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
  • Print

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.

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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.

 

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!

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
  • 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.

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.

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.

Green Thumb Wannabe

When I still lived with my parents I tried my hand at growing a few things, but they all died… Now, after some small successes last year with our first flower bed, we are expanding our endeavors!

This is what the front of our house looked like when we moved in…

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Please not the dead bush & dead plant in the Halloween cauldron… 

Last year was our first year in this house. We spent the majority of our time cleaning up the mess left behind, and removing dead bushes… However, we did plant the small bed with a variety of day lilies in front of the ramp. This year, however, has been full of plants. Some of our plants are just aesthetically pleasing as I love flowers and color, but we have also planted quite a few edible items!!

With all the dead stuff cleared out we took to preparing new beds. The first order of business was to extend our front flower bed the length of the house. Tilling soil by hand is not for the weak or weary. Even in March we shed some serious sweat! But after it was all said and done we planted a lilac bush, a forsenthia bush, hostas, begonias and dahlias!

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While perusing the garden center I found a half-price greenhouse that would fit on our back deck. I am a huge fan of convenience, and if I have to be inconvenienced very much then the plants are gonna die. I’m just being honest. Plus, I’m more of a water-when-reminded gardener meaning the plant usually has to remind me. We chose our favorite items to grow. The plants that we are least likely to waste perfectly good produce from, and that we spend money buying already. Here’s what’s in the greenhouse: basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and jalapeños (the latter was bough at the farmer’s market).

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Also on our deck, a myer’s lemon tree and pineapple plant. The lemon tree was a must-have after discovering my husband’s addiction to lemon cookies was worse than expected, and the pineapple plant was an impulse buy. Further research on said pineapple plant? This may be the only pineapple plant we EVER grow! It can take 2 years for one pineapple to grow. I’m just not sure I’m that patient. We may only have one every-other year, only time will tell.

Then!! In the corner from the famous bush battle, we tilled a garden to house sweet corn, green beans and pumpkins (jack’o lantern type pumpkins). We fenced it off with PVC pipe and wire. It was about a $30 project to make our own garden fence. On the outside of the fence we planted 2 blueberry bushes and a blackberry bush. *Blueberry bushes need to be planted in pairs for cross-pollination.* I hope to make loads of blackberry jam and blueberry crumble bars in years to come. As for this year, I think the few berries will just make a good snack.

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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.

Battle of the Bush

This is (was) the corner of our fenced yard. Under that GIANT bush. This picture was taken before we started trimming the bush back, last year. It was about 2/3 of this size when we started project kill-the-tree. No one seems to know what kind of bush/tree/monster it was, but we are just so glad its gone!! Four weekends were spent chopping down, digging up and pulling out that tree and its stump. We even learned to replace a section of chain-link fencing along the way.

Removing this giant bush taught us a lot! Once it was finally out we filled in the giant hole, tilled a portion of the area for our first garden, planted berry bushes in front of the fence and seeded the remainder. We can’t wait to watch it grow!

 

 

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.