DIY Paper Bag Hardwood Floors

I love DIY projects and before kids, my hubs and I remodeled our first house. Like down to the studs sort of a remodel. But after kids….Let’s be real! Time is just not there. So we’ve been living for the last 6-7 years with half completed projects. But this last month we got all amped up to get some of these projects done. And while I’m being honest, the daily tasks of the household really went by the wayside BUT we made some major progress.

So here’s my most recent project. I had a carpeted front porch that I scraped clean of all the carpet a few years ago and it’s been plain concrete since. But we got a new door and I couldn’t leave it!


So….I did a DIY project and am so happy with the way it turned out.

Want to try it out?

Ingredients Needed:

  1. To start, I painted the lighter color on the strips of craft paper and let it dry.
  2. Paint the second color over and follow the instructions on your faux grain tool to make the wood grain. (I had to experiment with this a little bit so give yourself some extra strips to play with.IMG_1352IMG_1357IMG_1359
  3. Once they are dry, mix together 1 cup glue and 3 cups water. Dip all your painted strips into the glue mixture till completely wet.
  4. Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup glue together and paint mixture onto your floor surface. (PS-make sure your floor is really clean before you start this process)
  5. Lay down the strips of paper on the glue and use a squeegy tool to smooth out all bubbles.IMG_1348IMG_1350IMG_1349
  6. Continue process till floor surface is covered and let dry.
  7. Paint a layer of polyurethane over the floor following can directions.
  8. Continue with 8-10 layers (per can instructions).
    1. Tips! Clean each time you do a layer. I had to sand out some bugs and hairs and such. I even got a dirty foot print that I didn’t notice till it was already under polyurethane.
  9. Step back and admire your beautiful floor.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Would you try it?

Secret to Saving Kids Artwork without Clutter

What the heck do we do with all the pictures, drawings, school projects, and little gifts from our kids? I mean, I love them all but my daughter’s love language is gifts.  So we are ALWAYS getting special pictures, drawings, or crafts from her because that’s her way of showing how she loves us.  But I’m on a journey to eliminating clutter from my life.  I want more space.  I want a chance to breathe and not feel like I’m CONSTANTLY cleaning.  Is it wrong to want a clean house AND be able to enjoy time with my kids?

I saw somewhere a picture of a triangle that showed mom’s sanity, a clean house, and happy kids on each of the points.  The meme stated, you can only choose 2, which 2 are you going to choose.  For a long time, hands down, I wanted happy kids and happy mom to be my choice.  But you know what I realized….a clean house was a HUGE contributor to my sanity.  I don’t think you have to choose between the 3. I think you CAN have a balance of all 3.

So in my quest to eliminate stuff without losing the memories (or breaking my dear daughter’s heart), I found an app called Keepy. It’s been amazing.  It has both a free and a paid version (with the amount of drawings we get, I totally bought the paid version).

You can take snapshots of your children’s drawings, crafts, projects, whatever and store them. You can have multiple kids all stored in the same account. You can store voice recordings of your child telling you about the picture or take a picture of your child holding the drawing so you can document age too. And best! You can add “Fans” so grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends can see all the magical drawings and leave messages too.


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It’s definitely a timeless way to preserve and capture memories without all the clutter.  And if you did want to print all of it in a book, they make it pretty seamless too with having photobook  and other photo gift options (although I haven’t tried that part yet).

If you haven’t snagged a copy of my FREE 5 Steps to Breaking Free From Clutter, you should totally do that! Breaking free from clutter has changed my life. I finally feel like I can enjoy time with my kids because I’m not spending day in and day out picking stuff up.

Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

This post is kind of mortifying to me! I’m literally going to show you pictures of my toilet. It makes me cringe. It’s DISGUSTING! I think part of it is with the California drought we aren’t flushing as often, part of it is that we have hard water, and from some research I think some may be rust deposits. Oh, and I guess I should probably clean it a little more frequently.

But this is it! Disgusting!

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From my research, I saw lots of variations of sort of the same recipe for toilet cleaning. This is what I used

  1. I added 1 cup of baking soda and about 3-5 drops of purification blend essential oil.
  2. I let it soak for approximately 30 minutes and then added 1 cup of vinegar.
  3. I waited roughly 30 minutes again and then used my toilet bowl cleaner.toilet (2 of 3)
  4. It came out cleaner but not like I wanted. So I added all the ingredients again and let it sit for a few hours.
  5. Then scrubbed it a little harder.

