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 Chop An Onion Like A Boss (And Without Crying)

You don't need a special kitchen gadget to chop an onion, just a good knife, a cutting board and this technique. #kitchenhack #kitchentip #onions

Years ago, at my wedding reception, I sang “Any Man Of Mine” by Shania Twain to my very surprised new husband.  I don’t think he understood the full weight of the line “When I cook him dinner and I burn it black, he’d better say, ‘mmm, I like it like that.'”  In addition to multiple burned meals, he endured very garlic-y salsa because I didn’t know the difference between a clove and a bulb, gravy made with wheat flour because it was all I had and didn’t figure it really mattered, extra trips to the grocery store because I was convinced that I couldn’t make grilled cheese sandwiches or toast without squeeze Parkay, and then there was that sauteed burned onion…

You don't need a special kitchen gadget to chop an onion, just a good knife, a cutting board and this technique. #kitchenhack #kitchentip #onions

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and choose to make a purchase, I may (at no additional cost to you) receive a sales commission.  Your support allows us to continue bringing you great content.  🙂

Even though I don’t consider myself a great cook, I’ve definitely come a long way, baby.  And, along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things that have made my life easier and my time in the kitchen more enjoyable.  A faster way to chop onions has definitely been one of those things, along with the fact that chopped onions can be frozen.  Simply chop the onion, put it in a Ziplock freezer bag, squeeze the air out, flatten, seal, and freeze!  Next time you need onions for a soup or casserole, they’re ready to go!  Now, that’s just crazy talk!

Check out the video!

By the way, if chopping onions makes you cry, check out these onion goggles!  If goggles in the kitchen aren’t your thing, try one of these techniques.  

Did you know how to cook when you moved out of your parents home?  What tips have you learned to make your time in the kitchen easier?

This one tip made mealtimes with our four kids so much smoother. #momhack #mealtimehack

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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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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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But What About The Kids? What My Kids Taught Me About Contentment.

So many times, we worry about giving our kids THINGS. Find out how my kids...yet again... taught me what was really important! #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Anytime we make life decisions, our kids and how they will be affected is a big consideration–as it should be. Our great escape to “the middle of nowhere” was no exception. We knew that in the long run, moving to the country would give our kids amazing childhood memories and help them learn responsibility sooner. However, from our perspective they had a much more comfortable life in our city house. They had their rooms, a playroom, the oversized backyard jungle gym, their friends, their video games, a neighborhood pool, frequent trips to restaurants and other fun kid places, and way too many toys. Even though we tried to enjoy the simple things in life, we were the typical overindulged American family. And, honestly, we still are. But, we’re getting better…

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Our move into the garage-house required them to share sleeping areas. Many of their toys have been put into storage. There is no playroom. We often trip over each other. We wait for our turn in the one bathtub, and taking a long, hot shower is a treat. We limit our trips to restaurants and other entertainment. There is no jungle gym. Seeing friends, or anyone for that matter, requires planning.

 

Like any momma, I worried that they would have trouble with the adjustment and miss the things they previously had. I was concerned that going from spending their days in decorated rooms and landscaped yards to a living space designed with functionality in mind would be too much. I fretted about them feeling isolated or bored, especially since we were ditching video games and most t.v.  I wondered if they would grow up deprived because we wouldn’t have time for all of those cool crafts in my “For The Kids” folder on Pinterest.

Despite any misgivings, inside we knew that this would be the best move for our family. I figured that we would survive our temporary arrangements–sacrificing now so that we could have so much more later. But, how well do kids grasp the concept of delayed gratification? A month is forever in a young child’s mind. Can we help them keep their eye on the prize for months… Or even years? Those were the things running through my head–yet again–on that fateful day when we walked away from our old home for the last time, then again as I assembled our beds and lined them up along our South wall in the garage-house.

But, the next morning, as the sun roused me from my semi-conscious state, I awoke to giggles… Then all out laughing. I looked over at my oldest child, who was stretched across his bed, gazing across the prairie to the adjoining ranch and asked what was so funny. “Cows.” he responded, “There are cows out there.” And, for millionth time in my kids’ short lives, they taught me something… PERSPECTIVE.

Happiness has little to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with us. <Tweet that!

 

We know this intellectually, but our kids live it. Because, where I see a tight living space, they see togetherness. Where I see land that needs landscaping, they see hours in the dirt–or mud–with their favorite dump trucks. Where I see no video games, they see a life-sized Angry Bird game made from a leftover lumber tower, pvc pipe and bungie cord slingshot, and $1 grocery store balls. Where I see the loss of a neighborhood pool, the see a water trough and a garden hose. Where I see the loss of their own rooms, they see the opportunity to chat and giggle late into the night. Where I see no jungle gym, they see a great climbing tree with the perfect branch for a tire swing. Where I see fewer trips to the restaurant, they see more time to play. Where I see less time with friends, they see each other…

Have your kids surprised you with their reaction to a major life change?  When was the last time you took slowed down and enjoyed life through your kids’ eyes?

My kids have taught me so much.  Here’s what I learned the day I found them making Bucket Lists and why I think every kids needs one.

goal setting for kids

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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?

The Envelope System–5 Reasons You Should Give It A Try

Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting

It happens so easily.  You run into the grocery store to pick up two things, and $200 later you are loading a whole buggy full of stuff into your car.  From bright, enticing displays to candy bars right at your 5-year-old’s eye level, retailers have a plan to get you to spend!  In order to keep your hard earned cash in your pocket, you have to have a plan, too.  Enter… The Envelope System!

