Under $1 – DIY Insanely Aromatic Home Fragrance!

DIY home fragrance: saving money and reducing our toxic burden one product at a time

I won’t deny that I LOVE the potent smell of some of Bath & Body Works’s candles. And there’s something about the way candles make a house look so cozy and homey. However, candles have who-knows-what in them, and if you have young children, they are even less safe.

And then there’s the price. Truthfully, that’s what really got me. How can I justify spending $20 on a candle that lasts maybe 10 hours? I can use it up in about week! Is it it worth $2/hour to me? Not really. I’d rather just have free, fresh air! And so I got to work looking for a cheap potpourri that can smell just as good, be just as potent, but cost so much less.

I wish my calculations were a little more exact. Because the recipes aren’t exact and because I can’t guess what you pay for electricity or gas (I struggled with even figuring out the price for my own gasoline!), I guesstimated the prices. Even if I’m a little off on all of the prices, the cost of this in addition to the reduction of chemicals is a big win!

Basic recipe:

A peel of a citrus: $.10-$.25 if you buy it for the peel only, depending on the sale (or free if you only needed the fruit itself!)

A couple spices you enjoy: $.05-$.50, depending on what spice and how much you use

4 cups or so of water: free for me (sorry, no idea… but cheap!)

Electricity or gasoline: Depends on how long you use it and what rate you get, but I’m guessing about $.50… I tried to calculate via SoCal gas. I just know it’s super cheap! (And their rates even went down as of this month!)

Fragrance potency: ridiculously amazing!

Life expectancy: at minimum, 5 hours if you continue adding water to it!

Basic cost for me: less an $1

 

For those of you who need to have a definite recipe, I made an attempt at some specific blends. Just know that the water, gas, potency, and life of these blends all depends on the amount of time and level of heat.

Rosemary Christmas Blend:

A few sprigs of FRESH rosemary (found on the side of the road growing wildly): free to me!

A few cinnamon sticks (bought in bulk at Winco):

Peel of citrus fruit (I used lime): $.10

Water: free for me

Gasoline for stove: depends on how long you let it go ūüôā

Total cost: definitely under $1! 

Orange Spice Blend

2-4 cinnamon sticks (1-2 tsp of ground cinnamon works too!): $.20

1-2 tsp of clove and/or all spice: $.20

Peels of oranges (3 would be great!): $.50

Water: free for me

Gasoline for stove: depends on how long you let it go ūüôā

Total cost: definitely under $1! 

Next potpourris to try: citrus-basil (yes, like Bath & Body Works!) and a refreshing peppermint scent.

Enjoy your new homemade fragrance!

Photo Credit: cinnamonvogue

$.05 DIY Spray Starch

DIY spray starch: saving money and reducing our toxic burden one product at a time

Are you the type to be encouraged by baby steps in the right direction? I’m typically not, but I guess since this was the first DIY household product recipe that worked well for me AND my picky husband likes it, I’m more than okay with this baby step!

This started with our feeble attempt at a “no spend month.” Feeble is the exact word. There was no forethought of what we already had on hand or how long we would go. We just liked the idea of not spending any money. I think I took it a little bit more seriously than my husband did.

And that’s what gave me this incredibly cheap, super useful spray starch! A box of cornstarch is half the price of a can of spray starch you’d buy at the store. And you only need a small, small amount of corn starch to make this!

My husband wears a dress shirt six days a week (at least), so you can imagine that we go through quite a bit of starch. Now commercial spray starch is only about $2 a bottle, saving us maybe $25 a year. But 1, I’ll take an extra $2 onto my grocery budget every month! 2, that’s one fewer thing I have to remember to check on and add to my grocery list. 3, our Aldi doesn’t sell spray starch, and Aldi is where I¬†primarily shop. 4, while I don’t use non-GMO cornstarch, I know there are many, many fewer¬†nasty chemicals to irritate my husband’s razor-burned neck! 5, it doesn’t take forever to make. And 6, I don’t have to worry about messing up the recipe. Need I say more? At about $.05 a bottle, it’s a win in so many ways!!!

I used this recipe from Brendid; she gives 3 options for making non-toxic starch, but for me, her middle option of boiling the cornstarch and water is the best and cheapest. I think just mixing the cold water and cornstarch would clog up the sprayer way too easily.

So here’s the recipe I used and love, and you can check out this link for 2 other options (she also has free printables!).

1.5 Tbsp Cornstarch

2.5 Cups Water

Empty spray bottle with a mist nozzle (I used a washed out Febreeze bottle = free to me!)

Mix together 2 ¬Ĺ cups of tap water and 1 ¬Ĺ tbsp cornstarch in a saucepan (make sure there are no lumps).

Bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute then cool to room temperature.

Fill spray bottle.