This was my final result. Not quite as clean as I would like but WAY better. I’ll probably do this a little more often to keep it cleaner and less difficult to scrub!

toilet (3 of 3)

Summer Series: Soothing Sunburns with Essential Oils

Gardening and planting my summer garden is one of my favorite things to do! I just love it! When we finally got our fence done, I feverishly worked on getting my garden boxes done and planted.  It was a cloudy day, my baby was sleeping, and my toddler was helping.  It didn’t even occur to me to put on sunscreen.  I didn’t even realize how burnt I had become until I went to get in the shower.  That’s when I took this picture.
sunburnFortunately, it didn’t hurt too bad but as soon as I got out of the shower, I went to the oils! There are a couple different remedies and options.

Sunburn Soothing Gel

(this is the one I used, and then switched out peppermint for frankincense once it cooled a little)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 drops of peppermint oil

Sunburn Spray #1

  • 16oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Aloe Vera Juice
  • 1/4 cup Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E
  • 8 drops lavender oil
  • 8 drops melaleuca oil
  • 8 drops Roman Chamomile oil

Sunburn Spray #2

  • 20 drops of Lavender
  • 10-20 drops of Pepeprmint
  • 2 ounce spray bottle
  • Fill the remainder with either water or fractionated coconut oil.

(Once the initial sting is worn away, you can trade the peppermint oil for frankincense oil)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of lavender oil
  • 1-2 drops of frankincense oil


DIY Easter Empty Tomb Craft

cross (1 of 1)
Our empty tomb after the chia seeds grew! Love it!

Easter is just around the corner! One off my favorite times of the year.  Not only is it a spring, with all things new, beautiful flowers, and bright colors, it’s also the celebration of Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead.

empty tomb
This was our inspiration photo that has been floating around the internet. My mom shared the photo with me.

My mom sent me a picture to make an empty tomb decoration with my daughter.  My daughter was incredibly excited about it (she loves watching the stories of Jesus on my iphone Bible for Kids app by YouVersion and reading in her Bible).  We got so excited we set out looking around the house for the supplies.  Luckily, we found everything we needed…thus also learning the value of recycling, re-purposing, and saving our financial resources.  I love craft projects that don’t require purchasing anything and yet you are still able to make something new and beautiful.

Here’s what you need:

  • A small terracotta pot (ours might be a little big but again, we were trying to repurpose things we had)
  • A round pan, or pot bottom/tray
  • Some rocks
  • Some dirt
  • Chia seed, grass seed, or moss
  • Some sticks
  • Pipe cleaner, glue, or other means of fastening the cross

It’s pretty simple to complete once you have all the supplies (and feel free to improvise as needed). We used chia seeds and after the first few days, the dirt was so dry I was worried that they wouldn’t grow and was planning to go buy some moss.  However, today I noticed  a few little sprouts. I’ll post a picture as it gets green!  I was just too excited not to share this now so that others could do it for Easter too! (SEE OUR PICTURE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST!)easter (1 of 2) easter (2 of 2)

How to Clean your Coffee Grinder

When my mom was in town visiting recently, she mentioned cleaning your coffee grinder using rice. So we gave it a shot.

Here is what our coffee grinder looked like before we started. september2013 (1 of 9) september2013 (2 of 9)We filled it with a little rice, let it run for a little bit.  Dumped it out and did it one more time.  Then we rinsed it out with a little water. And here is our end result.

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DIY Wood Floor Cleaner

Sorry it’s been a little while since my last post. It’s been a crazy whirlwind sort of few weeks.  We found out that we are expecting a little boy! We are very excited to add to our family and very excited that we will soon have a daughter and a new little son!   Then I caught the worst cold I’ve had in years. I’m usually up and back to work or working around the house within a day.  But this one took me out for 3 days of work and has me still lingering with congestion.  Thank goodness I have some oils that are safe to use during pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with my daughter I didn’t have that and chose not to use any over the counter meds. (A little side note, I started using protective blend essential oil on my daughter and husband when they started to feel a little cold coming on while I was sick.  Now a week later, they are both still running like a champ! Unfortunate, I don’t feel comfortable using protective blend while pregnant.  I did have it diffusing in my diffuser for the last week though.  If you have questions about why I choose not to use it during pregnancy, let me know!)

