How To Make A Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleaners

When my kids were babies, I would spend their nap times in the bathrooms with the vent fan running, scrubbing away and trying not to breathe the toxic fumes.  However, the day came when they no longer napped, and, even worse, they wanted to help!  I didn’t want them in the room, much less handling the chemicals in those cleaners.  So, I set out to find a better way to a cleaner home. 

Honestly, I didn’t think natural cleaners could live up to the cleaning power of chemical products.  But, for the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised.  In the cases that I do have to turn to a chemical cleaner, I simply rest in the fact that our exposure has decreased substantially.  

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleanersThe staple of a great natural cleaning arsenal is a great all purpose cleaner.  This easy-to-make cleaner combines citrus (which works as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener) and vinegar (which serves to break down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria).  It’s completely safe for the kids, cheap to make, and smells amazing!  Use it to clean and deodorize sinks, stovetops, countertops, bathtubs, floors, toilets, and more. 

Grab the printable recipe below!

How To Make Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Glass jar
  • Orange peels (or any other citrus fruit peels)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of salt
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
Instructions
  1. Fill your glass container with orange peels. (You can save orange peels in the freezer until you have enough and are ready to make the cleaner.)
  2. Lightly coat the orange peels with salt and let them sit for at least 30 minutes. This will pull the oils from the peels for a great citrus smell and more cleaning power.
  3. Fill your container with vinegar and water. I like about half and half.
Notes
Any combination of citrus fruit peels can be used. Experiment to find a scent you love! Essential oils can also be added along with the vinegar and water.

Now that you have a cleaning product that’s safe for your little ones, check out these tips for getting your toddler to help around the house!

Do you cringe when your toddler wants to "help" you around the house? Read why you should let them help and how to deal with the messiness. #parenting #momhacks #toddlers
Are you concerned about the chemicals in your home?  Have you made any of your own cleaners?

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How To Make Powdered Laundry Detergent Without Grating Soap

Last week, as I was grating a bar of soap to make another batch of homemade laundry detergent, I decided that there had to be a better way.  So, after a little poking around on-line, I learned that Ivory soap expands and turns to a foam when heated in the microwave.  Aside from being a really cool science experiment to do with the kids, I found it to be the perfect solution to my soap-grating woes!


When removed from the microwave, the Ivory will be brittle and flaky but will retain all of it’s cleaning power.  So, it’s super easy to run it through your food processor and end up with a fine powder–perfect for the powdered laundry detergent recipe below.  Or, you can simply crumble it with your hands and add it in place of the grated soap in this liquid detergent recipe.

Do you want to make homemade laundry detergent but don't like grating soap? This post will show you how! (Plus, it's a really cool science experiment!) #laundrysoap #homemadecleaners

Remember, this only works with Ivory soap.  Oh, and be sure to check out why it works

Update:  A reader informed me that this will also work with Fels Naptha.  Just keep a close eye on it and don’t “overcook”. 

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may (at no additional cost to you) receive a commission.  Thank you so much for your support!


Powdered Laundry Detergent 

Tools you will need:  A microwave, food processor, and a recycled container for storage.  (Here’s a quick way to remove the label.)

Ingredients:

Place Ivory soap on a plate in the microwave and cook, watching constantly. It will turn to a foam. Once cooled, use your food processor to turn it to a fine powder. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and store in recycled container. Use 2 tablespoons per load.

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Screen Doors. How I Added Character To A Boring Hardware Store Door.

Screen doors are essential to any farmhouse. Read how to add character to a boring hardware store door. #diy #screendoor #farmhouses

Few things make me think of simpler times like the screech and bang of a screen door.  My thoughts immediately migrate to homemade pies, barefoot summers, and snapping green beans.  So, I decided early on that a screen door is an essential part of our farm house.  However, my many searches for old screen doors with character were in vain, so I created my own.  🙂

Screen doors are essential to any farmhouse. Read how to add character to a boring hardware store door. #diy #screendoor #farmhouses

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my full disclosure in the left sidebar.

