Cinnamon Ornaments: Easy Craft for Kids (and Last Minute Gift for Relatives)

As evidenced by this post and the post preceding it, I am a procrastinator. Between this craft and the stove top potpourri gift you can throw together gifts and activities to make the holidays easy and fun (and better smelling). The nice thing about this craft is it can be baked simultaneously with the stove top potpourri and it keeps the kids occupied.

What You Need

4.16 oz Container of ground cinnamon (or two smaller containers)

3/4-1 cup Plain applesauce

Cookie cutters (of your choice)

Yarn or string

A very sharp pencil

What To Do

  1. Mix the cinnamon and applesauce in a bowl until it forms a ball. You will probably need to use your hands. Start with 3/4 cup applesauce and add more until all the ground cinnamon is gathered up into the ball. Please don’t use more than 1 cup applesauce unless you have more cinnamon.
  2. Divide the ball into 4-6 pieces. Use a rolling pin or glass bottle to roll each piece between two pieces of plastic wrap until the dough is 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Remove the top layer of plastic and use a cookie cutter to cut out your desired shape.
  4. Use a sharp pencil to poke a hole into the top of the ornament. Make sure the hole is clear of dough on both sides.
  5. The kids will love “drawing” on the ornaments with a really sharp pencil. At this point you can encourage them to decorate the ornament for a specific person such as a grandparent. Easy gift from the grandkids!
  6. Bake the ornaments on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 200F for 2.5 hours.
  7. Let the ornaments cool on a rack.
  8. String yarn through the top.

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Go Shopping In Your Home

Not sure if this post will be of interest or of much help to anyone out there, but I wrote it more to help organize my own thoughts.

I am one month away from an overseas move with my family. Moves do not intimidate me; I rather look forward to the process of cleaning out and starting over. However, as the years go by and husbands and children and THINGS find their way into my life the moving out process becomes somewhat more difficult. I am a fan of the popular read on organizing: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is where I admit that although the book inspires me, my personality and current life situation prevents me from following through on the process. In preparation for my current move I have developed  my own, simplified approach. I plan on going shopping in my own home. So far the experience has been productive and enjoyable. The process is a room by room approach and similar to how I would clean my room as a kid (ahh to only be responsible for one room). I would make a list of all the categories of items in my room with “trash” at the bottom of my list. There would be three check box columns next to each category. Under this list of categories I would write “vacuum, and dust” with only one check box next to those. After creating my list I would start at the top and work my way down, organizing and cleaning everything as I went. Yes, I would go through the categories three times, even trash.

This is what my adult clean out chart looks like:

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Before I would first decide on what I wanted to get rid of, however I have found that I keep less and have a better plan for organizing when I begin by deciding on what I want to keep; I go shopping in my home. This way I look at a room and see what is important and not just what is causing clutter. Everything around the important stuff becomes clutter, but I don’t stress myself out by just seeing junk. It’s a glass half full method. An appreciation for what is kept is kindled and I am more likely to fix up the item and take better care of it.

 

The Liebster Award

Thank you, Vandana Mathur of The Food Funda for nominating me for a Liebster Award. I am still finding my blogging voice and style; your nomination is encouraging. A sincere thanks. Check out the great recipes on her blog!

Here’s what you need to do for the Liebster Award:

The rules…
1. Acknowledge the blogger that nominated you and display the award
2. Answer 10 question that blogger gives you
3. Give 10 random facts about yourself
4. Nominate 10 blogs with under 200 followers
5. Notify the bloggers that you have nominated them
6. Give them 10 questions to answer

Here are the questions (and my answers) given to me by The Food Funda:

1. Which is your favorite blog?

I started reading blogs because I was a clueless parent. My favorite established blog is 100 Days of Real Food. My favorite up and coming blog is one I connected with on WordPress: With Only One Life. I look forward to the weekend reads and find the content very inspiring.

2. When did you start blogging and why?

I started blogging to find an outlet for stress and to connect with like minded people.

3. What are the best things about your blog? (Go on, let’s have some shameless self promotion!)

My blog is very practical.

4. What’s your favorite city, and why?

My favorite city is Edinburgh. I have visited this magical city at various stages in my life and every time I have a wonderful experience.

