Archive for the ‘Household Products Recipes’ Category

My mother gave me an old set of wooden dishes from when she and my dad were first married, and they had been looking pretty shabby and in need of polishing. For a while now, I’ve been meandering around on the internet looking for a good wood polish to keep these wooden dishes looking nice, and I stumbled across a recipe that does the trick without a whole lot of hassle. Just rub it on, leave it sit for 10-30 minutes, and wipe it off. I tweaked it a little to my own liking (I’m a tinker-er, what can I say??), but as I was using it, I found that it is great for so much more than just polishing my wooden bowls.

It also makes a great conditioner for leather shoes and gloves, a really nice balm for dry skin, and honestly, my hair has never looked better since I’ve started using this exclusively as my only hair gel/protection from split ends. As someone who does henna, it’s an absolutely wonderful post-henna balm, too. Add some thieves oil, and you’ve got a great homemade Vicks-style chest rub, or any kind of healing lotion that you can put wherever the infection is. (Thieves oil is absolutely amazing, too, but that’s another post for another time…) This stuff is an awesome everything balm.

I just don’t know what to call it, since I use it for everything. And “Everything Balm” sounds weird. What to do, what to do…..

The good news is that it’s super easy to make, especially if you’ve made my lip balm recipe before, as it’s very similar.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 Tbsp finely grated beeswax
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 capsule vitamin E oil
  • Popsicle stick to stir
  • 4-oz glass Ball jar

As far as grating the beeswax goes, it’s not a good idea to use a grater that you ever plan on using for food again–beeswax is hard to get cleaned off. Trust me on that one. I have a grater I use specifically for grating soap, beeswax, and other things I don’t want on the grater I use for food. Also, make sure your wax 100% beeswax, without paraffin or anything else in it. Beeswax is a bit on the pricey side, but it is definitely worth it.

Place the grated beeswax into your small glass jar (a 4 oz Ball jar will be just the perfect size for one batch) and place it in a pan of water on the stove. Use your jar as the double boiler, but there’s no need to really boil the water below. You just need to heat everything until the beeswax all melts. It needs to be fully melted: no clumps, no bumps, just smooth liquid. When it’s completely melted, add the coconut oil and melt that fully, too. Add olive oil and vitamin E oil. Mix well. Remove from heat, and that’s it! You’ll just need to let it cool a bit before putting the lid on.


Almost all melted…


Finished and cooled, well-loved (and almost gone) mixture

What I like about this is that the beeswax is melted in the container you’re already going to store it in. Melted beeswax is a pain to clean out of a pan, but this is completely no-mess. Not even a single dish needs washed afterward!

Now, the only question I have is what to call it…..

What do you think? What would YOU call it?


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A while ago, I started making homemade cat food for my cat. It took her a while to really like it (she doesn’t do well with change) but now she hangs around the kitchen when she knows I’m making it to be sure she gets a scoop of it when it’s freshly made. She absolutely loves this stuff.

I got the inspiration from Beth Terry’s My Plastic Free Life blog post about her own homemade cat food, and decided to give it a try for myself. I was not only looking to reduce our waste in terms of cans, but I wanted to give our cat a healthy food that wasn’t made from corn and grain products and processed junk. When we adopted her, they recommended a balance of wet and dry food for her, and we were having trouble finding a wet food she could eat. Up to this point, Maddie would get sick if she ate anything processed we tried. She would scarf it down at first, then get sick. And then she wouldn’t eat any more of that kind. Ever. After going through several brands/kinds/flavors of wet food, this was the last thing I could try.

So I went to the BalanceIT website, put in all of Madeline’s info, chose my base ingredients (I chose chicken and white potatoes) and got a recipe and vitamin supplement from them.

I have tweaked the recipe a bit, and did the math so I can make about 2 weeks worth of food at a time.  She still gets dry food as well, so this wet food I make is really just a bit of a supplement to that. I divide it into jars, with about 3 days worth per jar. They freeze ok, but keep in the fridge for only about 3-5 days. So when the fridge jar is empty, we replace it with another one from the freezer. She gets a little bowl of it every morning. Apparently, it’s good enough to make it worth begging for, starting at about 4am.

Recently, my sister was thinking about trying it out for her cat, so I shared my recipe with her, just to see if her cat would like it before she made the investment. I gave her a bit of the supplement powder, she made a big batch from my tweaked recipe, and her cat absolutely wouldn’t touch it. Quinn apparently is a dry food kind of kitty.

