Showing posts with label Home Keeping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Keeping. Show all posts

December 11, 2023

Give the Gift of Essential Oils {Giveaway}

As much as I like the smells of the holidays (baking, evergreen, citrus) I prefer natural scents to perfume-y candles and air fresheners.  I use eco-friendly cleaners in my home, so I am drawn to products made from all-natural ingredients.

I keep an assortment of essential oils on hand to use in everything from personal skin care to massage to cleaning.  When Puritan's Pride, an online provider of supplements, vitamins, natural beauty products, healthy snacks and more, contacted me about trying out some of their essential oil products, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create some all-natural, handmade gifts for the holidays.
Aromatherapy is a way to manage stress during this often-stressful season, so I was delighted to try their aromatherapy products.  I was sent a bottle of their Wonder Oil (an amazing citrus-y fusion of oils, herbs and fruits for the body, including Olive, Sunflower Seed, Wheat Germ, Sweet Almond, Sesame and Jojoba Oils, a ScentBall plug-in aromatherapy diffuser, and three 100% essential oils in lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
Puritan's Pride began over 40 years ago, with the mission of making the finest quality nutritional supplements available at the best value to their customers. Today, the company remains true to its original commitment and serves millions of loyal customers. Puritan’s Pride manufactures thousands of  vitamins, minerals, herbs and other nutritional supplements in their state-of-the art facilities located throughout the U.S. As part of the company’s commitment to quality, Puritan’s Pride only uses ingredients from suppliers worldwide that meet their Quality Assurance Standards, as well as Good Manufacturing Practices food quality standards.
I love all three of these scents, and thought that used alone or combined could make a wonderful gift set for a teacher, friend, or neighbor.
Packaged in a decorated clementine box, this gift basket is both inexpensive and easy to make, and is a handmade, thoughtful gesture.

You just need a few plain or fancy jars to put the items in, as well as a spray bottle for the room spray.  Here are the recipes I created.

  • baking soda
  • 100% essential oils (I used peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil, which I had on hand)
  • Parmesan cheese jar, or just save the cap from a plastic Parmesan container and screw it onto a mason jar (it works!)
Fill your jar halfway with baking soda, then add 5 drops of each essential oil to the jar.  Cover the top and shake well.
Fill the rest of the way with baking soda and shake again to combine.  Add a pretty label, as well as an instruction one on the back that says something like "sprinkle on your carpet, wait 5 minutes, and vacuum as usual."

  • 1/4 cup Wonder Oil (a blend of olive oil and other great-smelling essential oils) or plain Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
Cover and shake well.  
Add a pretty label as well as instructions to "Shake well.  Pour one tablespoon onto a clean, soft cloth and wipe onto wood.  Buff with a dry cloth. Repeat process monthly."

  • Distilled water
  • Lavender essential oil for soothing spray and peppermint and eucalyptus for refreshing spray
Add enough distilled water to fill your spray bottle halfway.  Add 8 drops of essential oil into the water, then top with more distilled water.  Shake well and include instructions for user to shake well before use.
The addition of a diffuser into this gift basket is a really nice touch.  The ScentBall diffuser plugs into the wall and comes with reusable pads that you add 5 drops of essential oil onto.
It plugs into an outlet and gently warms the pad, releasing a subtle, pleasant scent.  I have mine in our bathroom, where it works to mask unappealing odors without the chemical cloud that typical air fresheners use.

I packaged all these home care items in a clementine box that I had decoupaged with scrapbooking paper, and added a scrub brush and a cloth diaper (for cleaning, they make the best reusable rags).
Tuck in a few evergreen branches, some pine cones and tie on a pretty ribbon, and you have a lovely seasonal gift that will make the recipient's home smell fresh and clean.
Puritan's Pride has so many other delightful essential oils to choose from, as well as other products to create a holistically healthy lifestyle.

You can learn more about Puritan's Pride via the Puritan's Pride Facebook page as well on Twitter @PuritansPride.