The heated starch stays suspended and works perfectly: no shaking, no clogging, and nicely starched clothes!

I occasionally add some warm water to make it a little less thick and/or to make it go a little further. For us it lasts longer than the aerosol spray. I’ve kept it stored in the closet for about a month or so, and it has done just fine. However, there are no preservatives in it, so it could eventually rot. If you don’t use spray starch very often, I suggest making a smaller batch. But at $.05 a bottle, I wouldn’t feel bad saying goodbye before I’m ready!¬†I’ve also not noticed any damage to the plate of our iron – it still looks good as new!

Let me know how you like this or if you find a way to make it even better!

A Letter to my Single Friends

Confession: I used to read this letter (below) all the time. In fact, if you were to look at the actual letter I’ve had since I was about 14, you’d see how weathered it is. It’s traveled many miles with me, sustained my wet tears, my clinching fists while I prayed.

The most beautiful – and encouraging – part of all of this is that God truly gave me exactly the kind of man that would’ve written me this letter. And I can’t thank Him enough for that. 

My dear, single friend, take heart. God sees you right where you are. And He has a plan for you…even when you try to take matters into your own hands or try to shirk His timetable. He’s such a merciful and good Father. 

I received this “letter” as a brochure at a Christian gathering, and needless to say, I’m grateful. Though it’s written to a future wife, I think it would also serve as an encouragement to a single guy. I pray this will be an encouragement to you as it was to me for over 10 years. 

A letter to my future wife, 

I found myself thinking about you today. Wondering where you are and what you’re doing. It hurts a little not to be with you, but I can live with that for now, knowing that we’ll spend the rest of our lives together. I’m writing this letter to help you understand what I’ve been thinking and why. I probably don’t know all the right things to say, but my feelings and words are from the heart. 

Actually I find myself thinking about you more and more. The very idea of you is a much needed break from the pressures of dating, relationships, and life. In the midst of it all – the thought of you calms and refreshes me – makes me smile in spite of my situation and surroundings. 

I know it sounds crazy, but I picture you – your smile, the way you pull your hair behind your ear, your wonderful laugh, even when my jokes aren’t funny. I can’t help but wonder what our children will look like. 

I’ve gone out with other girls, but something always seems to be missing. I go out and have fun, but the idea of you and our future together is always in my thoughts. It keeps me focused and on track, aware of who I am and what’s important. 

And loving you, without ever having met you, makes me want to be deserving of your love. So I wait for you – in mind, body, and soul. 

I don’t usually write or talk like this, but my heart is racing with anticipation. Because I love you, because I know you’re out there. Because the very thought of you makes my pulse race, my palms sweat, my stomach flips like I’m on a roller coaster. And what better way to show you I’ve always loved you than to save myself for you – completely. And I hope you’re doing the same. 

I know it isn’t easy. We’re taught to expect instant gratification. We’re told we shouldn’t have to wait – for anything. Too often we act on feelings or impulses, sacrificing the future by buying into the lie that sex equals love, leaving little room for commitment or marriage. But that’s not love, and that’s not why I’m thinking about you and waiting for you.

I’m waiting for you because I love you unconditionally. I need you to know that what matters to me is not where you’ve been or what you’ve done but where you’re going. Maybe you didn’t know I existed. Or maybe you thought we found each other, only to realize later that what you discovered wasn’t true love. Real love is so different from infatuation or simple pleasure. It isn’t abusive or selfish or purely physical. Real love involves mutual respect, affection, trust, equality, and a shared spirituality. Real love doesn’t revolve around sex! Real love grows into a relationship where sexual intimacy will only serve to express that love – marriage. 

I talked with a friend the other day about chastity – modesty and purity in our thoughts and words, the way we dress and act – how it’s a building block for a perfect love that casts out all fear. And sex before marriage brings many fears – pregnancy, STDs, and the emotional scars associated with broken relationships. So in the search for perfect love, it only makes sense to practice chastity and wait until you’re married to give yourself to the person you love. And – OUR marriage will bring with it the promise of forever. We will give ourselves to one another completely, become best friends, soul mates. So even though we may be apart right now, by living chastely for each other in the present, we can build our future together. 

Have you ever been in the middle of doing something when you stop to think, “This would be perfect if…”? Those words come to my mind often. For example, on a fall day with leaves covering the ground and crisp, cool breezes blowing, I think, “This would be perfect if…she were here.” The thought that some day you will be here comforts me. 

And I want that same thought to comfort you. Whether you realize it or not, I’ve been there in your thoughts. That shiver or the goosebumps you get every once in a while – in the long daydream or a lingering glance. You don’t have to wonder any more because I’m real, I love you, and I am waiting for you in every way. And now that you know I’m here, I hope you’ll do the same. Whenever you feel scared, unsure, or pressured to give a part of yourself away, read this letter. Think about us and how perfect it will be when we are together. 

