Monday, December 23, 2013

DIY Organic Buckwheat Pillow

I have been searching for a comfortable pillow for a few years now. Each time I find a new type of pillow I get discouraged.  Have you seen the prices of these pillows? From down to foam shaped these things can cost you anywhere from $30-$100 or more. Really hard to commit to buying something that you may or may not be comfortable with.  It wasn't until I stumbled upon a bag of organic buckwheat that I thought I might be able to afford such a luxury pillow.  Here's what I ended up doing.

DIY Organic Buckwheat Husk Pillow

What you will need:

Sewing machine or needle and thread

Pillowcase the size you like to sleep with. A thicker cotton one would work best. Use one you have already to save you money.   To make this easier you can buy a zippered pillowcase and simply fill it.  But this will add more cost to this project. 

6-7 bags of organic buckwheat husk. Found mine at Natural Grocers for a little over a buck a bag. Really would love to find them plastic free but this will have to do.

Dried lavender is optional. I grew my own and dried it just for this purpose.

Directions: Sew your pillowcase shut except for about 2-3 inches.  Fill the pillowcase with your buckwheat husk. Remember to add any herbs you would like into it before sewing it shut.  No stems so they don't poke through the pillowcase. I would test your pillow a few times to make sure you have just enough buckwheat husk and not too much.  You will want a little wiggle room to adjust the pillow as you would any pillow. To get the husk into the pillow I made a funnel out of paper and taped it so it wouldn't fall out. Once filled just simply sew the pillowcase shut.  

This pillowcase should last you over 10 years of use.  If it needs more husk simply take a seam ripper to it and add more.  Then simply sew it shut again.  Or if you are using a zippered pillowcase simply unzip and add as much as you want then zip it back up.  

If you need a "How To" video good old Martha has some here.  

Why even use a buckwheat husk pillow?
Buckwheat husk support your head and neck during the night.  Your weight of your head doesn't squeeze the air from the husk and the height of your head doesn't change at all.  No more neck pain or waking up to adjust your pillow.  Buckwheat hulls are temperate.  That means they do not take on heat or cold.  

This project cost me maybe $10.00 to make. I used a pillowcase I already owned that I know has never been exposed to bleach or chemicals.  Ive slept on it so many times so I know its comfortable.  I also grew, picked and dried my own lavender.  You can find dried lavender in the bulk tea section now days but will also add to the cost of this project.  You probably could save on the buckwheat husk by finding some non organic but these are the only ones I have ever seen where I live.  I'm willing to pay the cost for organic because I will be sleeping on this each and every single night.  

Note:Ive yet to sleep on this so I cannot tell you whether its comfortable or not. But I will update as soon as I test this out.  Peace

UPDATE: 1/01/14
Ive been sleeping with this pillow for a week now and so far I'm loving it.  I thought for sure I would hear a crunchy sound but nope. Well I should say only when I move the pillow around with my hand.  I added lavender to mine and get a lovely light smell of it each night.  Other than being crazy heavy I can't think of a negative thing about it. I'm forever changed by this pillow. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Green Review-Pumpkin Doodle It's Hip To Be Green Shirt

I'm a sucker for a shirt with a message.  I even have them made for myself.  My favorite shirt I ever made for myself says "I'm Green Suck It! ". It gets my point across which is my favorite part.  But look at this shirt. Seriously cute! Brown is a favorite color of mine and frankly it really is hip to be green.  

Lucky me Lisa from Pumpkin Doodle gave me one of my very own for free.   Lucky lucky girl! All I had to do was review it.  Lucky for them I love reviewing products for Eco friendly companies.  

Details:  This ultra fine combed jersey is fitted to a stylish look.  Don't you hate when you order a shirt and when it comes you realize its a unisex fit? Because you know when it says "unisex" it really means little boy fit. And there is nothing cute about that except for when a little boy wears it.  Well this one is the perfect fit for any woman. Super soft and I just love the green. 

Ive been wearing it for a few weeks now.  A few people have asked me where I bought it which I shared with them.  Ive had many "Cute shirt!" and even a "That shirts awesome.".  See why I love shirts with a message? I LOVE THIS SHIRT!!!!! This shirt also comes in chocolate(brown), pink, hot pink and purple. I'm kind of a plain Jane so black is good for me. But hey if you like to be out there then go ahead and get one of their beautiful colored ones. The lettering is smooth which is a bonus if you ask me. You know those shirts with lettering that are old and peeling off? No issues with that on this shirt. 

Shirt retails for $30 which is a great price. Have you seen the prices on shirts these days? I mean really. $100 for a cotton shirt.  $100? Your crazy.  $30 is a grew price and this shirt would make a perfect gift to your Eco chic friend or family member. 

But wait…it doesn't end here! If you order within 10 minutes I'll throw in a complimentary…, no I won't.  But I will share something else cool about Pumpkin Doodle.  

They sell organic clothes, body care products, bedding, beds and even art supplies. 
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! Seriously its cold outside. 

I have set up a convenient wish list here for you to check out. Take a peek and see why I'm really loving Pumpkin Doodle. Note to family…hint hint

Organic Cotton Comforter Premium Eco Wool Filling 

Queen size please :)

Wool wrapped latex pillow

That one's for me & only me!

Yala® Women's Sophie Wrap

Light blue or mushroom size small please :)

That's not asking a lot is it? Every girl needs a wish list. Can you tell I love my bed? More importantly I love my sleep! 