At the hardware store, we picked up an unfinished wood screen door (~ $35), a screen door hardware kit (~$8), and a spray can of polyurethane (~$9).  I already had some red paint from another project and my trusty Sharpie paint pen.  I gave the door a quick sand and applied three coats of red paint.  As it was drying, I chose a font and size for the lettering, printed it off, and used this technique to transfer the lettering onto the door.  

Screen doors are essential to any farmhouse. Read how to add character to a boring hardware store door. #diy #screendoor #farmhouses
Once the lettering was dry, I applied a couple of coats of polyurethane to protect my new door from the elements, allowed it a day to dry completely, and Mister used the hardware kit to hang it!  And, my new “old” screen door was complete!  I love the character that it adds to our patio, being able to let a breeze go through the house without letting flies in, and the screech-bang it makes every time I go through it!

How about you?  Have you done any projects lately?  Do you like to make new things look old?  What techniques do you use?

The lettering technique used on our door can give any project that “hand-painted” look, and anyone can do it–even the non-crafty!

This lettering technique gives any project that "hand-painted" look and even the non-crafty can do it! #palletsign #handpainted #diy #painttechnique www.ourlifeouthere.com

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This post contains affiliate links.  See my full disclosure on the left sidebar.

Easy Sausage Gravy (Plus A Freezer Recipe)

This sausage gravy is easy to make and will remind you of grandma's home cooking! Even better, the recipe gives freezer instructions for a quick, hot breakfast! #biscuitsandgravy #sausagegravy #homecooking

I love old movies!  I love getting a peek into how life might have been before we became so industrialized as a nation.  One thing that has always fascinated me is how the whole town seemed to look forward to the County Fair.  The whole family would load up their buggies with their best animals, quilts and mama’s famous pies.  The anticipation was so thick that you couldn’t help but be drawn into the excitement on the screen.  The day was full of rides, interesting sites, and sweet treats for the kids.  The ladies took their placement in the domestic arts competitions very seriously.  And, the men enjoyed a little gambling on the buggy races.  I don’t know how historically accurate those movies are, but the nostalgia of everyone taking a day away from their incredibly hard work to come together for fellowship, fun and friendly competition always puts a smile on my face.

So, this year the kids and I gathered up our creations and submitted them for display and judging at our local county fair.  The entry part was a little tedious–filling out what seemed to be 100 tags and standing in line multiple times with four kids to submit our items in the proper categories.  However, I chalk a lot of that up to lack of experience.  We’re going in with a plan next year!  And, Saturday morning, when we walked around as a family seeing our goodies on display and finding some of them with ribbons (and even cash prizes), it was totally worth it!  The kids were thrilled with their ribbons, and all have plans to come back next year with even better entries–including rabbits and chickens!

This sausage gravy is easy to make and will remind you of grandma's home cooking! Even better, the recipe gives freezer instructions for a quick, hot breakfast! #biscuitsandgravy #sausagegravy #homecooking

That morning, I also competed in the gravy cook-off and Towhead showed his eggs.  We were both happy with the results.

This sausage gravy is easy to make and will remind you of grandma's home cooking! Even better, the recipe gives freezer instructions for a quick, hot breakfast! #biscuitsandgravy #sausagegravy #homecooking

I have to admit, winning meant quite a bit to me.  More than anything, I want to be a skilled homemaker, but I grew up in a generation that didn’t really value those skills.  For years, making anything without a recipe scared me–especially gravy!  Trust me.  If you had witnessed some of my failures in my early years of marriage, you’d understand.

