Thursday, June 8, 2023

Save on Shampoo


    Have you made your own homemade shampoo before? I've switched to making my own for a few of us in our household.  My favorite is one I found from the book "Just the Essentials" it's a great book on ways to use essential oils around your house and to be more chemically free in the process. I'd say it's a must read if you are looking for a way to start swapping out your household cleaners/hair care and more for a more natural approach. 

    While there are many homemade shampoo ideas out there, one thing I feel has worked well is investing in some foaming soap pumps.  Have you seen these yet or tried them?  They save you so much on soap.  As I said we use the shampoo Adina listed in her book, we were struggling with some dandruff and her recipe worked great! But, it was hard to not get too much shampoo and then not be able to wash it out.  I found these foaming soap pumps and they made all the difference.  In order for the pump to work it needed a little more liquid, so I doubled the recipe + added about 1/3 cup of water.  With just 1-2 pumps that's all we need for shampoo.  Plus it makes our shampoo last longer, which saves money.  

    The nice thing about this set of foaming soap pumps is it comes in a pack of two.  I put one in our girls' bathroom for their hand soap.  I also added water to it as well.  I've made my own hand soap, but also have used Myers hand soap. I start with filling about 1/3 of the bottle with soap and then the rest with water.  I haven't replaced it in forever! 

    So whether you are making your own shampoo or looking for ways to save on shampoo or soap, I hope this post helps. 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Summer Bucket List



    So I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were talking about their summer plans and how to make the most out of your summer.  Side note, it's a great podcast; Legacy by Gretchen & Elisabeth, you should check it out!  Anyways, one of the things they mentioned doing was a bucket list with your kiddos.  

I loved this idea! I'm always looking for ideas for the summer.  We can be busy with different summer rec activities, but it can be easy to get too busy and not do the things you wanted to do.  So they mentioned make a list of the activities you want to do and then cross them off as you accomplish them. 

I recently sat my girls down and we did just that!  We came up with all kinds of things to do this summer.  A couple were things they've been wanting to do, but each summer we run out of time.   I'm really excited to cross off some of these things this summer! 

While I was starting this post it reminded me of what my girls and I did last year.  We needed to change up our schedule a bit last year so we took each Friday and visited a different local town's park.  We live in a small town with lots of towns nearby.  Sometimes we drove 20 min, sometimes we drove almost 45 min away, but we planned each Friday with a different park/town in mind.  It was so fun! My girls have always wanted to go to the different parks when we go to the different towns for other things and so this was a great way to do just that! 

So here's to the start of summer and making a bucket list or making a park list, or something in between!  Whatever you plan, I hope that you are able to make it a fun summer! 


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Grow your own flower garden


    Did you know that you can grow a flower garden in your backyard that you can pick from?  Ok, maybe this is just news to me, but in case this is news to you let me share. 

Recently, I learned about how you can plant flowers in your garden that you can pick and then they will regrow so you can pick them again! I always knew that flowers were good for my garden, each year I've tried to plant some sort of flower, but I never thought I could pick them and they'd keep growing.  I love having flowers in my house, but honestly, I don't like to have to buy them.  So therefore, I only end up with flowers in my house for birthdays and Mother's Day, which for my family only consists of three different months.  

But, I could plant flowers in my garden, help my vegetables to grow, help the bees AND get to pick some flowers to bring into my home! Needless to say I was excited!  

Plus, its really not that hard to do.  We've always planted sunflowers so we did that again.  While we didn't get them planted this year, milkweed is on my list for the butterflies.  But then there are so many flowers you can plant to pick; 



Black-eyed Susan 

and more! 

If you want a great resource for more info, the book linked at the bottom is a great one! She talks about how to grow your flower garden, how to clip them and so many more things!  Grab your copy today or check out your local library to see if they have a copy! 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Summer Learning


    Summer is almost here! But, don't let this summer get away!  Summer is still a great time to keep learning. Here are a few ways keep our kiddos brains moving during the Summer. 


