Upcycled Fire Starters

Whether its a grill, fire-pit or fireplace, getting the fire going is the hardest part. There are all sorts of products out the for starting fires, and they all come with a pretty price tag. Over the years my family has tried a variety of DIY fire starters for the fire-pit at my grandparents farm. The one thing they all had in common? You still needed charcoal lighter fluid to really get the fire blazing. Alas, that day is gone!

Upcycled Firestarters

We’ve all heard at least one dryer fire story. But did you know that the same thing that causes dryer fires to be so destructive can make an amazing fire starter? Dryer lint. It is incredibly flammable but doesn’t burn out too fast. Making dryer lint the perfect fire starter.

Supplies:

  • Dryer lint
  • Empty toilet paper rolls
  • Newspaper
  • Twine

So here’s how it goes! Stuff the toilet paper rolls full of dryer lint. The tighter you pack them the longer they burn.

Fire Starter #1

Then roll the toilet paper roll up in the newspaper and immediately pinch the paper on either side of the roll. This will prevent the paper from unrolling.

Fire Starter #2

Then tie your twine around either end. Use something organic like cotton, hemp or sisal to prevent burning plastic.

Fire Starter #3

Viola! You just made your own fire starters by using up stuff you would have thrown out or recycled! Surround them with some dry kindling and you’re golden! I hope these prove to be as useful for you as they have for our family!

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.

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Christmas Stovetop Potpourri

Y’all! Prepare to be wowed by one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES!!! Seriously, this stovetop potpourri will make your house smell like a Christmas wonderland. Unlike my Autumn Stovetop Potpourri  which I created this year, we have been using this Christmas version for many years.

Christmas Stovetop Potpourri - My Royally Cheap Life

Boiling water is a great way to get moisture into your home during the dry winter months, but its incredibly boring! Finding a way to make it smell pretty in addition to humidifying the air was awesome! As always, I prefer to use natural fragrances to add scent to my home.

Christmas Stovetop Potpourri #2

Four ingredients makes for a simple way to make your house smell amazing. This is a great recipe to use for parties or just because. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Christmas Stovetop Potpourri

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Orange, sliced
  • 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1/2 cup Cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. Whole Cloves

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot of water. Simmer on low-medium heat, adding water as the level decreases for as long as desired.

*Do not leave unattended.*

 

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.

Coconut Oil Eye Cream

This DIY version of an anti-wrinkle cream was one of the first things I made with coconut oil, years ago. My mom was complaining about how expensive tiny bottles of anti-wrinkle eye cream was, and I had recently read about the benefits of coconut oil on wrinkles and stretch marks.

Eye Cream Graphic

Most drugstore wrinkle creams have Vitamin E in them, which made it an obvious addition. That’s it! Coconut oil & Vitamin E make an excellent anti-wrinkle cream both safe and gentle enough to use on your whole face, including around your eyes.

Melt 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a double-boiler. Once the coconut oil is completely melted, remove it from the heat. Stir in 10 drops of Vitamin E Oil. Pour into a jar and allow to cool before using. Use once or twice a day.

For quality ingredients see My Favorite Ingredients.

 

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!

Autumn Stovetop Potpourri Graphic

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
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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.

DIY Un-Paper Towels

I’ve mentioned before how I wanted some of these, but it hasn’t been in the cards to purchase any. However, while perusing the fabric aisles at Wal-Mart I found some plain cotton fabric on super-sale! I got 2 yards for like $4 and some odd cents. For under $5 I made 24 un-paper towels. Wanting to make some of your own? Here’s how:

Pre-wash AND dry your fabric. Mamma taught me well. If you don’t pre-wash and pre-dry the fabric you can end up with some seriously funky seams the first time they get washed and dried…

Once your fabric is washed, lay it out on a work surface. Cut the fabric into 12×12 inch squares. Here are my favorite tools for working on crafty fabric projects:

Fiskars 3-Piece Rotary Cutting Set (I bought this set 3 years ago, and it’s been tried and true for many projects.)

