Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homemade Alphabet Pillow

If you know my kids, you KNOW who this pillow is for. One of my sons LOVES letters! Making crafts is not really my thing but I saw this pillow on and fell in love. Only thing, it cost over a hundred bucks . . . yes, for a pillow. So I decided to make my own, a decision I would come to regret many times along the way.

I still can't believe it's really finished. It's been over a year in the making. Well actually, the materials sat in my closet for over a year, staring at me every day, wondering if this day would be THE day. I finally pulled it out on Sunday evening and finished it Monday afternoon. If I'd known it would only take a day to sew, I'd have finished a long time ago!

The letters are made out of wool felt I bought on Etsy. My mom cut them out for me ages ago using paper letters as a pattern. Thanks Mom! Without her I never would have finished this pillow. She's the one that bought me my first sewing machine for Christmas. And I HAD to finish so she'd stop asking me if I was done with the pillow yet. I sewed the letters on (very slowly) with my sewing machine. It's an envelope pillow case so I can take it off and wash it if need be. When my son found out this was not a pillow to sleep on, he burst into tears. After much explanation about decorative pillows, he is now happy to sleep NEXT to it.

Now the pillow is DONE, I'm glad I decided to make it myself. It went pretty smoothly besides a permanent iron mark left on the fabric. I was more than a little irritated when my husband asked if I was going to start over. Um no, I don't think so. I keep telling myself it's not that noticeable. I have some extra fabric and felt left over so I'm thinking of making a number pillow for my other son. Don't tell my mom though or I'll never hear the end of it until it's finished!

This post is linked to: Whipperberry Friday Flair, Happy Hour Friday, Get Schooled Saturday, Homemaker on a Dime, Homestead Revival, Too Cute Tuesday, The 36th Avenue, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Tatertots & Jello

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Homemade Deodorant

I've loved making my own cleaning products so much that I decided to branch into personal care products. Now I'll never run out of things to blog about. Lucky you! he he.

Homemade deodorant is first on the list. I've used deodorant instead of antiperspirant on and off for years now to avoid aluminum. There isn't any conclusive evidence that aluminum in antiperspirant causes breast cancer or Alzheimer's, but I still like to avoid it. The only problem was the store-bought deodorant just wasn't cutting it. Most lately I've been using Tom's of Maine deodorant, but the only thing I could count on was smelling by the end of the day. So when I came across this recipe for homemade deodorant, I thought why not?

I've been using this recipe for a month and a half now and (drumroll, please). . . it really works! I'm AMAZED at how well it works. My husband with his super nose hasn't complained once. As if being smell-free wasn't its own reward, there's another perk. I don't have to worry about yellow underarm stains from antiperspirant on my white shirts anymore. Woot woot!

Homemade Deodorant
5 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or corn starch
essential oils (optional)

Mix the ingredients together with a fork until well combined.


Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal so it's a perfect ingredient for deodorant. I bought organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, extra virgin coconut oil for $8.99/15 fl oz in the cooking oil section of my local health food store, but you can also find it on Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs. The unrefined, cold-pressed, extra virgin part means more nutrients are going to be left in it to benefit your skin. The arrowroot powder/cornstarch helps absorb moisture.

Arrowroot Powder/Corn Starch: I used arrowroot powder instead of corn starch. I read some comments from people saying they thought corn starch works better, but arrowroot powder is more pure and less irritating. I think either option is fine. I found Bob's Mill arrowroot flour in the baking isle for $5.99/20 oz at my local health food store, but you can also find it on Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Baking Soda: Baking soda helps keep bacteria from growing.

Essential Oils: Essential oils aren't necessary, but they add extra antimicrobial action. Some of the best choices are tea tree, lavender, and rosemary essential oils. You can find essential oils at your local health food store, Amazon, or Moutain Rose Herbs.


I put the batch inside an old clean deodorant container, which works pretty well. Warning, coconut oil melts at 76 degrees! So if you use a deodorant container and your house gets over 76 degrees, you are going to have a big ol' leaky mess. Keeping it in a glass or plastic container might be a better option and just use your fingers to apply. Or you could keep it in the fridge.

What It Cost
$2.00 Coconut Oil
$0.35 Arrowroot Powder
$0.02 Baking Soda

$2.37 Grand Total for Whole Batch
$1.58 Grand Total for Amount that Fit into Deodorant Container (without essential oils)

Not bad. Usually that much antiperspirant would cost me about $3. A natural deodorant at the health food store would cost about $5. Here's to saving money and smelling great all day long!

If you use a commercial "natural" deodorant, does it work? Would you be willing to make the switch to homemade deodorant or is it too much trouble?

This post is linked to: Happy Hour Friday, Raising Homemakers Link-Up, Link and Greet Saturday, Saturday Show & Tell, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday, Simple Steps to Healthy Living, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works For Me Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Tip Me Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tout it Tuesday, Too Cute Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got Tuesday, Sumo's Sweet Stuff, Homestead Barn Hop, The Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival, Homestead Barn Hop, Motivate Me Monday, More the Merrier Monday, Homemaker on a Dime, Alderberry Hill, Frugal Friday, Little House in the Suburbs

Sunday, March 11, 2012

8 Natural Alternatives to Fabric Softener & Dryer Sheets

It seems the most harmful chemicals in dryer sheets and fabric softeners are in the seemingly lovely scent. Companies aren't required to release what chemicals are in a fragrance, so who knows what is hiding behind that so-called "fresh" smell.