The next time my sister came to visit, she brought her batch of cat food with her, so it wouldn’t go to waste. I was just about out of Maddie’s current batch, so it was perfect timing. The next morning, after her ritualistic begging for several hours, Maddie was served Sister’s food. And she wouldn’t touch it. She kept begging, acting like we were hiding her good food away somewhere else.

As the days went by, she grew more and more desperate for her old food (even though this stuff was the same!) and more adamant that we had some of the good stuff and were keeping it from her. I dare say we threw a good portion of it out because she just wouldn’t eat it. Even though it was the same food, from the same recipe.

Now, I know people who say it’s important to buy veggies from a farmer’s market, where you can get to know the people who grow your food. I think this might be how my cat is now: she won’t eat her food unless she knows the cook and is present to monitor the cooking process. I can’t think of any other reason.

So today was the day. Sister’s batch has run out and I started making a fresh batch for for Maddie. She was just about the happiest cat ever. She licked out the tuna can and the chicken container (quality control for freshness), and sat in the kitchen monitoring the potatoes as they boiled. She oversaw me adding the oil and vitamin supplement, mashing the potatoes, and stirring the meat in. And she sat by her bowl waiting for that fresh, hot scoop. When it was served, she dove in. Success.

And after a nice hot meal of her favorite food, a very happy Maddie went to take a nap.

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Carpet freshener makes the whole room smell fresh and clean. Maybe it’s not a total necessity, but it’s nice to have. The good news is that it’s super easy to make.

Save an old parmesan cheese container, and fill it mostly with baking soda. Then, dump it back out into a bowl. This is so it’s easier to mix everything up. Shaking it all up in the same container doesn’t distribute the essential oils as well. In the bowl, shake some dried cloves, dried nutmeg, and about 20-25 drops tea tree oil. Stir well, and pour back into the shaker container.

Shake onto carpets, leave sit for about 5 min or so, and vacuum. (I’m going to assume this would work well on furniture/mattresses as well, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

There truly are a ton of tweaks of this on the internet, so play around with it to get a scent/texture you like. Some people put cinnamon in as well, or skip the spices and just use essential oils they like, or just use plain baking soda. If you’ve got light colored carpets, you may want to forgo the dark spices. I’ve got a light-ish speckled berber, and it doesn’t show, but if I had all white, I might not want to risk it.

As for the base, baking soda is good at neutralizing odors, but there’s some info out there that it doesn’t play nice with hepa filters on vacuums. I’ve got an older vacuum that uses a bag, so I don’t have to worry about that. Basically, the baking soda’s powder is too fine and clogs up the hepa filter, I think. Other sites suggest using cornmeal instead of baking soda if you’ve got a vacuum with a hepa filter, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t vouch for whether that works. I’m not sure if cornmeal absorbs odors the way baking soda does, or if it simply acts as a way to dilute and spread out the essential oil scent.

Also, some sites recommend adding borax to the mix as well. I would suggest a bit of caution for this. While borax does occur naturally in the environment (hence it’s “all-natural” label), that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to use in high quantities around pets and children. It’s not good to breathe in, and it irritates eyes in powder form. While I use it in my laundry soap and to sprinkle in the toilet to clean it, I certainly wouldn’t want to use it in my carpet powder. To me, there’s a difference between diluting it in water to use it and using it straight from the box.

Anyone else have any good carpet freshening suggestions?

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I have allergies. And I get lots of colds. And during the times I’m most suffering, Vicks is a close friend of mine. Both in the vapo-rub form as well as inhaled form.

So when I last visited my sister and saw her homemade version, I had to know more.

It’s very easy to make your own Vicks-style inhaler.

Find a small airtight container and put a cotton ball in it. This will be your inhaler container, so find one as small as you can that will seal tightly and hold a cotton ball.

For the actual solution, you’ll need a mix of 3 different essential oils: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Lavender.

On the cotton ball, add:

  • 8 drops peppermint oil
  • 20 drops eucalyptus oil
  • 28 drops lavender oil

When your symptoms are bugging you, simply take the lid off and take a deep breath through your nose. It really does help.

My sister uses it for her kids’ asthma, as a supplement to their inhalers, NOT to replace them. But I find it helps with my allergy congestion as well.

Here is an article from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy  about asthma, which also might be helpful for allergies as well.

Now, I’m not advocating that anyone with asthma use only this. Not at all. What I AM saying is that there are other options you could try if you suffer from asthma, allergies, congestion, etc. and see what works best for you. This is simply another option to try.

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As another hobby, I also like to do henna.