Now lets talk about this amazing company.  Not only do they use green practices in their office but they also use wind powder for hosting. Cool.  They grow vegetables, use Eco friendly cleaners and not only  use non VOC paint but also reuse, recycle, repair and redesign at their office & homes. WAY cool.  They do so much more which you can read here. Now that's a green company!

Have a question? Need to contact them? Go to their contact page and ask away. Customer service is excellent! 

Don't forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Last but not least….

Peace all! 

Note:This shirt was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I'm not getting paid for any of my reviews or opinions.  If I say I like it then I really like it.  No fooling anyone here. I give my honest opinion always. I also don't review anything that comes my way. I'm very picky which is a bonus for you. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

20 Frugal But Thoughtful Gifts For Kids To Give Or Get

Don't let holiday gift giving stress you out. Here are a few ideas you use to make your little ones Christmas day even better.  I searched and searched the Internet and this is what I found.  Enjoy!

1. Bean bags-These are pretty simple to make. Just need some fabric and beans. No beans? Just use any dried food such as rice, lentils etc.  Use fabric you salvaged from something you don't wear anymore or maybe ask friends and family if they have extra fabric they want to give away.  Kids love bean bags. A friend of mine (thanks Brooke!) made my girls each a set and they continue to use them to this day. Mostly for barbie pillows.  Silly girls.

Better yet how about a lavender sachet or warmer?

2.  Crayons Upcycled.  Simply melt down crayons into candy molds.  Cool down and pop out. Perfect for toddlers!

3.  Homemade play dough is always a good gift!

4.  Fun soap. Most craft stores carry glycerin soap in 1 lb squares.  You simply cut up the soap, melt in the microwave and pour into soap bar molds. The fun part is when you add a small toy into the soap mold. Kids have to wash to get to the soap.  Have glycerin soap at home? Cut that up and melt it. This should save you some cash by using what you have.  Or if you have older kids just add some rope and make soap on a rope. Remember those? Ahhh the Avon days.

5.  Homemade bubble bath is simple to make.

6.  Bath finger paint is perfect for little ones. Heck even I would like it.

7.  Sweater Mittens take a little bit of work but could be given to any child of any age.  I think I just make myself a pair too!

8.Mason Jar Sewing Kit for someone who loves to sew. You can use a mason jar you have (or any glass jar with a wide lid) and some fabric scraps.  Need filling? Open up a old pillow you don't use and reuse the stuffing.

9.  Grippy socks for that toddler who doesn't slow down.  I made these for my oldest when she was small.  Super easy and very cheap especially if you have everything in your craft supplies anyways.

10.  Hobby Horse looks so easy to make. You should have most materials as well.  Wish this was around when my girls were younger!

11.  Felt Cookies would be a very low cost gift.  Perfect for any child who loves to play with pretend food.  Maybe a gift your little one can make for a sibling.

12.  Brown Sugar Body Scrub would be easy for any child to make for anyone any age.

13.  Gift Coupon Book that you could make for free using what you have. Instead of a metal hoop just use ribbon or string.  Super easy for kids to make these!

14.  Twig Star Ornament is something I want to make with my girls. This is such a easy thing to do and free if you have trees near you.

15.  Want to bake something?  Cookies-who doesn't love cookies???

16.  Cocoa in a mug-simply buy a $1 box of cocoa packets and put them into mugs. You can find Christmas mugs for $1 or less in thrift shops. Watch for 1/2 price tags! Or head over to a dollar tree/store and pick a few up.

17.  Write a story-Kids love to write stories so let them write it and add illustrations.  This could be a free gift idea if you use what you have.

18.  Reuse a old frame to make a new one. Kids love to glue noodles to frames then paint or color them when dry.  Add a favorite photo and done!

19.  DIY bubble bath.  Take some shampoo and pour into a small container.  You can use a mason jar and have the kids decorate the outside with a paper lane.  Add essential oils that you know they like.

20.  Sugar Hand Scrub-Get a mason jar, fill with sugar (or salt which ever you have), add olive oil and add some essential oils you think they would like. Mix well and make a label.

Now go and get creative!!! Try to reuse things and bring out the recycle bin because you never know what the kids will end up using from it.  And as always have fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eating The Savings Literally

Christmas is like tomorrow. Well not really but might as well be. I mean seriously its in 20 days. AAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Take a deep breath and read my words.  There's still hope. There's still time to save money. Phew! The easiest and fastest way to save money is on your food budget.  And no your not going to cut back and starve. Promise.  Okay lets do this.

Saving on grocery budget

Free food.  Is there such a thing? Yes there is.  Just make it known to family, friends and neighbors that you will take any surplus from their gardens.  Be sure to do the same for them when your garden is growing well.  Wild food can be foraged.  This summer I picked wild raspberries and made jelly with them.  You can barter as well!  Get creative!

Grow a garden. Don't give me the excuse you have a black thumb. Been there done that. Yep even I thought I had a black thumb. Now days you can buy plants already started and even have produce on them.  Cheapest route is to buy seeds and start them inside your home.  Don't have patience? Fine spend more on larger plants. I find that cheating but that's just me.

Seasonal foods are your best friend.  You will always save money when you buy whats in season. For example Fall means pumpkins, cinnamon, turkey and cranberries.  These things are cheaper in the Fall and make your money go way further.  I buy 3 turkeys each year and put them into my freezer.  One for Thanksgiving at my home, one for Christmas day and one for us to cook and stretch for meals.  At 99 cents a pound I can afford to buy a lot and save a lot.  Summer means cheap fresh corn.  Simply cook it half way cut off the corn and freeze in bags. Now you have corn all year long.  See where I'm going here? Oh and don't forget that pumpkins can be used as decorations until you use them.   They last months in your home! I buy lots so we can have pumpkin sausage soup for months.

