Homemade Chest Balm

As the temperatures drop, I’ve started looking forward to hot cocoa, wonderful treats and dazzling Christmas lights. Unfortunately, all those wonderful things mean cold and flu season aren’t far off. They’ve already started giving flu shots out at the hospital… I have a talent for getting at least one chest cold every year which sometimes turns into bronchitis. When at all possible, I treat my colds naturally. A good chest balm is a must for soothing a cough at night. Think of this as all natural vapor rub.

Young Living’s Breathe Again essential oil blend is the magic ingredient in this chest balm. The blend contains peppermint, myrtle, copaiba and four types of eucalyptus to open airways. If you are interested in more information on Young Living Oils click here.

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To make your chest balm simply combine the coconut oil and beeswax in a double-boiler until completely melted and combined. Remove from heat. Stir in essential oil and pour into a small glass jar. Let cool at room temperature until set.

 

Rub onto chest and neck to soothe coughs, sore throat and stuffiness. For an extra boost apply to chest before a steamy shower.

Organic Chest Balm

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C. Organic Coconut Oil 
  • 2 t. Organic Beeswax Pellets
  • 20 drop Breathe Again Essential Oil

Directions

Combine coconut oil and beeswax in a double boiler until fully melted. Remove from heat and add essential oil. Pour into jar. Let sit until set.

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Autumn Stovetop Potpourri 

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the smell of cinnamon apple wafting through my house. I only have one brand of scented candle that I use because candles, air fresheners and plug-ins are packed full of chemicals. (My guilty pleasure is Vanilla Bean by Woodwick – seriously, they crackle like a fireplace and smell amazing… However, they are expensive and even they have a bunch of chemicals; I burn them sparingly and typically only for special occasions.) I love my house to smell “pretty” or reflect the season, but the majority of chemically produced scents give me migraines. Ain’t no scent worth a migraine. With a little creativity and my trusty essential oils I’ve been able to start enjoying  those “pretty” smells!

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This stovetop potpourri will leave your house smelling like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day baking pies. Simply toss all of the ingredients in a pot with some water and stir. Simmer as long as you like, adding water as needed.

Autumn Stovetop Potpourri #2

Autumn Stovetop Potpourri

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 1 Packet Apple Cider Mix
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1/4 t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. Ground Ginger
  • Orange Peel (optional)

Directions

Stir ingredients together in a medium pot. Simmer on low-medium heat for as long as you like, adding water as needed.

40 Money Saving Tips

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I would much rather have some money left over at the end of the month for my husband and I to have a fancy date-night instead of buying my husband new shorts because the button popped off or because my dog was due for a nail trim and groom. But at the end of the month, the shorts are still without a button and the dog still needs a nail trim and groom. That’s where a little bit of elbow grease comes into play. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty! A bit of hard work can save you a ton of money while letting you keep the lifestyle of royalty!

 

Here is a list of things we have done to reduce our spending and increase our savings.

