DIY Recipes

This is a place I’ll be sharing healthy, home cleaning and cosmetic recipes that are easy and fun to make, using simple, healthy ingredients. 

Elderberry Syrup


Photo by gardenista

An excellent write-up on the benefits of elderberry syrup was written here on a blog I follow: Mommypotamus. Above photo credit goes to "Gardenista

"Immune Support

Elderberries also contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant and immune boosting properties. (source) They’re also a good source of vitamin C, betacarotene, vitamin B6, and iron. (source)

Reduce Cold & Flu Symptoms

In this study, researchers found that flu patients who received elderberry syrup recovered about four days sooner than those who received a placebo.

In another study that had similar results, it was concluded that there were two reasons for the more rapid recovery. First, patients taking elderberry had higher anti-haemagglutination titers, meaning their immune performed better. Second, they found that elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, an enzyme that the virus uses to infect cells. (source)

Nasal/Sinus Congestion Relief

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”


  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries 
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly sliced ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Lemon slices (3)
  • Star Anise (optional)


  • Add water, elderberries and ginger/cinnamon (if you’re using them) to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer on low until liquid is reduced by about a half. This should take around 30-45 min.
  • Pour mixture through a mesh strainer to remove berries, ginger and cinnamon stick. Allow liquid to cool slightly, then stir in honey. You will want roughly a 1:1 or 1.5:1 ratio of elderberry juice to honey.
  • Pour syrup into a jar or bottle and store in the fridge.
  • Shelf life: In my house, a batch lasts all winter long.


All-natural bug spray 

Photo credit: Henry Leutwyler

- 1/4 c. white vinegar
- 1/3 c. witch hazel
- 2 tbsp. aloe vera gel
Fill the rest of the container with boiled or distilled water.
instructions: add all above ingredient to a spray bottle, then add: 30-50 drops of a blend of: tea tree, lavender, citronella, geranium, clove, rosemary, eucalyptus, cinnamon leaf essential oils. 
Example of an essential oil blend you could try: 5 drops tea tree, 5 drops lavender, 10 drops citronella, 5 drops clove bud, 7 drops rosemary, 5 drops eucalyptus, 8 drops mint. OR to keep it simple if you don't want to buy a lot of essential oils or don't have many around, you could try: 
7-10 drops peppermint, 10-12 drops lemongrass, 8-12 drops lavender, 5-7 drops clove bud.

Shake before each use. spritz on to skin as needed. The vinegar and witch hazel are cooling on the skin and act as a carrier for the oils which are the main repellent factor for the bugs. Lavender and clove bud have mild analgesic properties as well, so they will help soothe the skin if you get bit by calming the nervous system. Plants in the mint family: peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, citronella are excellent for repelling bugs and nice to have around in pots on your deck or patio too, to help repel bugs.


Honey facial mask

  • 2 tbsp. liquid, raw, unpasteurized honey
  • 2-3 drops of essential oil of choice (optional)
  • 1 tsp. ground oats (optional)

Mix above ingredients in a little bowl or jar. Place a cloth in warm water, apply to your face to open your pores. Next apply honey facial. Leave on 15-30 minutes, then wash off and rinse with cold water to close your pores. Your face will feel soft and moisturized. Repeat as often as desired. I like it as a treat once a week or every couple weeks. Most of the time I just use pure honey, so don’t feel like you have to add the other ingredients mentioned. They are there to use if you like. Oats are great for reducing inflammation and for eczema. Essential oils have healing properties and add a nice aroma to your facial. Just be sure you don’t have any allergies to the essential oil you choose. Some that are nice and gentle for the face include: lavender, patchouli, mint, rosemary, tea tree, and rosewood. Tea tree is excellent if you suffer from acne.

Honey has both healing and moisturizing properties. It’s naturally antimicrobial and has been used as heeling salve for centuries and was used up until WWII for healing wounds.

This facial recipe is a great low $ treatment you can do at home to bring some moisture back to your skin. Especially important in our dry prairie environment in Edmonton.

Honey is also an excellent wound healing treatment, so next time you have a cut, try honey to dress your wound!