I can't stress this one enough! Taking time to read is so beneficial to your kiddos in the summer. Whether you read to them, or they read on their own.  Whatever it takes, find some time to read this summer. A couple ways we like to include reading is:

  • The Summer Reading Program at the library ~ check out your local library and see what they have for their summer reading program! 
  • Making a Summer Reading List or a goal of how many books to read in the Summer 
  • Setting aside a specific time during the day to read; for me it was after lunch, I told my girls after they ate they needed to go find a book to read (or look at for the younger one) so I could clean up the kitchen/eat my own lunch or talk to their dad while was home for lunch. 
  • We also tried to pick a book series to read through. Each night before bed we'd read a few pages or a chapter.  We've read Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia and even some Boxcar Children books (we haven't read all of them yet). 

2. Make a Summer Learning Folder: 

So I've done Summer Learning Folders almost as long as my oldest has been in school.  I think I started them the summer after she finished 1st grade.  They can be as easy or as complex as you want to make them.  

Items you will need: 

1. 3 ring binder; grab a few of those cheaper 3 ring binders, you know the more flexible flimsy ones.  

2. Lined paper or notebook

3. Math games or flash cards 

4. Reading workbooks or Language arts books - we really like Summer Solutions

Then start making your Summer Learning Folder: 

First: make your schedule

    How often are you wanting your kids to work from their binders?  Everyday? 2-3 times a week?  For me, I gauge this based on what all we have going on.  When they were younger I made a specific schedule; Monday: Math, Tuesday: Lang. Arts Wednesday: Writing, Thursday: Math & Friday: Free day. I have found it's easier now that my kids are older to say 2x a week you need to do a language worksheet, 1 time a week you need to do a math activity and so forth.  Here's what our schedule looks like for this summer: 


15-20 min doing 1 math game OR complete 1-2 math worksheets 

2 Pages from Reading/Lang workbook 

20 min reading/day = 2 hours for the week 

Write a letter or card to someone 

Then get your copies made or your supplies together: 

Reading: This year, I chose to order Reading/Language Arts Summer Solutions to use.  So each of my girls will have a workbook they can work from for Lang. Arts. 

Math: For math, we have different Math games they can play; 

UNO, TRASH, Usborne's (now Paper Pie) Learning Palette, I have Game 24 & Colorku on my wishlist, plus flash cards to keep it fun. We just have a designated drawer that has all the math games in it. 

 I also, will print a few math worksheets for each one to have in their binders. Then when it's math day or a day they choose to do math, they have many options on something to do. A couple sites I use: 

  •  K5 Learning: I really like this site, they have lots of options for many different grades and subjects.  Plus for math they include answer keys for each worksheet, which is so helpful as my oldest is doing fractions!
  • is another good one; this one you need to set up an account and you can only download 1 worksheet/month for free.  But, once you have them downloaded you have them.  OR you can pay to have more download options.  

Writing: I've tried to have them write a letter to a friend, family member, etc. once a week or depending on how the summer is going 2x a month. Or if you have a kiddo who likes making up stories, they could work on story for the summer or write a play.  Anyway to get them writing.  I make sure their binders have lined paper in them for the whole summer.  

Finally, I have a grid in the front that they can color a box each time they do an activity.  I've done it for each activity as below: 

Summer Learning Folder Log


Reading Workbook

 (2 pages)

Wrote a letter/card/part of my story

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

And then the Reading books one: 

Summer Reading Log

For each book you read you can color in a space.

Name: __________________________                              Month: ___________________________

















































But, this year I was thinking of finding a fun picture they could color and have done if they did something each day. 


That's it! If you have your binders fully packed, then it helps to make sure your kiddos can be consistent in doing something each day.  My goal is that they spend about 15-20 min a day doing something that is helping them learn or keep what they learned from the last school year present. 

Oh also a if you need it have a fun incentive if they complete the goal.  Some ideas include:  

  • Each week go out for ice cream
  • Visit a different pool/park each month it's complete
  • Have a big celebration at the end of the summer 


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Homemade Compost

So I've been working on composting the last few years.  When I first started composting, I used a small ceramic compost container that I got from World Market.  When it was full or about 1/week, I'd run it out to my garden and put it in the posts.  However, I wanted to have a bigger compost so that I could do throw even less away. 

A couple years ago I found this sweet galvanized trash can at Walmart on sale...only $11.00!  It was perfect, I was so excited! 

Then my husband drilled some holes all around the sides. 

It was so simple to make!  We added a couple cinder blocks for it to sit on in our backyard.  That's it! 

Now, I am able to dump my under the sink compost right out my back door into this larger compost, along with clippings from our yard and I can make my own compost! 

