Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts

A while back I was trying to sell a desk that wouldn't fit in a new place I was moving, This desk was heavy and about 5ft long with a 'topper' that was screwed into the desk back. The topper was heavy as well. I had a few people who stopped by to see it, but no one bought it. Finally a guy bought it but didn't want the top part.

I didn't really care, I just wanted to get rid of it and have it used by someone else. However I was stuck with the top part and didn't know what do to with it... I eventually did find something useful for it.

It is my catch all for when I walk through the door, kind of an entry way do-hicky-thingamajig(official name), that I pile books on, kick my shoes off under and in the upper right side, is a kleenex box full of doggy bags to use as I take the dog out for a walk

In another way I was able to scavenge a couple items from the trash to fix a mistake I made. We had bought a tall table with bar height chairs and after having the table for a few months, came to the conclusion that we didn't care much for it, but it was beyond the time-frame to replace it. We knew we would have to live with it and cutting down the legs of the table and the chairs was out of the question.

A couple days ago someone tossed out the exact same table that we had, but the shorter version! We grabbed the legs, used our own table top and used the chairs they had tossed out. We left our long legs and chairs with the other table top. It is beautiful and we like sitting at it again. Plus, we didn't have to pay a dime to fix our mistake.
We noticed the other table was gone by morning, which means what one couple gave up to the trash, made two homes happy!

Update: Reader Jeremy sent the following pictures and had this to say, "My wife and I bought this sidetable/hutch thing at the Salvation Army for $50 for both.
I took off the sliding glass from the top piece, painted it white and made into a bookcase.
For the bottom half, took off the legs to get it lower to be used as a TV stand. And then sanded and stained it.
$50 plus about $40 in supplies and we have 2 pieces of furniture."
Well done! Glad to share it with the readers!

Have you ever reused something in a different way than it's original intention? 
How about finding items that "fixed" a mistake?
Leave your comments or email me your story and picture and I'll put it up

Sadly, I don't have a self-cleaning oven, but the hard work won't kill me. Being a person who likes to do as little as possible, and not having any oven-cleaner spray, I went with the ammonia.

I pulled out a large, deep bake pan and filled half way with ammonia. It was at that point I about keeled over and realized I didn't have any windows or doors open. I quickly pushed, with minor amount of mess, the pan into the oven and closed the door. Then I ran to the doors and windows to open them.

We could still smell the ammonia pretty bad, so we covered the little pipe vent, which comes up to the top of the stove, with plastic wrap. Though, you would be able to use an oven mitt if you wanted to.

After about 4 hours of it sitting in there, we took it out and I started cleaning. I would say that 70% of the gunk came off with a wet cloth. The rest was elbow grease, soap and water. I got the oven cleaned up in about 30 minutes after taking out the ammonia. I'm sure it wouldn't take that long if you left the ammonia in over night.

I only used the dish rag to cover my face for the first few minutes, as the ammonia smell dissipated quickly.

I just despise seeing the mildew and mold that creeps into the bathroom or in a dark, damp basement. Both of them are part of the mold family of fungi, with mold often being black, green, red, or blue in color while mildew is usually gray or white. No matter the color, I hate to see it creep around the caulking of the bathtub.

flickr/cc - iLoveButter
 The ways I have found the have helped, whether in a small or larger way, are preventive measures and regular cleaning. When used in combination they seem to keep the bathroom clean until time takes it's toll on the caulking and it needs to be replaced.

➠ Keep toiletries and soaps to a minimum on the counters and inside the tub as water collects around these objects and allows the mold to grow.
Consider hanging a shelf outside the shower with your toiletries, as this will allow your products to air-dry completely, avoiding mold growth.
➠ When cleaning the bathroom, remove all items from the surface and before you place them back, make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and dried.
Keep the window in the bathroom cracked or a vent on while taking a shower and leave on for a few minutes after to help suck out the moisture. If you have neither, keep the door open, if possible, and open a window in a nearby room.
Use a squeegee or towel to dry the shower walls and along the caulking

Always be sure to wear gloves and face mask, keeping vents and windows open to cut down on fumes and the toxic affect mold and mildew have.
➠ Plain old soap and water can be tried first if the growth is not too deep or too severe.
➠ Use bleach chlorine, however it is best to mix with water as overtime it can break down the underlying surface
➠ The other alternative is a paste of baking soda and white vinegar smeared onto the surface and left to dry, then scrubbing off and repeating as necessary.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used if mixed 1:2 with water and sprayed onto the moldy area and scrub to remove.
Other options: Grapefruit seed extract (20 drops to 2c. water), Tea tree oil (1tspn to 2c. water) - The smell of the tree tea oil can be strong but after a few days the smell will dissipate.

