Category Archives: Home Projects

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

Thursday Thoughts: Gardening

I never ever thought I would say this, but I’m enjoying gardening!¬† I wasn’t a fan of gardening when I was growing up, but I guess it’s in my blood and I shouldn’t fight it! ūüėČ My grandpa and my mom must have passed the gene on down despite my resistance!¬† Now, I’m thankful.

I really started appreciate gardening since I’ve been on a quest to live and eat healthier.¬† There’s something very satisfying in cooking food that we grew!¬† You know…that whole “I-can-do-it-myself” pride that you see in your toddler, well now I remember what it feels like with gardening!

Another bonus: I know exactly where the food came from and what was put into it!¬† And¬†now it’s really helping our grocery budget! We have a pretty short growing season in Minnesota, but I’ve still been able to harvest lettuce, zucchini, green beans, and sugar snap peas already! I didn’t have to buy any veggies this week on my grocery trip! Mostly fruit and a few other staples! Maybe “going green” ain’t so bad!

Other things I love about gardening:

  • My kids are involved and learning so much!¬†¬†They’re learning science, health, and good eating habits¬†as well as spiritual concepts like “What you sow is what you grow!”¬† (And they are having a¬†LOT of fun! They beg me to water the garden or pick vegetables!)
  • There’s something therapeutic in pulling out weeds! I don’t know what it is, but it feels good to yank a weed out by the root and toss it aside!
  • We get off the couch and enjoy the outdoors while gardening.
  • Fresh food takes flavor to a whole new level! You may never buy another canned vegetable from the store once you try growing your own!
  • When we live 28 miles from the nearest big grocery store it’s nice to be able to just go to our yard and pick something last-minute for a meal!
  • It’s a meaningful (and frugal) gift to share homegrown veggies with a friend or neighbor!

Have I convinced you to try gardening yet?!?!?!¬† Don’t let having a small (or no) yard hold you back.¬† We have a few containers of herbs and lettuce on our porch that really supplement our meals nicely!¬† You could try a tomato plant in a container and make your own spaghetti sauce or fresh BLT sandwich!¬† The possibilities are endless! You might just grow a green thumb while you’re at it! :)


Our garden



Fresh salad for lunch, anyone?


We’ll probably eat this for dinner tonight!

Fresh herbs! Basil, oregano, rosemary…and a cute toddler (pick at your own risk!) ;)

He’s happy to help…especially if it involves water and mud! Win-win!

Tuesday Tutorial: Lemon Sugar Scrub

Tuesday Tutorial: Lemon Sugar Scrub

Hey folks!¬† I’m a little late posting this because my Plan A didn’t turn out quite like I expected this morning.¬† My homemade graham crackers need some tweaking before I can post it…so here’s Plan B:¬† Lemon Sugar Scrub!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready for summer yet.¬† Beautiful clear sunny days, sure!¬† But wearing shorts and sundresses?!?! Not yet! (And don’t even get me started on swimsuits!) ūüėČ

My lack of enthusiasm for shorts is due to some patches of rough skin I have on my knees and elbows…and that’s where this lemon sugar scrub comes in handy!¬† Lemon juice is a natural exfoliator and with the raw sugar and a little olive oil you’ve got an all-natural cheap¬†frugal body polish that both exfoliates¬†and moisturizes (and hopefully eliminates those rough patches!)


  • one lemon
  • raw sugar (also known as turbinado sugar)
  • olive oil
  • favorite essential oil (optional)

Roll lemon on counter top or hard surface for easier juicing.  Juice lemon.


FYI: my 3yr old took this picture! Budding photographer in the making!


Pour sugar into lemon juice and stir together until a thick paste forms (I used about 1/2 a cup of sugar.) 

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (preferably one that goes with the lemon scent!  I used neroli, but bergamot or coriander would go well too!) 


To use your lemon sugar scrub simply stir it up and scoop a small amount on your hand or washcloth and gently rub any rough patches of skin for about a minute.  Rinse off and use your favorite moisturizer.  (Maybe even your own lotion if you read this post! Or my other favorite DIY beeswax lotion!)