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Now, if you have a LOT more patience than me, you can pin your hems. But for those of you who want to work smarter not harder, fold the edges in twice and iron the edges down. This is enough to hold it while you sew. Fold in one side, iron, next side, iron and repeat until all four sides are ironed. I recommend ironing all of the pieces at once and then moving onto sewing. My eager little self wasted time and electricity bouncing between ironing and sewing on the first few.

 

Now all you need to do is find a cute little basket or tin to keep them near your sink. We still use traditional paper towels for really nasty messes, but we have used way less than half a roll in the month since I made these.

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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.

Keurig Tune-Up

If you have had a Keurig longer than a year then you’ve witnessed, first hand, you’re cups of coffee shrinking. No it wasn’t your imagination! Hard water build up causes your coffee to taste different AND reduces the amount of coffee you get from each brew. Keurig is very aware of this fact and will sell you some fancy de-scaler for $10/bottle. Spoiler: the bottle is enough to clean your Keurig just once.

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I’ve told you before that there are better cleaning options out there that won’t break the bank. Vinegar tops that list with it’s infinite uses. As luck would have it, vinegar does a wonderful job of cleaning your Keurig. Yay! For $2.50 you can buy 1 gallon of store-brand vinegar (don’t buy a name brand, it’s vinegar, you can’t really screw it up). That’s enough to clean your Keurig at least 5 times. Would you rather clean it for $10 or $0.50? Now lets go through the step-by-step.

  1. Empty any remaining water out of the reservoir.
  2. Fill the reservoir with vinegar to the fill-line.
  3. Run 2 large cup cycles with vinegar only.
  4. Let your Keurig sit for 30 minutes with the vinegar in the machine.
  5. Run the remaining vinegar through on the large cycle.
  6. When the Keurig says “Add more water”, clean the reservoir with soap and water before refilling with water.
  7. Rinse the Keurig with 2 reservoir-fulls of water. (It is very important to use 2 full reservoirs worth of water to rinse out the vinegar. Vinegar-water brewed coffee just ain’t right! Seriously… Trust me on this one!)
  8. Enjoy full brewing capacity and better tasting coffee once-again!

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My husband makes a cup of coffee every morning, but generally just the one cup for the day. We do this cleaning cycle about every 6 months because that is when the brew volume starts to decrease.

Also, we have tried the Keurig brand de-scaler. We did not find it’s results to last as long, and it has an unbelievable amount of chemicals in it.

 

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 Compost Bin from Up-Cycled Trash Can

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are trying to decrease our carbon footprint. Of course our goal is always to do so without breaking the bank. Early this spring while planning additions to our garden I stumbled upon information about composting. Composting seemed like a perfect addition since we already recycle. However, compost bins are a special kind of expensive! I mean really, what is SOOO special about that plastic bin to make it cost $90?!?! My dear friend, Pinterest, showed me option to build your own compost bins, but I still wasn’t convinced. After all, we would still be spending around $40 to buy the supplies needed.

One day, it dawned on me. Sitting underneath our deck were 2 trash cans. Our city recently distributed matching trash bins to all the residents, and our 2 trash cans no longer had a purpose. After a few Google searches, I found some pictures of trash can bins turned compost bins. My research into compost bins continued. So what is needed for a successful compost bin?

  • Airflow
  • Moisture
  • “Brown” Items

Items you need:

  • Trash can or even a large Rubbermaid container
  • Drill
  • Large drill bit (1/2″ or larger)
  • Bricks, cinderblocks or wood

Gather all your items outside. A concrete surface would be ideal to allow you to sweep up the plastic shavings. Decide where your compost bin will live. We chose just outside of our side-door exiting the garage because we knew it needed to be in a convenient location for us to actually utilize it.

