Tag Archives: DIY

Journey Journal: Days 159-161

Days 159: Saturday, June 8, 2013

This weekend was all about replacing the soffits and facia on the house. Here’s a picture of Bryan and his dad and brother Chad working:


On top of that, I worked through the night Friday night with some visa issues (had to be up at the same time as the other side of the world)…so…to pass the time, I decided to try this GF DF Donut Recipe. I’m not sure I agree with the “pillowy soft, fluffy” part of the description, but overall they turned out okay.

The first step (proofing the yeast) smelled right, but as soon as I added the GF flour, it just smelled weird to me (maybe it’s because I used the Bob’s Mill brand?). It rose fine overnight, but I needed a good bit of extra “flour” to roll/cut out on Saturday morning. I couldn’t get the center donut hole cut out because they were a bit too sticky, so I made some larger and some smaller circles.

While waiting for the donuts to rise, I made cooked up some bacon and eggs and tossed together a mango, peach, and kiwi fruit salad…and pressed some good Columbian coffee! (I definitely needed it after going to bed at 1, getting up at 3, 5, and then 7.) Meanwhile, the donuts¬†rose again just fine, but not as much as regular flour donuts.

Time to fry, but it took a lot of oil to fry. My canola oil didn’t smell right (I must have fried something in it before). So, I used olive oil. The larger “donuts” turned out mostly like fried biscuits. They seemed to soak up oil more than regular doughnuts, so they were kind of greasy and more like grainy funnel cake. I ran out of olive oil and tried a few in some Crisco I had hanging around (I do not recommend that). When that soaked up, I added the leftover bacon fat from breakfast and fried up the little donuts–those were actually the best ones.

This is a very time consuming recipe, and I will probably not take the time to make these again. My brother in law said, “GF DF donuts are pretty good! It’s like I said… you just need something to carry the grease and sugar.” ūüôā¬†For the record–my GF friends LOVED them…and I admit they were much better the next day! If you make these though, don’t just drizzle the icing…triple the icing recipe and actually glaze them.¬†I think if I ever make them again, I’ll just spray a griddle with cooking spray and fry them up like pancakes…since that’s basically what they turned out like.

While I was working on the donuts, I also started lunch for the guys: Carnitas, Black Beans, and Yellow Rice. I doubled the recipe for the pork and used canned black beans and just added spices instead of making them from scratch. Served with corn tortillas and fresh lime wedges. Yum! Really hit the spot for the guys after working so hard all morning.

After lunch, I went outside and helped in the yard for a bit. We worked till about sundown. Thank goodness for the boom lift or we would not have gotten done in time. For dinner, we had more carnitas and rice with lime. So good! Then headed to bed very exhausted! We definitely burned a lot of calories!

They got the top of the house finished today–will have to finish the porches’ soffits and facia tomorrow. Here’s a sort of “before-and-after” picture (bottom is the old green; top is the new bright white).


Day 160: Sunday, June 9, 2013

Up at 6. Breakfast by 7, then back in the yard. Stopped around 10 to get ready and head to church. One thing God reminded me of this weekend was that (like a house) it is best to work on the root problems instead of just covering them up (i.e., deal with sin directly, confess it, repent, and follow God instead of just masking our problems and “looking good” on the outside). Even home repairs can point us to God if we allow them to. Another lunch of carnitas on corn tortillas. This time we served them with baked sweet potatoes and stewed cabbage. After lunch, we were in and out of the house (between rain showers) to finish the job before having to return the lift. So thankful for Bryan, his dad, and his brother Chad for doing this major project! It was hard work but so much fun to see the guys working together again…and doing it ourselves allowed us to save over $1000 on this much needed repair. Here’s a picture of working in the rain:


Stopped for a bit around 3:30 for coffee with my friend Shannah. So thankful for her testimony of God’s grace and growth. For dinner, Bryan made up some beef curry–our new comfort food.

Day 161: Monday, June 10, 2013

Very tired waking up this morning, but got up around 6:30 because we had to take the car to the shop for a recall–at least that was free. Bryan dropped me off at work. On the way, we swung by Publix for breakfast. I grabbed hummus, baby carrots, two bananas (and a yogurt for him, since he’s not doing the dairy-free part). Hit the ground running at the office…with a cup of coffee, fortunately. Got our database project finalized! (Praise the Lord I had/got to learn SQL last year with my previous job! It was literally the key to making this project work.) Making great progress on this week’s events: Pastors’ Conference on Friday and FX-VB on Saturday–hoping to assemble the packets tomorrow! Picked up the car and came home for a dinner of fried eggs and leftover rotisserie chicken and steamed spinach over some leftover grits. Watched parts of a couple episodes of “The Chew” (a cooking talk show). We discovered our favorite new snack is Gluten-Free Honey Nut Chex. So yummy!

