Tag Archives: homemaking


It’s been a while since I posted anything about our latest home projects. This one has been fun and we are so happy with the results!

We have so needed new tables. We were using folding tables from Walmart- four of them seated everyone, and my mom.
Of course, I dreamed of new tables (have you seen the tables at World Market??). I finally asked Paul about building our family new tables. He chuckled and then realized I was serious.

Pre-built tables are incredibly expensive and still wouldn’t seat enough folks for our needs. I think we would need three of the largest tables we’ve seen.

It’s a long story, but we ended up with some wrought iron pedestals.

Paul and the older boys worked a few days to build the two 10 foot tops. (They are so heavy it took the family from Benjamin, up to Courtney– and including Paul, to move them into the dining room.)

Courtney, Jess and I stained and coated them with polyurethane.
(…may I add I’m glad those fumes are finally fading!)

They seat 18 folks…anyone want to come for dinner???

We had also priced chairs. We chose some we liked, and thought would be sturdy. One day when I was in a local thrift store, I realized we could buy round back chairs for about $6/chair. Add some spray paint, and now we have matching chairs. (For those of you riding by our house wondering why you always see chairs and spray paint in the front yard, now you know! :D )

I still need to buy one additional wooden highchair for Jackson.

I decided to assign seating at our table so all of the littles could have a bigger buddy to sit with them. This also allows me to see who needs some additional training on cleaning up their plates after meals.

For around $20, I picked up clear, heavy vinyl from Walmart….two 12 foot pieces. It worked great to cover our new tables but allow us to see the beautiful wood underneath.

After a few meals, I realized I could add a name for each place and also have a prayer reminder card and maps. My mind is going wild with ideas for adding all sorts of things in the coming months….

Now, when we sit for meals, the children can track travels or favorite friends around the world. Each night, I’ve been giving the children some location to find…they race to see who can find it first!

OK…so I think I need a lazy susan on each table. I’m also wanting to add place mats and maybe a centerpiece of some sort- what do you folks think??

With my love,

Laundry Detergent

Y’all know I’m a GAIN girl, right?

I love the fresh scent…it always smells fresh like spring, even in the dead of winter (though who can tell, this year?).

The price is what I just can’t get past. It’s expensive laundering clothes for this family. I’m always on the lookout for a better deal.

A while back, I found this recipe and decided to give it a try (Jillee’s site is packed full of fantastic homemade cleaning products!). I did decide to double the ingredients as I read through the comments, and I may
decide at some point to try a different soap.

I didn’t really want to like it, but I do. It works perfectly and we’ve now been using it for a couple of months for a cost that is pennies on the dollar compared to the name brand detergent I was using.

Jess and I mixed this soap up a few nights back. This amount should last at least a couple of months! :)

Sorry, GAIN. I need to step away for now (maybe for good!).

Pinterest- Homemade Personal Products

I think most of us have some concerns about the chemicals we use in daily personal care.

I’ve been reading up on a few of the most commonly used hygiene products and the list of chemicals will make you a little sick to your stomach!

When I came across this recipe for toothpaste, and this recipe for deodorant, I couldn’t resist trying them….I had everything I needed on hand and they seemed rather easy.

Courtney actually ended up mixing both for me.

First, the toothpaste.

I didn’t have mint or stevia to add. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad and my teeth felt amazingly clean after I brushed!

Two weeks now since I first started using it and I’m still happy! From what I’ve read, coconut oil is very good for your health….and I can tell my teeth are whiter even after a couple of weeks. I’m VERY happy with the results!

Coconut Oil Toothpaste

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda
  • 25 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 packet stevia

Place the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mix until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, and stevia. Continue to mix until you’ve reached a toothpaste consistency.

I placed mine in a small tupperware container in the bathroom cabinet.

Second, the deodorant was a big surprise!

Natural Deodorant

  • 2-3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/8 Cup Cornstarch
  • (I also added a few drops of lavender oil)

Mix the dry ingredients until well blended. Microwave coconut oil until liquified and add to dry ingredients. Mix well and spoon into a small container. Again, I added mine to a small tupperware container. Once it cooled and hardened, I was able to use it as a stick. Nice!

Oddly, nothing in this would have made me expect it to work. It will not stop perspiration. That said, I’ve also used it for a couple of weeks and have no odor issues. None. Why have I been paying $3 per stick of deodorant all these years? The worst thing I can say is that when you apply the stick, it can flake off a bit.

Do you make your own personal products?? Care to share a recipe??

This Week on Pinterest- Room Deodorizers

I’ve very much enjoyed making our own cleaning and personal products.

Following last week’s post on deodorant and toothpaste, we decided to try this recipe for homemade room deodorizers.

I happened to have the heart shaped silicon molds. Target almost always has these for a dollar or two in their dollar section at the front of the store. I know I’ve seen flowers, hearts, shamrocks, and snowflakes. I’m sure there are others.

I thought they might be a nice way to freshen the new van.

DIY Deodorizing Disks

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 – 2 cups distilled water (or you can boil your water for 10 minutes.)
  • Essential oil
  • Silicone mold or muffin pan

boiling water…I never keep distilled on hand.

I like the idea of these, but I had trouble in a couple of areas.

First, I will definitely add more essential oil than I think I need. We used lemon. You can hardly smell it now. That said, obviously baking soda removes odors which is what I ultimately needed for the big van. If you are wanting to add a nice scent, you will certainly want to add more oil.

Second, I wasn’t thrilled with how dry these were when you remove them from the pan. If you aren’t really careful, they will almost fall apart in your hand. We were able to keep most intact. Our plan was to add them to a jar that could be placed in the van….that worked out- just don’t expect to handle them a whole lot. (I’m wondering now, could you add a bit of coconut or olive oil to keep them together?? Would this still allow the baking soda to be as absorbent? Thoughts, anyone??)

