Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hand Sanitizer

I don't consider myself a germ freak, but I do like things to be very clean and organized and during the winter months I load the family up with soap and hand sanitizer whenever we go anywhere.

Last year I tried to make my own hand sanitizer because I get frustrated with how quickly my hands dry out with the store bought kind, plus I just like to try and make my own stuff.

DIY Hand Sanitizer.
You Will Need:
(1) 12 ounce bottle of 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel {It must be clear and say 100% on the bottle!}
3/4 teaspoon of Tea Tree Oil
Witch Hazel

In a glass bowl, mix Aloe Vera and Tea Tree Oil.  Then add witch hazel until you have the consistency you want your sanitizer to be

First of all, it was almost impossible to find 100% aloe vera gel.  Every store I went to had the blue kind with lidocaine in it.  I finally just ordered a bottle from Amazon. 

This particular recipe says it is alcohol free. I found other recipes that are very similar that say you can add alcohol if you want to.  I decided to put 2 Tablespoons of rubbing alcohol into my mixture.  Maybe it was a mental block, but how can it really kill off the germs without alcohol?

 I mixed everything together until I got a good gel
 Then put it into little travel size bottles. 

The verdict: Without setting up my own science lab with microscopes and petri dishes, there is no way to know if this stuff kills germs as effectively as the store bought kind but I can tell you four things about it:

It's sticky - if you have used aloe vera gel then you know what I mean.  It has a slight sticky texture until it dries and it takes longer to dry then the store bought kind.

My hands weren't as dry - they still dried out a but but it wasn't as bad as using the store bought kind

It's smelly - each of the ingredients has a strong distinct odor and when you combine them all into a bottle then look out, your sniffer will get an overload

We were healthier - It could be pure coincidence, but we used it during the whole cold/flu season last year and that was the healthiest our family has ever been.  We each got a couple minor colds but that was it.  Nothing major. 

I had planned on using it again this winter to see if we stayed healthier again, but my pregnant sniffer can't handle the smell this time around. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY Play-Doh

 I think a lot of moms have attempted to make their own play-doh at one point or another.  Most of the recipes are really good and turn out great, plus it's nice to know that if your little one tries to eat it they will just get a mouth full of kitchen items.

I have tried several play-doh's and this is by far my favorite

Home Play-doh
You Will Need:
1 Cup flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp baby oil

Heat all ingredients over stove top on medium high. Stir until it clumps together and you get the desired consistency.  Knead in food coloring. 

I threw all the ingredients into a pot, mixed them together and turned on the heat. 

 Once the stove reached medium high heat it took about 3 minutes for the mixture to clump up

 I got two good sized balls the size of my palm.
 The Verdict: The reason this is my favorite is because how soft it is.  It's a lot easier to mold and shape then other play-doh's I have tried. 

The first few times you use it, you will end up with grease marks on everything it touches (they wipe right off).  But eventually that stops happening and it's still just as soft. 

The kids will keep it out for very long periods of time and after 3 months it's still just as soft as when I first made it.

It even works great with play-doh accessories. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

DIY Dry Shampoo

Back in April I tried a few DIY dry shampoo's that didn't work very well.  When I was researching that project I came across a wet, dry shampoo.  How could a dry shampoo that is liquid help?  I had to try it.  

Homemade Dry Shampoo
 You Will Need:
1 tbsp of cornstarch
4 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol 
Mix all the ingredients together then pour into a spray bottle.  Spray on your scalp, in your hair and anywhere the your hair needs to be de-greased. You do not need to drench your scalp, just dampen it up.  Run a comb or your fingers through your hair to distribute it evenly.  Let it air dry or quickly blast your scalp with a hair dryer.
I mixed it all up, and decided right then and there that this wasn't going to end well.  How was spraying this white liquid onto my hair going to be a good thing?

 I sprayed it onto my roots and immediately noticed the white flecks.... yep, not going to end well. 
 I combed it through then used a blow dryer to quickly dry my hair.

The Verdict: I love it when my DIY projects prove me wrong and turn out to be a good thing.

Before, complete with gray hair!
After, doing my best to hide the gray hairs

My hair wasn't fresh out of the shower clean, but it was pretty close. I was able to style it like normal and my hair looked great the rest of the day. 

