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Friday Five

Sometimes throughout the week I think of things that I’d like to share with you but aren’t really worthy of a whole post. They could be things I’ve been working on, other sites I’ve discovered, shop or sale info, or general randomness. My solution is the Friday Five, where I quickly share some of those random or interesting things.

Sewing machine struggles

My Kenmore needs repair again. This time I got so frustrated with it that I packed it up and moved it off my desk. I don’t like using my Brother for anything except embroidery. I’d hate to mess up my only embroidery machine when I have another basic sewing machine. So, that leaves me with my vintage Montgomery Wards Signature. It works really well, but I’m not as familiar with all of the settings. I’m nervous about sewing anything special, because I don’t want to ruin anything by having tensions or stitch length wrong.

It’s also on the other side of my craft room from my other machines and in it’s own table. That means I have to bring everything I need over to it, rather than have it stored within reach. That all has deterred me from sewing lately.

I finally decided earlier this week to try to finish some of the masks I was working on when my Kenmore broke. Those are fairly simple and I have plenty of cotton fabric, so if my machine eats it, it’s not too bad. So far I only finished one, though, due to interruptions and being slow on an unfamiliar machine.

I guess someone felt the need to decorate it for Halloween.

Masks?

On the subject of masks, I’m contemplating adding them to my shop, but not sure if there’s still enough demand for handmade. I keep getting requests from friends and neighbors, though, so maybe? It would be nice to have them listed so I can have a catalog of sorts to show people when asked. Thoughts?

These were a special order from a friend. Luckily I finished them before my Kenmore broke. Sewing someone else’s fabric on an unfamiliar machine is scary.

Meal planning is hard

I had a dentist appointment last weekend that involved an extraction along with some fillings. That means that along with my usual gluten and dairy free restrictions, I’ve had to accommodate not really being able to chew. For most meals, that means planning for the family and separately for myself. I’ve also been fairly successful with losing some weight lately, so I didn’t want to get out of my healthy eating habits by living off mashed potatoes and ice cream for a week. That made it more challenging, because most of the healthy, filling foods I can think of require chewing. Luckily I’m down to only avoiding things that are crunchy or have small seeds that could get painfully stuck.

Odd shopping habits

I finally reorganized the pantry shelves this morning in an attempt to make meal planning easier. For some reason, I have four jars of salsa. Four! Three of them are the bigger jars, too, and all the same variety. I also have a ton of dried black beans, two varieties of split peas and lots of lentils. The black beans and lentils kind of make sense, but I’m the only one who likes split peas. I also thought I had black eyed peas and was planning on using them in a curry this weekend, but I don’t. At least now I know what I have and what I need.

Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020

The Creative Home Projects Bundle 2020 is only available for a few more hours. I talk more about it in this post. If you’re interested, be sure to order it before 11:59pm Eastern time tonight. For total disclosure, I do receive a small commission on bundles sold through my links. If you’re into DIY, I do think it’s worth having a look at the list of everything included and see if it’s right for you.

There’s also a 30 day money back guarantee. Before I became an affiliate, I purchased several of the bundles. I loved all except for one. Maybe it was because I already followed a lot of the authors in that bundle, but I just didn’t feel like I gained any new information from that particular bundle. I requested a refund by email within the 30 days and had it right away with no problems. I always hate guarantees or free trials that make it hard to cancel or request a refund, so I really appreciate how easy it was with Ultimate Bundles.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!

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15 Awesome Uses for Coconut Oil

If I had to pick only one oil to keep around, it would be coconut oil. This versatile oil has many applications in and out of the kitchen. Here’s fifteen of my favorite uses for coconut oil.

Coconut Oil in the Kitchen

High Heat Cooking

Coconut oil is a stable oil, unlike olive oil. It doesn’t break down at high temperatures, making it great for frying, sautéing and other high-heat cooking applications.

Dairy and Animal Fat Substitute

Coconut oil is also a great butter substitute for those avoiding dairy. It also makes a great substitution for tallow or lard.

Cooking Popcorn

If you like cooking popcorn on the stove the “old-fashioned” way, coconut oil is the best. It adds a wonderful flavor to the popcorn, and holds up to the high temperature. My favorite way to eat popcorn is cooked in coconut oil and topped with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. It’s so simple and yet so yummy!

