Cold & Flu Season

As we enter into cold and flu season, I thought that I would like to the recipe that I use to make elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup is SO easy to make. It provides a natural cure for cold and flu symptoms. I actually need to order some more berries today and make some. I was reminded to make it when all of 3 of my kids and I woke up with a cold this morning! Elderberry syrup is basically the same thing as the expensive Sambucol that you will find in the store. You can go here to see how to make homemade elderberry syrup.

12 Ways To Reduce Your Exposure To Toxins For Free

  1. Grow your own fruits in vegetables in an organic garden. Anyone can do this!
  2. To reduce PFC exposure, don’t buy wrinkle free clothes & iron.
  3. Leave dry cleaned clothes in the garage unwrapped for a couple of days.
  4. Let your mattress air out when changing sheets.
  5. Open your windows to air out your house.
  6. Avoid antiperspirant in cooler months or when not at work. Consider making your own deodorant or buying a natural deodorant. 
  7. Trade table salt for sea salt.
  8. Try not to use PTFE lined pans, but if you do, heat on low.
  9. Don’t use plastic in the microwave, use glass instead or heat food on the stove.
  10. Store your food in glass containers rather than plastic containers.
  11. Pull your weeds by hand or use vinegar, don’t use herbicides.
  12. Use natural methods to kill bugs rather than using poison. Check out these posts for tips:


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Homemade Beauty Products & Cleaners







Our family loves to make our own green and frugal products. We have been trying to eliminate the need for chemicals in our lives, and honestly many times it can be cheaper to make your own products! Here are a few of the products that we use and enjoy!

For tough surface stains (i.e. you spill something on the stovetop and it burns.)

  • Mix vinegar and salt and scrub.
  • Also, you can pour some baking soda and vinegar on a damp sponge. This cleans and deodorizes kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Laundry Softener:

  • Use 1/2 cup vinegar in the washer as laundry softener.


To Clean The Oven:

  • Sprinkle salt on stains while the oven is still warm. When the oven has cooled off, scrape off the stains.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar on a cool stove.
Glass Cleaner:
  • Mix one part water and one part vinegar together in a spray bottle. Spray on glass surfaces and wipe off.
For insect control - Ants (sprinkle or spray the following where they are entering):
  • white vinegar
  • powdered red chill pepper
  • borax (this is poisonous, so use caution)
  • paprika
  • dried peppermint
  • black pepper

Grease stains on clothing:

  • Immediately pour salt on grease spots. This absorbs the grease to help prevent staining. (I am so glad I discovered this! I was forever ruining clothes with grease stains!)

Laundry and cloth starch:

  • Get 2 cups of cold water and mix in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a spray bottle. I like to add a couple drops of lavender essential oil since it smells good, but this is just to add a scent. Shake well before each use.
Homemade Laundry Detergent:

Cheap & Easy DIY shampoos and conditioners:



After shave:

  • witch hazel
  • diluted isopropyl alcohol


  • We have tried all sorts of deodorants that we have made. You can use baking soda, white clay or make your own with coconut oil and baking soda. But, my favorite is actually deodorant crystals. These are relatively cheap & require no effort at all!  The cost was $6.99 at the time of this post, but they last for an entire year.


I have experimented with several different recipes. Here are a couple of my favorite:

Homemade Toothpaste 1:

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 drops peppermint oil, or cinnamon oil

Homemade Toothpaste 2:

  • 6 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons glycerin
  • 15 drops peppermint

Just mix the toothpaste, store in a container with a lid and use. If you use the coconut oil version, make sure to use hot water to rinse what you spit out down the sink.


  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Turn off the stove. Add 1 handful of dried thyme. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Strain out the thyme, and you have your mouthwash! I add a couple of drops of peppermint to help the flavor. Thyme has many antibacterial properties. I store this in the refrigerator, rather than in my bathroom.


  • I do make my own soap. However, that will require a really long post someday with instructions, so for now I will just suggest castille soap.


  • Use essential oils.

Homemade Face Mask, Homemade Face Scrub, Homemade Hand Softener, Homemade Hair Mask:

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DIY Face Mask, Face Scrub, Toner, Hand Softener & Hair Mask

Cheap & Easy DIY Spa Recipes


We’ve already gone over the health and cost benefits of DIY shampoo and conditioner.  Beauty, however, is more than just hair.  Sure, you can get budget beauty buys with coupons, but you’ll be surprised at how easily you can whip up your own remedy from ingredients you already have in your kitchen cabinet.  Many of these ingredients can be bought in bulk (and on sale).  With these recipes, you can make your kitchen or bathroom into a spa more easily, cheaply, and naturally than you ever have before.