 Because of the alcohol, my hair was noticeably drier.  If your hair isn't a fan of alcohol then this might not be a good idea for you.  Fortunately my hair can bounce back from any beating I give it and it felt normal by the next morning.

The spray did leave little white specks all over my skin,  but it wiped right off with a damp cloth.

I wouldn't use this all the time because of the alcohol in it, but I've used a few times in the last several months and have been very pleased with it each time.  It's a great "Oh crap, I'm suppose to be out the door in 10 minutes and I'm still in my yoga pants" solution.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Ummmm..... something about the cold weather and hot chocolate

Ok enough intro, onto the important stuff

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
You Will Need:
3 cups nonfat instant dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips 
1/4 teaspoon salt


Mix all ingredients into a large bowl. Pour half of the mixture into the bowl of a food processor and process until the chocolate is finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container, then repeat with the remaining mix. Store in the airtight container for up to 3 months.
To make the hot cocoa drink, mix 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix with 1 cup hot milk. About 20 servings

Using that much powder stuff, I ended up with a good size mess. But it was easy to clean up.

The Verdict: I mixed it with milk and with water to see how it compared. 
The milk was definitely creamier and pretty good. 
The water mixture was thinner but had a richer taste
Both of them left a cocoa powder after taste in my mouth which I wasn't to fond of but it was subtle. Also, it doesn't mix as well as other mixtures I've tried.  There is a good amount of mixture that settles on the bottom, but it's an easy fix, just don't drink the last bit. 

Overall, it was better then any store bought packets I have tried, but not nearly as good as Starbucks.  But that might be because they use whole milk and whip cream. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Homemade Wheat Thins

Oh Wheat Thins.... what would I do without your salty crunchy goodness? I try not to buy them that often because when I do the box is empty within 24 hours.  Both the kids and I have no control when they are in the house.

Homemade Wheat Thins
You Will Need:
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling on
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons Earth Balance (I used soy-free) or butter
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (or a tiny bit more if dough is too dry)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, paprika, salt).
3. With a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in the Earth Balance or butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. See image below. Now mix together the water and vanilla and then pour into the flour and Earth balance mixture. Stir this mixture until it comes together. I got in there with my hands and really squeezed the dough to help it come together. If it appears dry add a touch of water, but you don't want it sticky.
4. Split the dough in half. On a floured surface or on a non-stick mat, roll out one half of the dough very thin (1/16th inch). Using a pizza cutter, cut into whatever shape you desire. Using a spatula, place the crackers on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat as necessary. Sprinkle with more salt and sesame seeds if desired.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, watching closely. Half way through baking rotate the pan to ensure even baking. My crackers took 10 minutes, but if you do not use a baking mat it will likely take less time for you. Be careful because they burn quickly. Cool completely. Makes about 64 crackers for this full recipe. Store in an air-tight container.
Note: This recipe made enough crackers for two baking sheets. I baked them separately, but I am sure you could bake them at the same time as long as you rotate the pans half way through.

 These looked pretty simple so I had the kids grab their step stools and help me.  They were so excited to be making their own Wheat Thins.

We mixed the dough

 Rolled it out and used a pizza cutter to make the squares
 Then put them on the cookie sheet.
 When they were done baking they had become a lot darker and thicker.  They were still a bit soft but I didn't dare put them back in the oven because some of them were starting to burn. 

The Verdict:  My daughter popped one in her mouth and immediately said "I yike it!!" But then her face slowly contorted until she was looking pretty disgusted and promptly spit the rest of the cracker onto the floor. 

My son ate one, but was smart enough  to spit his out into the garbage.  He said "At first I thought it was good, but the deeper it went into my throat I realized it was gross."

At this point I wasn't to excited to try one, but knew I needed to form my own opinion.  If you want to know what it taste like, go grab a handful of wheat flour and put it in your mouth.  They were pretty gross, and the kids and I had a lovely case of cotton mouth for the next several minutes. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

DIY Peel Off Mask

 I'm pretty low maintenance when it comes to my looks, especially make up and skin care.  I tend to do the bare minimum.

I'm sure in 20 years I'll regret my mis-treatment of my skin when I look like this. 

But by then I'll be very rich from not spending money on high end skin care products that I will be able to afford plastic surgery.