**couple of warnings**

  • I used a cute glass jar for pictures (or to give as gifts), but for our house I keep¬†the scrub¬†in a plastic container for the bathroom:¬† don’t want glass breaking in the bathtub or anything!!!
  • Be careful to rinse the shower/tub really well when done using: the olive oil might make things a little slippery!
  • For a finer scrub try using regular sugar or table salt, but I wouldn’t use the raw sugar version on your face¬† or on sensitive skin.¬†
  • Don’t use everyday.¬† You know your own skin, so use as often as you see fit, but I wouldn’t¬† use it more than 3 or 4 times a week.¬† Too much exfoliation is NOT a good thing!

    Lemon Sugar Scrub

This is recipe is fast,¬†easy, all natural, and won’t cost ya an arm and a leg!¬† ¬†Instead it will give you nice smooth arms and legs!!!! Make some for yourself and give some away as a gift!¬† Give me a week and now I’ll be ready for summer!¬† How about you?

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

DIY Hand Lotion

DIY Facewash

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

And please don’t forget to enter our¬†Shutterfly Giveaway¬†to win a free 8X8 photo book!


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Bubbles…kids love them!

My kids got some bubble blowing toys for Easter…and they were very eager to play with them yesterday afternoon!¬† SO…instead of running to Target, I made my own!

Here are two¬†different recipies…I used the first, because I had those ingredients on hand, and it worked great.¬† However, I think that the other recipie might make for bigger bubbles!

  1. 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid (Dawn or Joy) 2 cups of water 2 teaspoons of sugar
  2. 2/3 cup Joy dishwashing soap 1 gallon water 2 to 3 tablespoons of glycerin or corn syrup

Happy bubble blowing!

Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

Tuesday Tutorial…Easy Snacking Idea!

So…if your kids are anything like mine, they are ALWAYS asking for snacks.¬† We generally have two snack times a day and I try to have things prepared!

My favorite snacks are little trail mix bags I make ahead of time.

Easy to make!

Take out anything open in your pantry that your kids love…(it’s a great way to use up the last of the box)

  • cereals
  • nuts
  • popcorn
  • dried fruit
  • pretzels

{I usually add one or two “fun” items}

  • chocolate chips
  • marshmallows


I add all desired ingredients to a bowl…since we have bigger kids and a littler kiddo…I make two batches!

Big kids mix 

Little kid mix 

I scoop a generous handful into plastic bags and put them in a container.  Easy to grab and hand out to hungry little ones!

My kids put their baggies back on the counter when they are done, and they are easy to re-use!

DIY Household Cleaners

DIY Household Cleaners

Over the past year I have switched to {almost} all DIY cleaners.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I make my own laundry soap and softener, but I have also started making all of my other household cleaners, with the exception of dishwasher soap.  They are saving me tons of money, trips to the store, and they are natural and safe for our home and family!


White Distilled Vinegar (I buy it at Costco, two gallon jugs are under four dollars!)

{Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and odor elimination!}

Dawn dish soap (which I frequently get for pennies using coupons!)

Olive Oil

Rubbing Alcohol

A few quality spray bottles

All Purpose Cleaner/ Disinfectant (countertops, appliances, windows, mirrors, almost anything!)

Mix equal parts vinegar and water (whatever fills your bottle)

One {tiny} squirt of dawn

One tablespoon (give or take) of rubbing alcohol

There are A MILLION versions of this recipie…so if you aren’t in love with mine, check around.¬† Some use ammonia as well.¬† I have found that the tiny bit of dawn gives it a little grease fighting power and the rubbing alcohol prevents streaks when using on mirrors and windows.

Shower/Bathroom Cleaner

2 cups HOT vinegar

6 tablespoons ( I measure by doing 6 squirts) of Dawn

Mix and spray away!