This sausage gravy is easy to make and will remind you of grandma's home cooking! Even better, the recipe gives freezer instructions for a quick, hot breakfast! #biscuitsandgravy #sausagegravy #homecooking

Anyway, years ago I read a newspaper article written by a Home Economics teacher.  She shared a gravy recipe that she has been teaching students for over 25 years.  There’s even an option to freeze the cooked sausage and flour, then just add milk and cook for a quick breakfast!  Nowadays, I don’t stress so much about the measurements, but the basic idea is still the same.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have.  🙂

This sausage gravy is easy to make and will remind you of grandma's home cooking! Even better, the recipe gives freezer instructions for a quick, hot breakfast! #biscuitsandgravy #sausagegravy #homecooking

Easy Sausage Gravy (Plus A Freezer Recipe)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ pound sausage
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Brown the sausage in heavy skillet.
  2. Pour off grease and add 6 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Stir until the flour is evenly distributed.
  4. Add 3 cups milk, ½ cup at a time.
  5. Stir to make a paste, as you add the remaining milk, evenly mix the milk throughout.
  6. Cook until thickened.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Notes
To make ahead of time, brown the sausage, drain the fat and coat it with flour. It can then be frozen. Just add milk and cook until thickened.

 

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Pallet Sign Lettering Technique (It’s Easy Even For The Un-Crafty!)

This lettering technique makes hand painted signs easy even if you're not crafty. #crafting

Pallets.  Five minutes on Pinterest and you’re sure to see tons of uses for them–everything from furniture to gardening to flooring to signs.  So, when Mister drug some home, I couldn’t wait for a trip to town to make a rustic farmhouse pallet sign.  As he disassembled the pallet, I rounded up my supplies.  Paint-Check.  Paintbrushes-Check.  Sandpaper-Check.  Stain-Check.  Stencils or expensive cricut machine to do lettering-Umm… No go. 

Use this easy lettering technique to make a "hand-painted" pallet sign! #pallet #craft #farmhousesign www.ourlifeouthere.com
This post contains affiliate links.  See my full disclosure on the left sidebar.

I was determined not to let progress on my pallet project stop.  Trust me.  Around here, if I stop in the middle of a project, something else will take it’s place, and it may be a very, very long time before I get back to it.  Fortunately, after a few minutes on-line, I found this great post by Homespun Happenings and the pallet project was saved! 

(Hint:  To disassemble the pallet, run a reciprocating saw with a demolition blade between the boards to cut right through the nails.  This saves you a lot of work and leaves the nail heads in the boards, giving your creations a lot of character.)

Once Mister had my board free, I applied a light coat of my chosen paint color to it.  I left the edges un-painted, so I could get a distressed look without a lot of sanding.  While the paint was drying, I printed off the lettering in the size and font that I liked.  Then, I colored the back of the lettering with a pencil.pallet sign lettering 1

 Next, I positioned the phrase on the board, taped it in place, and traced around the letters. 

pallet sign lettering 2

Tracing the letters transferred the outline onto the board.  All I had to do was trace over the outline with my Sharpie Paint Marker and color the letters in!  Easy peasy.

Once the letters were dry, I used sandpaper to distress it a little more and applied a light layer of dark gel stain to age it a little. 

Use this easy lettering technique to make a "hand-painted" pallet sign! #pallet www.ourlifeouthere.com
I am so excited to find this “why didn’t I think of that” lettering technique and am sure that it will be useful in SO MANY projects! 

What about you?  Do you have any projects that this can help with?

After the awesome results on my pallet sign, I used this technique on our screen door, and I LOVE how it turned out!  Check it out!

This is a great way to add character to any screen door. #screendoor #countryliving www.ourlifeouthere.com

Featured on: Front Porch Friday

How To Make A Chicken Pin Cushion

My chicken pin cushion

Sewing is one of the many homesteading skills I’m trying to learn.  In fact, I have “become a successful seamstress” on my Bucket List.  So, when I came across these adorable chicken pin cushions, I HAD to make a chicken pin cushion of my own!

If you're looking for a beginner sewing project, these are a great place to start! They're easy and super cute! #chickens #sewing #easysewing

Of course, all of my kids wanted their own chickens, and, since we were experiencing extreme cold, snow and ice, I thought it would be a good day to introduce them to the sewing machine.  🙂  It’s a fairly simple project and Red Ted Art has a complete tutorial.  They also have tons of fun kid projects, so I have a feeling I’ll be visiting often.