  Every so often I will actually treat my skin to a little spa treatment and on one of those recent occasions I did a face mask

Peel Off Face Mask
You Will Need:
Egg white
Thin tissue

Directions: slightly beat the egg white. Apply the egg to your face with the brush. Place thin tissue on your egg white brushed face and gently pat.  Apply another layer of egg white over the tissue. Leave it until it completely dries.  Gently peel off the tissue in an upward direction.  Rinse with warm water and pat dry.  

My first thought when reading this was "what do they mean by 'tissue?'" I was not alone in that thought process because there were many comments asking the same thing.

Tissue can be tissue paper used for wrapping, 1 ply toilet paper or 1 ply Kleenex. Basically some sort of really thin paper.

I grabbed what I needed then proceeded to paint my face with egg whites.  Did you know it's possible to get a brain freeze when not eating something cold?  Neither did I.  In the future I will be leaving the egg whites out a bit until they get to room temperature.  

Once my face was properly painted I put on the 1 ply toilet paper.  It was originally really thick and soft t.p but I pulled it apart to get the 1 ply needed.  I tore the toilet paper into pieces and placed the pieces around my face.  

 Once my mummy make up for a B rated movie was complete, I painted on another layer of egg whites.

  A little egg went a long way.  I used the egg whites in the carton, but I'm sure one egg would be plenty.

Some of the thicker places where the t.p over lapped took 30 minutes to fully dry.  By then I was getting pretty impatient because the other parts of my face were getting really tight and itchy. 

Once it finally dried I peeled everything off. 

 The Verdict: Every piece came right off with very little effort and it didn't hurt as much as I thought it might. The best part though is that my face was SO soft!  Some black heads had even disappeared. It might not be pretty, but this one is worth trying. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Light Bulb Designs

 I saw a pin on Pinterest a few weeks back about drawing on a light bulb with a sharpie.  When I clicked on the post there weren't really any directions other then if you draw on a light bulb with a sharpie then the designs will show up on the walls.

I immediately thought of the scene in Mermaids where the kids and Lou paint a room to look like the bottom of the ocean and have fish 'swimming' around the walls.

How cool would it be for my son to have star and planet shadows around his room!?!?!

I grabbed a regular bulb

 and used my mad artistic skills to draw some stars and planets

 The Verdict: Nothing. I had to put  the bulb right next to the wall to get even a hint of shadow.  But I wasn't entirely disappointed.  The bulb looked pretty cool with the shade off, so I decided to keep it that way.

As I was putting the lamp back on the nighstand, without the shade, my daughter walked in and had this reaction......

The bulb is now in a cealing socket in another room and shade has been placed back on the lamp. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

William Sonoma Air Freshener

Here I go again, another attempt to make my home smell more like awesomeness and less like potty training mess.

 William Sonoma Air Freshener
You will need
sliced lemon
A few sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp vanilla

place all the ingredients in a pot of water and simmer on the stove. 

After going to 5 different stores I finally gave up trying to find fresh rosemary and decided that dried would have to do. 

The directions don't say how much water to put in so I did about 2 cups.  Honestly I don't think it matters.  My mom makes a Christmas air freshener every year and she just fills the whole pot with water.  She can refill it about 3 times before the ingredients get gross. 

Anyways, I put it all together then let it simmer.
The Verdict: I left it simmering for 2 hours (while adding more water when needed) and the smell never went past the steam.

In order to smell anything I had to get this close.  While it did smell really good, a face full of hot steam isn't worth it.  Although it was a good way to open up my pores. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shaving Cream Paint

The weather is turning colder and it's time to start finding some indoor activities.

Shaving Cream Paint
You Will Need:
Shaving cream
Food coloring
Paint brushes

Mix shaving cream and food coloring until you get the color you want then let the kids paint away. 

When I was looking at different blogs about this activity the moms I came across were a lot more adventurous then I am.  They were letting their kids use the paint on windows, linoleum floors, and paper.  I wasn't loving the idea of trying to clean up a mess that could potentially would definitely end up all over the house. 

So I stuck the kids the bathtub and let them paint away. 

The Verdict: The kids had a blast and painted for about 30 minutes until the shaving cream was getting crusty and hard to use. 