Season Cast Iron Skillets with Coconut Oil

I love my cast iron skillets. Whenever I need to re-season them, coconut oil is my go-to oil.

Coconut Oil for Cleaning

Natural Furniture Polish

The natural furniture polish recipe I use calls for olive oil, but coconut oil is a suitable substitute. It’s a little lighter and less greasy than olive oil, so it polishes out nicely. It also has a longer shelf-life, so there’s little worry about using it up before it goes rancid.

Stuck on Stickers

Rubbing a little coconut oil on sticker residue helps remove the residue without harming the surface underneath. I like to coat the sticker residue with oil and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe in a circular motion with a rag or gentle scrubber until the residue is gone.

Coconut Oil for Hair

Protect and Treat Your Hair

I’ve seen it recommended to coat your hair in coconut oil and leave it in overnight before lightening your hair with bleach. While I personally haven’t tried that, since lightening my hair, I put a small amount of oil on my hair almost every day. I especially focus on drier or damaged areas. Since I started doing this, I’ve noticed a huge difference in my hair. It’s definitely stronger and smoother.

Deep Condition with Coconut Oil

Even if you haven’t tortured your hair with bleach, a deep conditioning treatment is good from time to time. Apply the oil to your hair and cover with a shower cap. Leave it in for a few hours or overnight and then wash out. A couple of drops of essential oil added to the oil makes the conditioning treatment even more luxurious.

Frizz Fighter

Rub a couple of drops of coconut oil in your hands and then smooth over the ends of your hair to keep frizz away.

Coconut Oil for Skin

Moisturize Your Skin

Coconut oil is great as a moisturizer. Start with a little and massage in to moisturize or to soothe dry, irritated skin. It even helps some eczema!

Diaper Ointment

Coconut oil provides a gentle, moisturizing barrier to soothe and protect babies’ bottoms. Unlike many commercial diaper creams, it is considered safe for cloth diapers. Do check with the manufacturer for their recommendations first, as using unapproved products can void any warranties.

Makeup Remover

A little coconut oil easily takes off eye makeup. I like to put it on a cotton square and gently swipe away makeup. As a bonus, it moisturizes your skin as it removes the makeup.

Shaving Cream

Shaving with coconut oil leaves my legs feeling soft, smooth and moisturized. I don’t even need to use lotion afterwards.

Handmade Soap

I use coconut oil in all of my soap recipes. It helps to create a firm bar that produces lots of fluffy lather.

Pumpkin lavender roll on

Essential Oil Carrier

Coconut oil is my favorite carrier oil for essential oils. It’s not too heavy and absorbs nicely into the skin. If you use the refined oil, there’s no real coconut scent to compete with the essential oils.

15 Awesome Uses for Coconut Oil
Image by moho01 from Pixabay

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For the entire month of September, all of my handmade soaps are 20% off. Shop now.

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All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

We are all becoming more aware of the types of products we use everyday. Whether it’s a concern for the environmental impact, the effect they have on our health or the safety for our pets and children, we want to know we aren’t inadvertently introducing harmful things into our homes. Something I do to feel confident in the safety of cleaning products I use around my family is to make my own where possible. One such product is a simple all purpose cleaner I use for cleaning hard surfaces, such as kitchen and bathroom counters and walls. It only uses a few ingredients, all of which you probably already have on hand.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Liquid soap, either dish soap or something like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Optional: Essential oil of your choice

Supplies:

  • Clean, empty spray bottle
  • Liquid measuring supplies if you aren’t comfortable just eyeballing it
  • Optional: A funnel might make it easier to fill the bottle.

How to make it:

Measure about 2 tablespoons of soap, one cup of vinegar and one cup of water into the spray bottle. It doesn’t have to be exact. I usually just eyeball it. If you would like to use an essential oil, add 3-5 drops as well. Do be aware of safety guidelines regarding any essential oils you use, especially around pregnant women, children and pets. Tea tree oil or lavender are nice for cleaning and generally safe for most people. If the soap you use is scented or if you or your family members are sensitive to scents, you may want to skip the essential oil.

Swirl the bottle to mix everything without making the soap foam up too much. 

That’s it. Now you have an all purpose cleaner that works as well as any other I’ve tried, with the added benefit of being safe enough that kiddos can help with the cleaning. 