5. If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d buy?

I would be buy a lake house with room for all.

6. What was the last film you saw?

Pippi Longstockings.

7. What is your favorite food item?

Pasta.

8. What do you use to take pictures for your blog?

My iPhone.

9. Movies or novels?

This is a difficult question because I most enjoy reading a book and then immediately watching the movie. It’s my guilty pleasure :-).

10. What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?

I have made many mistakes and they have brought me to where I am and I have a lovely life.

 

Rosemary Vinegar Spray

Inspired by my misadventures in DIY essential oils I decided to try and infuse my vinegar spray used for cleaning the kitchen with rosemary. I love the smell of rosemary. It turned out great. Next I will try out a citrus spray. I have been using my rosemary-vinegar spray for cleaning up the kitchen floor at night and doing floorboards (well, I give the spray bottle to one of my kids and let them have on it).

What You Need

  1. Spray Bottle
  2. 6-8 Rosemary Sprigs
  3. Strainer
  4. Vinegar
  5. Water

What To Do

  1. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and place them at the bottom of a spray bottle.
  2. Cover the rosemary with vinegar, filling the bottle about halfway.
  3. Let the rosemary and vinegar sit in a dark cupboard (I put mine under the sink) for a week.
  4. Strain the rosemary and vinegar into a bowl.
  5. Add the rosemary infused vinegar back into the spray bottle.
  6. Fill the remainder of the space in the spray bottle with water.

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Hair Conditioning: Two Ideas

I have been trying out two different ways of conditioning my hair. The first involves an apple cider vinegar rinse. The second involves a coconut oil hair mask. Thanks to the aforementioned conditioning methods I have eliminated store bought conditioners from our house. Personally, I much prefer the apple cider vinegar rinse, but I do think the coconut oil hair mask is a great addition to one’s hair care routine. Just figure out what works for you.

Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

What You Need

  1. 1 Cup Water
  2. 1-2 Tablesppons Apple Cider Vinegar (figure out what works for you)
  3. 1 Used Shampoo Bottle

What To Do

  1. Mark off one cup on your bottle.
  2. Fill bottle with shower water to the one cup mark.
  3. Add 1-2 Tablespoons ACV to the water and shake.
  4. Squirt the mixture into your hair folllowing your normal shampoo routine.
  5. Rinse your hair.

Note: Be careful to avoid your eyes. I find it is helpful to hang my head upside down while applying the rinse. I really, really love the results!

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

What You Need

  1. 1 teaspoon-1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  2. Comb

What To Do

Following your shampoo routine, while your hair is still wet, apply the desired amount of coconut oil to your hair. The amount you use is dependent upon the length of your hair and whether you are prone to having dry or oily hair. I find the coconut oil really adds to the sheen and health of my hair, but does not give me the full body the ACV rinse provides.

  1. Rub the coconut oil between both hands.
  2. Work into your wet hair beginning at the ends. I tend to avoid the roots because I have oily hair.
  3. Leave the coconut oil mask in your hair for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse the coconut oil out and allow hair to air dry.
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Materials for your ACV hair rinse!

Laundry

I finally used up my gigantic bottle of laundry detergent and am excited to present my laundry post. This laundry post was created with the same philosophy as my cleaning product post: Make the process and product super simple and limit waste. As always, the ingredients in these recipes are pulled right off the Terrific Twenty list. Below you can find simple recipes for making detergent, stain removers and fabric softeners. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that baking soda and vinegar counteract each other. I tend to either use the laundry detergent or a vinegar rinse, but not both at the same time. Vinegar can also be tough on fabrics such as cotton when used too frequently. However, I promise, vinegar is your friend when it comes to laundry.

What You Need

  1. 1/2 Gallon Container
  2. 1/2c  Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap
  3. 1/2c  Baking Soda
  4. 1c Water
  5. 1/8c Salt

What To Do

  1. Dissolve the salt and baking soda in warm water in your container.
  2. Add the Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap.
  3.  Fill the remainder of the container with water.
  4. Mix.
  5. Use 1/4c per load.

Note: The final product may fix up a little, just let it settle before you add more water. I have to shake my container before each use as it tends to settle. You can buy a set of measuring cups at the dollar store and just keep a 1/4c measurer right on top of your container for easy use!