Homemade All-Natural Burn Remedy: Three Ingredients

This week, while I was baking bread, I made a classic mistake: I forgot that the lid of the casserole dish had preheated in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes! Ouch! ¬†I pulled the dish and lid out of the preheated oven with my oven mitts, took the lid off, took my mitts off, put the bread in the dish, grabbed the lid, and promptly dropped it on the open oven door. Fortunately, neither shattered. I hardly had it in my hand, and it didn’t hurt that badly, so I put my mitts back on, covered the dish and put it back in the oven. As soon as I closed the oven door, it hit me! Ai yai yai!

I immediately put my right hand under running cold water. My laptop was already in the kitchen for looking up the bread recipe, so I attempted to type with my left hand, researching ways to treat burns. I had heard you shouldn’t use burn cream the first 24 hours after a burn (it locks in the heat instead of treating the sub-dermal layers). There were mixed reviews on things like butter and ice, so I avoided those too. After 20-30 minutes of cold water on my hand, I attempted one remedy that suggested dipping the burn in vanilla extract. That did nothing but make my hand smell good. It still felt like it was burning (though I’m told that’s pain receptors, not heat receptors, so I took some Tylenol to alleviate the pain). Yes, I know Tylenol isn’t all-natural, but we’re getting there.

That night, I couldn’t really do anything else with my hand, so Bryan helped me finish the bread, and I wrapped an ice pack with a kitchen towel and stuck my hand between that and my pillow overnight. It felt a little better in the morning, but it still looked like it might blister and was very sensitive. I used some aloe, and then put on bandaids (to prevent infection, just in case it did blister), and went to work.

One of the ladies at work suggested¬†EarthClinic.com, which is a great all-natural remedy resource, as well as BurnJel, an over-the-counter burn cream with tea tree oil in it. That got me thinking. So I mixed together about 2 tablespoons of aloe vera and a teaspoon of tea tree oil, and then added about 2 tablespoons of Curel Oatmeal Lavender lotion, so it could permeate the skin and heal the deeper layers instead of only relieving the topical problems. The next day, there was no blister, no pain, and I could barely tell I’d been burned. It was amazing! I only treated in the morning and evening for two days, and now it looks back to normal. Praise the Lord!

Another Baby Shower: It’s A Girl!

Recently, a small group of friends gathered together to celebrate the upcoming birth of a precious baby girl. It seems like most of the baby showers I’ve been to or coordinated recently have been for boys, so this was a fun change of theme (and color scheme). We went with pink, green, and yellow. I loved hanging streamers and I was able to use some extra flowers from the wedding I did the weekend before to help decorate the house.

Guest of Honor Jan in the back, accompanied by the co-hosts Annie and Shana.

It was a co-hosted party that was held at my house. We made our classic mashed potato bar (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and all the fixin’s served in martini glasses, just because it looks cool), and Bryan cooked up some chicken tenders to slice for some added protein for the ladies. (He then quickly vacated the house so as not to be overrun by females. Bless his heart.) Annie brought a veggie tray and pretzel salad, and Shana handled dessert–cupcakes and raspberry almond brownies. Everything was so good!

Mashed Potato Bar (cheese, olives, onions, bacon, and sour cream for the regular mashed potatoes; butter for both; and brown sugar and crushed pecans for the mashed sweet potatoes) and Grilled Chicken Slices

Veggie Tray and Pretzel Salad (sweet and salty combo with pineapple)

Dessert is served!

Don’t worry, the coffee was decaf.

We started with prayer and food, followed by plenty of conversation and gifts. Jan already has an adorable little boy, so she has the basics, and requested mostly girl clothes and diapers for this shower.

Big brother wants to know what his little sister is getting!

Andrea brought her son, who was a huge help in keeping Jan’s little boy entertained while the ladies caught up.

We concluded the evening with everyone creating a custom headband for baby girl! The first couple of minutes several of the guests weren’t sure where to start, but after seeing a couple tips and tricks, they all jumped right in and came up with some pretty unique fashion pieces for this little lady to crawl in style.