One lucky reader will win an assortment of aromatherapy products from Puritan's Pride.  Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received sample products from Puritan's Pride for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

October 21, 2023

Table Talk

The piece of furniture most used in my house has finally gotten a makeover.
What was once a plain, peeling hand-me-down is now the highlight of my kitchen.
This project was first on my to-do list after Soren started school.  This poor table and chairs were badly in need of some love.  It took a lot of sanding to get rid of all that peeling poly.
While it's not an amazing transformation, I'm pretty happy with the results.  I wanted to bring some color into the space, so I chose a bright green (Ball Game from allen + roth) but kept the top of the table and chairs unpainted.
I followed up the paint with a few layers of Matte wipe-on Poly so that the finish has a bit of a chance when faced with two rough-and-tumble boys.

These chairs were cast-offs from an elementary school that my Pap Pap had picked up back in the 70s or 80s when they were closing it down.  At least one or two of them have been with me since my college days in Philadelphia, and I'm glad that I dressed them up but still kept the look of their butt-worn seats.
I got a little paint happy and ended up painting a cute bookshelf I had found in our alley a few years back.
It was a dingy white, but in good condition.  Now it's holding all my jars of applesauce. And extra toilet paper (it's in the weird nook of our bathroom off of the kitchen).

I still have one more chair to redo, but it requires some carpentry and wood glue to get it back into shape.  Finally, I can cross off one project from my long list.
I know this table is going to get tons of use over the next few months from indoor meals, cups of coffee, and indoor activities like play dough and coloring.  Lets hope my work holds up!

October 5, 2023

Unfinished Business

Who would have thought that the transition from two boys to three would be so tough?

Between the diaper changes, fussy teething, and the competition over who's going to sit in my arms, the only 5 minutes I've had to myself today was when I sat down to write the post, when blessedly, the two babies were napping (at the same time! Can you believe it?) and Soren was watching The Magic School Bus.

Things are a-shambles around the house, between the finishing touches in the kitchen before the Maytag appliances arrive on Monday (I was chosen to be a Maytag Kitchen Ambassador, which I'm really excited about).
The dishwasher will go where the chair is above (chair is preventing the babies from picking at the plaster walls).  I'm looking forward to less handwashing of dishes.

There are so many half-finished projects and thoughts around here, things that get started then dropped when one of the kids is in need of something, whether nourishment or comfort or entertainment.

I finished up the tiled backsplash this past week, in between naps and in the evenings.  I just have to give it a good cleaning to remove any haze and residue.  I'm happy how it turned out, especially that it was my first attempt at tiling.
Meanwhile, the contents of the kitchen, specifically my pot rack, are sprawled in our laundry room and bathroom.
It will all be worth it, I'm sure.  But as someone who has difficulty dealing with chaos in my life, it can't be soon enough.

And as someone who is constantly in need of a project, I have about 5 of them going on right now, including finishing this chalkboard wall at the top of the steps.

I imagine Soren will like to have this place to express himself, at least in a containable way.  And hopefully not with snuck-in crayons.
There's also the project of painting his bedroom, which has been in the works for, well, over a year now.
But I did get around to filling the holes in the walls.
There were lots of them, courtesy of my penchant for redecorating when I'm in need of a project.

And of course, there are just the random things that we don't get to, like moving air conditioners to the attic.
Some day it will all get done; hopefully I'll live to see it.

Happy weekend!  Hope you can check a few things off your list.

August 26, 2023

Around My House

This is a hodge-podge sort of post, filled with random stuff that's going on in our busy house. First off, the garden and the usual end-of-summer bounty laid at our feet, or in this case, on our kitchen sideboard.
The tomatoes are literally falling off the vine, they're so heavy and good. I made a nice pomodoro sauce for dinner last night with them and basil and a dash of balsamic vinegar (though I totally forgot we're out of Parmesan cheese). So yummy and so summery; it's really a dish that allows you to savor the waning summer garden grub.

Onto another random thought: my house is a wreck, and to add something else to the mix, I decided it was finally time to paint the living room.
It's been this hideous but oddly coordinating yellow that I'm just so sick of looking at. I got depressed thinking about sitting here all winter, staring at pissy walls.
This is just a test, but I really like this color, a pale, teal, bluish-greenish something or other that doesn't translate to photos very well. I need to head to the hardware store to get a few gallons, now that I'm set on the color. Then on to the tediousness of taping off the trim work.
I'm not a huge fan of the wall-painting process, but I just love the results. If I could stand it, I'd probably paint the rooms in my house bi-yearly--I adore changing colors, but not all the prep work. Plus the moldings will definitely need to be painted too, since I haven't touched them since we moved in 4 years ago. Sigh.