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Stain Removal

What You Need

  1. A Large Bowl (I bought mine at the dollar store)
  2. A Sink
  3. Device for Boiling Water
  4. Vinegar
  5. Salt
  6. Baking Soda

What To Do

All stains are not created equal. There are a variety of ways to treat different types of stains.

Everyday Stains/Smells

Soaking the stain in a vinegar-water solution before washing has proved successful for me. Try your best to remove the stain before it sets in the dryer. I use vinegar the majority of the time and just keep a bottle under the sink for easy access. Pouring hot, boiling water over certain stains can remove them quite quickly. Be careful to not splash! If the stain is fresh try soaking it up with baking soda or salt before trying the vinegar-water soak or boiling water.

Blood stains must be treated a bit differently than other stains. Do not use hot water on blood stains. First, try soaking the stain in ice water. If that does not work make a paste using salt and cool water; scrub the stain to try and draw it out.

Towels

Vinegar helps to remove smells. As I mentioned before, I wash my bath towels with about 1 cup of vinegar in the washing machine (no detergent, but sometimes a few drops of essential oils). My kitchen cloths and reusable cleaning cloths can pick up pretty bad smells (especially if not left out to dry completely). Before washing in hot water, I soak in a vinegar-water solution for about an hour. Make sure to separate kitchen towels from cloths that have been used to clean the bathroom.

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Kitchen towels soaking

Fabric Softener

What You Need

  1. 1/4c Baking Soda
  2. 1/2c White Vinegar

What To Do

  1. Add the baking soda along with the detergent when you start your load.
  2. Add the white vinegar to the final rinse cycle.

Note: I don’t find fabric softeners necessary, but I do use this with my towels on occasion. We reuse our towels for about a week so if they are starting to smell I just throw them in the washing machine with a cup of vinegar and choose the hot water cycle. The vinegar alone gets the smell out and leaves them nice and fresh. The above fabric softener recipe is great to use before you have guests! And of course feel free to drop in a few (2-3) drops of your favorite essential oil.

Do you have any tricks for removing stains? I would love to hear about them!

 

 

Gray Hair: Acceptance and More Energy?

I am a bit ashamed to admit that I am self conscious of the increasing number of gray hairs that appear daily on my head. It was my hope that I would just go gray gracefully, but I am not ready! I am only 31! Graying is genetically determined, for the most part, but there is also an element of the graying process controlled by how well you take care of yourself; at least that’s what I want to believe. I recently read Natural Remedies for Reversing Gray Hair: Nutrition and Herbs for Anti-Aging and Optimum Health by Thomas Xander. I thought, why not? It is a short book and I took away a few ideas that I hope to share. The first was a drink containing many of the Terrific Ten, but also black strap molasses (on the secondary list). For anyone who hasn’t had black strap molasses before, it’s pretty intense and runs about 60 calories per tablespoon. It is also chock full of great vitamins and minerals that your hair needs to stay healthy including iron and vitamin B12.

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According to Xander’s book, people have experienced success from just taking 2-3 TABLESPOONS of the stuff per day. Not gonna happen. Below is the recipe for the drink. Read on for my reaction to the drink and what I am trying out instead as a compromise.

What You Need:

  1. 2-3 T. unsulphured black strap molasses
  2. 2-3 T. raw, unpasteurized  apple cider vinegar (The “Mother”)
  3. 2 T. lemon juice
  4. 1 T. raw, local honey
  5. 1/8 tsp. fresh, ground black pepper
  6. 1/4 cup hot water

What To Do:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mug, except the hot water.
  2. Pour hot water over the mug.
  3. Stir the ingredients until well mixed.
  4. ENJOY

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Here is where I confess that I gagged and struggled to get the stuff down (but I did!). My husband found me jumping around in the kitchen, swearing at the mug. It was an experience, but not one I am willing to continue.

INSTEAD I have been taking 1 tsp of black strap molasses by itself, everyday for about a week. As tough as it is to swallow, I can really see an increase in my energy; it’s worth it for the B vitamins and extra iron it provides. I am hoping it slows down the graying, but I also like the energy it gives me.