Craft time! I bought 10 sheets of felt, 2 rolls of stretch elastic headband ribbon, and 3 pre-made baby headbands in thinner elastic ribbon, plus some buttons and hair clips to hold flowers and other items onto the headbands for mix-and-match style. Not shown: scissors, hot glue gun, needles and thread.

Even Jennaca got her craft on! You go, girl!

The finished products! Jan was so excited!

The idea for the headbands came from MondoMom.com.

DIY Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Scoop seeds and strings out of fresh pumpkin using a sturdy ice cream scoop.

Place what you just scooped out of the pumpkin into a strainer. Use running water to help rinse and separate seeds from stringy portion of pumpkin. (I used my right hand to pull the seeds and my left hand to discard the flesh. This was actually very easy with the running water! I used to think roasting pumpkin seeds wasn't worth it, but this took hardly any time at all. I will do this again!)

Rinse pumpkin seeds and discard or compost stringy portion of pumpkin. Let seeds drain in strainer or pat dry with paper towel.

Place in single layer on rimmed baking sheet with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce, and a generous sprinkling of garlic salt. Roast at 275F, stirring every 10 minutes or so. May take 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how well your seeds were dried. (You could also dry roast with just sea salt using the same method - no oil or sauce necessary. Or try it sweet with some brown sugar and cinnamon.)

Cool seeds on parchment or wax paper. Store in sealed container in a dry place. Enjoy!

DIY All-Natural Dish Detergent

Picture from New Nostalgia (click on picture for alternate recipe for DIY Dish Detergent by Amy)


  • 1 c. Arm & Hammer All-Natural Baking Soda (or Washing Soda)
  • 1 c. All-Natural Borax
  • 1 Tbsp. dried orange peel (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix the above ingredients together until evenly distributed. You can do this in a gallon ziploc bag or your mixer. Store in a pint size jar.

TO USE: For wash cycle, use 3-4 tsp. of the above mixture in the same place you would put your liquid detergent. Fill the rinse cycle with white vinegar.

TIPS:¬† 1)¬†I use the dried orange peel because citric acid is also a natural cleanser and it helps me know if the mixture is evenly mixed. 2)¬†Add lemon and/or lime juice to the pre-wash cycle, if desired. 3)¬†White vinegar also works well to clean your dish washer. Just throw a cup in the bottom of the washer and run a short cycle. 4) As a final tip, it’s always best to rinse your dishes prior to loading your dishwasher.

For an all-natural anti-microbial spray and an all-natural disinfecting spray, check out Frugally Sustainable’s post here.

Recipe: DIY All-Natural Deodorant

Along my journey towards a simpler, healthier lifestyle, I started coming across articles about health and beauty products that weren’t so healthy for you! So many of them have added chemicals, like aluminum in deodorants, for example.

A few months back, I started making my own laundry detergent to avoid the extra chemicals (and save some cash).¬†Last month, I started making my own deodorant. It’s so easy and it really does work! I wanted to test it for a while before I shared the recipe, to make sure it worked, thus the delay in posting this. But, I assure you, it does work and has no hidden chemicals or unnatural elements! And it’s cheaper than buying an all-natural deodorant in the store.

Note, however, that this is NOT an antiperspirant; it’s simply a deodorant. God gave us sweat glands as a built-in mechanism to cool us down and release toxins from our bodies, so I’m not a big fan of antiperspirants, unless you have over-productive sweat glands, of course.


  • 1/3 c. organic coconut oil (I used Spectrum brand)
  • 1/4 c. all-natural baking soda (I used Arm & Hammer)
  • 1/4 c. all-natural cornstarch (I used Cream 100% Pure brand)
  • 30 drops lavender essential oil (natural anti-fungal)
  • 30 drop tea tree essential oil (natural anti-bacterial)
Cream all the ingredients together in your mixer and store in a jar. It works best if you store it in a cool, dark place (like under your bathroom counter) so the oil doesn’t melt. I simply use my finger and rub about 1/4 tsp. under each arm in the morning ¬†(you could clean out an old deodorant stick and refill it if you don’t want to use your hands). It lasts all day and smells great!

Do you have a favorite natural beauty product recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Theme: God’s Faithfulness

I’m doing a little research on God’s Faithfulness (hence, the latest post on Learning from Elisabeth Elliot). I’m in charge of decorations for an upcoming Mercy Ministry Dinner for some ladies in our church and I want to make the decor match the theme of the evening: God’s Faithfulness.