➠ The caulking may just need to be removed, cleaned and replaced. Don't do like the above picture and just place new caulking over the old. This will make matters worse down the road.
➠ Also consider that mold may have grown inside faucets, shower taps, etc and you may have to replace those to fight the mold.

flickr/cc - xJasonRogersx

 Really, mold and mildew aren't to be feared, it is just a matter of staying on top of it and when preventative measures and cleaning don't do the job, it is time to take it apart and start over.

Even though I live an apartment complex and all the repairs are handled by the maintenance crew, I still like to know that I can handle small issues that may come up.

For instance, the garbage disposal. Even though it has been around for over 70 years, and it's a pretty cool invention for apartments when you can't actively compost organics. And even though it was invented before my parents were born, only about 50% of homes have them and it would seem even fewer people really know how to take care of it besides dumping baking soda, vinegar and hot water down the hole to clean it or make it smell nicer.

Understandably, garbage disposals aren't the coolest accessory to have around the house. They were once banned in different location because they were believed to caused sewer troubles and if movies are to be believed you will can get all kinds of body-parts trapped in them.

Since they are pretty sturdy devices when they do go down it is usually with the biggest meal of the year trapped inside and clogging up the sink drain.

Trouble #1 - Flip the switch and nothing happens
Solutions - When the disposal is clogged there is a switch on the unit that is tripped. Open up your cabinet doors under the sink and press that switch in to reset it and if it trips again, make sure any large items or bones are out of the disposal before you push the reset again.

If there is no switch, try unplugging the unit and replugging it in. And if the garbage disposal still won't react, check the breaker for the disposal. When it is running again, make sure you are running water down the drain while it is running.

Trouble #2 - The disposal isn't draining as fast as it used to
Solutions - Detach the piping that has a bend in it for any kind of obstruction. Over time grease and other organics will accumulate over time if not enough water was flushed down the drain while it was in use.

Trouble #3 - The garbage disposal noise level is waking the dead
Solutions - If your unit used to be quieter and has become louder, grab a flashlight, turn the disposal off and check down the drain for anything that might be causing the trouble - plastic and silverware are most common. Just grab some tongs, snatch it out and frame it for the beautiful piece of chewed up artwork it has become.

If it vibrates while it is running, check for loose screws or the flywheel inside could have been damaged. And if that happens... a new disposal is probably cheaper than fixing the existing one.

Unfortunately, there is not a way to make them quieter. If you an unfortunate soul, like myself, and have one that sounds like a jet engine taking off, then consider the times of the day that you use it.
Flickr/CC - iluvrhinestones

Cleaning a disposal is really simple and you probably already know at least one way. Remember to always run water when the disposal is running.

Cleaning Tip #1 - Regularly grinding up ice cubes and fruit rinds in the unit helps to remove particles before they have the chance to form mold.

Cleaning Tip #2 -  A tablespoon of bleach mixed into a gallon of water, slowly poured into the drain and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Then run the water while the disposal is going.

Cleaning Tip #3 -  The most common suggestion is to pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, let it sit for a few minutes and then pour a cup of vinegar down the drain. Put the plug in. Expect to hear a faint fizzing noise as the soda and vinegar react on contact. Leave for a few more minutes and pour a large bowl or pan of hot water down the drain while running the disposal.

From my cereal box to any wallet. That's where these Frugal For Life business cards of mine are coming from and where they are going to end up.

I've always wanted my own business cards but I don't have a great number of places to give them out and I really don't want 250 of them. I found this step by step picture process that I used to make my own.

1. I picked a business card style from my options on the computer and designed it to suit me.

2. Any size cardboard cereal box will do, though you may have to cut it to size to fit in your printer for length and width or use a regular piece of paper as a template. I had this Apple Cinnamon Cheerios box that worked well.