Honey Face Mask

  • 1 to 2 tbsp honey
  • Optional drop of tea tree oil for problem skin, chamomile oil or tea for dry skin

Massage the honey (and essential oil if you want it) onto your face and rinse with lukewarm water after 10 minutes.  Honey was classic beauty Cleopatra’s secret to youthful skin.  It’s moisturizing, antibacterial, and contains antioxidants.  Try buying darker varieties like Manuka honey; they purportedly have more benefits.

Yogurt Face Scrub

  • 2 tsp plain organic yogurt (full fat for dry skin, skim for oily skin)
  • 2 tsp almond meal or oatmeal (about a handful of almonds or oats pulsed in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp honey

Instead of wasting money on plastic microbeads (which just pollute the ocean), use almonds or oatmeal to exfoliate coarse skin.  The yogurt stimulates blood flow and honey is legendary for its antibacterial, antioxidant, and moisturizing properties.  Combine the ingredients and massage gently onto face, rinsing with warm water.

Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

  • ½ oz organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 3 oz water
  • 5 plain, uncoated aspirin tablets

As discussed in the shampoo and conditioner article, apple cider vinegar balances the skin’s pH, making it the least acne- or dryness-prone.  Most alcohol-based toners simply strip the skin of its oils, making our pores produce excess sebum.  Fill a glass bottle with a plastic cap with the ingredients and shake before use.  Use sparingly to areas with acne, rough skin, or large pores.  Store in a refrigerator.

Sugar Hand Softener

  • ¼ cup coarse brown sugar
  • Enough olive, vegetable, or baby oil to make a paste

Are your hands still scaly and unhappy since winter?  Mix the ingredients together with your hands and massage for one minute.  Rinse with warm water.

Avocado Hair Mask

  • 1 avocado (or banana)
  • 2 tbsp honey (or olive oil)

Mash the ingredients in a bowl and massage into your hair and scalp.  Slap on a shower cap for 30 minutes and wash as usual.

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Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching medical student grants as well medical student loans. Whenever she gets some free time, she enjoys watching a funny movie or curling up with a good book.

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Cheap & Easy DIY Shampoo and Conditioner

With coupons we can snag really cheap shampoo and conditioner . . . but how about making your own shampoo and conditioner that works well, AND doesn’t have any chemicals that can hurt you or your family? Here are a couple of really quick and easy recipes to make your own shampoo and conditioner. These are super cheap to make, and are good for us. I have been using this conditioner recipe for about a year now, and I love it!

It’s hard to put a price on good hair.  It’s still harder to put an affordable price on good hair.  These DIY shampoo and conditioner recipes, however, will have you sold.

DIY Shampoo (and Body Soap!)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap

Mix the ingredients together in an empty bottle and shake before use.  It’s watery, but its lathering capabilities will surprise you; try flipping your hair over your head in the shower and applying directly to your scalp so it doesn’t just run down your neck.  Lather, wash out, and follow with DIY hair conditioner.

In the past, I’ve recommended adding essential oils like jojoba for dry hair and tea tree oil for oily or thick hair.  While you can do this, a thriftier option is to simply purchase a large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap in a selected scent.  Dr. Bronner’s soaps are fair-trade, organic, and vegetable-based (so totally guilt-free) and come in 8 scents, each infused with different essential oils.  Because lavender and tea tree oil are natural antiseptics, they’ll help de-grease an extra grungy scalp (especially if you use a lot of hair products).  Meanwhile, the eucalyptus and peppermint varieties do the best jobs at clearing sinuses, so stock up now in preparation for springtime pollen!

DIY Hair Conditioner

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar

Vinegar?  In my hair?  The initial thought (and smell) might be overwhelming, but consider the cost of vinegar (which you’ll dilute) versus the cost of a decent hair conditioner.  Moreover, this conditioner doesn’t come with a bottle full of parabens or eco-toxins, not to mention oily chemicals that might give you body acne. (Note from Rene: I was really worried about the smell the first couple of times that I used it, but I just count to 60 each time that I rinse, and I can’t smell it at all afterwards.)

Apple cider vinegar is actually a very effective anti-dandruff remedy as well as a painless detangler.  It also balances the pH of your scalp so it’s not too greasy or dry (you can even use it in this diluted form as a facial toner).   And don’t worry—the smell goes away as soon as you wash it out.  By the time it dries, enjoy stink-free, shiny locks worthy of a salon ad.

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Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching business management scholarships as well as business school scholarships. Whenever she gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.


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