New Sparkle Shoes- Thrifted Finds

Many of you know Emma has had a long-time love for those Wizard of Oz red sparkle shoes.

We found her a pair a couple of years ago. Of course, she’s grown and they have not. She wore them proudly, pretty much everywhere we went for that period of time.

She’s missed them. I’ve looked for a replacement and finally found one:

They were new, with tags(!), at the local thrift store!!

While we were there, Courtney and I also happened upon a light fixture (also with tags from a local lighting store!). For $6 we couldn’t resist.

We had a little help from Jacob–

and now we have this:

Wow! It made such a nice difference outside of our door.

I wish I had taken a “before” picure. We had a small light- this is so much better.

It’s amazing what you can find at those thrift stores!

This Week on Pinterest– Pumpkin Pictures (October 2, 2012)

We don’t celebrate Halloween, but I’m a sucker for fall decorations!

About a year ago, we screwed little cup hooks into each of the bedroom doors.

They are specifically for hanging little seasonal decorations. Just something to add a warm touch to the hall. :)

In any case, I loved this idea on Pinterest for fall. (Don’t you just love Pinterest?!)

With our own spin, I decided to re-create them for our home. (Sorry I don’t have step-by-step pictures, but you’ll probably get the idea!)

We bought frames from the Dollar Tree and gave them a quick spray with Krylon’s Glitter Blast. (A quick note, this spray can be a little difficult when you first use it– just spray a small piece of cardboard for a minute to get the paint started!)

We took the glass out of the frame and covered the back with scrapbooking paper (a different color for each door).

I glued half of a styrofoam pumpkin (these are in the floral section) that I had rubbed down in brown paint.

When you buy them they are a really bright, sort of tacky orange. Rubbing them down with paint really helps make them look a little more realistic (about as much as half of a styrofoam pumpkin can!).

They can be cut easily with a utility knife.

Please do keep them away from any toddlers you may have:

We didn’t.

We have been trying so many of these projects lately. I can’t wait to share more! I actually started a Pinterest board called “ideas we’ve tried” for all the things we’ve been making.


Homemade Laundry Soap

O.K. friends! After hearing so many of you raving about your homemade detergent, I’m taking the plunge.

I picked up some Zote soap and got the boys to work, grating.

(Meredith watched.)

Next, I mixed a cup each of washing soda and borax.

According to what I’ve read, I should only need 1T of detergent for each load of laundry.

Do you know how much money this will save our family??

My washer runs ALL DAY…and sometimes ALL NIGHT.

We are GAIN people. I’ll admit, I will miss the GAIN. I’m a GAIN girl. I could bury my head in a fresh load of warm laundry on a cold day.


Even still, my budget (and probably my family’s health), likes this idea much better.

I’ll let you know how it works for our family!!

One quick question….do any of you scent your soap with essential oil?

Thanks, ladies!

December 11, 2011

Courtney has been helping me get all organized for the coming days. (The impending new year always makes me want to clean!!).

This week, inspired by this post, we set up a de-cluttering schedule. 40 Bags in 40 Days is a quick and simple way to rid your home of unnecessary clutter!!

Want to join us? ;)

My sweet girl made our chart and uploaded it to Scribd…you can download our chart HERE, or create your own.

I want to hear how you do in your own home. I’ll post updates as we work to clear the clutter around here, too.

Emergency Preparation

Preparing for an emergency is never an easy task for a family of any size, but it is really a project for this many folks!

Back in April, we had no power for 5 days.

I was grateful it wasn’t cold….you can always live without the air conditioning. No heat? Well, that becomes a totally different story– especially with little ones in the home.

I also realized there were food items we were missing. At the time, it was easy enough to jump in the car and run to the store, but I was painfully aware if the power was out because of winter weather, that would be a different story.

I began to formulate a plan to prepare for winter weather.

How much food? How to heat the home? (We have no fireplace.) What about other items we might need- paper products, baby formula, diapers, etc.? How about things that might entertain the children while we wait for the power to return?

I keep a little journal with my daily “to-do’s” in the front. In the back, I keep sections for things just like this:

This is not a process that can be completed in a day, or even a week. I’m thinking this is going to be months in the making.

Ideally, I would like to have a box full of games and activities, a box for flashlights, batteries, etc., and boxes for food (enough to feed my family for a seven day power outage–and no, we don’t normally eat Ramen noodles, Tang, and animal cookies for dinner, but in a power outage, anything goes!). We are also storing water, but it won’t need to be added to Rubbermaid totes.

Yesterday, we spent time writing everything down we’ve purchased and gathered, thus far:

These are pictures of food storage, and lighting/heating boxes. We haven’t added everything we have just yet- I’m trying to take my time and make sure it is all sorted, labeled, and listed in my notebook.

We also opted on a propane heat source rather than kerosene. I’ve talked with many folks who said the fumes coming from kerosene can be pretty bad. This little heater seemed to be just what we need:

It’s safe inside, and out. It heats a pretty sizable space and has a built in oxygen sensor.

We purchased the last one on the shelf at our local hardware store. I’ve already bought several propane canisters.

I also have a box specifically for keeping the littles busy if they are stuck indoors. We’ve bought word search/puzzle books, coloring books, card games, puzzles, etc.

I hope it will make the time pass a little faster. Many of these items were purchased at a local Dollar Tree, but I’ll bet after Christmas, there will be lots of stocking stuffers on sale. They would make great emergency box, “fun for kids” time!

Paul and I have made it a habit for a couple of months now to pick up non-perishable food items, batteries, flashlights, etc. each time we visit the store. Buying everything at once would be a tremendous expense, but buying one or two things at every grocery visit makes this preparation quite affordable.

Do you have an emergency stash? What types of items are you storing?