Easy DIY Lip Scrub

Easy DIY Lip ScrubThis winter has been tough on my skin. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit older now, or perhaps possible peri-menopause. No matter the cause, my typical beauty routine isn’t working.

While I have a body scrub and lotion, I was lacking something for my lips. And boy, did I need something! No matter the amount of lip balm I applied, my lips were rough and bleeding. So I decided to try something new.

I didn’t want to spend money on an expensive lip scrub, so I did a bit of searching and found this recipe. With all ingredients from my pantry, how could I go wrong?

Mixing up the recipe was quick and easy. The only change I made was to use coconut oil instead of olive oil.

I massaged the scrub on my lips for about 20-30 seconds. And the result? It worked! I admit that I will most likely have to repeat it within a few days, but I think it will make a huge difference over time.

And with at least a few more months of winter ahead, I will definitely need it. Here’s to frugal beauty care!

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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for…Rest?

I scream, You screamI admit it. I’ve been lazy.

Well, not so much the stereotype of “wife sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and watching the soaps” sort of lazy. Although I do love bon-bons, I’ve mainly been working. And that has generally meant a summer of cold cuts, crackers, and takeout. My husband made some yummy pot roasts in the slow cooker and solar oven over the past few months; these provided us with warm meals and variety. But me cooking? Not so much.

Too we dealt with quite a few stressful family issues this summer, which also tended to encourage my laissez-faire attitude when it came to cooking and homemaking in general.

I never claimed to be Martha Stewart or anyone of note when it comes to cooking, decorating, or the like. I’m just your average Jane trying to keep up with an ever hectic pace of workdays. Lots of dust bunnies to gather both here and at home, but until everything’s shipshape I can share one delightful find from the summer.

Y’all remember Amazon’s Prime Day back in July? Well, I happened to be checking out my Facebook stream when a blogger posted about a great deal on this ice cream maker. My husband just loves homemade ice cream, but we don’t really have the need for a huge batch. This seemed just perfect for a small family, and so I snapped it up while it was half off.

And my review? Seriously, it is the best. Fairly quiet and quick at its work. It certainly makes homemade ice cream a no-fuss affair.

In fact, here’s a picture of our latest batch of creamy vanilla ice cream:

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

As for me, I’m a bit tired but still alive and kicking. The heat and hullabaloo of the past few months have given me some needed perspective on life, work, and family. Homemaking will always be there waiting for us. As will work, bills, and other distractions of this life.

Sometimes when the heat becomes a bit too much, there needs to be a bit of grace, forgiveness, and possibly ice cream. And that, my friends, is a good bit of wisdom to gain.

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? –Job 12:12

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Homemade Lotion Bars

homemadelotionbarsBefore Christmas, I had decided to make all of our Christmas gifts. As my husband has plenty of female relatives, I thought that homemade beauty products would be just the ticket. I purchased the ingredients for products like lotion bars but didn’t get the chance to make them in time. The cocoa butter and beeswax lay on our shelves, just waiting for their big debut. It would take at least a month, but they would finally get their big opportunity.

With the cold, dry weather recently, our skin has become painfully dry. Unlike when we were younger, commercial lotion doesn’t seem to do the trick. My husband’s hands have especially suffered, and so I wanted to provide him with a healthy and homemade alternative. Enter the homemade lotion bars.

This recipe was super easy to mix up, with just melting and pouring involved. For a first try at making my own beauty products, it was definitely a win. Too, they hardened quickly in our cool basement, leaving us with beautiful lotion bars within hours.

And the verdict? The lotion bars are a perfect, portable lotion for those dry areas that seem to be perpetually dry. Made from all natural ingredients, it is very rich and nourishing, making our skin feel better almost immediately. Too, there is no greasy residue; even if you apply the lotion to your hands, there’s no problem with doing a bit of work afterward. My husband loves that particular aspect of them.

Any down side to these little beauties? They tend to leave little “crumbs” on your hands even with thorough rubbing into the skin. It is possible that we didn’t quite get the ratio correct, but I believe that this may just come with the territory of a lotion bar. Still it is a small inconvenience as compared with the other benefits.