When cleaning my bathroom I use this spray everywhere…in the tub and toilet I sprinkle some baking soda¬†after I use this spray¬†to make an abrasive cleaner.

Furniture Polish

2 cups vinegar

1 cup olive oil

You will need to mix this up a little each time you use it, it will separate. 

If you want to get {fancy}, my mom came up with a natural way to get her cleaners to smell pretty!

Put vinegar in quart jars and added the rinds of citrus fruits (oranges and lemons)!!

Let them sit for a few weeks, strain, and use that vinegar for your cleaners!

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All natural DIY hand lotion

All natural DIY hand lotion

Most of us know that olive oil is a healthy oil for cooking and eating.¬† It’s full of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins.¬† But did you know olive oil is a wonderful natural moisturizer?¬† It’s a natural way to help dry skin!¬† And here in winter in Minnesota most of us need a little extra moisture for our skin!¬†

 I already see the benefits using the DIY facewash which is just olive oil and castor oil.  It tamed my oily skin!  No more greasy t-zone by noon!  It takes off my eye make up gently and I only need to use it once a day!  SO nice!

I’m sold!¬† I am a fan of EVOO!

Now I branched out a little more and made my own lotion with olive oil and you will not believe how super easy it was!¬† Seriously!¬† A little olive oil and emulsifying wax in the microwave, add a little essential oil, and then mix with hot water and viola!¬† Lotion!¬† Kendra at A Sonoma Garden developed this super easy lotion and I’m telling ya, you gotta try it! She even has adorable labels you can print off if you want to give homemade lotion as gifts!

I’ll be trying her Beeswax lotion too, but for now I’m in love with this hand lotion!¬† I used Bergamot and Coriander essential oils for a light scent that reminds me of fresh limes with a subtle sweetness.¬† I’ll try Geranium essential oil next time for a light rose scent.¬† The Mountain Rose Herbs website has the emulsifying wax and essential oils.¬† I also got some of my essential oils from Puritans Pride too which has them buy¬†1 get 2 free or buy¬†2 get 3more free!

If you don’t know much about essential oils and their scents…like I didn’t…check out a natural foods store or coop and spend some time sniffing their samples and picking out which scents¬†you like.¬† As hard as it was for me to wait once I chose some special oils, it was cheaper for me to order on-line {but I did buy¬†some amazing organic decaf coffee beans at the store …mmmm!}.

So break out the EVOO and moisturize!!!! (You can even use it straight out of the bottle directly onto your skin if you want!)

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Checkin’ In

Checkin’ In

Being a person who likes variety I often have a few projects in progress at any one time.¬† I love being able to do things myself, but there’s usually a learning curve.¬† And you lucky blog-friends get to learn from my mistakes experiments!

Here’s some of my projects:

  • DIY yogurt
  • sewing diaper bags/purses
  • crochet beanies
  • DIY Kindle cover:¬† first prototype was a flop, I’ll resign myself and use a pattern
  • Homemade wheat bread on a regular basis to replace store-bought
  • DIY lotion
  • Homemade mayo
  • whole wheat desserts¬†with natural sweetners
  • DIY wheat thin-like crackers
  • selling baby stuff (saving up for an electric grain mill!!!)
  • clutter busting the home

Just about every area of the house has a project going on.¬† It keeps me going.¬† I have a short attention span, so when I get bored with one project I move to another.¬† Some are on-going experiments.¬† Some are a one-time thing.¬† In general, I’m trying to move us to eating healthier, living lighter, and getting in-touch with my creative side! :)

And checking in with¬†a past project, the¬†DIY facewash I’ve been using for over a month has been working great!¬† Who woulda¬†thought that a person with large pores and oily skin prone to acne could dry it up with slathering more oil on it?!?!¬† But it works!¬† My skin is much less oily, normal in fact!¬† I still have some acne, but it’s better than it was and my pores are smaller!¬† I think the trick is to soak the washcloth in the warm-as-you-can-stand-it-water and lay it over your face for a minute after you rubbed the oil mixture in.¬† Then I gently rub off the excess oil.¬†