Does it seem like you blow your budget every week? The cash envelope system really works. Read to find out why you should give it a try! #envelopesystem #debtfree #frugallliving #budgeting

I know.  I know.  Using cash is SO 1980, but stick with me here while I tell you why I LOVE the envelope system.

1.  I always know how much I have to spend.  When I go to the store, there is no question how much I have left in my budget.  All of the cash I have to spend is right there.  When it’s gone, it’s gone!

2.  It’s guilt free.  When I make a purchase, I don’t have to feel guilty about spending the money.  It’s already been set aside for that purpose.  And, once the purchase is made, I don’t have to think about it anymore.  There’s no receipt to keep up with or deduction to be made from my account.

3.  I don’t go over budget.  I don’t spend money that’s not in my budget because it’s not there!

4.  I spend less!  I am attached to my money.  When I spend it, I have to leave it there at the store.  When I use plastic, I swipe it, and they give it back to me.  I just don’t feel the same loss that I feel when I spend cash.

5.  It helps us reach our goals.  Sometimes when we are really working at a goal, I will get creative at the grocery store or with our entertainment and put the money I saved towards our goal.  I love the challenge and the extra boost it gives our financial situation!

I challenge you to set up an envelope system and use it for the next few months.  Grab a few envelopes, write the categories that are influenced by your spending on them–things like groceries, entertainment, and clothing.  Don’t worry about making envelopes for things such as utilities and rent payments.  Put your budgeted amount in each envelope, and you’re good to go!

If you would like something besides plain envelopes, check out these options for every budget!

Have you ever used the envelope system?  If you, would you give it a try?

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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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Homestead Happenings – Spring

I don’t think I ever welcomed spring as enthusiastically as I do now that we are homesteaders.  Although the first months of winter feel like a long sought-after relief from the summer heat, by mid-January I am wondering what on earth I was thinking as I break ice and thaw chicken waterers.  Fortunately, I’ve learned to hold on just a little longer because spring is right around the corner, and, along with green grass, blue skies, and white, fluffy clouds, spring brings new babies and gardening!

We’ve had an unusually wet spring, and while I haven’t had to water my garden, I also haven’t been able to work in it much without sinking in the mud to my knees. 

garden this spring

My oldest son bought a breeding trio of dutch rabbits, and we welcomed our first litter of kits in April!  They are growing so fast, and watching them play sends me into cuteness overload. 
 Baby bunnies
And, of course, what is spring without chicks? 

Baby chicks

And… turkeys.  After raising the 47 pound (dressed) monsters last year, I said I wasn’t going to buy any more meat turkeys, but they were buy one get one free.  What’s a girl to do?  I bought six.
 raising turkeys

Last, but not least, and possibly my favorite addition, we finally got water lines to the barn and to the chicken/garden area!  This is HUGE, ya’ll!  No more hauling water or dragging water hoses!  (And, the kids had a blast making “boats” and floating them down the “canal”.)  🙂
 installing a water line

 Thanks for stopping by to see what we’re up to.  What’s going on at your place this spring?

 

The Forest of Lost Dreams–The Story of the Dunstan Chestnut

It was a normal morning of feeding animals, doing math, and washing dishes when Mister called to tell me about the trees that his co-worker bought.  There is a limited supply of this particular tree, and they are only shipped out to certain stores across the U.S. once a year.  Fascinated by their story, I began to do some research on the Dunstan Chestnut tree.

plant dunstan chestnut trees

The American Chestnut Tree has been called the most important tree in American history.  Residing in the Eastern Hardwood forest, every part was valuable in early America.  It’s plentiful, high carbohydrate nuts provided food for North American settlers and wildlife alike.  It’s wood is rot-resistant, which made it a popular choice for everything from fence posts to furniture.  And, its tannin was used in the tanning industry.

Sadly, in 1904, a bark fungus (which causes chestnut blight) was accidentally introduced from the Orient, and, over the next few decades, up to 3 billion American Chestnut Trees succumbed to the disease.  The American Chestnut Tree seemed to be lost forever.  However, in the 1950s, a blight-free chestnut tree was found amongst a grove of infected trees.  Through grafting and cross-pollination, plant breeder, Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, was able to breed a blight-resistant chestnut tree–the Dunstan Chestnut.  These trees have now been growing and producing nuts every year for over 50 years and are the first chestnut trees to receive U.S. Plant Patents.  Every year, when they arrive in stores, there is a waiting list, or they are gone within a couple of days.  And, yes, by the way, I now have 5 of these beauties! (Bucket List #45–Grow some sort of orchard.)  Oh, and special thanks to my mom for loading them in her car in a torrential downpour because her hometown was the only place that had any within 3 hours of me.

As I spent my Saturday afternoon on the business end of our post hole diggers, I couldn’t help but think about that healthy American Chestnut tree hopelessly lost in a forest of death.  So much time had passed that no one even looked for it anymore.  Tragically, our dreams are often the same way–lost and dying in a forest of stress, fear, the trials of life, and monotony.  But, there is hope. 

The American Chestnut was found and shaped into something stronger than it ever could have been without going through trials and almost certain death.  In the same way, we can let the pain, heartache, and rejections we have experienced force our dreams into extinction.  Or, we can rise above and allow our hard experiences to propel us forward with more passion, drive, tenacity, and hustle than ever before. 

Myles Munroe said it like this:  “The wealthiest places in the world are not gold mines, oil fields, diamond mines or banks.  The wealthiest place is the cemetery.  There lies companies that were never started, masterpieces that were never painted…  In the cemetery there is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.  There is a treasure within you that must come out.  Don’t go to the grave with your treasure still within YOU.”

Shared on:  Homestead Blog Hop