But with new walls comes new artwork, and therefore I'm working on a piece for the living room. I collaged pages of an old book (yes, THAT book and THIS book) onto canvas
and will be adding some cut paper poppies onto it. This artwork is inspired by this post that I came across at Jones Design Company. I just can't get enough of crafts made with recycled books. Oh, and you might not have noticed, but I am trying to incorporate some of the bazillion paint chip rejects into the art work. I cut them into little shapes, however they're not sticking so well with the Mod Podge, as you can see. But they won't get away with that....get out the Gorilla Glue!

Any projects you're working on before the colder weather kicks in?

July 11, 2023

Natural Liquid Soap Recipe

The herbs have gone nuts in my garden, so I've been trying to find new ways to use them, particularly the mint. I decided to make yet another natural cleanser, this time a liquid soap. One doesn't actually make the soap part, which is courtesy of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap, but the other ingredients are easily assembled to make it extra effective and still good for the environment.
One could also substitute 2 bars of castile soap that has been grated for the Dr. Bronner's.

You can use this soap for hand washing, floor scrubbing, dishes, and general cleaning tasks. Feel free to substitute other herbs for the mint and lavender. I think Rosemary would smell really nice too.

Herbal Liquid Soap
*Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap (unscented)
*Large bunch of mint leaves (or 10 mint tea bags)
*A handful of lavender blossoms (use however much you'd like)
*1 tsp. Borax (you can find it in the laundry aisle of the grocery store)
*1/2 cup baking soda
*6 cups of water
*stainless steel saucepan
*clean spray bottle or liquid soap pump

In the saucepan, boil the water and add the lavender and mint. Turn off the heat and allow the herbs to sit for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs, then add the other ingredients and stir until combined. If using grated castile soap, you'll need to reheat the liquid to a simmer until the soap flakes are dissolved. Once the mixture is cool, pour into a spray bottle or soap bottle and use anywhere there's dirt. Be sure to give the mix a shake before using. Of course, use it with some reusable cloths, like ones made from old flannel receiving blankets.

July 9, 2023

Thursday Thoughts and a Pitiful Graffiti Tag

I've been away from the blog for so long, due to the chaos of the week, involving a guest, a garage rehab, and that little boy I'm always referring to. Who is now climbing, by the way. That means on couches, tables, and window sills. Lord help me.

So here's the work in progress, our garage. We added some windows, and have prepped most of the building for siding.
Below is the other side of the garage, that runs along the street. We'll be filling in that top "window" eventually and pulling off the hideous shingles before siding that wall. (Who puts shingles on a wall?) The Mister and our friend added those windows, which we picked up at a discount building supply place on the cheap.

This is all of the wood torn from inside. They had to remove and resheet one entire wall since most of the wood was rotted.
And the big white thing in the front was part of one of the old carriage doors that opened into the alleyway. Certainly not easy to open or close, and they were falling apart. To quote musician Tom Waits, "Such a crumbling beauty, There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix" Try three hundred.

Mr. Geek sighing about the above pile of demolition trash. We're neat freaks around here. Ruggedly handsome even in a grubby t-shirt and vacation beard.
As much as we'd love to recycle the wood into something else, a lot of it has hidden nails in it and it would be dangerous to try to cut it up. So sadly, it's headed for the landfill. This pains us both.

But on to progress...we added some windows to the upstairs of the garage, hoping to use the space as a spring/summer/fall play area for SoJo.
Or maybe an art studio for me. Or {I hate this phrase} man cave.
We have a nice view of the house from the windows, especially of my little balcony and its ruby-colored flowers.
We won't miss the graffiti inside the space, which will eventually be painted over
How pathetic is a tag like "Mike"? And in neon pink, to top it.

Nor will we miss the birds who liked to fly in via the one open, I mean MISSING window.
We still have lots of siding to do, then gutters and soffit. For now, I have tons of email to respond to, as well as blogs to visit. Oh my, I'm so behind!