Last Fall was the first time I added the compost from this bin to my garden.  We recently planted some vegetables and the soil was so soft and easy to till.  I did give my larger compost in the can two years before I used it on my garden.  BUT, it is large enough that I didn't have to empty it in-between and was able to add all our food scraps throughout the year. 

So if you are looking to make your own compost, grab an old trashcan, plastic works too, and get started.  It really is easy to do!  Just make sure to layer brown items too; egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, leaves, that will help it to not be too wet.  

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Graduation Gift Ideas on a budget

    May is here, and with that means Graduation is just around the corner.  Some years you may just get invited to 1 or 2 parties.  Other years, you may get invited to a dozen.  Over the years, I've accumulated a few ideas for gifts that don't have you spending a bunch.  

1. Supplies for college:

This was something I gave to students when I was teaching.  When I first showed up for college, I felt so prepared; we had my room ready, my clothes ready, I was mentally ready, but then I showed up to class....without any school supplies.  I felt so dumb, how did I forget the basics? With that I gave school supplies as a gift.  Nothing major just a notebook, some pencils, sticky notes & pens.  Items that if they weren't going to school after all they could still use around the house. 

A second type of supplies for college.  When I was graduating, one of the gifts I was given was a set of beach towels.  They were prefect for using in the dorm.  There are so many things you need for college, towels for the bathroom may go unnoticed.  A simple gift! 

2. Fun activities 

Sometimes after graduating it's fun to just have something fun! Here are a list of some fun items I've given to students and don't cost a lot.  

  1. coloring book with coloring pencils/crayons
  2. jump rope & chalk 
  3. ground coffee with a mug 
  4. box of tea with a mug 
  5. giftcard to a local coffeeshop 
  6. plant 

These are just a few simple ideas for graduating seniors.  Really, your presence is what they appreciate the most, but hopefully you can find something on this list or be inspired by it.  

If you are looking for ways to save on party planning, check out my party savings post here



Thursday, April 27, 2023

How to serve your community for free!

    One thing I've been trying to do more this year is to help teach my girls how to serve our community.  While I've wanted to serve our community, I wanted to also teach that we don't need to spend a ton to do so.  Here are a few of our favorite items to do so far + one I'm hoping to attempt soon.   

1. Collect cans for our Food Pantry: 
    We usually do this during December as part of our Advent activity.  But, I've been wanting to donate another time throughout the year as well.  So we started collecting in the Spring too.  We collect for about 1 month and then take the 30-31 items to our local food bank.  This is one that does cost money; however, I already teach my girls how to purchase items on sale and stock up, so therefore, we are able to give more.  

2. Visit the local Retirement Community to play games: 
    We recently did this a few months ago.  Unfortunately we haven't been able to go back yet, just have been busier than I planned.  But, this was so fun! It was a great learning experience for my young kiddos.  Playing games with retied men and women is a great way for kids to learn how to interact with a generation they may not normally interact with besides in their family.  

3. Visit the local Nursing Home to read to the residents: 
A great way to help your kiddo practice their reading and to see a different style of nursing care.  When my oldest was born her great-grandpa was placed in a nursing home.  For her that was how she knew him.   However; while we visited him we had to walk down a long hallway where we passed many other residents.  So for her and somewhat my 2nd kiddo it was normal to see residents in a nursing home.  If you've ever been to a nursing home you know how different it is.  Taking time to go and visit one with your kiddos and read with the residents is a great way to expose them to something different.  Plus, it's great for the residents to interact with kiddos as well.  This is a great way to help serve your community. 

4. Happy mail: 
Everyone enjoys getting mail, that is if it's not a bill.  If your kiddos are like mine, they enjoy coloring, drawing, & making pictures.  This is an easy way to serve people in your community.  Someone who just had surgery, someone who just had a baby, someone who maybe lives on their own.  Taking the time to reach out to someone you know and having your kids help bless them.  

5. Inviting someone to supper: 
We've only done this once or twice, again life gets busy.  But, it is something that we talk about with our girls and try to set aside some time to do so.  We've started with neighbors, but have talked about inviting people outside of our neighborhood as well.  Sitting down to supper with a guest teaches your kiddos so much.  It really is fun to see them interact at their dining room table with someone who isn't normally in our home.  

Well, there you have it, 5 ways you can serve your community with your kiddos without having to spend a lot.  What are ways you serve your community? 