Preserve everything.  Canning can be cheap if you do it right. Buy 2nd hand mason jars and new lids.  Use a large stock pot.  After ten plus years of gardening I finally have a pressure cooker.  Don't have a dehydrator? Use your oven.  You think our ancestors had them? Research old ways and do it.  Don't forget you can freeze things too!

Don't waste anything!!! Each day I make my girls lunches.  There is always fruit peelings or seeds which I give to my chickens.  Then each day my girls come home and in their lunches is always their bread crust.  To the chickens they go.  Any bones go to the dog.  Egg shells get baked till dry and mixed in my chicken feed.  Seeds from bread bags go to the chicken feed.  All vegetable scraps go in to the freezer till I have enough to make a broth. Simply boil these scraps in water for 30 minutes and you have free broth.  Bones area also made into broth.  You get the idea. Nothing goes to waste!

Keep track of prices. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can tell you exactly how much I paid for something 6 months ago. I don't get it but it works for me.  Some need to have a book with current prices of all the stores they shop at.  Whatever works for you do it.  Little bit adds up to big savings!

Bulk bulk bulk baby! Don't just go down the aisle for something you need. Hit up your bulk section to compare prices. Most the time bulk section is cheaper. But always check. Ive had to buy packaged a few times because it was cheaper.  Better yet buy a whole bag or case. Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you buy a case.  Winco sells bulk foods in 25 & 50 lb bags that are usually cheaper than just buying a few pounds.  RESEARCH! If you find a excellent sale buy as much as you possibly can. Example-I buy coconut creamer because we are dairy free. Whole Foods sells them for $4 a carton. I found them at Grocery Outlet for $1.49. WHAT?? I bought every single one of them they had and put them in my garage freezer.  Just shake well when thawed out. Looks and taste the same! Its been 6 months since I had to buy any. Woot!

Clearance can sometimes be helpful.  At my Grocery Outlet they mark things down to just sell them out.  For example-Organic coffee they sold for a few months for $5.99 a bag. That's a good deal considering regular stores sell it for $10+.  Well one day I went in and they had them marked $1.97. I snagged every single bag I could find. Now I don't have to buy coffee for at least 6 months.  What a deal! If you buy canned food some stores sell dented cans at a discount. Deli meats, cheese etc area also sold cheap before they spoil.  Remember you can freeze so many dairy products! Buy lots now and reap the savings later.

Go meatless.  Do this a few times a week and wow will you save money.  My kids don't even notice the meat is missing.  Try cutting your meat in half to start out with.  Instead of using a pound of ground beef use just a half pound.  Just do this a while then try a meatless meal.  Just remember to supplement some protein rich foods in there. Beans are a cheaper alternative to meat.

Stop buying junk. Serious. Don't just say it but do it. Have some self control.  No soda, chips, specialty coffee from shops and things like that.  If you don't buy it they won't eat it.  Instead bake things yourself. You have the power and control to keep preservatives and fat out of your life.  That's awesome power! And your bank account will thank you.

Coupons can help or not help.  Most coupons are for name brand products.  When you do the actual math most the time your paying more than the generic brands or bulk section.  Only way I will use a coupon is if its on a product I always buy. For example I buy dairy free butter.  Its $4.99 for one pound. Sometimes they have coupons and I will use them.  I don't clip them.  I don't go looking for them.  I don't plan my meals around them. You get the idea. Use them at your discretion.

Cut back or eliminate prepackaged foods.  No boxed macaroni and cheese.  No Hamburger Helpers.  No single serving foods. NOTHING. Obviously tortilla chips etc are okay because you don't' want to buy those in bulk.  Stale chips are icky.  No easy to make foods. I'm still amazed by myself sometimes when I make something that looked hard to do.  These meals are way healthier and cheaper than those easy to do ones. Trust me.

Cheap isn't always unhealthy.  You can buy carrots cheaper fresh than frozen cut up ones.  Sometimes frozen spinach is cheaper than fresh.  Compare prices and buy accordingly. If I score a good sale on shelf stable rice milk I use that to bake with instead of using my fresh flax milk. Why buy just chicken breast when you can pay half price for a whole chicken?  A little work yes but a huge amount of savings.   One great thing about grocery stores is that their is always options.

Cook from scratch.  I mean do I need to even go into detail here? Don't know how to make something? Google it.  Need to substitute for something you don't have? Google it.  Get creative!

Generic can be your friend.  I buy Whole Foods a whole case pasta sauce for $2.29 each. I get 10% off for buying the case.  Its their generic brand but its still organic.  For me name brands don't mean anything.  I'm more into what ingredients are in there, if its BPA free,if its a local company,  its GMO free and if its organic.  If its fair trade even better.  If you guy generic you will save at least 10%.  That's a guarantee.

So my friend, whose awesome now?


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Steps to a More Creative (and frugal!) You

I'm pretty frugal but not as creative as I would like to be.  I know there is always more I can do but I'm just lazy sometimes. I say that because if I was to say I am too busy then that would be an excuse.  I teach my girls to not give excuses so I'm taking my own advise.

Inspired by my favorite book The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, I have decided to try and be more creative.  Christmas is coming very soon and I need to save money where I can.  I know I'm not the only one out there so enjoy these steps Amy has outlined in her book. I have quoted from her book and added a few personal notes after each one.