  1. Adopt the motto, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
  2. Learn to cook from scratch. Check out my many recipes here.
  3. Pack your lunch – a great way to utilize leftovers.
  4. Get rid of cable TV.
  5. Check out YouTube for tutorials on basic home repairs.
  6. Learn how to groom your dog. See how we keep our high-maintenance pup up for almost nothing, here.
  7. Don’t pay someone for services you can do yourself i.e. dog grooming, mending, dry cleaning, housework or landscaping.
  8. Use the minimum toothpaste, shampoo, handsoap and laundry detergent to maintain the same results. (I realized I was using double the amount of shampoo that I needed. Oops!)
  9. Utilize your library’s resources. Our library provides DVD rentals, digital audiobooks and e-books for download straight to your tablet.
  10. Utilize digital, online and print coupons. (Coupons.com & RedPlum.com)
  11. Using Prime Households, split a Prime membership with a close friend. All the benefits for half the cost!
  12. Buy store brand. Kroger & Target’s store brands provide excellent quality for a fraction of the price.
  13. Explore reusable options for disposable products, like these Un-paper Towels.
  14. Grow a garden.
  15. Learn basic mending such as sewing on a button or sewing a patch over a hole.
  16. Use cold water whenever possible, like when washing clothes or rinsing dishes. There’s no need to pay for the water AND the electricity to heat it.
  17. If you truly need to replace an item, save up to buy a quality replacement.
  18. Hang your clothes to dry on a drying rack.
  19. Do not buy more than you will use. You don’t have to buy the whole bunch of bananas or a giant bag of grapes. Only buy what you are sure you will use, or you might as well throw cash into the trashcan.
  20. Make your own coffee at home.
  21. Leave the lights off and open the blinds and drapes. Natural light doesn’t cost a dime!
  22. Do your own pest control. Don’t over-pay a pest control company for something you can do with a little research and elbow grease. We use this outdoors for prevention.
  23. Unplug chargers that aren’t being used. Chargers continue to pull minimal amounts of power when they are plugged in.
  24. Plan your cooking to group the use of your oven together, or use a microwave or slow cooker instead.
  25. Do your own dry cleaning.
  26. Learn how to make your own freezer meals.
  27. If your pets have prescriptions, look into discount programs at a pharmacy instead of buying meds from your vet. Wal-Mart has some great prices on pet meds.
  28. Teach yourself a new hobby like sewing, knitting, crocheting or baking.
  29. Go on a FREE date night. After all, it’s about quality time not elaborate dates.
  30. Meal plan to at least some extent! Here’s my Monthly Meal Plan. Just fill in the dates and what’s for dinner. 🙂
  31. Sign-up for customer loyalty and rewards programs. Here is more information on how I save money with customer loyalty programs.
  32. Only wash full loads in your washer and dishwasher.
  33. Eat dinner by candlelight. It’s a romantic way to be thrifty!
  34. Explore DIY security systems. We LOVE our security camera which we can view from anywhere using our smartphones, but you can DIY house-wide systems.
  35. Buy in bulk.
  36. Put on a sweatshirt, fuzzy socks and curl up under a blanket in the winter rather than turning up the heat.
  37. Make your own body butter.
  38. Sell items you aren’t using or no longer have a use for on eBay, Craigslist or through a local Facebook group.
  39. Shop second-hand at consignment or thrift stores.
  40. Stop buying store-bought cleaners and use vinegar, baking soda or dawn instead.

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This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Lasagna Roll-Ups

Italian food is no stranger to our dinner table. We could contently eat Italian every day for a week and sometimes we do! I grew up on this lasagna recipe, and I use this sauce in multiple dishes! 😛 Lasagna roll-ups are already portioned, easy to serve and deliciously fun to eat.

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The first step is to brown your ground beef and drain it. Then combine the ground beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices in a large skillet. (I recommend using a skillet because you want the sauce to heat through evenly.) On low heat, simmer sauce for 45 minutes to an hour.

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This is a double-batch. Did I mention I LOVE this sauce?

After about 30 minutes, cook your lasagna noodles according to package instructions and drain. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the ricotta cheese and eggs, set aside. Set up a mini-assembly line for preparing your roll-ups. Lay the noodles out, spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture on all of them and then spread a layer of sauce. Loosely roll each noodle away from you and place in dish (I put them in foil pans for freezer meals).

Top the roll-ups with more sauce and finally, cheese!

Bake for 1 hour and serve with homemade garlic toast. This is an excellent dish to freeze for a busy night, or freeze and deliver to someone with a new baby or recovering from surgery. I hope you enjoy every bite as much as I do!

Lasagna Roll-Ups

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 12 oz. can Tomato Paste
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1/2 t. Oregano
  • 1/2 t. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 t. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 t. Garlic Salt
  • 1 Bay Leaf (remove after simmering)
  • 1 lb. Lasagna Noodles
  • 15 oz. Whole Milk Ricotta
  • 2 Eggs
  • 16 oz. Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

  1. Brown and drain ground beef.
  2. In a large skillet, combine ground beef, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Stir together.
  3. Cover and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Prepare lasagna noodles according to package instructions and drain.
  5. Whisk together ricotta cheese and eggs in a medium bowl.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Lay out noodles.
  8. Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture over the noodles.
  9. Add a layer of sauce over top of ricotta mixture.
  10. Loosely roll each noodle away from you and place in a casserole dish.
  11. Bake for 1 hour.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

Embracing Customer Loyalty Programs

I am passionate about saving a dollar wherever possible. My husband laughs at how excited I get from the idea of saving a dollar or two, but those dollars add up! Loyalty programs are one of the easiest ways to keep money in your pocket. Everything from free pizzas to gas for $0.45/gallon as rewards for items you were already buying. I can’t wait to tell you all about the loyalty programs I’ve found to be the most worthwhile!