I had used a muffin tin to mix the shaving cream and food coloring in but I wish I had used different containers for each color.  The kids kept fighting over the the muffin tin and my 2 year old was very quick to mix the colors together which annoyed the 4 year old perfectionist.
The bad news, it stained some of the grout. It wasn't bad and really not that noticeable, but it was stained. 

It took two rounds of bleach gel to get all the stain out, but it did come out. 

 The kids love this so much that I still continue to let them do it,  if I rinse the shaving cream off as soon as they are done then the stains are usually very faint, and it's only with darker colors that leave a stain. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Homemade Frosty

If any of my past sins are going to come back and haunt me, it will be the Frosty addiction I had in high school.  I pretty much lived on Frosty's and I'll probably end up with diabetes one day.  

I rarely have a Frosty these days, but when I saw a Pin about making my own I got a little to excited. 

DIY Frosty
You Will Need:
16 oz cool whip
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 gallon chocolate milk
Ice cream maker

Pour all ingredients into the ice cream maker and turn it on. 

Ok I'll admit it, I actually went and bought an ice cream maker just for this.  That's how desperate excited I was to try this.

I thought of going all girl scout on this and making my own ice cream maker with an old can, but then I remembered that actually takes more effort and you don't get very much.  If I'm making my own Frosty, I want a trough bucket full. 

The ice cream maker was a bit smaller, so I had to half the recipe, but I still ended up with 6 quarts and that was plenty. 

The Verdict: Best. Frosty. EVER!!!!  It really was.  It was sweeter then a regular Frosty, but I loved it.  I told my kids it was just chocolate ice cream but when my son took a bite he said "hey, it's just like a Frosty" It took about 30 minutes in the ice cream maker before it was mixed well and had the same consistency as a Frosty.

It kept in the freezer for about 10 days before it started to lose flavor and get that freezer burn taste.  I think it would have lasted longer if I had it in a better air tight container.

Now I just need to learn how to make my own french fries so I can dunk them in the Frosty...... I know I'm not the only one who does that. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls

Welcome to the final chapter of replacing dryer sheets and fabric softener.

Wool Dryer Ball
You Will Need:
100% Wool yarn

Instead of giving all the directions right here I'm going to actually show pictures of the step by step process. 

wind the yarn around 2 fingers about 5-6 times. Take your fingers out of the loop you just made and wind the yarn around the center of the loop a few times to make a bow.

Fold the bow in half and wind yard across the length of it.  Keep the yarn tight.  Repeat this process until you can no longer fold it in half. 

 Now just keep winding yarn around and around trying to keep the shape of a ball.  You want the final wool ball to be about the size of a tennis ball. When you get the size you want, cut the yarn and tuck the end in.

 Put the balls into a nylon and tie a knot in between each one so they are separate. Preferably you should do this step when your kids and husband aren't around or they might think it's a pretty awesome weapon and throw it across the room to try and knock toys over.  This may or may not have happened in our house.

Put your weapon balls into the washer and wash on the hottest setting, then put into the dryer on the hottest setting.  Do this 2 or 3 times.  Your goal is to get the wool to sort of fuse together.

And voila, you have some dryer balls. 

The Verdict: It took about an hour to make 4 balls and I wish I had done more.  They have a habit of disappearing in the laundry then appearing later in the play room or occasionally hidden in the dogs bed. 

They aren't as good at getting static out as dryer sheets but they are pretty close.  Close enough that I've been using them for 7 months and don't plan on ever using dryer sheets or fabric softener again.

 I use two for each load and occasionally they can get pretty loud and thump the sides of the dryer, but I just close the door and ignore it..... I use the same method on the play room and the mess in there.

I have heard that you can drop some essential oils in the balls to give your clothes a fresh scent but I haven't tried it yet.

And with that, I am DONE with the laundry posts..... for now. I'm sure I'll come across something else I want to try. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Re-Usable Dryer Sheet

Part 2 of the dryer sheet replacement saga

Re-Usable Dryer Sheet
You Will Need:
Hand Towel
Fabric Softener

Soak the hand towel in the fabric softener until completely wet. Wring out any extra fabric softener then let the towel air dry (this can take a few days) After the towel dries you just throw it in your dryer along with clothes and use it as a dryer sheet for 40-50 loads before soaking again. My clothes are softer then they have ever been when I used fabric softener.