Ten Steps To A More Creative You

Step 1. Realize that you are creative.  Look for it in your daily life and nature that part of yourself.

My Note-I worked at a craft store for 10 years there is no excuse why I'm not creative. Just need to implement it into my regular life.

Step 2.  Give yourself mental space, a clear field.  We tend to fill up our days with TV, car radio, reading the paper, chats with friends on the phone.  Instead do that "mindless task" in quiet time.  This type of activity dominates my life……housework, mowing the lawn, scraping paints.  Boredom never strikes, as the mental gears whirl continually.  I write only after mentally rehearsing paragraphs a dozen times.  When someone says, "I'm just not creative like you." I reply "No, I just thought about it longer."

My Note- I can honestly say I have been doing this.  Ive been watching less TV and less radio.  Lately I've had Christmas music playing on my record player and the TV turned off.  In the car I've even stopped listening to the radio.  Since I have 4 daughters my life is filled with little girl voices 24/7.  So when I'm not around them I have been enjoying the silence.  The one thing I need to work on is thinking a little more before I act.  I have a very hard time with this. Once I get something into my mind I have to do it.  Reminds me of a piece of advise someone once told me.  If you feel you need to buy something just wait 24 hours. Usually you don't actually need the item and you save yourself some money by not buying it.  Need to remember this more.

Step 3.  Never ever compare yourself to others, but rather enjoy your own innovations.  I stumble over this block working in the shadow of many award winning designers.  No matter how good I  could become there would still be someone better.  Later I realized that no matter how bad I was there was always someone worse.  Compare yourself only to yourself.  "This is how good I am today.  I am better than yesterday and I will be better tomorrow."

My Note-Ive actually never compared myself or my design to others. I am personally eclectic and so is our style.  Others prefer cookie cutter looking interior designs.  Me I prefer vintage, good quality and natural color things.  Our furniture is new but our decorations are all 2nd hand thrift shop finds.  Our kitchen table is 2nd hand but the matching chairs we salvaged from our old set and repainted.  I like our taste.  Mostly because no one else has it.  Yeah for me having one less step!

Step 4.  I use a strategy I call "putting the problem into the mental computer."  your brain functions continually, even as you sleep.  Study the parameters of your problem and then let it rest for a few days.  Very often your mental computer will spit out the solution unexpectedly as you shower or drive to work.  This works much better than trying to perform as the clock ticks away.  If you are trying to come up with a great party idea, give yourself a couple of months of mental back burner time.

My Note-This is a great step.  I find myself doing this often especially when it comes to Christmas gifts.  I have a few things and think about what to do with them.  Sometimes it takes me a week to figure something out.  Most the time I have an idea and just need to narrow it down to details.  The end result isn't at all what the beginning thought was.

Step 5.  Brainstorm.  Toss the idea around with another person.  Be flexible and say or write down every "stupid" thought that comes.  Very often another person can take your idea and add a twist that makes it great.  Jim is my brainstorming partner.  he is very good at telling me when my idea is good and I should run with it.  Sometimes something isn't working just right and he can look at it and come up with a better sentence or illustration idea.

My Note-Another step I'm pretty good at.  I talk with my husband about a project I'm working on and he usually has another good idea.  He's a honey do husband and grew up in the sticks where you have to be creative because town was too far away and a waste of gas.  You either fix it or your stuck.  I grew up very poor and my mama had to be creative when it came to food and clothing us.  This makes us a great team.  Its one thing I love about my marriage. We make such a great team.

Step 6.  Find a springboard, a starting place.  For the tightwad this usually means determining which resources are cheap or in surplus.  Build from that point.

My Note- I love this step.  Since we do 99% of everything ourselves we always have left over wood or hardware.  For example I wanted more garden beds that I could move around.  My husband had built our deck and had plenty of left over unstained wood on the side of our house.  I just used his ends and pieces to put together some small frames.  I use these in my front yard each year to grow lots of things.  They are small and only about 6 inches tall so they are easily movable.  I get bored and change my mind all the time when it comes to my garden and its design.  I took my idea and used what we had.

Step 7.  Do not share your creative ideas with anyone who continually tells you they are dumb.  This is often a spouse or parent.  Professionally I should have switched jobs until I found an art director who shared a similar creative style.  The art directors that didn't like my ideas were not more creative than me.  Often they were less creative.  Mostly it was a matter of seeing things differently.  But, the constant message that I was doing it wrong took its toll.  A mouse does not go down the same hole over and over if he fails to find the cheese.

My Note-My husband often things some of my garden ideas are not good.  In my head I know how things grow and how things will change. He doesn't because he doesn't help me with the garden.  When I roll a idea past him he sometimes doesn't agree with me. Not because he things they are dumb but he doesn't see why it matters. Since I am the gardener I know why it matters.  Our ideas clash sometimes.  So most the time I go with my own ideas and don't even talk to him about it.  Sometimes he things they look ugly but most the time he likes the ideas.  Years ago he didn't want me to garden in the front yard. Over time he has not cared and now I garden in the front yard as much as I garden in the actual garden.  It's all pretty if you ask me.

Step 8.  Practice.   As with any skill, accessing your creative ability improves the more you do it.  You will develop your own methods and strategies to fall back on when tackling new problems.