3. I ran a test print on scrap paper to get an idea of how it would look since I had never printed out business cards before.

4. Initially I just laid the cardboard in the printer and found that didn't work very well. I had to take it out and roll it up a bit to curl around my printer's wheel. A slight push may be all that is needed to get it to move through, without curling.
5. The cardboard uncurled just fine and I found that it wasn't a factor after I cut out the business cards.

6. I measured and cut along the lines for my first 10 homemade cardboard business cards made from a cereal box. And I'm quite happy!
 In addition: I'm glad I used a brighter blue than I was going to go with as it stands out more on the cardboard brown. In the future make sure to use bright colors against the brown background. Also, since this site is about frugality, business cards on a cardboard box fits in. However, if I sold Rolls Royce cars.. not so much.

There is nothing so disgusting as the odor from feet... smelly farts come in a close second. Is it summer or winter that brings out the sweaty, stinky feet? For my house, it is summer because my sandals absorb the sweat from my hot feet and the stink just follows you around like toilet paper stuck to your foot.

First off, sweaty feet is your body cooling off and a natural part of biology and only you would know if you sweat excessively. Sweat itself is odorless, but when it comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin and stays in a dark, damp and warm place for a period of time, it starts to smell.

Photos courtesy Flickr/cc - cell105 and Save vs Death

There are a few home remedies for the stink that come from the feet.

De-stink the Feet
  • Wash and Dry Well. Start the day with feet that are clean and dried well to give yourself a head start.
  • Foot Antiperspirant. The same antiperspirant that is used on under arms will work with the bottom of your dried off feet as well. All your body parts should be clean and dry, so roll on or spray on and go.
  • Change Socks. Changing your socks once or twice a day after drying your feet off will help cut down on foul smelling bacteria that builds up on your feet.
  • Feet Soaking. There are quite a few options for soaking your feet. 1 Gal. Warm water with 1/2 C. Hydrogen Peroxide, or 1/2 C. Baking soda, or 1/2 C. Bleach. (bleach is not good if your are diabetic), or 1/2 C. Vinegar. Whichever you choose, doing this over a period of 1 week to 1 month every night appears to help many people. 
  • Dead Skin Scrub. Getting a pumice stone or old toothbrush to ex-foliate your feet and give them a new life.

De-stink the Shoe
  • Natural Materials. Shoes and socks with natural materials and not man-made, like canvas or leather shoes and cotton or wool socks, allow your feet to breathe and dry out.
  • Just a Sprinkle or Spray. Baby powder, baking powder or Lysol will work to dry up the shoe, absorb the odor and get you ready for day two.
  • Newspaper Absorption. No powder around, no problem. Stuff the shoes with newspaper to dry them out. 
  • Rotating Shoes. Since air drying shoes does not happen over night, you would want to have some other shoes to use while they dry out fully. 
  • Wash and Dry. Toss the shoes into the washer for a good soak and swish, then let them air dry. One alternative is to wipe out the shoes with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar and then let them dry.
  • Reusable Absorption. Pour kitty litter or coffee grounds into pantyhose legs or and old sock, tie off the end and fit it to the shoe for overnight odor remover.
  • Change Insoles. Take out the old insoles and replace them with some new insoles or odor eater variety
I think that about covers it. I have washed down my sandals with hydrogen peroxide and water (tested small area first) and they seem to be good for now.  Just a matter of keeping feet and shoes clean and remembering that the opposite of dark, damp and warm is best for my shoes and feet.

** There is a non thrifty way to kill the bacteria in shoes and that is with a shoe tree with UV light. These are found at Amazon under Sterishoe for about $130 and I don't know how well they would work with sandals, if at all.

What other thrifty suggestions do you have for stinky feet and shoes?

Memorial Day weekend is here where we celebrate our freedoms brought to us through the sacrifices made by the men and women throughout the military. We do this through our own sacrifices made by eating too many BBQ’d meals, going on vacations and hanging out around the occasional parade. 

It is also the time of the year when people will get their first sunburn of the summer. If you forgot the suntan lotion and have one of the following in your home.  