You may have been waiting and looking for me all the while. You may be starting today. Either way, we’ll know when we’ve found each other; we’ll be together for the rest of our lives, and the wait will have been worthwhile. 

All my love, 

Your future husband 

3 Free Ways to Encourage Your Husband 


When I started thinking of Valentine’s Day and how I could show my husband my appreciation for him (for free of course), I came up with – what I thought was – a pretty good list!! Writing notes, being his cheerleader, keeping our home clean… (I’m hearing Olaf saying, “All good things, all good things!”) However, when I asked my husband about this, his list was totally different from what I thought it would be (glad I asked!).

These may not be just right for every man, but here’s what my husband said:

  • Make it clear you’re on his side. Whether he knows it’s happening or not, whether you realize it or not, be on his side. He should always know that you have his best interest at heart. My husband gives the example of a lady who had her husband’s car and needed to park it in the church parking lot. With kids and stuff to take inside and being pressed for time, she was tempted to park in a handicapped spot. However, because she was in her husband’s car and knew her husband would not appreciate that, she decided against that and found another spot, though it was less convenient.
  • Figure out what he likes or appreciates, and do it better than he would. Not in a competitive way. In a “I did my research; you didn’t even know I was thinking about it” kind of way. Exceed his expectations. If he appreciates food (most guys do, right?), make it better than normal, add nice linens, candles, etc. (My husband would appreciate the details more than the meal!) If he appreciates a particular sports team, have his favorite snacks ready for that game. Not hard, yet impressive.
  • Let his standard be your standard. Not gonna lie, this is not an easy one for me. Because my husband is, in a word, particular. And don’t get me wrong: I love his attention to detail. But I love it more when he’s the one taking the time for details. But from experience I’ve learned that our relationship is so much better, he feels much more respected (which to him is better than feeling loved) when I just adapt.

If nothing else, this gives you a starting point to ask your husband if these work for him or if he would have something to change or add to it. (I would love to know if he adds “write me notes” or “have the house clean when I come home” :).

Happy encouraging!

Buying and Selling Clothes Online 

TLDR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): If you have extra time and clothing and want to make some extra cash, check out Poshmark! (See end of post for free $5 off!)

If you’re on a budget, purging and shopping might not be words you enjoy hearing. If you’re tight on money and do some purging, what happens if you get rid of it but find out later you need it? And shopping for new clothes? Remember the word budget? Yeah. I get it. I’ll suffice it to say that if you’re not using it, why not try to make a few dollars selling it online? And in doing so, you might find something you want to spend your earnings on, so then you’re basically trading, not buying or spending!

Here are my opinions of selling and buying clothes online using a couple of the most popular clothing resale and retail apps.

Poshmark

Pros for selling on Poshmark: 

You can market your closet as much as you’d like! (Sharing others’ closets usually yields to others sharing your closet which betters your chance of sales).

You can cash out promptly with no minimum.

You can do direct deposit or request a check.

The system automatically bundles your items and discounts the price according to your discount choice.

They have customer service personnel so you don’t have to deal with unsatisfied customers directly.

You get paid on time, as long as the customer is satisfied (otherwise your clothing will be returned to you). No waiting and wondering if the buyer will mark your item received.

Total earnings via Poshmark in 12 months: $307
Cons for selling on Poshmark:

Poshmark takes out 20% of your earnings if the price of your item is $15 or more and takes out $2.95 for items under $15.

The buyer is charged $6.50 for shipping, so it’s harder to sell a $5 shirt (in which you make $2!), because the buyer actually has to pay $11.50.

It can be somewhat time-consuming trying to share your clothes and others’ clothes in order to make a sale.

It can take some serious deals, cute clothes, and a decent amount of time to get some good headway in making money.

Poshmark pros for buying:

The filters are user-friendly.

You can shop your liked items.

You get notifications when a liked item has dropped in price.

You can negotiate the price with the seller, using the offer button.

You can find some awesome deals if people are just trying to get rid of their stuff!

You can return the item and get your money back if the item does not meet the description.

Cons for buying on Poshmark: 

As stated above, there’s a $6.50 shipping fee no matter what item you buy. The price goes¬†up if it’s 5 lbs or more.

Sellers are not required to state if they have pets or if they smoke. It’s up to you to ask.

Of course, as with any online shopping, nothing beats trying on an item for yourself before purchasing!

Mercari

I don’t have as much to say about Mercari because… well it’s Mercari.

Pros for selling on Mercari:

You can sell just about anything, not just clothes.

They take out 10% of what you make, which is better than Poshmark in many cases.

You choose whether or not you, the seller, pay for shipping. This could get you more sales as people like the words “free shipping!”