My Note-As any gardener knows its never perfect.  The more you garden the better you get.  Some plants need more sun and some need less sun.  I'm consistently changing things up to have a better outcome.  Same with my food budget.  Every once in a while I get lazy and buy things that are easier to make. I always see myself spending more money and go back to my old frugal ways.  There is always room for improvement and I never stick to the same thing. Always change things up and alter your choices.

Step 9.  Avoid negative stress.  This also tends to block creativity, as your mind focuses on that problem instead.  Try to limit contact with individuals who bring on these problems.  If it is one within your household, try to limit your reaction to their actions.

My Note- I FAIL FAIL FAIL when it comes to this step.  I'm a high stressed person naturally and need to handle it better.  For example right now its Christmas time (my favorite!!!!!) and I have all these great ideas in my head.  Just the other day I pulled all our decorations out and set aside time for the girls and I do decorate.  Well my oldest was in her room except for 5 minutes to set up her nutcrackers. My middle daughter was more interested in her iPod and my twins only wanted to play with the wooden reindeer decorations and nothing else.  I was getting upset which got them upset.  I felt like my whole day was ruined by their lack of wanting to do anything.  In my head I had this perfect idea and it didn't go as planned.  I know I need to limit myself and my ideas with them. I know its mostly me thats upset. They were just as happy to play with the wooden reindeer or with their own things than to decorate with me. I need to not have these high expectations and feel sad when they are not met.  If they are happy I should be happy.  But honestly having hot cocoa. listening to Christmas music and putting up decorations is so much fun to me!  One day I hope they feel the same way.

Step 10.  Start small.  When you bite off more than you can chew you set yourself up for failure. instead set small easily attainable goals to build a sense of success.  in subsequent projects stretch yourself to slightly more ambitious undertakings.  Sometimes as you were reading the beginning of
this place you thought, "What the heck does creativity have to do with thrifty?"  Tighwaddery without creativity is deprivation.  When there is a lack of resourcefulness, inventiveness and innovation, thrift means doing without.  When creativity combines with thrift you may be doing it without money, but you are not doing without.

My Note-I need to work on this one a little more.  Usually I put everything off to the last minute. This year I had to plan a tea party birthday party for my twins. Sad because its probably the last little girl birthday part I will every get to throw. They are big girls now (sad mama!).  I planned several decorations and party supplies.  For weeks I hunted in thrift shops for things. And when I had no more time I bought what we needed which wasn't much.  I took time each day to complete different task. one day it was pretty paper cones filled with fake pretty flowers.  One day it was a happy birthday garland made from paper doilies and ribbon.  I felt less stressed and did manage to get it all done in time.  In the end I saved enough money to afford to take them to the mall to spend some birthday money.

To find out more amazing information head to your local library to snag these amazing books written by Amy Dacyczyn

Tightwad Gazette

Tightwad Gazette 2

Tightwad Gazette 3

Amazon has the set, Ebay,, Barns and Noble and Powell's all have these books.

Or maybe your as lucky as me and scored yours at a thrift store.

Don't want to buy? Ask your friends and family if you can borrow theirs!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bacon Bargain Baby

You will really love me for this I promise. Want to know how you can save money & enjoy your favorite flavor of all???? Mmmmmm bacon. Drool........

For Portland Oregon readers you can find nitrate free bacon ends and pieces at New Seasons for only $3.29 per pound. Yes that's correct $3.29 a pound. It makes no sense to buy bacon slices for $7.99 a pound for soups or your favorite dish. I mean really. That's just crazy talk. 

These ends and pieces are the se bacon you buy sliced. It's just the ends! So go enjoy your bacon and eat it too. 

P.s. It freezes really well & does t need thawed. Simply take it out, cut it up and cook it. 

P.s.s. Don't throw that fat away!! Pour the bacon grease I to a mason jar for later. Use it to cook eggs, veggies or if you really like it skatter it on your hands. I'm no judger. really. I mean come on. It's bacon. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Come on Baby Light my Fire

There are several frugal and free ways to have fire starters and kindling.  Any paper or cardboard with no plastic attached gets out in this pile. It's kept under our throw blankets so we don't have to see them. We don't get a paper delivered but Food Saver (a Portland paper) gets delivered once a week. We put it to good use. 

One if my neighbors let us have some of her sappy pinecones to use as firestarters. These work the best! Best part is it's non toxic and free!  Don't heaitate to ask your neighbors if you could have some. It will probably be one less hoer for them to do outside. 

About 2 years ago my neighbors Jim & Hazel replaced their fence that we share with them. Jim was gracious enough to let us have some of the wood. Perfect for kindling! Thanks Jim & Hazel! 

Lastly here we have some tree bark. Each year we get a wood permit to cut our own fire wood. When we bring it home a lot of the bark comes off & we stack it in one place. Bark is a great kindling that burns hot like a coal & it smells so wonderful when burnt. 

You could also make your own firestarters with egg crates, lint and wax but why when you have easy things like these? But I must say hose are excellent gifts for family or friends. 

Peace ✌️

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free mulch is a good thing

This is a HUGE pile of organic mulch.  A while back my neighbor asked if I would be interested in going in on some mulch. "Yeah!" Well I forgot all about it till yesterday.  I pulled into my driveway and saw this giant pile in my neighbors driveway.  As soon as I stepped outside my car I saw my neighbor giving me the thumbs up. WOOOOOOOT!!!!! 

I had one hour till I needed to cook dinner so I quickly went to work.  One of my 9 year old twins helped me which was fun.  Our mulch from years past was so thin that the weeds started to grow everywhere.  First thing I did was lay mulch by the wood pile.  My husband was so happy.  We have a french drain along our small sidewalk because it floods easily. Mulch on top just gives it a finishing touch.  Once I sweep it will look a lot better.