I do have to caution you, though.  I have a feeling that these chicken pin cushions are going to be like their live counterparts, you can’t have (or make) just one!  It’s called “chicken math.”  😉

Here are the kids’ finished chickens:

If you're looking for a beginner sewing project, these are a great place to start! They're easy and super cute! #chickens #sewing #easysewing

Have you made these chicken pin cushions?  What do you do with your kids when your stuck inside due to bad weather?

Crockpot Oatmeal in 60 Seconds

In a rush every morning? Prepare this crockpot oatmeal the night before and wake up to a healthy, hot breakfast! #crockpotrecipes #crockpotoatmeal #frugalrecipes

It happens every morning.  My family gets up, and they want to eat.  I get it.  They’re hungry, but I’m SO not a morning person.  So, our options are eat expensive and not-so-healthy cold cereal, eat breakfast at 11:00 when my brain turns on, or I can prepare breakfast the night before.  When I discovered this crockpot oatmeal recipe, it was an instant hit! 

In a rush every morning? Prepare this crockpot oatmeal the night before and wake up to a healthy, hot breakfast! #crockpotrecipes #crockpotoatmeal #frugalrecipes

My family loves having a hot breakfast waiting for them, and I love the fact that it’s quick, easy, and healthy.  I buy organic steel cut oats from a coop for 87 cents a pound!  And, we never get bored of it because there are so many ways to change up oatmeal!

Here’s a quick tutorial video.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!

What does your family do for breakfast?  Do you ever make it the night before?

Check out these other uses for oatmeal!

Oatmeal is healthy and inexpensive! Check out all of it's uses both in and out of the kitchen! #frugalrecipes #homemadebeautyproducts #oatmealrecipes

Would you like some more tips for saving money on food?  Check out this post!

Great tips for saving on food! #savingmoney #debtfreedom #frugalliving

Here’s another great oatmeal recipe!

These Italian Meatloaf Balls are made without pre-made bread crumbs and cooking them in a mini muffin pan allows the grease to drain off. Plus, they're delicious! #beefrecipes #comfortfood

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

Wool dryer balls both save you money and cut down on the chemicals in your home. Plus, they are super easy to make! Here's how. #frugalliving #greenliving #homemadecleaners

After we started making our own laundry detergent, the logical next step was to find a way to replace those expensive, chemical-filled dryer sheets.  Enter wool dryer balls.  As wool dryer balls bounce around in the dryer, they separate your clothes, allowing more hot air to circulate through of all the garments as the wool soaks up moisture.  This results in a shorter drying time, fewer wrinkles, and softer clothes. 

Wool dryer balls both save you money and cut down on the chemicals in your home. Plus, they are super easy to make! Here's how. #frugalliving #greenliving #homemadecleaners

Shout out to reader, Leisha, for the beautiful pictures of her homemade dryer balls!  Don’t they make you just want to do laundry?  Well, almost…


Betsy over at DIY Natural outlines the benefits.

  • They decrease drying time, saving you money on utility bills. (Especially helpful in the winter months!)
  • Commercial fabric softeners and dryer sheets are filled with harmful chemicals and perfumes that coat your clothing, eventually ending up on your skin. These chemicals can be especially harsh on sensitive skin. There are no chemicals in wool dryer balls!
  • Commercial dryer sheets can be costly, and are thrown away after use. Wool dryer balls can be re-used for years, saving you hundreds of dollars.
  • Commercial fabric softeners shouldn’t be used on cloth diapers. Wool dryer balls are perfect for keeping your cloth diapers soft and chemical-free.
  • Wool dryer balls won’t affect the absorbency of your towels, kitchen cloths, or cloth diapers – commercial softeners will.
  • 100% wool dryer balls increase fluffiness and reduce static as dryer loads tumble.
  • Dryer balls help to soften clothes naturally.
  • Dryer balls are made from a renewable resource.

With the cold temperatures outside, our highest energy usage is currently our dryer, so I can’t wait to give these a spin.  (Pun intended!)

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a commission at no cost to you.  Thank you for supporting our blog!