July 2, 2023

New Life for Cloth Diapers

I have a stack of prefold diapers that I used when SoJo was a wee babe, and they're of really good quality so I hate to just toss them into the messy jobs bucket.
I will probably keep them around, in the hopes of having another wee one to diaper. Mom Most Traveled told me about a site called Diaper Swappers, where she was able to sell some of her cloth diapers. There's also The Used Diaper Company and FreePeats.

It got me thinking about what you could use prefolds for, other than mopping up spills. Here's what I came up with or found online:
  • Reusable Swiffer cover. I don't have a Swiffer, so I'm not sure if this would work, but maybe you could take a prefold and pinch the sides in the clips.
  • I dust our hardwood floors with them by spritzing them with water and sliding around the room with two on my feet. It's a good workout too.
  • Cut them up and use them as cloth baby wipes
  • Keep a few in your car for dusting the dashboard and cleaning up spills
  • Keep one in the bottom of your stroller, or on the seat of the stroller to catch drips and spills (especially when we take SoJo for ice cream up the street)
  • Sew one into a hot pad for your kitchen
  • Make your own menstrual pads by cutting and sewing them.
  • Add one to a first aid kit (I could have used this yesterday)
  • Roll them up to make draft stoppers for doors
Do you have any other ideas? Add them in your comments!
  • Use them for padding in a Halloween costume...for some reason I can imagine in a football player costume or a samurai.

June 8, 2023

Mr. Geek's Baby

There's nothing like home improvement projects to bring out the best and worst in people. Especially when you live in a turn-of-the-last-century house with a 1920s garage taking up most of the backyard.
Yikes! Sorry about that eyesore for those of you just getting up. I have to look at that everyday from our bedroom window.

Mr. Geek has spent the last few months chipping away at the monstrosity that is our garage. We used to have heavy, broken carriage doors which didn't allow easy parking access. Mr. Geek and his dad added a new door, complete with an automatic garage door opener. Not an easy task, since our garage is so wonky and unlevel. It involved jackhammering the floor and rebuilding a wall.
Which makes it oh so convenient to park the car. It keeps the car snow-free in winter and cool in summer. Can you see the remnants of graffiti on our garage. We didn't repaint because we knew we'd be covering this up with siding this summer.

Here's the eyesore now, still an eyesore but on the road to recovery.
We want to put siding on it by the end of July. Mr. Geek is also installing some windows upstairs so that it can serve as a play space/art studio/meditation area in the future.
The upstairs actually has a lovely hardwood floor that's in need of a sanding. We also found the remains of an old photography darkroom. Did you think I was going to say body? Sadly, we haven't found any cool stuff in our old house (not implying that a corpse is "cool stuff"), save for an old Breyer's ice cream container hidden in the chimney (secret ice cream eating stash, I think not).

So now there's a pile of shingles in our yard
along with my gorgeous foxglove, now in bloom

and some tasty lettuce, not quite ready for the pickin'.
What are your summer projects?

April 11, 2023

Happy Easter!

Our table was looking a little bare, so I found a wire basket, some craft moss and bought some cute eggs to put inside. The scary pipe cleaner bunny came with the egg purchase, which I made at our local farmers' market.
He's really quite simple to make, just bend a pipe cleaner into a body, paste on a cut-out bunny head, and make a carrot out of green and orange pipe cleaners. Their green one just happens to be striped.

It's a ritual for me to buy a hyacinth at Easter each year--something about their thick, heady perfume brings back memories of childhood. I'm also reminded of this Persian poem.
If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy simple store two loaves of bread alone are left
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.
I also bought some tulips, which, along with the hyacinth, will be planted in the garden to bloom again next year.
And finally, I boiled a few eggs and set about mixing up some natural dyes. I don't have high hopes, since I used brown eggs, but maybe they'll be tinged a little browner than before.
I used red onion skins and the juice from a jar of pickled beets. I love eating them on salads, but Mr. Geek finds that abominable. My feelings exactly for his like of okra.
I also used coffee grounds to make a darker brown, a bag of blueberry Celestial Seasonings tea, and a bag of pomegranate tea. I'm letting the eggs sit in the fridge in the "dyes" over night, but I don't have high hopes for any changes. No problem, since I find brown eggs to be beautiful anyway.

I hope you all have a happy Easter, however you celebrate it. May the sun shine wherever you may be.
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