Thursday, April 20, 2023

Teacher Appreciation gift ideas


    Teacher Appreciation week is almost here! What a great time to show your kiddos' teachers that they are important.  I've gathered our family's favorite gift ideas that also won't break the bank.  Check them out: 

1. Print-out paper

A couple years ago I found this print-out paper on Pinterest.  It was really fun to do with my kiddos for their teacher.  It helped to make the gift be more from my kiddo than from me.  I wanted it to be more meaningful for my child as well.  This was a great option from The Suburban Mom. 

2. Bouquet of flowers 


        Have you heard of the old-fashioned gift of flowers on the last day of school? Well, the last day of school has changed quite a bit since then, so what better week than Teacher Appreciation week!  These can be hand-picked from your local garden or you can purchase them.  If you purchase them, you can always buy a medium bouquet and spilt it up between your kiddos; the bouquet doesn't have to be big.  

3. A card 

Similar to the first option, you can make a card and have your kiddo write a thank you in it as well.  

4. Their favorite candy 

What a simple gift, but a great way to say thank-you.  This doesn't have to be huge, but a simple candy bar saying thanks.  If you're good with puns you could include one as well. 

5. A book for their classroom 

In our school we have the option to purchase a book for our kids' teachers at conferences from the Book Fair.  The teachers each pick a few books they'd like for their classroom and then parents can buy them in honor of their child.  However, teachers can't have enough books; especially at the elementary level.  Picking out a book from heir classroom is great end of the year gift.  

Hope this helps inspire some ideas! Have a great week, until next time



Thursday, April 13, 2023

Newspaper Trashbags

A couple weeks ago I posted some life hacks.  One of the life hacks I talked about was making trash bags out of newspapers, from the blog Improvised Life.  If you missed it you can check it out here.  I wanted to take it a step further and try what Improvised Life does, only make it for my larger trash can in my girls' bathroom.   

These trash can liners are easy to make and are a great way to help out the environment. Instead of buying more plastic, you are reusing what you have.  So I figured if I can make it work for a small can, why not try a larger one?  

In order to do this, you will need 4 sheets of newspaper instead of just the 1 sheet. After that the process is merely the same, you just need to connect the 4 pieces.  

This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details. 

Step 1: 

First take 2 sheets and staple the edges together.  To do this you need to first fold about an inch on each edge, then you can staple the edges together.  Staples break down, which is why I chose to use them.  Make sure to staple close together so you don't have gaps in your bag later. 

Step 2: 

Second, take the other two pieces of newspaper and do the same. 

Step 3:

Then, you will do the same with your two larger pieces of newspaper and connect them together. This can get a bit tricky as the edges have staples, so just watch as you fold. 

Step 4: 

Flip it all over.  Before you start the fold, you want to have the folded staple parts on the bottom.  

Step 5:

Start the folding process.  It is the same process as the smaller folding process.  It really does fold better than you think even though it's so much bigger.  Don't worry about making the lines crease tightly.  You can watch the video from Improvised Life here or you can follow along below with a step-by-step tutorial: 

Step 1: Place newspaper at a diagonal, then fold in half. 
Step 2: Fold the newspaper in half 
Step 3: Take the right corner and fold it over to the left side.  Make sure the bottom has a flat edge. 
Step 4: Flip over the newspaper and repeat step 3, just fold over the other left side to the right side. 
Step 5: Then take the flap and fold it into the pocket. 
Step 6: Flip over and repeat on the other side. 

One extra step for the larger newspaper bag that I've learned is to staple the sides together.  Where the corner kind of sticks out a bit, on the larger bag it's a lot more and so I just staple it to the side.  

That's it! Remember you can check out the youtube video posted on the Improvised Life post for a visual.


So far, I've been happy with this as a trash bag in my girls' bathroom.  But, if you want to help the environment by switching from plastic and don't want to make a newspaper trash bag, check out the Amazon link at the bottom for another option.  I use these green bags for  my kitchen trash.  I'll be honest, I tried the larger newspaper bags for the kitchen trashcan and let me just say, they don't work well for large amounts of mess.  But, I really like these green bags for the kitchen, they work great!  If you can buy them in bulk, it makes the cost a lot less and closer to the plastic you already get! Plus, you can split the bigger bulk size with a friend & it helps the cost! 

I hope you were inspired to find a way to be a little more environmental.

~ Blessings