretty well!

Making Tinctures and a Recipe for Soothing Bug Bites

Posted on April 21, 2013 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It all starts with a little bug...with an appetite- then ZAP- He got you! The itching, the redness, it's maddening!!!

What if I told that one drop could ease your pain? It's true, and I'm going to show you exactly how to make it!

BUT FIRST...let me take you back a few months...

There are three tinctures in this recipe, so let's go over how to make a tincture.

How To Make A Tincture

Making a tincture is so easy, and requires only two ingredients- herb and alcohol (I use 100 proof vodka).

Fill a mason jar about 3/4 way of herb (1/3 for roots) and cover completely (I usually fill the jar) with your alcohol. As I said before, I always use 100 proof vodka.

Label your jar with the herb name, the Latin name (ok, I'm being a geek, but I always do), and the creation dat.

Store in a cool, dark cupboard for 8 weeks, shaking every other day. make sure to check your alcohol level- if it's evaporating to show the herbs, add more.

Once the 8 weeks has past, strain the liquid from the herb and keep in a dark bottle, in the cupboard or cool, dark spot. This will last for years.

A great post to go further in depth with tinctures is one of my favorite blogs: The Mountain Rose Blog.

Now, on to the Bug Bite Relief!!!

Bug Bite Relief


4 tsp. witch hazel
1 tsp. aloe vera juice
30 drops plantain tincture
30 drops calendula tincture
30 drops yarrow tincture
24 drops lavender essential oil
6 drops tea tree essential oil

Combine all the ingredients and shake well. Keep in a dark glass bottle. You an either use a dropper (what I did) or a mister top. Use within 6 months.

This makes a little over an ounce, but as I said earlier- one drop/spritz does the trick!

Want relief without the hassle of making it yourself? You can purchase the finished product here!

Homemade Yogurt

Posted on February 15, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I was fortunate enough to take a class last weekend about making different things with milk. I learned how to make yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, pudding, etc, and had a great time with other like-minded women. Some of the things I had done before, but I had never made yogurt! I couldn't wait to make some! It is so yummy, I will never buy store bought again!

What you need:

1 Gallon of milk

2 envelopes Knox Gelatin dissolved in 1/2 C cold water

1 heaping cup Sugar

2 Tbsp. vanilla

1 C Plain Yogurt with live cultures

Large pot


container with tight lid

Heat the milk to 180 degrees F, then cool to 130 degrees.

Add the gelatin, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.

Stir briskly with a whisk and pour into a container with a tight lid. I used the pitcher the milk was in.

The next step is letting it sit in a warm place for at least 8 hours. Three different options came up during the class.

1. Put into a large cooler and add 130 tap water around it. Close the lid.

2. Pre-heat your oven to 130 degrees. Turn off heat and set in the oven, keeping the light on.

3. I put mine in my dehydrator, set at 115 degrees and let it run for 8 hours (overnight).

Remove from holding area and stir well. It tastes so good just the way it is, but if you would like, you can add a small box of flavored Jello to the yogurt (see the pink yogurt in the picture).

Put into smaller containers and refrigerate.

Make sure you save some of your new yogurt to use as your starter for next time. You can use this instead of using the 1 cup tore bought yogurt!

And that's all there is! I can't tell you how long the yogurt will last, but I can say that it will be eaten in this house WAY before it goes bad! In the summer, I can't wait to freeze some in little popsicle molds for a yummy treat!

Pain, Pain, Go Away

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (1)

As you may know, I have already done a pain relieving salve, and I still adore it, but after doing some research, I can't ignore the benefits of these amazing herbal blends. And so, I share with you, two new pain salves.

Arnica (Arnica montana) has been used for centuries to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation, help bruises, and sprains. Arnica should not be used on broken skin, and should not be taken internally without the supervision of a medical professional.

I do want to add that Arnica montana is on the "watch list" due to heavy levels of harvesting. Please purchase this herb from a sustainable source, or better yet, grow it yourself!

Cayenne Pepper, another powerhouse for pain and reducing inflammation! The heat of cayenne (which doesn't burn on the skin, I promise) warms the body, dilating capillaries, and stimulates circulation. When using cayenne, and while applying anything with cayenne, ALWAYS wash your hands afterwards. I don't have to tell you how much it burns the eyes, nose, and mouth when touched.

Comfrey, oh my wonderful love comfrey...Comfrey is amazing for bruises, sprains, strains, broken bones, swelling, cuts, bug name it!

Rosemary and Peppermint Essential Oil not only smell fantastic, but are the perfect addition to any pain relieving remedy.

Alright, on to the salve recipes!

Arnica Cayenne For Pain Relief (Too Hot For Pain)

To start, we need to make an Arnica Cayenne infused oil.

6 oz. Arnica flowers (dried)

4 TBSP. Cayenne Powder

16 oz. Castor Oil (you can use olive oil, or another carrier oil)  I use Castor Oil because of it's ability to really penetrate the muscles

If you haven't made infused oils before, read how here.

For the salve:

6 oz. Arnica Cayenne Infused Oil

.75 oz. Beeswax

15 drops Vitamin E oil

15 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

15 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

Place the infused oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the essential oils and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.

Don't feel like messing around making this? You can buy it here.

Arnica Comfrey For Pain Relief (Too Cool For Pain)

4 oz. Arnica Infused Oil

2 oz. Comfrey Infused Oil

.75 oz. Beeswax

15 drops Vitamin E Oil

15 drops Peppermint Essential oil

15 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

Place the infused oil and the beeswax over a double boiler, and heat until the beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and add the essential oils and the vitamin E oil. Give it a good stir to distribute the new oils evenly. Quickly pour into tins or jars and allow to cool completely.



Don't feel like messing around making this? You can buy it here.

In closing, I just want to remind you to please, please, please research EVERYTHING you read here and the rest of the internet. What works well for me, may be very different that you and yours.






Black Drawing Salve, Not Just For Granny Anymore

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Black Drawing Salve has been used for generations for splinters, bee stings, bug bites, infection, boils, and anything that needs to "draw" the poison out.

The main characters of this salve are Activated Charcoal and Bentonite Clay- both well regarded for absorbing poison from the body. This salve also has lavender essential oil (antiseptic, antibacterial) and tea tree essential oil (antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral)

What you'll Need

2 TBSP Beeswax
8 TBSP Coconut oil
1 TSP Vitamin E oil
2 TBSP Activated Charcoal
3 TBSP Bentonite Clay
5 drops Lavender Essential Oil (optional)
5 drops Tee Tree Essential Oil (optional)

Melt the coconut over a double boiler, add beeswax and melt.

Take off the heat and add the Vitamin E oil, Activated Charcoal, and Bentonite Clay- stir to dissolve (when you think you've stirred enough- stir a little more- by this time, it's black, and difficult to see if you've dissolved everything).

Add your essential oils, still stirring, and pour into tins or jars.

To Use: Apply a small amount to the affected area, cover with gauze, and replace daily.

As you can see this is very black, and can get messy- I will say that it hasn't stained my counter, and while the activated charcoal stained my hand, when it was in the salve, it didn't stain my skin.

Want to make this salve, but don't quite know where to start? How about our Make It Yourself Kit?

Want the benefits of this Black Drawing Salve NOW? You can purchase some here.


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