My Favorite Homemade Cleaner {3 ingredients!}

My Favorite Homemade Cleaner {only 3 ingredients!} | RaisingArrows.netWhen you allow children to do chores, the need to have child-safe cleaning products becomes super important.  But, even mamas need to consider what kind of cleaners they are exposing themselves to.  I don’t want to sacrifice a clean home for a natural cleaner and I don’t want to sacrifice my family’s health for a commercial cleaner that really works.  I was certain there was a way to get the best of both worlds – safe, natural AND clean!

Now, before you tell me, “just use vinegar”, let me explain something.  My husband does not like the house smelling of vinegar, and no matter how much essential oil I add to my vinegar-based cleaners, he can still smell it.  So, I knew vinegar wasn’t going to be an option.

I also needed an easy recipe.  I have a large family, which equals large messes, which in turn equals a lot of cleaning products.  If I was going to have to make a recipe several times a month, then it would have to be simple.

It also needed to be all-purpose.  I have no desire to spend precious time making a cleaner that can only do one thing.  It had to be able to clean a multitude of things.

The original basis for this recipe comes from Lisa Barthuly’s Homestead Simplicity.  I highly recommend Lisa’s ebooks.  You can find them on her webiste or on Amazon.)

This recipe smells great, is easy to make, and is a workhorse!  You can tweak it a thousand different ways depending on your needs, so feel free to experiment with it.

3 ingredients to make your own all-purpose cleaner! | RaisingArrows.netAll you really need are a 32 oz spray bottle, water, and liquid Grapfruit Seed Extract.  HOWEVER, notice the little essential oil bottle in the photo above?  That’s where the tweaking begins!  The Grapefruit Seed Extract and water are a must, but that little bottle of essential oils can be as unique as you are!

Steps to making your own all-purpose cleaner |

A quick note about the GSE:  

I purchased this as a nutritional supplement for one of our children who proceeded to spit it out every time I made her drink it.  I finally gave up and resorted to using it to disinfect my cutting boards.  However, one little bottle of GSE goes a LONG way, so I was thrilled to find a way to use more of it!

All-Purpose Spray |

In our home, we use a mixture of Tea Tree Oil and Lavender.  These are good all-around cleansing oils and I like the way they smell.  We use this spray to clean counters and floors, toilets and bathtubs, and just about anything else you can think of that would typically be cleaned by an all-purpose, harsh-chemical spray.  I’m sure you will find this cleaner becomes a staple cleaning product in your home as well!

{p.s.  I wanted to write about this cleaner before I dove into Homemaking Basics because I will refer to this cleaner a lot!}

Make your own all-natural, all-purpose cleaner |

How to Make Your Own All-Natural, All-Purpose Cleaner

1.  Fill a 32 oz spray bottle with water.

2.  Add 35 drops of Liquid Grapefruit Seed Extract.

3.  Add 20 drops of essential oil like tea tree or lavender.

4.  Shake well.

5.  Label bottle and place in convenient location.

I keep 3 bottles of this on hand – 1 in each bathroom and 1 under the kitchen sink.  Not only does this make it quick and easy to clean up messes, it also keeps the kids from fighting over the cleaner during Home Blessing chores on Friday mornings!  Win-Win!

So, whip up a batch of this cleaner, figure out what essential oil combinations you like best (don’t forget to ask the kiddos!), and let’s get to cleaning!

Make your own all-purpose cleaner! |

A Homeschool Medieval Feast That Won’t Stress You Out

Plan a Medieval Feast | RaisingArrows.netI know what it is like. The kids ask to do something fun for homeschool and you cringe. “Fun for whom?” you want to ask, because it definitely is not fun for mom.

Several weeks ago (when I was still quite pregnant with Creed), my 7 year old kinesthetic/tactile learner begged me to do a “Knight Party.” I was planning to do something of this sort to finish off our history section on Medieval Times, but I kept putting it off.

Why? Because it seemed too stressful.

I finally told him, “After baby gets here.” Well, baby has been here nearly 6 weeks. Time to make good on what I promised!  But, did it really have to be a stressful event for mama?

I decided I had to change my expectations of what
fun homeschool things look like.

There was no way I was going to pull off an elaborate feast, but surely I could still make it memorable without a lot of fal-de-ral.

Today, I’m going to share with you how I did it, the resources I used, and what our family thought of the festivities.