I’m still playing with several ideas. Here’s what I have so far:

  • “Great is Thy Faithfulness” sheet music cut into pendants and sewn into banners as table runners

  • Fresh flowers (violets, irises and rosemary symbolize faithfulness)

from BHG.com

  • Maybe incorporating tea cups as vases

from Midwest Living

from KatieBrownBlog.com

  • Candlescapes
  • Rocks that say “Faith” on them (is that cheezy?)
  • Egg theme, since we’re close to Easter

from BHG.com

  • Cross decor?
  • Rainbows (or scattered crystals that would create rainbows when hit with light)
  • The colors white and silver can be symbolic of faith
  • “Fruit of the Spirit” route, decorating with fresh or artificial fruit arrangements (maybe a pear or apple with a ribbon tied to the stem with a card that says “Faithfulness” in a pretty font (like Zapfino)

from BHG.com

  • “Faith as a grain of mustard seed” concept?

from Midwest Living

A secondary theme is Amy Carmichael, so I’ve thought about the following:

  • Adding some of her quotes scattered on the table
  • Adding some of her quotes as part of a decoupage placemat

  • Adding some of her quotes into the “Great is Thy Faithfulness” banner idea

Here are some other ideas I like:

from Southern Living

from BHG.com

from BHG.com

from BHG.com

I also have to keep in mind that they’ll be using white china with gold trim for the place settings, so I can’t be too informal. I want to use bright spring colors. Oh, and I have a budget of $100 for 20 tables. Any ideas?!

DIY Lavender and Honeysuckle Laundry Detergent

I’ve been reading up on various recipes and tips for saving some money and making my own laundry detergent. Here’s what I came up with for my first attempt:

100% Natural Ingredients: 2 bars of Clearly Natural Honeysuckle Glycerin Soap (yield: 4 c. grated), 2 c. All Natural Borax and 2 c. All Natural Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (both found in your laundry detergent aisle at your local grocery store),  30 drops lavender essential oil. (Note: This is WAY cheaper than normal laundry detergent!)
Grate the soap. I started with a box grater, but it took a while, so I used my food processor to start and finished with the box grater. Measure Borax and Washing Soda.
I poured too much Borax. Hint: Use a flexible funnel if you do this.
Mix all ingredients together (you can use your hands if you want). Add 30 drops of lavender essential oil. Optional: add 1-2 c. OxiClean at this point.

Seal in a labeled, air-tight container. Use 2 Tbsp. per load. (Optional: add up to 1/2 c. white vinegar in rinse cycle for natural fabric softener.)

Here are some more websites with other Homemade Laundry Detergent recipes:





What’s up next? Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Wash: Equal parts Borax and Baking Soda (NOT Washing Soda; 1-2 Tbsp. each)

Rinse: white vinegar (+ lemon juice), optional

Yep, it’s that simple.

DIY Valentines – for the Frugal at Heart

These adorable Valentine Stickers are a free printable download from Twig & Thistle. What a great way to tell your spouse or kids you love them by sticking these in their lunch boxes!

Naturally Sweet Valentines from Twig & Thistle

This next DIY Valentine is every bit as sweet as the last, but probably not as good for you. Homemade Lollipops from Crafting a Green World blog.

Click image for recipe

Here’s a simple one from Martha Stewart: Valentine Sun Catchers made from recycled crayons.

Click the picture for instructions from Martha!

Or how about these ideas made from felt from Crafting a Green World:

Click for instructions.

Now here's some conversation hearts that last and won't rot your teeth!

These hand stitched felt envelopes are adorable!

Or from Going Home to Roost:

Valentine's iPod Case!

Valentine's Banner - Create your own message!

How about these adorable gifts:

Or how about these matchbox valentines filled with your favorite candy! What a great idea for kids to share with their classmates!

Here’s another favorite: Heart Garland from Going Home to Roost:

So cute! You could make this simple or elaborate and hang in the kitchen or on a mirror.

If nothing else, there’s always the handmade card or homemade coupon booklet (coupons for free dinner out, free babysitting, free back massage, or whatever your Valentine loves). Happy Valentine’s Day!

Make Your Own Nut Butter!

I came across this video earlier today and just had to share it! Stop spending $9-12 for a tiny jar of almond butter! Buy your nuts in bulk and make it yourself! This one adds a drizzle of honey and a dash of salt.