I really liked the idea of being able to still have my clothes have a clean smell when coming out of the dryer, but not having to worry about the dryer sheets that tend to multiply.  Seriously, every time I do laundry I find random dryer sheets around the house for 3 days.

I soaked my towel then quickly realized that my nose was not going to appreciate the smell coming from the towel as it dried.  The fabric softener smell was very strong.  So I hung the towel in the basement shower.  It took about 2 days to fully dry.

 The Verdict: It helped but I didn't think it was as good as a dryer sheet.  The original poster said you can get 40-50 loads out of one towel before you have to soak it again.  I only got 10 before the static cling started to take over.  I read through a lot of comments on the original blog and this one seems to be an either love or hate project.  So it might be worth your time to try it. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aluminum Foil Dryer Ball

 As I was testing out all my laundry detergents I was also trying a few alternatives to dryer sheets.  Join me as we explore the fascinating world of DIY fabric softeners.

I tried three different kind, so guess what my next three posts are going to be about?

Aluminum Foil Dryer Balls
You Will Need:
aluminum foil

tear off a sheet of aluminum foil, about the length from finger to elbow.  Crumple it up into a ball.  Put it into the dryer with wet clothes.  This can be used several times. 

That is simple enough.

The Verdict: Pretty much worthless.  When I pulled apart some of the kids fleece pajamas the sparks were flying.  Then I pulled a shirt over my daughters head and her hair stuck straight up from the static and needed a lot of coaxing to come down.  I thought maybe it just needed a few loads for the clothes and the foil to become acquainted, but the more I used it the worse things got. So I tossed the foil and moved onto another experiment.

 To be continued...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Carpet Cleaner with Oxiclean

This one was sent to me via email and when I read the ingredients I was pretty excited. (Yes my life is pretty dull when I get excited about cleaning products.  Just last night I had a dream that I cleaned my whole house and I woke up really happy. I think I need a new hobby that doesn't involve cleaning)

  I really like the DIY carpet cleaner I have been using, but because it has hydrogen peroxide in it, it can bleach some darker carpets. 

Carpet Shampoo Solution
1 Cup Oxiclean 
1 Cup Febreze
1 Cup distilled white vinegar

Pour contents into shampooer tank and mix with hot water to fill tank completely. This will not only clean your carpets it will also deodorize. It will smell slightly of vinegar until the carpet is dry, then will smell like Febreze.

I didn't have any Febreze so I made my own.  I mixed all the ingredients together and got a fun little surprise.

Apparently Oxiclean and vinegar have a fun chemical reaction.  Fortunately the bubbles popped very quickly so I didn't have to wait long to continue with the experiment. 

The directions say to pour the mixture into a shampoo tank then fill the rest with hot water.  Because each shampoo tank is a different size I assume this can change the outcome.  My carpet cleaner is a little hand held one so I poured in half the solution, then filled up the rest with hot water.  
 The Verdict: Inconclusive.  Let me explain why.  I set up my carpet cleaner then pressed the button to spray the solution.  I got one good squirt, then a little dribble, then nothing.  The hose was completely clogged and nothing would come out.  Of course I immediately blamed it on the DIY solution I just put in (ignoring the fact that I've only used DIY products in that machine) then I got online to see what I could do about it. 

Apparently getting a clogged hose after about a year is very common with the particular brand I have, even if you only use the carpet cleaning solution that comes with the machine.  So I guess the homemade solutions aren't to blame. 

I found a tutorial online about unclogging the hose and got to work. As I was using the needle nose pliers to unclasp the hose, my hand slipped and I pierced a hole all the way through the hose.  The lovely un-lady like outburst I had sent our skittish dog scurrying to the other room.  Sorry Bud.

So now I had a new carpet cleaning solution just begging to be tested, and no machine.  Time to get old school.

I found a scrub brush, dipped it into the solution and scrubbed my carpet.  Then blotted up the extra with a towel. 

 It got a majority of the stains out but I had to scrub a bit hard. It also left little Oxiclean pellets behind, but they vacuumed up easily once they dried.

 I then tried a spot on the couch (I have no idea what it is, it just appeared one day) and it didn't even lighten it.

 So over all it worked pretty good on my carpet.  I like to think that it would work great in a carpet cleaner, but it will be a while until I can buy a new one and test it out.

If you have tried this solution before I would love to hear what you think about it.