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.

A Season of Growth

I truly find hope and peace in gardening. Watching my plants grow, blossom and even yield a small harvest is beautiful. While we lost our initial herbs in a bad storm that turned over our greenhouse and threw our plants all around, we’ve replaced them. Our plants are THRIVING! I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves on this one. I hope you’re all enjoying this season as much as we are.

Myer Lemon Tree

From left to right: Pineapple Plant, Cherry Tomato Plant & Jalapeño Plant

 

Left: Zucchini Plant (about to be moved to the big garden); Right: Cantaloupe Plant

 

From left to right: Jack o’ Lantern Pumpkins, Green Beans & Corn

Baby ear of corn ^_^

 

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Currently blooming day-lilies & dahlias

 

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.

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!

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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.

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.

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!!

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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.