DIY: Aromatherapy vapor rub

One of the joys of having a big(ger than most) family is that when one gets sick, we all get sick, and it lasts a good week at least! We’re fresh off the latest sickness, which seemed to be just a very nasty cold, and thankfully my husband and I seemed to get the worst of it. It’s hard to see your babies miserably sick, especially when you can’t do much for it.

I can deal with just about any illness, but a cold really gets me, mostly because I can’t just take something and keep going. I’m a difficult patient in that I like to take something to help with the symptoms and not stop. In fact, the few weeks of bed rest that I had with my last pregnancy were some of the worst I can remember. I’ll take needles, and even childbirth, any day over the agony of long-term forced ‘rest’.

Anyway, the only relief that I can find when I have a cold is in aromatherapy. Along with a box of lotioned tissues, my sinus bath and my vapor rub are my only relief during a cold. With this last bout, I found a way to make my own vapor rub, and it’s so easy!!!! In fact, I think these may find their way into the Christmas presents (close friends, FORGET that part!).

Basically you use petroleum jelly and essential oils and THAT’S IT! The cost of the essential oils is a little steep up-front, but you use so little for something like this, and you can make so many things with it! I’m researching other ways to use it right now, especially since I’m on this DIY kick, but I wanted to share the recipe I found for the vapor rub! Feel free to try it and I swear, it works so much better than most of the cold medicine out there!

Busy Bags

Inspired by this, I sat down last night and started making ‘busy bags’ or bags of activities for kids. I started with this, and ended up with this:

Some of them are really simple little activities (like the ‘Body and Blood’ bag with foam cutouts of a cup and a few Eucharists to pretend with) and some are more complex. I put together make-your-own rosary kits, a bag with various fruits and vegetables to group and sort, make-your-own pizza kits, make-your-own cupcakes kits, fall leaves to make a thanksgiving craft, and green leaves to make a family tree craft. I also drew letters on the sides of the noodle pieces so that they can be strung in alphabetic order. I think I’m going to make a couple of other varieties as well, but I’m not exactly sure what I want to do yet.

Basically I cut up every piece of foam that I had in and around the house and ended up with some fun little activities! I’m so excited and I hope that they kids will like them as much as I think they will. For me, the challenge of doing fun stuff like this is the lack of planning. I want to do it but the day just gets away from me and I can’t do any of the prep work when they’re all awake and wrestling each other and I need to cook dinner!

I have a few more ideas that I’ve found online that I want to do, but I need to make a Wal-Mart trip for those!

I think my ideas started when MoneySavingMom posted about participating in a Busy Bag Swap a couple of months ago. I looked into it and was about to sign up for it when I realized the cost would be upwards of $60. I just couldn’t do it! Now, that would include 30 bags, which is great, but I just made 14 individual bags last night for my kids and it was all from things that I already had that cost about $2 to begin with, and it took an hour or two! It was totally worth the time, especially since some of them will be good for quiet church-attending activities!

Maybe eventually I’ll be inspired to organize a local swap to cut out most of the cost of a long-distance swap (since half of the cost was for shipping).

DIY Monday: Butterbeer

If you’re a fan of the very popular Harry Potter books, you’ve been hearing about all the delicious treats available on the Hogwarts train and elsewhere. Personally, I’ve always been wondering about the Pumpkin Pasties, Chocolate Frogs, and the Butterbeers! I especially want to try the butterbeers!!

Here are the top ten recipes for butterbeers. I think the first two are especially appealing and sound like my idea of a butterbeer. It also looks like a nice little treat for kids to enjoy!

DIY: faux wrought iron

I cannot tell you how much I love this! As soon as I collect enough toilet paper rolls, I am SO doing this! I was just thinking that I wanted some scrollwork to replace some of our older pictures, but it’s just so expensive! Doesn’t it look great?!

DIY: Marker Jump Rope

This is such an awesome idea! We haven’t quite gotten into the markers thing since this:

but I’m sure I won’t be able to keep them away for much longer! I am so impressed with this idea and what a great way to take something that’s just trash and use it for something really cool!