If you like this cleaning recipe, you’ll also like my DIY soft scrub for tougher cleaning jobs. To make sure you don’t miss out on future posts, sign up for my newsletter.

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Want to be Featured?

Want to be featured

Want to be featured?

In the past, I often featured handmade or vintage shops on Fridays. Over the years, the world of crafting and blogging has changed dramatically. I would love to resume Feature Fridays, but with a broader scope.

Handmade shop and websites are still welcome. I also want to feature guest writers sharing tutorials, tips, advice, recipes, etc. Categories that I feel are a good fit for this blog are crafting, sewing, sustainability, refashioning, healthy living, parenting, hair and beauty tips for busy moms, homeschooling and homesteading. I am open to other topics as well, so if you are interested but don’t quite fit into one of the above categories, please contact me anyway with your idea.

Guest posts will be promoted across my social media sites frequently throughout the week they are published and then periodically after.

Handmade shop/website features

For handmade shop/website features, answer the questions in the following list and email them to csloan@subearthancottage.com. I will contact you before your shop is featured and if any clarification is needed. You can give as much or a little info for each section as you are comfortable with sharing. Be sure to include links to your shop, web page and blog, if you have them. If you sell your products in a brick and mortar store and would like to include that info, you may include that as well.

I also choose a favorite item from your shop on the week that you’re featured and briefly tell why I like it. The first image from your shop for both your favorite item and my favorite item will be included in the blog.

  • Name and Business Name
  • Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
  • What made you get started in your business?
  • Anything else you’d like to share?
  • Tell us about your favorite item listed in your shop.
  • Links to your shop, website, blog, etc.
  • Email address (This will NOT be published)

Guest posts, tutorials and everything else

Please contact me at csloan@subearthancottage.com with your idea. If you already blog, a link to your blog or site where your writings are published is also helpful. Newbies are welcome, too. I’m also not opposed to reposts if they are a good fit and your own work.

If I think your idea is a good fit for SubEarthan Cottage, I will let you know and we will work out the details from there.

Matisse Creativity Mug Mugs featured
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Organizational Tools for Peace at Home: Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All the statements contained in this post are my honest opinions of the product, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2020.

With everyone spending more time at home, it’s easy to feel like you should be able to stay on top of everything. The house should be spotless, closets decluttered, laundry clean and put away, delicious home-cooked meals ready on time and the kitchen cleaned up promptly after. If you’re home all day, it should be easy, right?

What could possibly be difficult about having an organized home with these three?

The truth is, it’s not that simple. Being home all day, especially with children, means more time to make more messes. If you work from home, you’re technically at home, but still have similar time demands to working at an office. Homeschooling adds its own time demands. Even if you have the time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at a mountain of tasks and not know where to begin.

Enter the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

I absolutely love the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle because over 50 women have contributed their tried-and-true resources to help you have a home that’s calm, organized, and well-run.

If you’ve never heard of it, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle has been around since 2013, and since then, over 139,000 women (and probably some men, too) have purchased a copy to learn practical strategies for decreasing stress and making a home (and life!) they love.

When you buy the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, you’ll get access to:

  • 14 eCourses & videos
  • 9 eBooks
  • 9 workbooks
  • 8 planners
  • 8 printable packs
  • 3 membership sites & summits

The creators behind these resources are 50+ women who have struggled with the same things you do, but have learned (and will teach you) how to simplify homes, declutter & organize, put healthy meals on the table, and nurture strong family relationships.

Best of all, you can get the entire package, all for just $29.97. This price hasn’t gone up since it was first released 8 years ago – which is an amazing deal, considering the prices of most things these days!

Over the years, I’ve purchased several bundles offered through Ultimate Bundles. Throughout the year, they offer bundles for things like healthy living, DIY projects, photography, and blogging as well as the current homemaking bundle. They’re all offered for a limited time at a steep discount compared to purchasing the resources in each bundle separately. If there’s even one or two of the resources in the bundle that you find useful, it usually more than justifies the cost. They also offer a 30 day money back guarantee, so if you get it and find that it’s not what you thought it would be, you can easily request a refund.