Home remedies for Sunburns:

1.  Undiluted apple cider vinegar to sunburn.
2. Mix 10 ounces Non-fat Dry Milk, 2 tablespoons salt and 25 ounces water. Saturate cloth and apply to sunburn 20 minutes. -A milk bath of sorts
3. Mayonnaise as a skin cream to sunburn.
4. Peanut oil to sun-burned areas.
5. Thin slices of cold cucumbers, apples, or potato directly to the skin.
6. Cold, plain yogurt, then rinse with cool water.
7. Cold, used black tea bags to sun-burned eyelids to relieve pain and swelling.

Want to make your own sunscreen? You will need Olive or Almond Oil, BeesWax and Zinc Oxide, plus a tube to put it into. Find the step by step instructions at

Memorial Day Weekend is a common place to eat to much potato salad, watermelons, burgers and hot dogs and it gives you one big stomachache!

Home remedies for stomach-aches:
  1. Drink plenty of water to help with the digestive process
  2. Relax - Lay down and let your body do what it needs to do without you stressing out
  3. Walk - A little exercise can help after a big meal with blood circulation
  4. Snack on Caraway seeds after a meal to reduce gas and help with digestion
  5. Cinnamon helps with the digestive system as well - perfect for a little tea
  6. Sometimes Mint can calm an upset stomach
  7. Baking soda antacid - Mix 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 1/2 glass water
  8. Snack on some bland crackers, bread or a banana
  9. Add fiber by chopping on an apple
  10. Ginger tea or Ginger ale may sooth a stomachache

Photos via flickr/cc 
kirinqueen and Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer

Having white walls or blank walls may keep your home simple and if that is the direction you want to go than more power to you. However, decorating your home can be a creative decision you can make once and leave alone or continually change as the mood inspires you.

Many people would like to put some art on their walls. There are multiple ways to go about this. The most important idea to keep in mind, is to hang what you love.

Spend little to none:

* Frame your own or your children’s artwork and hang
* Rent art-work – The library in my hometown, there's an option to check out art pieces for a few weeks.
* Don’t forget the trash – One person’s tired picture is a ‘new’ one for you
* Search your closets or your parent’s basement for those old ‘masterpieces’ created in school
* Old calendars can be a great resource for single framed or collage art to hang

Spend a little more:

* Check online at eBay, Craigslist, or Etsy for some original art from an unknown artist – prices vary
* Pick up cheap pieces at yard sales and thrift stores
* Check with schools or colleges art departments to see if students are selling their work
* Find photos on photobucket to buy and frame for your home – example
* Enlarge existing photos and frame them

Spend a lot more:

* Check out local, neighborhood art galleries – not the high end ones and go with a budget in mind
* Take a day to visit an art festival – have some ideas in mind of what you are looking for as well

If artwork isn’t for you - alternatives:

* Hang a quilt or blanket that you like the design on
* Gather your stuffed animals, action figures or dolls and make multiple shelves for them to sit on against one wall or two
* If you have a collection of hats, clocks, sports items or toys - bring them out of hiding and enjoy them.
* Paste together a collage that inspires you: quotes, story rejection letters, pictures from magazines and so on.
* More of a handy person? Make a shadow box and place your keepsakes in them.

I buy cleaning supplies about every 3 months or more and have decided that this next trip to the store is going to be stocking up on items to make my own cleaning supplies for use in the kitchen and bathroom. I like knowing the ingredients are simple and easy to understand and that I had a hand in making the cleaning solution work for me.

Because I am not fully certain that all cleaning solutions will work, my back up plan is to buy some 7th generation products, with their coupons, if something fails to work - But I hope all goes well.

Grocery List
I need spray bottles for liquid solutions I make as I don't have any leftover bottles around the house I feel comfortable using and I need a container for shaking out the powder solution made as well.

