Archive for the ‘frugal living’ Category

The girls are getting ready for showing projects and doing a demonstration at the County Fair this year.  Sophia’s demonstration is about different ways that herbs can be used.  She will show that one of the ways herbs are used is with personal care products. 

In preparation for her demonstration, we made homemade herbal shampoo using herbs from our garden as well as dried herbs and flowers from the co-op.  All the herbs and flowers are organically grown. 


You’ll need:

• Basic plain shampoo or castile soap (we used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby Soap – liquid form)
• Glycerin
• Your favorite herbs (fresh or dried)
• An empty bottle (about 20 ounces – we used 16 ounces and had some extra shampoo leftover)

For the herbs, you will need either:
1/4-1/2 cup of dried herbs
1/2-2/3 cup fresh herbs

You can also add a few tablespoons of dried citrus zest to the mixture as well.

The amount you use depends on how strong you like your herbal shampoo to smell. Some herbs have a stronger smell than others do, so you might need just a small amount of one herb while needing a larger amount of another.

Sophia measuring fresh rosemary.

Note:  For one batch of shampoo, we used 1/4 cup dried lavender and 1/4 cup dried rose buds.  For the other shampoo, we used 1/3 cup fresh rosemary and 1/3 cup fresh mint. 


Mix the herbs with 2 cups of water in a pot on the stove and heat without boiling for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Let the herbs steep for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stirring lavender and rose buds.


You can either strain the herbs from the water, and move on to the next step, or you can put the water and herb mixture in a blender to reduce the size of the chunks of herbs and leave them in your shampoo. It is all a matter of preference. (I strained the herbs and flowers from the water.  A few pieces snuck into the water, but not many.)

Straining the water from the rosemary and mint
after steeping the herbs for 30 minutes.


Add 1 cup of basic unscented shampoo or castile soap to the scented water and stir or whisk gently.

Stirring castile soap into the scented water.


Add 1 cup of glycerin to the mixture and stir or whisk well.

Pouring glycerine into shampoo.


Pour your homemade herbal shampoo into a bottle and enjoy!

Sophia pouring shampoo into a bottle
while I hold the funnel.
The lavender-rose shampoo turned out much darker than the rosemary-mint shampoo.  Both smell equally strong, so there doesn’t seem to be a difference whether we used dry or fresh herbs. 
However, there is something to be said for being able to go to your garden and pick what you want your shampoo to smell like…without all the chemicals that store-bought shampoos have in them.

The girls worked together to
fill Olivia’s bottle of shampoo.

The girls are so excited to use the shampoo, and each likes the scent of shampoo that they made.


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In the September 15, 2009, issue of Woman’s Day, there were some ideas for cleaning for less money.  Some of the ideas included:

Air Freshener:  Put some drops of essential oil in a saucepan of water.  Just boil a little and then let simmer for a bit.  The aroma will go through the house.

Pan of water and three essential oils.

I combined ten drops each of three essential oils:  mandarin, ravensara, and bergamot.  After bringing the water to almost a boil, I simmered for about a half an hour.  The house smelled wonderful.  What I liked about this is that there were no chemicals or artifical smells…only water and essential oils.

Water with essential oils simmering on the stove.

Window and Glass Cleaner:  Put 1 part ammonia, 3 parts water, and a dot of dishwashing soap in a spray bottle.

Although this may be a frugal household cleaner, the ammonia (even in its 1:3 ratio) is not something I want to use in my home. 

According to New York’s Department of Health, “Ammonia is irritating and corrosive….Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.  Children exposed to the same concentrations of ammonia vapor as adults may receive a larger dose because they have greater lung surface area-to-body weight ratios and increased minute volumes-to-weight ratios.

“In addition, they may be exposed to higher concentrations than adults in the same location because of their shorter height and the higher concentrations of ammonia vapor initially found near the ground.

“Exposure to low concentrations of ammonia in air or solution may produce rapid skin or eye irritation.”

So, I looked for an alternative natural window and mirror cleaner, and found several that use vinegar as a base instead. 

Ingredients for Homemade Window Cleaner:
Vinegar, Essential Oils, Water, and Empty Spray Bottle.

Combining these recipes, I came up with my own for cleaning windows and mirrors:

1/2 cup of vinegar
12 drops rosemary essential oil
12 drops peppermint essential oil

Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar into a spray bottle and fill it within a couple of inches from the top with water. Add the essential oils.  Place the top on the bottle and gently shake it. 

To use, spray it on the surface (window or mirror). Rub it with a lint-free rag.  (Note: Test a small area of your mirror or window before cleaning the entire surface.)

Initially, I didn’t shake the essential oils to distribute them throughout the bottle, so the only thing that was spraying onto the windows was vinegar.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant smell. 

I shook the bottle a bit, and then sprayed it on a window.  What a difference!  The smell of peppermint and rosemary filled the area I was working in.  It was such a refreshing change from the lavender-scented window cleaner I’ve been using. Even though it’s an all-natural cleaner, it is nice to have a different scent that I like when I clean the home.

Clean windows…without any chemicals!

The last product I made wasn’t in Woman’s Day, it was one that I saw on the internet that I wanted to try.  It’s for homemade laundry detergent. 

Ingredients for homemade laundry soap.

1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup Washing Soda (this is not baking soda…washing soda is found in the laundry aisle)
1 cup Borax

Finely grate the bar of Fels Naptha Soap so that you have two cups total. 

Grating Fels Naptha Sopa.

Mix the ingredients well and store in an airtight plastic container.  Use two tablespoons per full load.

Homemade laundry soap.

There’s another homemade laundry detergent that I’m going to make that doesn’t use Fels Naptha Soap, that is more eco-friendly.  This recipe comes from HERE; and makes approximately five cups: 

2 cups (finely) grated castile soap (e.g., Dr. Bronner’s lavender)
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda
10 drops lavender essential oil (or blend of essential oils of your choice)

Mix all the ingredients together. Store in airtight container like a mason jar or glass canister. Start with about 1/8 a cup per load and go from there. You may need to give the jar a shake or a stir once in a while to prevent the soap flakes from settling to the bottom. Recipe doubles well.

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