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2020

I just got my Ultimate Homemaking Bundle yesterday, so I haven’t had time to thoroughly explore all the resources. Looking through them, though, there are several that I’m really excited about.

Ebooks

I love ebooks because I can load them onto my Kindle Paperwhite that I carry with me in my purse. That way, I always have something to read any time I have a few minutes of downtime. From this bundle, I’m looking forward to reading these:

  • Cleaning with Essential Oils: Your Guide to All Natural Cleaning by Kristyn Bango
  • Garden Harvest Recipes: A Plant to Plate Cookbook by Holly Bertone
  • Quick Start Guide to Water Bath Canning by Victoria Pruett

Planners

Printable planners are awesome because you can print and use only what you need. You can also take elements from different planners to create a perfect planner that works for you. This year’s bundle offers several planners, including ones for cleaning, homeschooling and reaching your goals. These planners are of particular interest to me:

Cleaning

  • Declutter in Minutes Planner by Tracy Lynn
  • Motivated Moms Classic Planner by Susan Cramer
  • The Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner and Supplement Kit by Susan Heid

Homeschooling

  • The Homeschool Planner: Simply Plan, Simply Homeschool by Sean and Caroline Allen

Goals

  • Dreams by Design 2020 Planner by Karen Schravemade
Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2020

Ecourses

To be honest, I haven’t used the ecourses as much in the past. Even though they are totally at your own pace, I tend to start them, get busy with other things and never get back to them. There’s several in this bundle that look really helpful, though, so I will have to do better this time. From the ecourses, these are the ones I think will benefit me the most:

  • 5 Days of Cleaning Motivation: Get Motivated to Clean! Are you in? by Joanie Boeckman
  • Exercise Around The World: Explore The Geographical Roots of Fitness through Movement by Beth Learn
  • Inspire a Love of Learning by Kerry Beck
  • Not So Bummer Summer by JoAnn Crohn (geared towards children)
  • Take Ten Challenge by Laura Coppinger (meal planning)
  • Time Management Freedom by Deanna Dolbel (online business)
  • Uncomplicated Kitchen: 3 Step System for Simpler Weeknight Cooking by Ruthy Kirwan

Other Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2020 resources

Those are just a sample of the many resources contained in this bundle. Not only are there more in each of those categories, I haven’t even mentioned the membership site access, printables, summits, and workbooks you’ll get. There’s also several bonuses that include gift certificates or products free for the cost of shipping.

If any of these resources sound like something that would help you, I urge you to take a look at the complete list here. Full disclosure: If you purchase through any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2020

On the other hand, if you’ve made it this far and don’t think this bundle is for you, don’t worry. My next post will be back to the content you’re used to from SubEarthan Cottage. I’ve been working on a few clothing refashions, and I’ve had to do another repair on my Kenmore sewing machine. Expect posts on those soon!

Time left to get your Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

Get your bundle now! Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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DIY Soft Scrub Cleaner

DIY Soft Scrub

I like getting my kiddos involved in housecleaning. Not just because they are highly involved in making messes, but because it is important that they know how to take care of themselves as adults. I’m pretty choosy as to what cleaning products I will let them use. So many cleaners are irritating to the skin, eyes and lungs.

Not only do I want my cleaning products to be safe, I like things that multitask and don’t cost an arm and a leg. Often, I’ve found the best way to achieve this is to make them myself, like with my natural furniture polish. With a few simple ingredients I keep around the house anyway, I find I can cover most cleaning needs.

My most recent cleaning concoction is soft scrub. It works well for when I need a little extra scrubbing power than I get with my usual all-purpose water, vinegar and dish soap mix.

Soft scrub in a jar
Soft scrub in a jar

Soft Scrub Ingredients

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 cup of liquid soap
  • 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • Optional: 2-3 drops of essential oil

Instructions

Place all the ingredients into a big bowl and mix until a uniform paste forms. To store, I like to scoop it into a wide mouth canning jar, but any lidded container will work. The mix will expand, so use a container that allows for at least double the amount to be safe.