All in all, these lotion bars were certainly worth the time spent in mixing them up. The lotion is rich and will be much more frugal in the long run as the bars will last a long time, much longer than a bottle of the commercial variety. And if I can give us a little comfort during the cold, winter months, then why not? I might have made the bars a bit late for Christmas, but my husband at least gets the benefit of them in the new year.

Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

Frugal and Homemade Winter House for Stray Cats

The link above describes the process that we followed in creating an insulated house for our local stray cats. As winter gets closer, we want to do what we can to help those kitties who live outdoors or who may be stray cats. The house that we made for these cats only cost us $5.00. If this protects any of these cats, then it’s money well spent.

Comfort Food

comfortfoodFor various reasons, today has been a difficult one for me. Worrying and irritation left me with a lot of nervous energy. Although I could handle that surplus in a less healthy manner–eating my way through an entire package of Oreos, for example–I decided to focus on making some comfort food for my honey and me. This seemed the more positive path, and certainly less calorie laden.

velveetanbiscuitsFor lunch, I made something quick, Grilled Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls. Coming from the South, I particularly enjoy anything with biscuits. Too, it was frugal in that we had some biscuits and the remains of a loaf of Velveeta to use up. So, for both reasons, this recipe was a win. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time appreciating it. First, the rolls took a lot longer to cook than was listed in the recipe itself. This led to a super-heated house and a sweating honey. Also, the Velveeta was a little overpowering in its gooey-ness, and so the biscuits were difficult to even enjoy. Still, they made an easy lunch that filled us up.

homemadejuniormintsTonight, I decided to mix together some Homemade Junior Mints. As a kid, my favorite candy at the movies was Junior Mints. If given the choice among all the different varieties available at the movie theater, I always chose those small little mints. This recipe, therefore, was a natural for my own comfort today. This homemade version is certainly healthier and less sweet, but it was still enjoyable. It also did not require specialized equipment or a stove, and so very appropriate for a warmish evening. They turned out quite good and have brought back some great memories.

So, perhaps I didn’t get my Oreos, but I can say that I still got the comfort I needed. I provided my husband with a filling–if not exactly healthy–lunch, and we have a tasty treat for the next few days. Most importantly, I only ate one Junior Mint.

Honey Candy and Loving Our Families

honeycandyandlovingourfamiliesOccasionally, my husband has some trouble with a recurring dry cough, possibly due to a previous bout with pneumonia. After suffering through a relatively sleepless night, he mentioned that he would like to have some hard candy.  He has in the past used cough drops to relieve some of this problem, but their taste can be unpleasant after a time. Of course, we had a discussion about whether or not to purchase hard candy, but ultimately we decided to make our own. Having made honey candy this past Christmas, I decided that that recipe would be not only tasty but also soothing to this throat.

You might be wondering if this recipe is truly frugal. I would have to answer, “It depends on your pantry.” If you currently purchase small quantities of honey, then it won’t be cheap to make this recipe. However, if you buy raw honey in large quantities, then it most certainly will be frugal and much healthier for your family members to indulge their sweet tooth. You can either buy raw honey locally or online, but it is certainly one of the easiest food items to store. Too, as food prices rise, having it in your pantry is also a good investment. Just make sure the container in which you store your honey is opaque and impervious to pests; one final consideration is that it is best to store the container in a place where the temperatures will not fluctuate greatly. Honey is an easy way to break into storing larger amounts of food items as it will stay good for a long period of time.

But is this recipe easy? Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s easy, but it is certainly doable by most anyone, even with little experience and with very minimal equipment. In the past, I have avoided making candy of any sort as I just felt I wasn’t up to the task. With all of the different terms such as “hard crack” and my accident-prone nature, I thought it best. Providing for our families, though, often overrides these concerns and makes us a little more brave. My husband was suffering, and I could help him. So I got out the saucepan and thermometer and went to work.

cookingthecandyI can share a few tips from my experience, not necessarily about the cooking itself, but rather about making it more pleasant. First, it takes a loonnngg time to get the mixture to hard crack stage, and so make sure you have some entertainment. Personally, staring at boiling sugar is not fun for me, and so I asked my husband to turn on my favorite Star Trek episode. Too, it is hot work. Keep that in mind before you begin. Finally, you may want to have someone with strong, quick hands to pull the candy at the end. My husband took over the candy at this point as he has experience with pulling taffy and seems to enjoy the task. I must say that I was more than happy to hand it over to him.