You decide how soon you’ll ship it.

Total earnings via Mercari in 9 months: $65
Cons for selling on Mercari:

You can’t market your closet whenever you want to.

You have to wait for people to discover you.

There’s no real customer service; if you don’t like an item or if it’s taking a while for your money to come through, you’re stuck for the most part trying to talk it out with the buyer.

They started taking out a seller fee; they didn’t used to do that.

They only direct deposit your earnings on Mondays.

The customers are in the market for a serious deal, so you have to price items at $10 or less to have a fighting chance at a sale.

Pros for shopping on Mercari:

The search engine works well.

You can buy a variety of items from just one seller which can also lend itself to a deal.

You can negotiate via the comments section.

Cons for shopping on Mercari:

It can be overwhelming to know where to start.

The sellers are not always responsive to questions (not sure that the notification settings are up to par).

Again there’s no real customer service, so if you don’t like an item, it can make returns difficult.

The short of it is, Poshmark is the better place to buy and sell. I started using Mercari when they weren’t taking out a seller’s fee. Now I just have clothes there in case someone sees them there that isn’t on Poshmark. I enjoyed using earnings from Mercari to buy things like essential oils (you can’t find random stuff like that on Posh). Next on my list to try is EBay!

Have you done any online shopping? What’s your favorite place to go?

PS: if you’re going to try your hand in Mercari, you can use this code to get $2 off:¬†ZDSRWG. If you want to check out Poshmark, use this code to get $5 off your first purchase: JXAXJ. (BTW, I get the same amount of credit as you do when you use these codes.)

PPS: I wish I knew how many hours it has taken me to get these earnings; I just know that it was A LOT of time!

6 Money-Making Ideas for the Entire Family

I am very fortunate to have parents who know the immeasurable value in teaching children at a young age to work hard and to earn what they want. I once wanted a very expensive baby doll, and my parents agreed that they would pay half¬†if I would earn the other half. ¬†At the age of seven, with a burning desire for that new doll, I would have done just about anything. My parents had me pick cherry tomatoes in the backyard for $.10 each tomato. Little did they know this was such an enjoyable job for me! I not only learned how to work, but I also learned how tomatoes should look before they get picked. ¬†Come Christmas, I was $1 short on my¬†half of the bargain, but my parents, seeing I had learned my lesson, got me that doll for Christmas. I still remember the joy I had running up and down the hallway with that baby in tow, knowing I had done my part. That doll’s name is Jennifer, and she is a¬†treasured reminder¬†of¬†the precious gift of hard work.

Teaching children to work is a priceless gift, not a punishment. I am grateful beyond words that my parents knew and taught the principle of working hard to earn what you want as it’s come to my aid in massive ways.¬†The entitlement mentality that many live by is robbing them of the joy and contentment that hard work brings.

I understand that not everyone has the luxury of paying¬†his or her children to do chores around the house¬†(especially when their “toys” start becoming more expensive).¬†This is absolutely not the only method of teaching your children to work for what they want. The possibilities are endless, but here are some ideas to get you started:

Garage/yard sale РHave them contribute some of their own items, help price items or set out the items on the day of, or hold signs to point people to your sale.

Bake sale – Have them help you measure or package or advertise. You could even add these baked goods to the list of items to sell at your garage sale! (Tip: I suggest incorporating popcorn:¬†most people love it, and it’s so cheap when made¬†from scratch!)

Lemonade/hot chocolate stand¬†– I was so excited as an 8 year old to make $10 from this! I don’t remember having much help from my parents on this one, but I probably did! I’m sure it depends on your children’s ages.

Neighborhood car wash (or at a business)This is a great time to teach them how to wash a car, and most people are just so impressed that kids are learning to work that they don’t notice that their tires aren’t perfectly cleaned.

Candy bar selling door to door¬†– This was my JAM! If you don’t have a Costco or Sam’s membership, ask a friend who does have a membership to buy a couple boxes of chocolate candy bars for you and head on out to sell those babies! By the way, the younger children can do¬†really well¬†with this if you’ll but teach them to do the asking!

Taco/Burger/sandwich stand РI would opt for an easy lemonade stand, but with all these food trucks becoming the rage, I say why not give it a try?! You may have a chef in the making!

Not all of these will work for every family, (and I tried to stick to only family-oriented ideas, not individual “fundraising” like card marking, lawn mowing, etc.), but I’m certain that if you’re committed to teaching your children to work, you’ll find a way to show them how to earn money. These ideas may not be your ideal way of teaching them or your ideal way of making some extra income, but maybe it will be the start of something beneficial for your family.

How about you? What are some ways you’ve tried to teach your children to work? Are there any ideas you could add to the list?

Photo credit: Clem Onojeghou

Quote: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. ‚ÄĒChinese proverb