Mixing the soft scrub
Mixing the soft scrub

Variations

Type of Soap

Liquid castile soap will work, but for extra cleaning power I prefer a detergent soap, like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds or even Dawn dish soap. You could probably get away with any liquid hand soap or liquefied bar soap, but I haven’t tried those yet. The only time I haven’t liked it was when I made it with Ajax dish soap because that is what I had on hand. I think there was something in the Ajax that reacted badly with the baking soda or hydrogen peroxide. That mixture was fluffier and had an odd smell. I’m not quite sure what it was that caused it, but because of that, I recommend staying away from any dish soap that advertise extra cleaning additives. For the soap, basic is better.

Scent

I rarely add any essential oils for fragrance. Usually the soap I have is already scented, so I don’t see the need. Really, unscented is fine, too, unless you just prefer a scent to signal that something is clean. If I were to add an essential oil, though, I would probably use either peppermint, lemon or tea tree oil. If you choose to use an essential oil, please be aware of safety guidelines for using them around children, pregnant women, pets, and other sensitive individuals.

How to use

To use, I scoop out a dollop of the soft scrub and apply a layer to the area I’m cleaning. I usually let it sit for a minute or two then buff it off with a rag. If there’s a residue left, I’ll either wipe it down with a damp rag or mist it with my all purpose vinegar, dish soap and water solution and wipe it clean.

Results

I almost forgot to take a before photo. This is an embarrassing photo of tomato sauce splatter left on my stove overnight.

Before using soft scrub to clean last night's spaghetti sauce.
Before using soft scrub to clean last night’s spaghetti sauce.

This is a photo of what it looks like after using my soft scrub and minimal elbow grease.

Shiny stovetop
Shiny stovetop

I do apologize for the blurry photos. Lighting in my kitchen isn’t the greatest, and also I was in the middle of cleaning.

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Easy Paper Towel Replacement with Upcycled Reusable Cloths

Relying on paper towels to clean up spill after spill stinks. Sure, it’s not so eco-friendly, but, even more immediately distressing to me, at least, is it’s practically throwing money away. Plus, a paper towel is usually not as good at cleaning up a mess.

There’s always the option of buying a huge supply of kitchen towels and cloth napkins, but the initial cost of buying enough to keep up with a toddler’s destructive capabilities is off-putting to say the least. Retiring old clothes, sheets, etc. to rags is a viable and frugal option, not to mention you’re upcycling (or is it recycling? or repurposing?). I don’t really mind just using scraps as rags, but I prefer something a little more aesthetically pleasing, especially if guests are involved.

There’s also the convenience factor to consider. I have limited storage space, so devoting a kitchen drawer or part of a cabinet to hold all the towels isn’t practical. Neither is a basket on the counter, because counter space is even more limited.

My reusable paper towel solution

Here’s my solution. First, I cut up any appropriate worn fabric (t-shirts, flannel sheets, old bath towels, anything soft and absorbent) to whatever size I want. I started with something close to paper towel size but then started cutting some smaller to make more use of the fabric. Then I serged the edges to make them pretty. You could also do a zig-zag, overcast stitch or even just a straight stitch a little in from the edge on a sewing machine. If you are really ambitious you could do a real hem. I’m going for nice but quick to do in bulk. Any edge finishing is unnecessary for t-shirt knits, but they will be more durable being finished. Wovens like flannel will need something to keep them from fraying.

Easy storage with limited counter space

For the storage, I made a hanging tube similar to a plastic bag dispenser. If you have one of those around it will probably work perfectly. If not, there are tons of tutorials for them floating around. The basic design is a tube of fabric with a handle at the top and elastic at the bottom. The elastic tightens the opening enough to keep the towels/bags from falling out. This solves my lack of space problem because I can hang it anywhere and it’s as easy as pulling a paper towel off a roll. They stay in and dispense better if I just shove them in the top without folding them, so no extra laundry folding time.

Un-paper towel dispenser
IMG_4535

This was my quick nap-time prototype. I made it out of half a t-shirt. You can easily make one out of any fabric to match your décor.

I also made a little tote bag to hang in the kitchen to put the dirty towels in. Unless they are really gross or soaking wet, there’s no reason to keep them separate from the rest of the laundry.

Since making these, I have almost eliminated my need for paper towels. I do try to keep a roll on hand in case the cats do something gross because eww. I have to hide it, though, to keep other people from reaching for them out of habit.

If you need some heavier cleaning cloths, double up the fabric. To use up smaller scraps of flannel, finish the edges of small squares to use in place of cotton balls.

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