Next I went to work on our area by the fireplace.  We can see this area from our living room so it must be done.  I managed to get to the large tree but will need to finish the rest today.  When laying down organic mulch you have to remember not to put any around the base of any plants because it will suck away all the nutrients from the plants to the mulch. We don't need that. So I keep a clear area under all my plants.

And here is what I am doing today.  I need to rake all those leaves and put them into my compost bins or garden beds.  These leaves are tiny and will break down pretty fast.  Then I need to spread mulch along that wall and our fence.  Its going to make our yard look so much nicer!

So I bet your asking how we managed to get free mulch? Well its pretty easy actually.  My neighbor once worked for a tree maintenance service company.  When a company is done doing tree maintenance they usually give the mulch to the city which distributes it to parks around the city.  But if you call they will deliver it for free to your home.  Not all do this so I could call around to your local tree service companies.  Here in NW Portland you can call this place.  BUT remember its organic and needs to be spread within a few days.  It will break down and start to mold. Once its spread it won't mold.  You also won't be guaranteed what kind of tree mulch your getting. Sometimes it has lots of pine. If it does make sure to only put pine around areas you don't want weeds or garden veggies. Blueberry plants love it though.  Honestly this stuff is WAY prettier than any bark dust and heck its free!

                                                             Northwest Tree Specialist
2074 NW Aloclek Drive, Suite 403
Hillsboro OR 97124
Phone 503-645-2242
Fax 503-645-9399

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Green review 3 Girls Holistic

3 Girls Holistic

Beauty products are something I don't splurge on often.  I'm a pretty simple lady so give me some tinted lip balm, mineral mascara and maybe some blush.  I'm good to go. But I have four daughters two of which are teenagers.  Ive done a good job of teaching my girls that inner beauty is what counts the most.  But sometimes they want to treat themselves to some girl time. This usually makes me cringe because 99% of beauty products are packed full of toxins, chemicals and synthetic perfumes.  To make things worst the natural food stores that do sell all natural toxic free beauty products  are so over priced and not even geared towards teenagers.  So to avoid all of these we have made our own facial products. Fun for me but not so much for them sometimes. I get it. I was a teenager once upon a time. When my friend Paige told me about 3 Girls Holistic  I was super excited to have the chance to try them out.  Lucky for me they sent me these for free to review. Woot! 

Their Philosophy 

"You look your best when you feel your best.
Our line of products is intended to not only nourish your skin, but your overall health as well. Our skin is capable of absorbing up to 60% of what we put on it; we believe that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t want to have inside your body."
Um yeah! That's what I'm talking about!
A few more amazing details-
Not only do they have tween/kids geared products but also post postpartum, aromatherapy,  first aid and women's skin care.  
They give back to the community by giving a portion of proceeds to several charities.  
Based in Nevada and all products are made in the USA. 
Recyclable packaging. They even reuse the packaging from products get get shipped to them. 
Cruelty Free
100% all natural.  So pure you could eat it. Literally.
100% toxins and synthetics free
$5 flat rate shipping
On top of all this wonderful stuff they have a blog
I mean come on. All this is way freaking cool!

My little package came with these products inside. Here is a brief description and our review of each item. 

1.  Purifying Toner-$6.95 After washing your face simply spritz this on your face.  Its very lightly scented and dries super fast.


Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel Extract*, Wine Vinegar*, Lemon Balm*, Chamomile*, Roses*, Calendula*, Comfrey*, Lemon Peel*, Rosemary*, Sage*, Essential oils of Bergamot, Grapefruit, and Lavender.
Review-A favorite of my girls. My older girls love this item because of how easy it is to use and it doesn't smell really strong. I love the glass bottle which we can reuse when done with this. $6.95 is pretty darn cheap if you ask me. Well worth the money. 
2. Nourishing Cream-$11 A lovely light moisturizer for the night.  


Distilled Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Apricot Kernel Oil*, Coconut Oil*, Meadowfarm Seed Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E, Essential Oils of Frankincense and Lavender
Review-I personally really enjoyed this cream. Light on my skin and didn't leave any grease on my pillow. It actually made the pillow smell lovely. I felt really comfortable letting my girls use this. Easy to wash out of their clothes! Perfect for messy little girls. Again love this glass bottle because I get to reuse it. Best part is its only $11. Way cheap compared to those other toxic name brand creams. 
3.  Cleansing Grains-$7.95 When your skin needs a little scrubbing this will do the job. It removes oxidized oil, dead skin cells and dirt without feeling like your face was hit by sand paper. 


Oat Tops*, White Kaoline Clay, Almonds*, Chamomile*, Comfrey*, Lavender*, Poppy Seed*, Rose*, Essential Oils of Ylang Ylang and Tea Tree
Review-I was excited to try this out but quickly realized I didn't like it. I didn't let my girls use it because of fear of chunks getting into their eyes. They are not old enough to keep the product out of their eyes. I did use it and found it to be a bit too chunky.  I think if I added it to my facial soap it would probably work better. I really did enjoy the light scent though.  Also love the glass bottle. $7.95 is a great price for this. 
4.  Day Serum-$22 Rich in essential fatty acids, it helps fight free radicals, protects against UV damage and the assault of environmental toxins, while restoring and conditioning the skin.