Sea Salt Body Scrub

  • 1/2 c. sea salt (fine grain)
  • 1/2. c. extra-virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil.
  • 20 drops of favourite essential oil or combo  (optional) (e.g. lavender & rosemary, sweet orange & cinnamon, lemon & peppermint)

Put all these ingredients in a jar or container that you can get your hand into. Get your skin wet with warm water to help open your pores, turn off water, massage the sea salt scrub onto areas where you want to exfoliate and have smooth skin. After you have massaged it in, turn shower back on and rinse off. You may want to put it all over. I especially like to put it on the rough areas like knees, elbows, feet. Feels great on shoulders, hips, arms, calves, etc. Careful stepping out of the shower as it may be a little slippy after your scrub.

And the next installment…summer is here and we have probably all been indulging in the sun, a little right?

Well here is a great recipe if that indulgence led to a little sunburn. Ouch!


Sunburn Spray

Mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle and apply as needed.

  • 4 oz. aloe vera juice
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops vitamin E oil
  • 2-5 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1-2 oz. organic witch hazel

Why did I choose these ingredients? Aloe vera is calming and will help repair damaged skin. It’s great to apply to wounds and cuts for its skin regenerative properties. Witch hazel is cooling and will take some of the burn and heat from the feeling of your skin. Vitamin E is also a good skin repair ingredient. It helps the skin build keratin, which is important cell structural element  and after a sunburn as the cells have been damaged and the body will be in repair mode and will be needed keratin to rebuild damaged skin cells and generate new skin cells. Lavender essential oil is a gentle oil that has soothing, calming and skin regenerative properties. Lavender essential oil is one of the most beneficial oils for damaged and irritated skin from sunburn, as well as for other skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. The peppermint essential oil is cooling and like the witch hazel it will help take some of the heat out of your skin. With all these beneficial properties, I may just spray this on my skin even when I’m not sunburned!


Citrus Peel Surface Cleaner

It’s excellent for many surfaces such as: glass, mirrors, windows, countertops, stainless steel fridge doors, sinks, your car dash & windows. Why citrus peel vinegar & not straight white vinegar? You are welcome to use straight vinegar blended with water for cleaning surfaces and it works great. I started making this citrus cleaner because I found it gave a pleasant, lasting clean smell in the house that wasn’t as harsh to the nose at straight vinegar. Also, many citrus essential oils come from the peel of the fruit and they are great for cleaning and disinfecting. By soaking the orange peels in vinegar, it draws out the essential oils and creates a citrus infused vinegar that smells amazing & works great! Neat eh?!

Recipe & Instructions:

1) Get some oranges. Organic oranges are best as you are using the peels in this recipe. I am using oranges in this recipe, but you could also use lemons, grapefruit and even limes!

2) Place orange peels in a mason jar as shown in the photo and add vinegar to the jar to keep peels covered. Keep adding peels and vinegar until you get to a full jar.

3) Place jar in a sunny window and let the peels infuse the vinegar with their oils for 2-4 weeks.

4) After 2-4 weeks has passed, strain the vinegar into a clean jar or bottle and put peels in the compost. Your orange peel vinegar is now ready for making into a surface cleaner! It will have a beautiful orange colour as shown in the tall bottle in right side of the photo. You will also notice it doesn’t have as pungent of a smell as the plain white vinegar that you started with!

5) Find a spray bottle and mix the vinegar with tap water in a ratio of 1 part  to 2 parts (1:2) or 1 to 3 parts (1:3) of vinegar to water. For example, mix 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 cup water (1:2 ratio), or 1/2 cup vinegar to 1-1/2 cups water (1:3) ratio. Add 1 tbsp. castille soap or liquid soapnuts detergent to your bottle. Add essential oils such as: rosemary, eucalyptus, or tea tree to add some extra disinfecting power to your spray. For a bottle of 250mL size add 10-12 drops of essential oils in total. Shake your bottle to thoroughly mix the ingredients.

6) Spray on mirrors, windows, countertops, stainless steel fridges, etc. and wipe with a clean, lint-free cloth. Your vinegar concentrate will last for 1-2 years. I tend to buy my oranges at the market when they are in season and make a big batch of orange peel vinegar and save it to use throughout the year.

Happy spring cleaning!