As far as storing the candy, you can layer the candy between pieces of wax paper, or you can be a bit lazy like me and pour some powdered sugar in a bag and then throw the candy in there. The sugar will keep the candy from sticking to itself. And, I must say, my husband likes the extra sugar.

Although food can simply be sustenance, it can also be a way to show love, especially if it is something needed by our family members. For my husband, this candy soothed his cough and allowed him to sleep through the night. Too, making homemade candy should be healthier than the commercial type. For these reasons, my fears of making hard candy were set aside for a time. I gained some experience with a somewhat difficult task and showed my husband a little love.

Homemade Candy for My Hubby

homemadecandyformyhubbyIt’s been kind of rough lately around our house. With me partially unemployed and my husband unemployed, we have to struggle sometimes to keep our spirits up. We do try to focus on the essentials of life, but occasionally life just wears you down. So I decided to make something special for my husband–homemade candy.

Now, I don’t claim to be a chocolatier or professional candy maker–or even a mom who’s just darn good with sugar. My only claim to fame was being a fan of the song, “The Candy Man Can,” as a child. No, I just know what my husband likes. So, banning any sense of inadequacy or warning, I forged ahead and made candy.

I selected as the main attraction Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Balls. I had made something similar in the past, so I assumed that this would be easy peasy. Don’t you just hate it when you enter a project with your spirit soaring and your hopes high, just to be brought back to reality a moment later? I was on a chocolate high, thinking myself the latest Giada. Well, obviously, I’m not. Everything went well until I melted the chocolate for the first batch. It seized up. Undeterred but frustrated, I managed to get things going again and finished the dipping stage. And then, as I was repackaging the chocolate, one of the melting discs fell out of my hands, on to the floor, and disappeared into nothingness. With animals around and fears of chocolate poisoning in my head, I panicked. I tore the kitchen apart and cleaned everything, eventually finding the errant chocolate disc underneath the stove. So much for Giada.

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Having rested from the original candymaking session and cleaning, I decided to try another recipe that I had seen recently. It was Irresistible Coconut Oil Chocolates. I saw the beautiful little candies on the page and thought, “I can do this!” Well, sort of. It turns out that the silicon molds are much more important than I thought. As I didn’t have one, I thought that I would just pour the mix into a greased 8×8 pan. It did work, but the bottoms of the chocolates were wet, which made them difficult to remove from the pan. Still, they taste wonderful and melt in your mouth. They are quite unique and were much easier to make than the bonbons. coconutoilchocolates

Well, obviously I’m not Giada or even a second-rate chocolatier. But when you’re frugal, you often have to take that leap and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. And that is often rewarding in itself, that despite obstacles and a possible lack of skill or knowledge, I made something yummy for my husband.

Although the candies aren’t very pretty, they do taste very good. Perhaps too this might be a way for us frugal folks to pretend that we’re a rich housewife with fancy chocolates. Sit on your couch, close your eyes, and eat those bonbons crafted by your own hands. What could be more satisfying than that?

Frugal Cat Toys Made with Paracord

frugal cat toys made with paracordI knew very little about cats when I adopted my oldest one; I naively assumed that she would be similar to dogs as far as her needs and desires. Consequently, during my run to Wal-Mart for cat supplies, I purchased a big bag of the catnip-filled mice so that I could make her feel welcome. Seeing the new toys, she walked away in disdain. Obviously, I had a lot of learning to do.

Since then, I have realized that cats often prefer frugal, homemade toys over the expensive ones found at pet stores and mass merchandisers. Too, with their claws and sharp teeth, they can easily destroy the poorer quality toys, making these toys a needless expense for you and a possible health hazard for them. By making your own toys from materials at home, you can avoid these problems and provide your cats with hours of safe and cheap fun.

When I looked for ideas for frugal cat toys online, I found many websites that referred to toilet paper rolls, foil, milk rings, and such, but very little in the way of something new that could be achievable by anyone. Below you will find some tips for making paracord toys for your cats.