Loyalty Programs Graphic

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher: Above is our current redeemable amount, over $150!! Wal-Mart is no longer participating in Ad-Match. Instead, you enter (online) or scan (in app) your receipt and automatically receive the difference between what you paid and what was advertised at other stores. My parents and I share a savings catcher account, and we use the money to buy all our Christmas baking supplies. It’s like a year-long savings program!

Kroger Plus Card: Sign-up in store for a Plus Card, and then download the Kroger app to link it with an online account. The Kroger app allows you to load digital coupons straight to your Plus Card, view weekly ads and check your Fuel Points. On the subject of Fuel Points, we save up our points, watch for 2x Fuel Points promotions and buy our prescriptions at Kroger to make the most of our spending! Below is how much we paid to fill up both of our cars at $0.45/gallon! (This goes for any of Kroger’s sister companies too.)

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Papa Rewards: Our guilty pleasure is ordering pizzas and we do it way more often than we should. Set up an account, order online or in app and earn points! It’s really that simple. We recently cashed in some points we’d been saving up for a free dinner!

Above are the loyalty programs we receive the biggest benefit from, but Starbucks, Panera, Chick-fil-a and Regal Cinemas all have excellent programs too. I hope you’ve found some ways to stretch your dollar!

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.

DIY Dog Grooming

Do It Yourself Dog Grooming.pngOur American Eskimo Spitz, Hayden, is a bit high-maintenance. Despite lots of time and energy from his foster mom, his undercoat was still a mess and he had stains in his coat when we adopted him. (Adopt don’t shop, y’all! You can even find a picture-perfect purebred like our Haydybug through a rescue!) A basic trip to the groomer would set us back about $75 for a bath, nail trim and paw grooming. For a one-time cost of around $75 you can get ALL the supplies needed to become a successful, well-equiped at-home-groomer.

First, since different breeds require such different styles of grooming, I recommend finding a good tutorial for your dog’s breed on YouTube.

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Sometimes you just need a mohawk to make bath time more fun!

Bath time. Sound daunting? Don’t let it. If your dog knows some basic obedience you’re going to be fine. Hayden really doesn’t like being wet, but we can make his bath experience more comfortable with warm but not hot water. Bath time has become much easier since we bought this hose($10) that attaches to our bathtub faucet. Use a gentle shampoo, and dry them thoroughly. (If you have a white dog with stains, add a little baking soda to the shampoo to help whiten their coat without any harsh chemicals.) Use your hands as a squeegee to remove as much water as possible before using towels to dry further. The more you can dry your dog the more comfortable they will be. Reward! Now is the perfect time for a treat!

Nail trim. Here is a great guide if you are new to trimming dog’s nails. You will need nail trimmers, stypic powder and we prefer a Dremel finish. I like these nail clippers($6) because they have a guard that prevents you from cutting too far. Stypic powder($6) is a must to have on hand in case you cut the quick, but cornstarch or baking soda can also help stop bleeding. Finishing a nail trim with a cordless Dremel($25) leaves the nails smooth because freshly cut nails are sharp.

Grooming. Again, check YouTube for tutorials on how best to trim your dog’s breed, but for us it mainly entails shaping the fur on his paws and trimming fur from between his paw pads. American Eskimo Spitz’s feet are very hairy, but that leads to them getting wet, muddy and tracking it inside. These clippers($22) come with an assortments of guards to control how short you cut the hair. I promise they really are quiet. We recently had to shave a few mats off one of our cats, the drama queen at that, and she stayed cool as a cucumber the whole time.

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Yes, that really is just from one sitting of brushing…

Brushing. For most breeds a Furminator brush will be your best friend. We use one for our cats, and even after years we are still amazed at how much hair they remove. These brushes really help remove the loose undercoat most brushes miss. For long-haired, thick-coated breeds a rake or double-rake brush works best.

 

This blog contains affiliate links from which I may receive monetary compensation. I assure you that I only recommend the products I use, personally, for me and my family. Full disclosure policy here.