I’ve heard about the properties of henna as a remedy for various fungal infections, so when I noticed I had something similar, I figured, what the heck, I’ll draw all over it with some henna and see what happens.

I’d had this particular type of skin infection before, and last time, it took about a year of applying a prescription cream over the area about 2-3 times a day, so I knew what I would need to do and I knew it would be a long process. Needless to say, I wasn’t really expecting that much from the henna. I thought at best, my infection would diminish a bit after the first application, and maybe after I kept applying henna every few weeks, the infection would finally go away. But after a few days, the design darkened and there was absolutely no trace of where the fungal rash-thing was.

I was absolutely floored.

I don’t have pictures or anything (seriously. I was not about to take pictures of that), so you’ve got nothing to go on except my word, but it totally worked, and it was gone within about 3 days or so.

I was truly surprised this worked so well, and happy to have saved myself a trip to the doctors office (both in time and money) and a prescription for cream that might work after several hundred applications.  Really, the only thing you’ve got to watch out for is if there’s broken skin involved. I had a little spot of broken skin on the rash where I put the henna, and now have a permanent henna dot to show for it. Henna is apparently permanent when applied to broken skin. It’s really not a big deal to me though, as it’s just a tiny dot. Actually, I’m not even sure I didn’t have a little freckle there in the first place, but I think it’s from the henna.

Henna seems to have some strong anti-fungal properties and seems to be a good treatment for various types of fungal rashes, foot fungus, nail fungus, and is even said to be able to get rid of head lice. I am by no means a henna expert, but I’m certainly having fun with it, and learning new things about henna along the way.

Pretty cool, huh?

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I met someone the other day who drinks diluted apple cider vinegar for her health, and it reminded me that diluted apple cider vinegar works as a specific remedy for heartburn. I can’t remember where I read or heard that, so I can’t cite the source, but it was a good thing that encounter triggered my memory, because I’ve been dying lately from heartburn. A slow, painful death from the esophagus on out. So after that conversation, I went home and tried it. Just a splash of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water.

Now, if you’re not accustomed to drinking vinegar (which I imagine most people aren’t), it isn’t that good. In fact it’s awful. But I can’t deny the fact that the effect was absolutely unmistakably instantaneous. Heartburn gone. Husband’s theory is that it’s so gross it just makes you forget you have heartburn. But whatever the case, it was gone, and so I don’t care why.

Now I do have to say that it didn’t last very long, maybe an hour or so and I was back for another dose of a few sips. But realistically, you have to keep taking those chewable antacids about every hour or so for them to work, and I’d argue that they’re just as gross. So I’ll take the free version that’s already in my pantry.

As an aside, there’s also a note on our box of baking soda that you can mix a bit of baking soda in water and drink that to relieve heartburn as well. In my own experience it doesn’t work quite as well as the apple cider vinegar. It doesn’t work instantly, and it also doesn’t last long. And it’s still gross. So taste-wise, you’re out of luck. And I wouldn’t recommend going right from the baking soda mix to the vinegar one, or you might turn into a volcano.

And I’ve said this before with other health-related things, but here it is again. I’m not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training. I’ve found something that works well for me for mild relief. If you have chronic or severe issues, it might be good to check with your doctor about that.

Anyone else have experiences to share? What works for your heartburn?

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A couple of days ago, Husband dropped his phone into the toilet. For being a so-called “smartphone,” I’m still not exactly sure how it let itself fall into a toilet (seems to me like a dumb thing to do…), but whatever. At least the toilet was clean. Anyway, his phone was making cracking and popping noises, and the touch screen wasn’t really responding. Uh-oh, not good.

But…..there’s a surprisingly easy fix for a wet phone.

Take it apart into as many pieces as you can: back plate, battery, etc. Lay them in a bowl or container of some sort so none of the pieces overlap, and pour dry rice over the pieces enough to cover them. Leave it sit overnight, and the rice will absorb all the excess water.

No, you don’t have to keep reading. That’s really it. It really is that easy.

I wondered in the back of my mind if this would actually work, but in the morning, his phone was truly good as new, and worked just fine.

Apparently those silica gel packets–you know, the ones labeled with “DO NOT EAT” that come in shoe boxes and stuff–work better than rice, but really, who has tons (or any) of those lying around??

That does leave us with the sad task of throwing out all that rice, which seems a teensy bit wasteful, but let’s face it. Neither of us will be eating the thus-nicknamed “toilet rice.” And that’s way less wasteful than trashing a phone and getting a new one.

On a side note, my “dumbphone” would never do such a thing as leap into a toilet. I’m pretty sure it knows better.

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