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.


  • 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.

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.)


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.



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.

Young Living Essential Oils – Volume I

I’ve talked about the uses, I’ll talk about the benefits, and I’ll recommend these essential oils time and time again. Young Living Essential Oils have changed how I treat rashes, bug bites, burns, pains and strains, coughs, sinus congestion and upset stomachs. These oils are all organic, and have been researched more than any other brand of essential oils. My medicine cabinet and cleaning closet both look considerably different than they did before essential oils came into my life.

First, I’m going to tell you how to get these oils yourself. There are two options for purchasing oils, retail and wholesale. To purchase as a retail customer you can register here and fill in your account information. Retail customers do not receive a discount on their purchases and are not eligible for rewards. Wholesale members receive 24% off all items site-wide. As a wholesale member you are eligible to participate in their Essential Rewards Program which works like a cash-back program. To sign-up as a wholesale member you do have to purchase a starter kit which range from $45-$260 depending on the bundle of items you choose. If you want to dive right in to all of Young Living’s benefits join here!


Young Living Premium Starter Kit Dew Drop Design- $160 ($260+ value)

One of the best ways to utilize essential oils is as an alternative cleaning option. Think about your current kitchen cleaners. What do they all smell like? Citrus! Lemon and orange both have highly antiviral and antibacterial properties. You can use lemons alone to clean, but lets take a look at this visual. interesting-facts-infographicEssential oils are very concentrated oils from the plant they are extracted from. A couple drops of lemon with vinegar works as a kitchen cleaner and sanitizer. But my FAVORITE oil and cleaner is Thieves. Thieves essential oil is a blend of Rosemary, Cinnamon, Lemon, Cloves and Eucalyptus. The name? The herbs in Thieves were used during the bubonic plague by thieves to avoid catching the plague whilst robbing victims houses. Thieves is one of the largest product lines offered by Young Living and includes: cleaner, laundry detergent, bar soap, hand soap, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, veggie wash and the one and only essential oil itself. I keep the cleaner mixed up in a spray bottle at all times. We use the cleaner in our steam mop for an added cleaning boost, and I diffuse the oil to kill bacteria in the air.

I’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to essential oils. I’ll share more later and of course, you will continue to hear about how to use these oils in my other posts. I hope you consider the benefits of natural cleaning and natural healing. Comment with questions or personal experiences, I’d love to hear your stories!


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.

Small Steps to Sustainability

Have you ever evaluated your spending in a desperate attempt to figure out where all your hard-earned income went? Finding sustainable options and alternatives leads towards a self-sufficient way of life rather than being reliant on stores’ merchandise.

Over the years, my husband and I have invested in options that will help save us money. We have items we want to purchase in the future which will reduce spending and our carbon footprint, and we have items that we reuse to give another life. If you start searching the web you can find all sorts of fancy (and PRICEY) items made to be reused. However, I can guarantee you that you can find, thrift, make and repurpose the same items – or something that will do the same job – for next to nothing!!

One of the first changes we made was hang-drying clothes. Perhaps to older generations and foreigners this is a daily concept, but for me this was new. We have 2 large drying racks that hold 1-2 loads of laundry. (I still dry my jeans in a dryer because… there’s nothing better than jeans fresh from the dryer!) When we bought the drying rack we lived in an apartment where we had to pay per load. Every load we hung to dry saved us $1.50. We’ve paid for those drying racks a few times over. Now, living in a house, it reduces our electric bill by using less energy and by not heating our house up. $15-$20 will get you unlimited dry clothes.

In the same spirit, use real dishes to eat on. Paper plates and bowls may be convenient but they are pricey and wasteful. Ditching the paper allows you to reuse and reduce by using the plates you already have. Next on our wishlist is cloth napkins that can be reused again and again to replace the paper napkins AND paper towels!

Ditch the store-bought cleaners! (OK, I still use them on the toilet.) Vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dish soap are your friends. I also would be a horrible person if I didn’t recommend Thieves cleanser to you.

  • Window Cleaner: Dawn dish soap & water
  • Carpet Spot Cleaner: 1 part baking soda & to 2 parts hydrogen peroxide
    •  Great for pet accidents!
  • Drain Cleaner: Baking soda and vinegar
  • Keurig De-Scaler: Vinegar (Tutorial here)
  • Magic Microwave Cleaner: A vinegar soaked sponge; microwave for 5 minutes!

Composting is something that has always fascinated me. As I planted my flower garden this year, I started thinking about how I feel ridiculous paying for soil. Luckily, our city just rolled out new garbage and recycling bins at the beginning of the year. Our two old trash cans were sitting under our deck waiting for their next life. I found some awesome images of people making their own compost bins from up-cycled trash cans. We now have a compost bin that didn’t cost us a dime to make!!


DIY Compost Bin from Up-Cycled Trash Can

Sewing and mending are skills I fought hard not to learn. I much preferred (and still would prefer) to have my mom mend my clothes. But having my own household I have started my own mending. Knowing how to repair a rip, hem a pair of pants or sew on a new button are priceless skills that have given our possessions much longer lives. My mom bought me my first sewing machine this past Christmas, and I have made multiple items since receiving it. I’d rather not talk about the pile of mending laying in the office at the moment. A’hem!
To help propel us into more sustainable options we subscribe to MightyFix. We get a new item every month to replace a previously disposable item. These are the products we’ve already received and love:

Small life changes can impact the environment and your wallet in impressive ways. This isn’t permission to run out and spend $500 on all reusable items, but maybe start exploring how much it will cost to replace your disposable Swiffer duster with a reusable one from Etsy. There is also truth in the saying, “You have to spend money to make (save) money.” i.e. our drying racks. Balance. Balance the wants, the needs and the cost to find the happy medium for your 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.