Calendula and Comfrey Infused Grapeseed Oil*, Hazelnut Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil*, Sea Buckthorn Oil*, Essential Oils of Neroli, Frankincense, Lavender and Rose Otto
Review-This might be my favorite out of all of them.  I use this after the Purifying Toner and my skin feels amazing all day long.  It also helps blend my foundation more smoothly.  A little goes a long way so one bottle will do ya! Oh and have you priced serum from major stores? My gosh they are expensive. At $22 I can even afford this. That's saying a lot. 
5.  Calming Mist-$7 Spritz to help tease tension and create a sense of calm. Enjoy a little bit of the aroma prior to slumber to help you rest more peacefully.  


Distilled Water, Essential Oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Yland and Vanilla Absolute
Review-Every single girl in this home loved this!  They spray it on them when they feel angry. They spray it on them before bedtime. My tween sprays it on her like perfume. Can't say enough about this spray. LOVE IT. Only one issue I have with this is the plastic bottle. Wish it was glass. We don't like plastic of any kind. Would love if they switched to glass.  Otherwise its perfect! And at $7 its a steal of a deal! 
6.  Pretty Flower Perfume-$18 Bright, colorful bottles, playful labels, and scents that don’t overpower, make them a perfect introduction to the land of big girls!  Spill free and mess free roll on applicator.  100% natural, toxic and alcohol free.  Organic oil base won't irritate skin. 


Apricot Kernel Oil, Essential Oils of Grapefruit and Lavender. 100% Organic Ingredients.
Review-As a mommy I was so excited for my twins to have their own perfume that was safe and non toxic.  Its lightly scented so it doesn't overwhelm anyone around them.  The pretty bottle makes my little girls feel like big girls.  Even my tween loves it.  Heck even I love it.  As a bonus its only $18 so it won't break the bank.
p.s. I have my eye on a few other products for my girls too.  Including a $3 lip gloss!
I really can't say enough about this company. I feel good as a mommy knowing I can buy healthy non toxic safe products for my little girls. They finally get to use things that mommy gets to use.  My older girls loved it because they can travel with them and not be embarrassed by our DIY products in mason jars. I can't blame them. If I was a tween I wouldn't want to travel with them either.  I am just happy my girls are happy.
3 Girls Holistic

3 Girls Holistic are also on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter
For more information you can contact them online. Or go old school and call them by phone at (888) 283-5399 or email at 

These products were sent to me for free with no compensation of money from the company.  I am not being paid for writing anything in this post. All reviews are my personal opinions. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Late Night Epiphany

 Last night I sorta came to a epiphany.  I was in bed watching TV which is something I always do.  Every single night we go to bed and watch the 10 o'clock news. Its our thing.  It's not a complete day without watching it.  While I was sitting there I was thinking of how much TV I actually watch.  Then I started to think that I was wasting my life away watching TV when I could put that time to good use.  Then I started to think about how when I'm older I will look back and see how much time I wasted watching the boob tube (my mama calls it that).  Then I started to think of all the ways I waste away my time and how I need to get out and explore more.  I then went to sleep as usual expecting to forget everything I thought about. 

But then when I woke up I remembered everything.  My husband came home from lunch and I told him about my epiphany.  He agreed with everything I said.  This is why I love him so much.  He's a guy that when the sun is up so is he.  He gets his stuff done then does what he wants. Usually a ride on his motorcycle on the back roads enjoying the beautiful nature.  He doesn't come inside unless its raining or gets dark.  He's always been this way unlike me. I enjoy nature to its fullest when I have time.  And when I say "When I have time" I mean when I'm not wasting time doing things.  Watching TV, playing around on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, etc.  Well its now going to stop. Here's my plan. 

See this TV? It sits above our fireplace and I usually have it on during the day. I like to say its for the noise but its not.  AM Northwest, The Talk, Kelly & Michael and so on. See its not just for the noise. I watch it more than I would like to say. So for now I limit myself.  No TV during the day.  No TV when my girls come home to do homework.  No TV unless its family time.  Every Sunday we as a family watch Once Upon a Time.  Thursdays its Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.  Friday my husband and I watch Grimm (its filmed here locally!).  Maybe a movie here or there.  Maybe a documentary here and there.  But that is it.  Sorry TV. We need to break up.  Its not me. Its you. 

Since I'm cutting back on things I thought I would cut back on my Internet use.  Here is my laptop my husband bought me this year.  It will be my source of News.  It will be my source of research.  It will be my source to you the reader.  It will no longer be my buddy I play with and then realize that hours have passed and my kids get out of school soon.  Darn you Facebook! Darn you Blogger! I will no longer be on my computer for hours and hours.  I will write when I feel like it.  I will let my girls watch old cartoons on YouTube because its free (well besides my Internet bill) and I love that my kids like old cartoons like I did as a child.  I have a few reviews to get some here soon but besides that I'm in no hurry to write. I often run out of things to talk about and find myself not looking forward to writing at all.  That makes me sad.  I want to be happy and share things with you all.  I don't want to write about something just to get something on here. Its not as creative. Its not as informative. Its just plain boring. So when I am happy I write and share it with you. Deal? 

Yep thats a old school desk turned into a side table.  Paid $5 for it and its WAY cooler than any new side table.  Thats my green afghan my Aunt Robin made me when I was 1.  We use it every single day. 