Paracord Toys

You may be familiar with paracord in relation to the survival bracelets that are so popular right now. Paracord is essentially a “tube” of material with smaller strings inside to provide strength. Although paracord can be found at your local hobby store, you will most likely find a better bargain by purchasing it online at one of the larger websites that specialize in it. Many of them regularly run sales for the larger quantities, thus making the purchase a bit more frugal. To get updates on their sales, I recommend following the company’s Facebook page as they will often post their latest bargains and coupon codes on Facebook.

GrantwithtoyWhen you are shopping for paracord, you will find several different weights, including nano, micro, and 550. I prefer 550 paracord for making toys for our cats as it is strong and thicker than the others. You can also find many different knots to use in making your toys, and your cats will most likely enjoy all of them. As far as videos and instructions on tying knots, I can recommend FusionKnots.com. You will find many exciting and inspirational guides on this site.

As you make your toys, one thing to keep in mind is varying the length of each toy as well as the knots used will provide your cat with an assortment of choices, thus eliminating boredom. Too, be very careful in securing the ends of any cut paracord. The ends should be melted completely so that the inner strings cannot come loose and endanger your cat. Always monitor the current condition of these toys for any fraying or the loosening of these inner strings. Personally, I prefer to keep these toys out of the cats’ reach unless we are playing with them.

Adding Found Objects

We have made several cat toys made of paracord alone, but we have also tied on objects for added interest. For example, my husband added wires to one toy so that our cats could have “ribbon” that could not be shredded. Other items to look for might be milk rings and plastic caps. The only limit is your imagination. wirecattoy

One important caveat: make sure that any attached item is securely knotted onto the paracord. Also, as with the above toys, always observe the condition of the toys and keep them out of your cats’ reach when not in use.

Long Lasting Toys

Personally, we have found cat toys made from paracord to be very durable and long-lasting. This makes them much more frugal than the commercial alternative. Too, you are making these toys yourself, and so it is a nice way to show your cat just how much you care. Additionally, the homemade aspect allows you to make toys that will fit your cat’s personality and special needs, thus making them very personalized.

Above All, Be Safe!

Above all, consider your cat’s safety when making these toys or playing with them. The toys’ condition should be regularly inspected, and I highly recommend that these toys be kept out of your cats’ reach when not in use.

Although you may be purchasing paracord to make cat toys, you might possibly find that tying paracord is an enjoyable hobby. My husband certainly enjoys making us many different useful and fun items. Not only your cats, but you yourself may benefit from the venture. Creating cat toys—and stuff for humans—from paracord can be a cheap means of entertainment. Just use your judgment when playing with your cats and their new toys, and you both can have frugal fun.

Homemade Frozen Mochaccino

homemade frozen mochaccinoIn case you haven’t already guessed, I love coffee. Whatever the form or flavor, it is easily my favorite drink, partly for the caffeine but also for the taste. Similar to those who enjoy the entire experience of smoking a pipe or cigar, I enjoy everything about coffee.

When I was young and single, I would indulge myself in the summers by regularly purchasing coffee granitas at the local coffee place. They were cool and sweet, giving me the extra jolt I needed to make it through the day. Luckily, at the time I had extra cash to spend on myself, and I could also afford the extra calories. Those days are unfortunately no longer.

Do I need to do without frozen coffee treats? Not necessarily. If you’re like me, you’ll find a way to get what you want, even if it means making your own. In this case, I happened to see someone post the recipe for the EatingWell Frozen Mochaccino on Facebook. Although a little more work than brewing a cup of coffee, this drink will certainly satisfy any cravings for those expensive coffee treats.

Too, you make it with low-fat milk and a little maple syrup, and so the drink itself is much lower in calories. I personally used almond milk when I made our drinks, and they were delicious. This would also make it possible for a vegan or someone who is allergic to milk to enjoy their own frozen treat. Low in calories, this recipe is still sweet enough to satisfy.

Whether you’re simply trying to save some money or some calories, I would highly recommend trying this recipe. Although it takes a little effort and planning, it is definitely worth it for this homemade coffee drink.