If you have a lot of old markers laying around, consider making a jump rope out of them!

DIY: Make your own liquid hand soap

Liquid hand soap is very expensive, especially compared to bars of soap, but, I have to admit, I hate the bars! There’s just no comparison, and I love the liquid soap! Lately, I’ve been using all the free bodywash in our soap dispensers, and it’s worked very well! I’ve always wanted to try making my own though, and Savvy Housekeeping did an excellent post about just that thing!

It seems like a fairly easy thing to do, and you can use those cheap bars of soap to do it! Like anything that you make yourself, it takes a little bit of effort, but you’ll have enough to last a very long time!

Since we’ve been using the free bodywash, I don’t think we’ll be out of liquid soap for quite a while, but I may try this using some essential oils for a nice little treat, maybe even as Christmas presents!

DIY: Papercrete blocks

Now, I have never tried this, and I’m not sure how it would actually work long-term, but I am intrigued!!

Papercrete blocks are made using a paper pulp mixture and adding sand, earth and cement. Apparently it’s cheap, light-weight, and works well for building many kinds of structures in many areas of the country. Disclaimer: I have never tried it and I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be building an entire living structure out of it, but I’m thinking it could be a very inexpensive greenhouse! If nothing else, reading about it will amaze you!!

Go HERE to learn about the actual process of making the papercrete, and be sure to check THIS out! This is an actual house made, in part, with papercrete blocks! The effect is quite beautiful actually, and it’s amazing that it was made with paper and dirt!

DIY Monday: Vanilla Extract

Real vanilla extract is quite expensive, but you can make it yourself! I thought about making it last year and giving it out as Christmas presents, but I read that it really needs 6 months to turn out really good, and I didn’t start soon enough! But, we have 7 months till Christmas, so now is a good time to start a batch!

Basically, all you need to make your own vanilla extract is vanilla beans, vodka, and a jar to put it in! You can order vanilla beans on Amazon for about $1 per bean, (or less HERE if you buy more than a few) and I’m not sure how much vodka is (it’s not sold in Publix or CVS ;)), but you can use the cheapest kind for this and it works just as well.

Split the beans (about 1-2 per cup of vodka) and put them in the bottle, completely covered by vodka. That’s it! Time is the only other thing you need! In fact, after it’s been ‘cooking’ for a few months, you can leave the beans in and top it off with plain vodka to keep it going. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor, so topping it off with some additional vodka won’t dillute it at all! You may have to add a fresh bean eventually, but not for a very long time!

The hardest part may be finding the jars!

DIY Monday: Zucchini Bread

I blogged about baking all the zucchini bread last week, and my kids LOVE can’t get enough of it! It’s a good thing I ended up with eight loaves, because they’ve eaten three already and I have a feeling the remaining ones in the freezer won’t last long.

For this week’s DIY Monday, I wanted to share the recipe I used. I got it from All Recipes and made a couple of changes. We don’t like nuts, so we omitted those and, instead, added 1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips (because everything’s better with chocolate!). I also only used half the cinnamon. After eating them, I think that I’d switch out half of the oil for applesauce, just to make them a little better for you! One cup of vegetable oil is a LOT of fat! Also, the recipe said it yielded two loaves, but we like big loaves, so it’s about 1 1/2, so if you double the recipe, expect three loaves!

Enjoy! We sure did!!!

DIY Monday: Homemade bubble solution

My kids love bubbles, what kid doesn’t really? But, no matter how hard I try, the bottle is empty almost as soon as it’s handed over. Usually my sidewalk sees more of the bubbles than we do!

Homemade bubbles are cheap, easy to make, and much better than most of the cheaper bubbles you can buy in stores!

3 cups water
1 cup dish soap
1/4 cup corn syrup

There are other bubble recipes that include glycerin, but it’s harder to find and more expensive than the ingredients in this recipe! Just put this one in an old white vinegar or milk container for easy storage and fill the other bubble containers as needed!