Before I figure out how many containers to buy, I need to figure out what ingredients are used that I may need to buy:
Baking soda - deodorizes, scours surfaces, and is a natural cleaning agent
Vinegar - kills most mold, bacteria, and germs
Salt - scours, cleans, and deodorizes 
Borax/Washing soda - water softener and sanitizer and makes an excellent freshener when added to laundry and an all-around deodorizer (use gloves)
Hydrogen Peroxide - kills bacteria and mold
Ammonia - general purpose cleaner for many surfaces (never use in combination w/bleach) 
Lemon juice - has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, is a natural bleach, and it controls odors 


Toilet - Vinegar straight or used in combo with baking soda or borax.  Alternatives: couple of denture cleaning tablets, coca-cola or a pumice stone for stains

Bathtub - A powder mix of baking soda w/ salt or bar soap, add a little vinegar after for tougher stains. A liquid cleaning mix of lemon juice and vinegar. Also pour warm vinegar in a sandwich bag and rubber-band to shower-head for an hour to clean. Alternatives: left over shampoo

Sink/Counter - A mix of baking soda w/ salt or bar soap or 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, and 3 to 4 cups hot water in a spray bottle.


Counter-tops - All purpose spray: Equal parts vinegar and water with a few drops of lemon juice.

Oven - A pan of ammonia left in the oven for a few hours if no one else is in the house and it is well ventilated. Otherwise a paste of three parts baking soda, one part salt, and one part water spread all over the inside of the oven and let sit overnight. Alternatives: Lay down aluminum foil on the bottom to cut down on cleanup, use cookie sheets under dishes in the oven

Microwave oven - Heat up a bowl of vinegar in the microwave to steaming and wipe off with warm rag.

Refrigerator/Freezer - For manual defrost freezers and refrigerators the use of hot water with a cup of vinegar helps clean it out quickly.

Cutting boards - Clean with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, but not together, one after the other in any order.

Over-all Cleaning:

Dusting - Mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.

Drains - Pour Baking soda and vinegar down the drain and let bubble and sit. Then follow with Hot water.

Moldy Grout - Mix a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Spray on and let sit for an hour. For colored grout, mix a paste of baking soda and water. Lemon Juice can be tried as well, testing a small area.

Carpet Deodorizing - Sprinkle corn starch or baking soda on carpet and vacuum up to freshen carpet. For stains, mix equal parts borax or baking soda, salt, and white vinegar. Apply the paste to the stain and let dry, then vacuum.

Carpet Steam Cleaning - Double check your manual, but most will accept 4-6 ounces of vinegar with the hot water in place of the steam cleaning products

Overall it appears that Vinegar, Baking soda, Hydrogen Peroxide and Lemon Juice are the top used items. Salt, Borax and Ammonia seem to be the runner's up.

What things have you found that help with the above cleaning items?

Have I told about the project I am so proud of, yet it was so simple? I have a secret stash of silver coins and found gold rings hidden away in a hollow book that I made. I'm not crafty but I had always wanted one so I sat down and made one, one bright afternoon.

I bet you can't even tell which book it is on the shelf that holds my found gold rings and silver coins. But I keep the book on the shelf with the others and I love taking it down and adding more items to it, putting it back in with the other books and being so proud of myself. I think I could make 10 more of these.... hey, maybe I will make them as Christmas gifts!

I pulled out the box cutters, glue and a thick book that wasn't of interest to anyone and started cutting a square center out of the pages. If I ever do this again I will make sure I don't glue the pages together as that beautiful square starts looking pretty cruddy along the inside edges and not much like a square any longer. But lesson learned and we move on.

I also learned quickly that putting glue on the inside of the pages was good so that coins didn't slip in-between the pages and get lost. I just used Elmer's glue on the inside pages and on the outside pages and cut right from the first page down. Though if the book was even thicker, I could see starting about 10-15 pages down so you have a cover over the storage and not just the outer shell of the book.  Maybe even add Velcro to the outer book cover to keep it closed if it falls over... but then maybe that would make it stand out with that extra Velcro material.

I always liked those spy-like hideaways and this is something that allows me to re-use a book as storage and fulfills a second roll of a 'safe' for valuables. I like a 2 for 1 deal just as much as the next guy. It will also make a great gift idea because large books are cheap and the time it takes is just a few hours of work, so easy in fact it could be done with kids... who are safe with box cutters. 


Again I wanted to bring your attention to the wonderfully creative, frugal and finance related ideas over at the Festival of Frugality 218 - If you are looking for more to read and get ideas, this is a great place to start.

If you like more personal experiences, Katy asks her readers, "what are you doing to live cheaply?" and gets quite a few responses that are from the common to the unusual.