  1. Take the lid off and set it on the ground. Begin drilling 1/2″ or 3/4″ holes every 2″-3″. The goal is to create a grid of holes on every surface of your container.
  2. Drill holes all around the container itself, even the bottom. Our trash can has wheels on the bottom which affected the grid, but you want the most airflow possible.
  3. Once you have a grid pattern over your whole container/trash can, clean up all the shavings. You aren’t reducing your carbon footprint by leaving plastic out in the environment.
  4. Begin filling your compost bin! Shred apart cardboard, newspaper and printer paper to create a 6″ layer of your “brown” items on the bottom of your bin. See other awesome items to compost below!
    1. Fruits, veggies & their peels
    2. Coffee grounds & coffee filters
    3. Tea bags
    4. Rinsed egg shells (crushed in your garden egg shells deter slugs)
    5. Grass clippings,
    6. Dead & dried leaves
    7. Shredded paper & newspaper
    8. Dryer lint, hair & pet fur
  5. Maintain your compost bin by watering once or twice weekly, enough to keep it moist. Aerate it by rolling it around the yard once a week- the benefit to a round trash can.

Compost No-No’s: Avoid dairy, meat, fats like oil, pet waste, pesticides and coal ashes.

 

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.

Paw Print Oranments

I’m always looking for ways to incorporate my furbabies, and I have seen a few paw print ornament kits sold in stores. A kit for 1 paw print is over $10 in stores! You have to be kidding me! Sculpey Oven Bake Clay runs about $2.50 in stores (be sure to check for coupons for your local craft store- up to 50% off a regular priced item isn’t uncommon). I bought 2 packs of clay and used the same ribbon as I bought for my Cinnamon Ornaments. I made a total of 3 ornaments for $5 instead of $30 buying the kits for 3 prints.

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Sculpey Oven Bake Clay – About $2.50 at your local craft store

Step-by-step instructions:

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For small dogs and cats use half a block (2 sections) and for medium and larger dogs use the whole block (4 sections). Warm the clay in your hands by squeezing and kneading it. This makes it much more workable. Then roll it into a ball.

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Roll the ball out to about 1/4″ thickness. I used a Coke can to roll mine out. Then press your pets paw into the ornament. Add a hole to the top of the ornament BEFORE baking with a straw.

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If you are making multiple pet’s paw prints at once label some wax paper to avoid any confusion. Bake for 15 minutes at 275 degrees.

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Allow the ornaments to cool completely before adding ribbon and writing your pet’s name on the front of the ornament. I also wrote their adoption dates on the back of the ornament. Viola! You’ve made your very own paw print ornaments for much less than if you’d bought a kit.

 

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.

Cinnamon Ornaments

These ornaments have a special place in my heart as I grew up making them with my mom. I’ve taken them to a new level though, and I’m going to tell you how to make these cute ornaments that leave your house smelling like Christmas time. Below you’ll find the directions and recipe for how to make these ornaments.

Cinnamon Ornament Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 C. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¾ C. Plain Applesauce
  • 2 T. Elmer’s White Glue
  • Optional (Add for an extra spicy scent.)
  • 1 T. Ground Cloves
  • 1 T. Ground Nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine ingredients together in a bowl, kneading until well combined.
  3. Roll dough out sandwiched between wax paper.
  4. Using cookies cutters, cut out desired shapes. Roll out remaining dough and repeat until all dough has been used.
  5. Use a straw to cut a hole out of the top of the ornament where your ribbon will go.
  6. Arrange ornaments on a cookie sheet. (Tip: You don’t need to space out the ornament since they won’t expand, just make sure they aren’t touching.)
  7. Bake for 2 hours.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack. For best results cool overnight as ornaments will remain brittle until fully cooled.
Other needed supplies include ribbon, scissors, glitter and/or puffy paint.
You can add glitter to the dough for ornaments that truly sparkle.

If you want to do this craft in a classroom or without using electricity you can leave the ornaments out to dry for 2-3 days. They will dry faster if you flip them once a day until dry. Once the cookies are dry you can thread the ribbon through the hole and tie them off.

Decorating the ornaments. There are two options for making these ornaments look even cuter. You can either mix silver or gold glitter into the dough or decorate with puffy paint after they are dry to make them look like iced gingerbread cookies. Never fear, they are equally adorable if you don’t decorate them at all!cinnamon-ornaments-1

Royally Cheap Tip: Buy your cinnamon at Costco. I bought a 3 cup container of cinnamon for $2.74! Enough cinnamon to make 3 batches of ornaments! 🙂

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.