I only use the facewash¬†at night, and it does great at removing my make-up (although I don’t wear waterproof mascara, just the regular stuff).¬† My face is fine in the morning and ready to go.¬† Only needing to wash my face once a day saves me time and money…a little really goes a long way!¬† My skin is better than I can ever remember it.¬† It’s no longer oily in the day.¬†¬†My face¬†doesn’t feel tight and raw after washing like some of my harsher¬†cleansers have left it.¬† And if I need a little moisture, I use a tiny bit of coconut oil.¬† This project was definitely worth the $2.75 I spent on it!¬† I’m no medical professional, but this works great for me!


Oil-based Facewash! Only 2 ingredients!


**Note: I found my castor oil at Walmart in the pharmacy section on the bottom shelf¬†under all¬†the other laxatives.¬† ūüėĬ†¬†¬† I also saw it at a local health food coop but it was more expensive there.¬† The cheap stuff works fine, just so ya know!¬†

How about you?¬† Any projects you’re working on?¬† Anything you’d like to see here on A Lighter Journey?¬† Let us know if you have any ideas!¬† We love a good project!



We made room to play in the playroom!

We made room to play in the playroom!

I am {slightly} obsessed lately with the clearing of all things no longer needed.¬† The playroom is a constant source of annoyance in my home…we love that we have it, we¬†just don’t love picking up our toys ALL THE TIME.

We spent some time after school yesterday cleaning up.¬† Sorting Legos and Lincoln Logs, mending well loved books, finding pieces to puzzles…putting everything in it’s place.

We also got rid of two bags of things we were done with!

I {try to}¬†do this every couple of months…



 Look, we have room to play!

Taking Back My Kitchen…{part one}

Taking Back My Kitchen…{part one}

Inspired by Michelle’s post¬†and Money Saving Mom..I decided to clean up my kitchen!¬† It really wasn’t¬†terrible…but we cook three meals, too many snacks, and home school in our kitchen every day, so I thought any space we could clean up and clear up would be great!

I started with the pantry…since I am a couponer¬†I {thankfully} have a full¬†pantry, but I have to work to keep it organized so I can utilize all that I have acquired!¬† I cleared up some space by getting rid of some pans on the floor I wasn’t using…fancy cheesecake pans and jello molds.¬† I also found some food items we weren’t using…baby food, extra pasta… and put them in a box to donate to our local Ronald McDonald House.



Do you see my chocolate chips…they are my favorite pantry item!


My hubby found some big food storage containers last year and we use them to buy flour, sugar, rice, beans, etc. in bulk!  And the lids seal tight and keep the kids out:)

I found a shoe organizer at a thrift store last year and put it on the back of the pantry door to hold measuring cups/spoons and other small kitchen doo-dads.

I also try to keep only one section of the panty with open items…if it’s full, we don’t open something else until there is room.¬† It seems to reduce waste!

I also cleaned up my spice cabinet.  I buy in bulk, so I have found the easiest way to keep it fresh and organized is with plastic containers.

What are your ideas for keeping it all organized??

{Check out part two!}

Bathroom Makeover…How I Spent My Weekend

Bathroom Makeover…How I Spent My Weekend

Armed with a little extra money from our tax return, we decided to tackle a bathroom makeover for the kiddos¬†bathroom.¬† My husband was willing…andI was holding Super Bowl privileges over his head!

We did all of this for $203…which included

  • ALL building materials, except tile, which we had from another remodel
  • new linens and shower curtain

I also re-purposed things from around the house to add the “finishing touches!”






The boys helped pick out the new shower curtain!


Beadboard {I HEART beadboard!) and new towels


Mason jars to hold bathroom items!


Can you tell I love mason jars?

New tile floors! (replacing linoleum) My hubby is getting quite good at this!

We¬†think it turned out great!¬† Our kids love it too…they even think brushing their teeth in the “new” bathroom is¬†more fun!¬† Next we’ll work on toilet aiming with the boys!