From the Hartford, CT newspaper, Courant and Mr. HandyPerson (no longer archived) comes this bit of advice on giving your clothes pins a long and happy, wooden life - I thought this was an excellent addition as I've wondered this myself. It's not useful for everyone, but if you've also wondered, now you know.


Q. Against the advice of my know-it-all relatives (who insisted, "Don't bother him with stupid questions" and "Just buy new ones"), here goes: How do I put back together separated wooden clothespins, the kind with a small spring in the middle?

I break my nails, my fingers get red and sore, and I still have not found an easy or fast way to do this. I bought new ones - plastic. But I am frugal, and I'd like to put all my old ones back together again.
A. Mr. HP guesses your advice-volunteering relatives are decent, upright people, but he's surprised they've forgotten the old saw, "There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers."

You might mention it to them sometime because it's an important concept.

Now about those clothespins. Mr. HP will tell you how to fix them but, he's a little curious why yours seem to be falling apart with regularity. Are they sometimes left out in the elements between wash days?

This is not a good idea because the unfinished wood can warp, shrink, crack and easily fall out of the spring mechanism (which doesn't rust when wet, staying the same size even if the wood shrinks). Weathered wood is the most frequent cause of breakage and falling apart.

Regardless, let's get your old clothespins up and running again.

A useful tool would be some needle-nose pliers. Hold the little spring firmly, with one of the "needles" of the pliers going through the spring.

Hold the pliers and spring flat on a firm surface with one hand. Then use the other hand to grasp and hold the two wood parts together at their thinnest ends (smoother sides out, bumpy sides facing together).

Insert the thin ends of the wood parts through the squared-off ends of the spring. Push them in to where they stop against the spring.

Then squeeze the other ends together and push them farther past the spring until they pop back into the right position around the spring.

It may take you a couple of tries before this goes as smoothly and easily as it does for Mr. HP, who has been doing it for years freehand - without the needle-nose pliers - because his hands are probably considerably less delicate than yours.

While experimenting with the needle-nose pliers on your behalf, though, he realized that as his fingers become more arthritic, from years of being worked hard, he'll probably use the pliers himself from now on.

Might as well give our trusty fingers a break, don't you think?

Like you, Mr. HandyPerson is frugal, too. His own know-it-all relatives and friends probably say "cheap" behind his back.

But he has this idea that something's off-key if he has to replace household tools, utensils and other things - designed to potentially last a lifetime - more than once in his life.

As Mr. HP understands the language, being frugal is still a virtue and being thought of as frugal is still a compliment.

About 40 years ago, Mr. HP bought his own set of a dozen wood clothespins. Since then, he has salvaged a few dozen more, usually found popped apart in the trash or on the ground near others' clotheslines. He's quite sure he still has his original dozen, although he has not gone so far as to identify and name them individually. But they do feel like helpful, familiar little friends when he uses them.

Considering that there are probably a good many people out there who have no idea anymore what a wood clothespin is or does, these little guys may be a collector's item one day. Hang on to yours!

Even though I rent an apartment I like to take care of things around it if I can to save myself time in waiting for them to come over, but primarily so I don't become a total slug having others wait on me. Because of this I have found a few easy fixes that I can do and also save some money.

Stove  -
• check to make sure there are no cracks around the gasket
• make sure the seal is secure by trying to slide a dollar bill out from the edge
• Save myself money by keeping the most heat inside the oven
• clean metal grease filter that is above my stove

Refrigerator -
• clean the coils either behind the kick-plate or at the rear of the fridge
• look for and change or clean water filter system
• check to make sure there are no cracks around the gasket, use vaseline around gasket to keep it soft
• make sure the seal is secure by trying to slide a dollar bill out from the edge

Sink Area -
• check dishwasher for rusty tines, get a tine repair kit if necessary
• deodorizer and sharpen garbage disposal with a mixture of ice cubes and vinegar; tossing in some orange peels for a better smell
• check for leaking faucets and replace o-ring, gasket, etc
• stained dishwashers can be cleaned up with a package of lemon/lime koolaid run through the rinse cycle

Laundry Area -
• pull the exhaust off the back of the dryer and pull out large clumps and vacuum the rest
• check washer hoses for cracks

Around the House -
• check seals around doors and windows for leaks to reduce cold air drafts
• clean clogs in drains of tub and sinks
• change furnace filter
• clean the registers around the house, check closed ones
• tighten any loose door knobs and hinges
• WD-40 squeaking door and garage hinges

Then when I'm done I stop, take a look around, in each room I check and make sure there isn't anything else that can be checked, cleaned or fixed. Then I'm done.