The Planning Phase

Evernote Notes for Party |

My friend Ashley of Life by Ashley Pichea told me about a neat online tool called Evernote.  I had tried using it before, but I really didn’t find it all that useful…until this past week.  While I LOVE Pinterest and even had a Teaching Medieval History board, there was no way to take all my disconnected thoughts on Pinterest and pull them together into a cohesive Medieval Celebration.  Evernote lets me put all my thoughts in one place and work from there.  I use the app on my iPad and the online version on my laptop.  They sync no matter what device I am using.
The screenshot above are my notes for the day we did our celebration.  This is not all that can be done with Evernote (you can take photos and add lots of other things to your notes), but this shows you a bit about how I coordinated everything in one place.
The Day of the Celebration
We started the day by pulling up some of the resources from the Lesson Plans section.  I chose things that would appeal to both the little ones and the older ones.  Next, we talked about heraldry and they each made their own Coat of Arms while looking at examples from the link in my notes.
coat of arms display |
The only thing we needed to do this project was paper and markers.  The older kiddos got poster board cut in half ($.15 a piece) and the little ones got plain ole copy paper.  We hung them over the fireplace in the dining room where we would be having our feast that night.
We watched a YouTube video on medieval dancing and my daughter played Greensleeves for us on the piano.  After that, the girls and I started the bread and my boys started the pudding.  These were both done from scratch.
braided bread
I also made challises from plastic disposable cups and clear packing tape.  (yep, not fancy at all, but super fun to drink out of and super cheap!)
While we waited for Daddy to get home, the kids made crowns, built LEGO castles, and practiced their sword fighting.
Our meal was very simple and did not include everything I wrote down in my notes (those were just ideas).  There was a snow storm coming and I decided it was best to simply work with the foods I had on hand.  So, the menu included:
Onion soup
Braided bread
Sausages and hot dogs
Leftover buffalo roast
Cooked cabbage
Vanilla pudding
Sparking grape juice
medieval feast table
After dinner, the entire family enjoyed sword fighting demonstrations from the children and the movie Pendragon.
What the Family Thought
They LOVED it!  They talked and talked about all the fun they had.  They asked when they could do it again.  They asked what the next feast would be themed as.  And Mommy wasn’t the least bit stressed!  Yay!!!

How to Stuff Your FuzziBunz Pocket Diapers {vlog}

Many of you know that I almost exclusively use FuzziBunz for my toddlers.  All of my newer One-Size and One-Size Elite Fuzzi Bunz have come from Sweet Little Blessings, but I also have a stash of older style (now known as Perfect-Size) FuzziBunz that came to me used.

There are some definite differences between the old and new, starting with the fact that the old style required you to buy according to size while the new ones are a one size with adjustable button elastic.  Additionally, the new FuzziBunz are narrower, creating even less bulk (although in my opinion, FuzziBunz are some of the trimmest cloth diapers out there).  However, the narrow width causes a bit more difficulty when it comes to stuffing the insert into the pocket.

Because I still really like the FuzziBunz product (especially now that they come with minky inserts!) I wanted to share with you my no hassle method of stuffing not only the new One-Size FuzziBunz, but also the old style, as well as offer you some options for inserts if you happen to find yourself in need of more pocket diaper stuffers.

Below, is a vlog I did this past Friday right after we had finished our One Day Home Blessing, so you are getting me sans makeup, sans hair done, and sans decent clothing.  Oh, and you are also getting the treat (*snort*) of having my huge pregnant belly right in the middle of everything!  However, I knew if I did not do this vlog that very day, I would never get around to it.  So, I really hope you enjoy this!

Funeral Program and Flower Collage for the Grieving

One very precious piece of decor in our home is this framed collage from Emily’s funeral.  Earlier this year my step-mother-in-law and I put this together and then took a step back and cried.  I wanted to share with you a little bit about it as this may be something you would like to do for a friend or for your own grieving heart.

The daisies were ones I purposely pulled from Emily’s casket spray so my step-mother-in-law could dry them.  She ended up forgetting about them until she was cleaning out a dresser one day and found the books they were kept in to dry.  She was afraid to even open them just in case they were ruined and she would feel terrible about it, so she brought them to my house for us to open together.  They were beautiful!

I had kept several funeral programs, but really didn’t know what to do with them.  Seeing these daisies gave me the idea that I should put together a collage and add the daisies to the outside of the collage.

I used two funeral programs so I could have all four sides and took them to Hobby Lobby to the frame shop there.  They helped me arrange them and choose a frame and mat.  My step-mother-in-law and I decided we would add the daisies ourselves, so Hobby Lobby left the frame where we could get into it.

Once the frame and programs were finished, we got together and opened up all the daisies so we could chose which ones would look best in the frame.

There were two that were near perfect and then there was the one you see in the top right hand corner that had petals falling off.  I wanted that one specifically.  I wanted it to represent my tears falling.