Anyway, on to my post. I have a refillable floor cleaner and have been using a variety of items trying to clean my floors.  This is what I’ve found that works the best.  I’m not absolutely in love with it as I feel it sometimes leaves streaks.  But I’m not sure if that’s my mop cleaner or the solution itself. So if any of you have suggestions or recipes you’ve tried, let me know! I’d love to give them a try.


Roughly 16oz of water

1 tablespoon of Vinegar

3-5 drops of Essential oil (I chose Lemon for extra cleaning power)

A squirt of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (I added this midway through trying to further eliminate any streaking)

My before photos

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My After Photosseptember2013 (8 of 9) september2013 (9 of 9)

Did you know your bed might have bed bugs or dust mites? DIY- Mattress and Furniture Cleaner

Yesterday my daughter was throwing a bit of a tantrum.  She was in her room screaming and then all of a sudden it got quiet. Any of you parents, know that this is a BAD sign. I walked in to find her staring down as she peed on her uncovered mattress.  I’ve never had this problem before as usually she has a liner on the mattress and I take that off and wash it.  I searched the internet for ways to clean it up and ran across a lot of posts talking about bed bugs and dust mites. Eww! Apparently, cleaning your mattress should be something we do somewhat regularly.  I know that Joe and I have had a mattress for the entire time we’ve been married (7 years). Guess how many times it’s been cleaned? You guessed it! None.

I made a cleaner for my mattress by making the following recipe.

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2-5 drops lavender oil
  • 2-5 drops eucalyptus (This one because of it’s ability to kill dust mites. See this study’s results.)
  • 2-5 drops purity blend

I added them together in a glass jar and shook until they were mixed. I used a sifter from my daughter’s play kitchen and sifted it onto her mattress.  Because I didn’t need to wash the sheets on our bed or the spare bedroom yet, I decided to use the rest on our couches and use it as a deodorizer and general cleanser.

cleaning (3 of 4)cleaning (4 of 4)I then let them sit for approximately an hour and then vacuumed them up!

It’s probably best to complete this process on your bed and furniture at least every few months or so, especially if you have pets or suffer from allergies.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve used a wide variety of detergents in my day.  Before we started cloth diapering, it didn’t really matter what detergent we used. I purchased whatever was cheapest.

When we started cloth diapering, I went on a whole new quest to find a detergent that worked well.  If you’ve ever washed cloth diapers, you know that there is a whole science to the process and one process doesn’t work for everyone.  It’s a trial and error sort of thing based upon the diapers you have, the hardness of water you have, the washer you have, etc. I’ve tried so many different “diaper approved” laundry detergents (Rockin green, Ruby Moon, Country Save, Tide, etc).  With many, I used exclusively on the diapers because they were a little pricey for my every day laundry. I then tried Country Save and started using on all laundry because I was all out of my “regular” detergent. I liked it but again, I’m trying to minimize our lives and save as much money as I can.

I constantly see on pinterest how cheap making detergent can be.  The problem with homemade laundry detergent is that not all of them can be used with cloth diapers. In my research, I stumbled across this blog and her woes with homemade laundry detergent and was determined not to go down that road.

The biggest ingredient that is no good for the cloth diapers is the soap. It can create build up on your diapers. It’s a little difficult to find a recipe that doesn’t use soap!

In my quest, I wasn’t really sure I was willing to sacrifice my diapers, nor the cleanliness of my other laundry in order to use just one laundry detergent.  With our daughter nearly potty trained (we only use diapers at night), I didn’t want to worry too much about my cloth diapers at this point.  I guess in 5 months when our next little one is due, I’ll probably need to revisit the topic.

I have just made my first batch of detergent.  I was eager to try it out. So I placed my sheets in the wash to see how it did.