In the process of one day I could deal with more chemicals than I know how to sound out. From the morning of getting up and taking a shower, cleaning my hair, brushing my teeth to using the toilet and cleaning the bathroom. It is amazing the chemicals that are in our lives without really noticing.

One of the promises I made to myself was to increase the amount of homemade items I use in my house for two reasons:
1. Cut down on the price of groceries
2. Cut down on the chemicals that I have no clue about.

One of my steps towards that goal is to make my own shampoo and rinse instead of spending $4 per bottle of shampoo and conditioner. Plus I have been unhappy with the results from shampoos and conditioners, so instead of spending more money on something new I wanted something cheaper that I understood the ingredients.

Recently I came across a recipe for washing hair and put it in my project folder. However, a couple days later I came across Mary's Debt-Proof Living site which had an answer to a question about "shampoo intelligence" and that reminded me about the shampoo recipe I wanted to try.

Some of the chemicals listed in the DPL answer really made me wonder.
Water (or some fancy name for H2O) will always be the first ingredient, followed by the detergent. Examples that you might find:

Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate - very harsh
Ammonium Laureth Sulfate – harsh
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) - still harsh
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) - mild, great choice
TEA Lauryl Sulfate - gentle, good choice
TEA Laureth Sulfate - gentle, also a good choice

My current shampoo has listed as the 2nd and 3rd ingredients, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, which are the harshest of the two detergents.

So instead of going out and buying a shampoo with milder chemicals I decided to try a more natural shampoo and rinse with the total of 2-3 ingredients. I hope to save money with this shampoo and rinse as well as saving my scalp with the more natural ingredients.

My shampoo has 1 part (1/2c) baking soda and 3 parts water
My Rinse has 1 part (1/2c) regular vinegar and 4 parts water with a couple drops of pure vanilla to make the vinegar smell sweeter.

I tried it out for the first time yesterday and was happy with the results. Part of the steps for using the shampoo and rinse is that you have to leave it in your hair for a 1-3 minutes - so I made sure I started my hair first and then washed up, rinsed my hair and put in the vinegar rinse and then waited a bit longer and I was done.

One nice benefit to this shampoo is that I got some in my mouth and eyes and it wasn't the end of the world, I rinsed it out and my eyes weren't burning for the next 5 minutes. I will continue with this project and keep you posted.

I have had a breakthrough, sure it's not something major to most people but, I have found a simple recipe that makes me a little more comfortable in the kitchen. Up to this point I've been fine with making pancakes, eggs, bacon, and other 1-2 ingredient meals.

I've always wanted to be more comfortable in the kitchen and put together something bigger and better but I've been too scared to try it or burn something. A three course meal sounded overwhelming; actually a main dish with more than 3 ingredients sounded frightening.

So, last year I found a recipe to a food item that I can't stand to pass up at a state fair - a funnel cake. It is a small step I can make that will help me become more comfortable in the kitchen and it is for a food that I enjoy and that desire for the end result inspired me to make the step. It allowed me to break out of my comfort zone yet still feel comfortable doing it.

I have found the same thing to be true about taking steps to be more frugal or living more eco-friendly. It is about taking small steps that inspire us and put us just on the edge of comfortable.
Oh and here is the funnel cake recipe
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

2 tbsp. sugar

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1. In a deep skillet, heat about two cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot. Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles right away without smoking, it's perfect.

2. Beat egg and milk. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add to the egg mixture, beating until smooth.

3. Using a funnel, drop into hot oil working from center outwards in a web pattern. (You can use a gallon sized freezer bag instead of a funnel by pouring the batter into the bag, snipping off a small corner of it, and squeezing the batter into the oil.)

4. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, remove from the oil when golden brown and crispy.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
It was a lot of batter for two people so next time I will cut the recipe in half. It did come out just a tad crispy around the edges. I was so happy to have accomplished something in the kitchen and I'm ready to try it again and do better.