We used a cold heat glue gun to glue all the delicate daisies onto the mat and then glued the loose petals down the side of the mat.  The finished product took our breath away.

If you have a friend who has lost a loved one and you think you would like to do something like this for him or her, don’t hesitate to ask if you can have a couple of flowers from the casket spray, but be aware that it is very necessary you tell them you are wanting to make something for them from the flowers and also don’t be hurt if they say no.  If they would rather you did not take any flowers from the casket spray, take note of what flowers are in the grouping and purchase them to dry yourself.

I truly believe this is a remembrance any grieving family would be honored to receive.

Homemade Travel Toothbrush Holder

Many years ago, a fellow mom of many shared with me how to create a travel toothbrush holder from a hand towel. I was so thrilled, I quickly whipped up my very own and have been using it ever since.

It is perfect because you can customize how many toothbrush slots you need, it’s large enough for a large family, and it is washable!

I’ve wanted to share this easy sewing project with all of you, but kept forgetting to take photos. Recently, I decided to go ahead and make a new one that was a little larger to accommodate our growing family.  Perfect time to take photos and encourage you to make your own!

I think I had 4 children when I made the green one.  As you can see, the new towel I chose is much longer.  Now, the green one still fits us (barely), but with a new baby on the way, I thought I might as well upgrade while I had the chance.

Supplies Needed:
-1 hand towel
-1 30″ length of ribbon
-Sewing machine


1.  Fold hand towel about 2/3 of the way up lengthwise and pin in place.

2.  Sew along the folded edges to create a long “pocket”.

3.  Fold towel in half to find center of long side and put a pin in the center to mark your place.  Then, measure 1 1/2″ on either side of that center pin and pin there to mark.

4.  Sew a straight line up the pocket from each of these pins to create a 3 inch center pocket to hold your toothpaste and dental floss.

5.  Next, based on the size of your toothbrushes, sew more straight lines on either side of the center pocket to accommodate your toothbrushes.  I’ve found that 1 1/2 inches is just about right.

6.  Now you need to add a ribbon to one of the outside edges as a way to tie your toothbrush holder when it is rolled up.  First, cut 30 inches of ribbon.  Then, fold the ribbon in half and pin halfway up the back of the towel on the edge that seems most natural to you.  (I naturally roll my toothbrush holder from the right to the left, so my ribbon is on the left hand edge.)

7.  Sew ribbon in place and test drive your toothbrush holder!

Whenever we travel, we use this toothbrush holder and just throw it in my bag.  Because it is a towel, it soaks up any water that may get on it being near the sink.  Once home, we just pull all the toothbrushes and toothpaste out and throw it in the washer.  I truly think you will love yours as much as I love mine!

Making Liquid Hand Soap From Hotel Bar Soap {Welcome Home Link Up}

soapA couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how we made liquid hand soap.  We were using our homemade castille soap at the time and even with the gylcerin added, it wasn’t particularly thick.  So, I was a little surprised when I had someone comment about how thick and unusable the soap was when they used a traditional bar of soap like Ivory.

Since then, it has plagued me as to how I could make that recipe work for regular soap, especially considering my husband goes on a lot of business trips and comes home with all these little bars of soap that never get used (mainly because I don’t like the mess bar soap creates on a counter).

Last week, necessity became the mother of invention.  We were out of soap refill, I was tired of paying for it (we go through a lot of soap!), and I had some extra time to figure out how to make the 4 bars of hotel soap I had on hand into liquid hand soap.

I started by grating all the soap.  They were all different kinds from different hotels.  The 4 bars together equaled 2 cups of soap shreds.

I put those shreds in a large pot on the stove and began adding water and more water and more water.  Several times I had to let the soap cool so I could test the consistency and then yes, add more water!  Finally, at 20 cups of water, I had a usable soap!

So, here’s the recipe at its lowest ratio:

Bar Soap to Liquid Hand Soap

1 cup of shredded bar soap (hotel or not)
10 cups water

Melt soap in water in a large pot on the stove.  Let cool slightly and poor into containers.  Soap will thicken as it cools.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to this week!

I also want to take a moment to tell you that all this month on the Welcome Home Link Up I’ll be featuring my friend Renee’s Norwex business! That’s right! You told me about Norwex on my one-day cleaning post, Renee emailed without even knowing I had written that post, and I am now the proud owner of Norwex products! I’ll be telling you more about this adventure next week! But, in the meantime, look through her site, and if you would like to order anything, please contact her at DrPoschen at cox dot net so I get hostess credit (so I can get more of these great products!)

{and check out the Spring Sale from A Slob Comes Clean – coupon code: SPRING gets you her ebook on taking back your house for only $3!)