Regular Laundry Recipelaundry detergent

  • 1 bar of soap (Zote, Castile, or Fels-Naptha are most highly recommended)- I saw one recipe that used liquid soap. If you want to try that, here is the link 
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (some say you can used baking soda instead but others disagree. You can decide)
  • 1/2 cup of Oxygen Cleaner (Optional) (use Sun Oxygen Cleaner if possible- the more I’ve read, I would use Sun only, or another brand that only has Sodium Precarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. Otherwise, I would make without the oxygen cleaner. My first run at making laundry detergent, I skipped this entire ingredient because it wasn’t easy for me to find and many recipes exclude it.  I figure if I can make a decent cleaning laundry detergent without an additional ingredient, it only makes it cheaper for me!)
  • 1.5 tablespoons of essential oil (optional-on my first run, I only used a teaspoon which seemed like a lot. I could smell it on my clothes before I put it in the dryer but didn’t smell it once it was finished)

Grate the bar of soap. (I’ve seen some say to cut it up a bit and then place in the food processor). Then mix all the ingredients together. If you add the essential oil, it may get a little clumpy. Mix it in quickly and as you add the oil to avoid this.  Putting it in the food processor will eliminate any  clumpiness if you get any.  When I grated it (which really went pretty quickly. I was dreading it but it wasn’t too bad.), I ended up with large chunks of soap.  So I placed all of it in my food processor and blended it down. I think that’s probably the most ideal to get a smooth detergent. 

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. 

As much as I love using oils and products, I’m looking for a cheap recipe.  I ran across this recipe and thought it looked interesting but feel the cost might be more than what I want.  So if you’re looking for just a natural recipe and want to give this one a try, I’d recommend trying it.  It uses the a cleaning concentrate. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

I found a few recipes that are supposedly safe for cloth diapers. I’ll list them below but I can’t attest to their success.  Another note, in my research I discovered that many claim that powdered detergents work more effectively on cloth diapers than using liquid.  Not sure if that’s a fact but something to consider.

Cloth Diaper Recipe #1

  • 3 Tablespoons Borax
  • 3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap (the blue original kind!)
  • 4 cups of boiling water

Mix all ingredients till dissolved and then add approximately 12 cups of cold water. Use about 1/2 to 1 cup to each load.

Dawn dish soap is great for stripping cloth diapers. Just not sure it would be a good detergent to use with every wash.

Cloth Diaper Recipe #2

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 cups Oxygen Cleaner (I’ve read advantages of Sun Oxygen Cleaner over others)

Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.

When I attempt to do my cloth diapers, I may make both of the above and use the #2 recipe more frequently and use the #1 occasionally to provide some stripping.  I originally wrote this out as I was trying to come up with how I was going to make it. After a bit more research, there is much controversy regarding the use of a product such as OxiClean on your diapers.  From the research I found, Sun is truly the best.  Unfortunately, the most common place people find it are Dollar General (we don’t have here) and Wal-Mart (I couldn’t find it in our wal-marts). Looks like I might be ordering online or just purchasing cloth diaper safe detergent!

My daughter struggled with candida for a long time when she was a baby.  I used many different essential oils to make creams for her diaper rash that were cloth diaper safe. I would often place a drop or 2 in my wet bag or diaper pail as well.  I would most likely place a drop of lavender or melaleuca in my wash on each load.

Adventures with Composting

I remember as a child having a large pile of scraps in our backyard.  But now, forever and a day since then, I’ve started a compost pile.

I really have little knowledge in the task other than your food rots, you use that rotting food to replenish nutrients in the soil for your current plants/garden, and you reduce waste in landfills.  We have some friends that gave us a nice little bin (basically 4 walls and a roof that sits right on the ground). We throw all our scraps in there and that’s about it. Now, I know from the research I’ve read, you need to turn it and mix around to keep the little buggers in their oxygenated but sometimes I don’t have the time (nor the pregnancy nose to stomach the smell).

There is quite a lot of info if you want to be a very good composter, but for the lazy of us that still want to do some, here are the basics.

Have a designated space to throw waste such as yard waste and kitchen waste. If you can turn or stir or move around occasionally, the better. Foods to avoid throwing into the compost would be dairy, meats, fish, weeds, diseased plants, pet waste (except for chickens), or food peels that may contain pesticides or chemicals.

It’s best to do your compost directly on the ground so that natural organisms can find their way in. Also, it’s best to start with some straw or other similar layer on the bottom (I didn’t do this step!–yes I was incredibly lazy with it). It’s best to rotate layers of  moist and dry ingredients initially, however, I just added items as I had available.

Again, there is a lot of info about composting available. I’ve been a lazy one with it. Anyone else have techniques or things they have used that have been beneficial?