This 2011 scientific study done by the University of Washington sheds some light on the subject. Researchers used the top-selling scented fabric softener and dryer sheets and then analyzed the air from the dryer vents and found 7 hazardous air pollutants. "Of those, two chemicals -- acetaldehyde and benzene -- are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens." Those chemicals coat the clothing to make them feel softer. Then they rub against your skin every day, all day, unless you walk around au naturel. And you have to assume the chemicals are absorbed by your skin. Isn't that how nicotine and birth control patches work?


Here are some alternatives to fabric softener and dryer sheets, from my least favorite to my favorite:
  1. Air dry. Kind of a pain, especially when you don't have a yard.
  2. Avoid synthetic fabrics. These are the ones that cause static. I'm sorry, but if I see a cute shirt I can't not buy it just because it's made of polyester.
  3. Dryer Balls. Dryer balls are supposed to make clothing softer but I read user reviews of people complaining about the ball putting holes in clothing, being too loud, and not helping with static cling.
  4. Make homemade fabric softener. I tried this recipe. It was annoying trying to pour this into a Downy ball because it was so goopy. And then you have to worry about what chemicals are in the conditioner. I ended up throwing it out and switching to plain white vinegar which I think works better.
  5. Throw a cloth soaked in vinegar into the dryer. This works well for static cling but my husband and his super nose could still smell vinegar even after the clothes were dry. (Don't use this on a load washed with bleach. Vinegar and bleach can form a toxic gas when combined.)
  6. Throw a ball of aluminum foil into the dryer. This method works great for static cling.
  7. Spray some vinegar onto the wet clothes before you start the dryer. I just used my homemade floor cleaner since it's already in a spray bottle. This helps with static cling. My husband can't smell a trace of vinegar after they are dry.
  8. Use vinegar in the rinse cycle. This is the best way I've found to soften clothes and reduce static. I put about 1/2 cup of white vinegar in a Downy ball. A Downy ball is a cool invention that releases the fabric softener during the rinse cycle to save people like me from hovering over the washer waiting for the rinse cycle to begin. The vinegar helps cut the soap residue. Without it, my clothes come out quite crunchy because we have very hard water. My husband has never complained about smelling vinegar after the clothes are dry. They just smell clean.

    **Update 5/17/13** I stopped using vinegar after a few of my shirts seemed to be getting holes in them prematurely. Now I use nothing. No vinegar, no homemade fabric softener, no nothing. My clothes are soft enough, especially when I wash with soap nuts, and I don't have much trouble with static cling.


Vinegar is cheaper than the so-called "natural" fabric softener/dryer sheets. I say "so-called" because they are still full of chemicals I don't want on my clothing.

$0.15/load - Ecover Fabric Softener ($4.69/32 oz. at Sprouts)
$0.11/load - Method Dryer Cloths ($4.39/40 cloths on Amazon)
$0.08/load - 1/2 cup Vinegar ($3.66/1.32 gallons at Costco)

If you just aren't ready to part ways with fabric softener or dryer sheets yet, at least get the kind that is scent-free. I say good riddance, Bounce!

Have you tried any of these alternatives? Do you know any other fabric softener alternatives not on the list?

This post is linked to: Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Steps to Healthy Living, Homemaker on a Dime, Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop, Frugal Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Raising Homemakers Link-Up, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Little House in the Suburbs, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homemade Furniture Polish

I remember dusting for my mom with a can of Pledge and a rag back in the day. Then I went to college where money was tight. There was no way I was going to fork out money for Pledge when I could use it toward much-needed food or not-really-needed but oh-so-wanted clothing! So I used a spray bottle filled with water and an old rag. I've come a long way since then. Now I dust the house with my handy dandy microfiber towel. Microfiber towels are magic! They attract dust like no-other so dusting has never been simpler.

I had dusting under control but one day I noticed my newish dining room table was looking a bit dry. I needed some furniture polish. Finances are better since the college days but store-bought furniture polish is usually full of toxic and unnecessary chemicals. So I scoured the Internet looking for recipes until I found this simple one. I always have these ingredients on hand so I gave it a whirl. I've been using it for about a year now and love the results.

One Batch of
Homemade Furniture Polish

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

Put ingredients in a container with a lid. Shake vigorously to get thoroughly mixed. I just dip my rag or paper towel in the container and wipe the surface of the wood. A little goes a long way. If you use too much, your furniture might feel a little greasy until it is absorbed.

The oil keeps the wood from drying out while the lemon juice/vinegar pulls dirt from the wood. Since I don't polish my wood furniture very often and the furniture polish can spoil, I make just enough for that day. I've made it both ways, with vinegar and with lemon juice. The lemon juice concoction smells better of course, but the vinegar is cheaper and comes in handy when I don't have a lemon on hand. My kitchen table has never looked better.

Boo-yah, Pledge!

Do you have any wood cleaning tips or a favorite wood polishing recipe to share?

This post was shared at: Whipperberry Friday Flair, Tiny Tip Tuesday, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Living Green Tuesdays, Show Me What Ya Got Tuesday, Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, Motivate Me Monday, More the Merrier Monday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Country Momma Cooks Saturday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday, Tatertots & Jello, Little House in the Suburbs, Happy Hour Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Natural Living Link-Up, The 36th Avenue, Keep It Real Thursdays, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Works For Me Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Raising Homemakers Link-Up, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Get Schooled Saturday