What you will need:

**100% wool–NOT wool labeled “superwash” or “machine washable” (We are blessed to have a local farmer to buy from.  If you don’t, try a craft store or one of these links:  Wool roving, Wool yarn, or wool scraps)
**old panty hose
**scissors
**a washer and dryer
**essential oils (optional)

Stretch, twist and roll your wool into a tight ball about the size of an orange.  Tuck in the end and put the ball in the toe of the pantyhose.  Stretch the hose over the ball and make a tight knot.  Make additional balls and insert into pantyhose, separating by knots.  It will look like a pantyhose caterpillar.  🙂  Now wash you caterpillar in HOT water (preferably with other laundry) and dry completely.  (Note:  Please make sure that the dye in your wool does not run.  I’ve never had a problem with ours, but I wouldn’t want a load of laundry to get ruined!)  Cut the pantyhose off and admire your new dryer balls.  Optional:  Put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on each ball.

To use, simply throw them in the dryer with each load of laundry, and let them go to work.

Do you use an alternative to dryer sheets?  How about any other homemade cleaning products?

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Canvas Art Project For Kids

Kid craft

We’ve gotten a little rain here in Oklahoma over the last few weeks…  Who am I kidding?  I keep waiting for the animals to start pairing up in twos!  Anyway, while my kids have no problems playing in the mud holes, I was starting to get a little tired of cleaning up the mess!  (Mud starched jeans, anyone?)

Muddy jeans

So, I put together a little indoor art project for them, and, even though I did end up cleaning up the paint mess, at least it was a colorful change of scenery from boring brown mud.

I picked up of of the economy canvases, an assortment of acrylic paints, paintbrushes, and masking tape at the craft store.  Then, I used the masking tape to make designs on the canvas.  I did abstract letters with lines that continued from one canvas to another.  (Make sure that you have your canvases spaced the same distance apart that you plan to hang them so you have continuous lines.)  

Kids Canvas Art

Next, I let them paint to their hearts content!

Kids canvas art project.  www.ourlifeouthere.com

Once the paint was thoroughly dry, I simply removed the tape!

This canvas art project is easy enough for any age!  #kidart #kidactivities #artproject www.ourlifeouthere.com

They were all proud of their artwork, and I was proud to display it on my wall!

This canvas art project is easy enough for all ages to enjoy.  And, you'll love to hang the final product on your wall!  #kidcrafts #kidactivities #artproject www.ourlifeouthere.com

 
Of course, then they all headed back to the mud puddle!

 Summer art projects.

 
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to be the mom of farm kids, check out this post!

13 Things I never said before I had farm kids!  #farmlife #countrylife #farmkids www.ourlifeouthere.com

DIY Compost Pail

As part of the Great Homesteading Challenge, we are learning about composting.  So, I gathered up my very favorite composting articles.  One of my favorites was this DIY composting pail from Bye Bye Brooklyn.  I initially thought of it as an option for people that were trying to compost in an apartment.  However, I very quickly found out that I didn’t want to walk out to my compost bin three or four times a day.  So, after a few weeks of leaving bowls full of compostables on my kitchen counter, I decided that I needed a counter top compost pail for myself!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my full disclosure in the sidebar.

I found this great pail at a boutique in town.  It was more expensive than the $8 pail in the post, but it was perfect for my kitchen and on sale for $15.

HOW TO MAKE COMPOST BUCKET

I picked up a cat litter box air filter and a strip of Velcro at the dollar store, then used the Velcro to attach the air filter to the lid. (Note: If you attach the “hooked” side of the Velcro to your lid, it will stick to the air filter–no need to put the other side of the Velcro on the air filter.)  The filter should keep odors at bay for three months.

how to make compost pail

Last but not least, I wanted to keep my cute little pail clean, so I repurposed a 5 pound cottage cheese container as a liner. Here’s how to remove the printed label from the container.

countertop compost pail

And, there you have it, my DIY compost container! And, best of all, no more bowls of compost on my counters!

DIY COMPOST PAIL