I recently visited a friend who has a beautiful library of books.  WITH A LADDER!!! That's such a cool factor! It made me want to start reading again.  So from this point on I will fill my days with books instead of TV.  Inspirational books.  Good old nerdy cook books and garden books too! Foraging, DIY, etc. This is the most exciting part of change I am looking forward to.  Nothing beats the excitement of finding a thrift store book at a good price, a old book with character, pages already broken in and the smell. OOOOOHHH the smell of a old book. Just can't beat it! 

And here we are.  This is my front door.  This is my new entertainment.  Maybe do some yard work, go pet my Tabby who is sitting there awaiting me, drive to my favorite farm, go for a walk, take some pictures, etc.  Its here awaiting me. Its a huge world out there and I plan to enjoy it 100%.

Besides, life is too short to waste my time sitting in front of the boob tube or laptop.  Peace!

Whose with me?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Put it in a jar Brownies


4 cups all-purpose flour
6 cups sugar
3 cups baking cocoa
4 tsp baking powder
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups shortening

Yields 8 batches

Mix the first five ingredients well.  Cut shortening in as best you can.  Store in a mason jar in a cool dry place.  This mix makes enough for eight batches of brownies. Put 2 cups of this mixture into one mason jar. 

Attach these instructions
Combine mixture , 2 eggs, one teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup of nuts of your choice.  Stir till mixed.  Spread on a greased 8'x8' baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes making sure the center is set.  Cut into 2 inch squares. Makes 16 brownies.

Chocolate chips or sprinkles would be a great addition to this gift. If you have a coffee lover toss in some espresso powder.

Stay tuned for my next jar idea.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Put it in a jar Chewy Bars

Christmas is only 9 weeks away. Yikes! I will be sharing easy peasy recipes for gifts in jars which will help you save money! Enjoy!

Chewy Bar Jars

1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
1 cup brown sugar packed and divided
2 cups biscuit baking mix divided

Layer the ingredients into the jar. Push down making the layers tight.  Put lid on. Done!

Attach the following instructions: Empty the whole jar into a bowl.  Drizzle in 1/2 cup melted butter, one fresh egg and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix it up.  Press this mixture into a 8"x8" baking dish and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.  Yields 16-18 bars.

Optional-Want to go another step above? Add some lovely fabric and tie on a wooden spoon.  Maybe even give a baking dish as well.

Stay tuned for more jar gift ideas!

Monday, October 21, 2013

ABC's of Me

A-Alive. I'm thankful for each day I'm here on this earth.  The earth gives me so many gifts each day. The lovely scent of rain hitting the plants. The many flowers which bloom and greet me every time I step outside.  I'm so thankful that I have come to a point in my life where I recognize these things. Its a huge lesson she is teaching me. No matter what comes at you keep growing and staying alive. 

B-Blessed. I have my husband and children.  I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in each night. With these things life is not a problem. 

C-Care. As the old saying goes "She wears her heart on her sleeve."It's true. Ive always been taking care of people. As long as I could remember if I saw someone sad or needing something I would try my best to fix it. Even if it meant giving them what I have and me going without. This is something I can give thanks to my mama for. She doesn't know it but she is the richest person I know. So much love and heart in her that it oozes out. You don't need money to help people. Just caring and taking the time is all you need. Thank you mama.

D-Dedicated. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help the earth and all its creatures. When kids wanted to be a police officer or a dancer I instead wanted to be a environmentalist. Watching Captain Planet and the Planeteers only made my dreams become a reality.  From that point on I decided to dedicate my life to fighting for the earth. 

E-Emotional. I may be strong to most but I too am weak. Just this week a neighbor cut down a tree and I was sad for a few days. I'm still sad when I drive or walk by. I cannot watch sad movies because I'm a blubber butt.  No scary movies (not even scary music!) because I get physically sick and it feels too real for me. Lately Ive been emotional because my 4 daughters are growing up too fast. No more diapers, no more kissing boo boo's and no more snuggles. Sniff......I don't want to talk about it anymore.

F-Fighter.  I'm actually a lover not a fighter. I'm not going to waste my time on this earth holding onto anger or fighting with someone.  Its not going to solve anything or change the situation. BUT I can fight for a good cause. Earth! I am a consumer which is a very powerful thing (yes it is!). I have tools like email, blog, talk and social media. I will use these tools to fight for this earth.  

G-Grateful.  I really am grateful for all things big or small.  Right now I'm grateful for a small quilt on my lap. I'm grateful someone took scraps of fabric and sewn them together. I'm grateful the donated them to a thrift store for others to enjoy. I'm grateful I found it and bought it. I'm grateful I can find it on our couch anytime I'm cold. A lot of love went into this quilt and I am grateful for this. I can feel that love every single time I see it and use it. 

H-Help. Its something everyone can do no matter how old, young, tall, short, etc.  Whether its helping someone carry groceries, raking their leaves, cleaning their home, baking them dinner, giving them food or just listening to them talk. Its free to do.  Takes little or no effort.  BUT has the biggest impact.  

I-Inspire.  I have a big job to do. Inspire my children and hopefully others. Inspire them to do more with their life. Inspire them to never settle.  Inspire them to go above and beyond.  Inspire them to fight for a good cause. Inspire them to be happy. I could go on and on. 

J-Jellybelly factory ditcher. Yep you read that right. First five minutes of a Jelly Belly Factory tour we as a family ditched the tour and high tailed it out. The factory wasn't even running and none of the employees (or signs anywhere) mentioned this. We were on vacation in August and had drove to California. Kids were super excited and then no factory workers? Our imaginations were filled with oompa loompa workers, rainbow of colors flying through the air like magic.  Nope not that day. So we skipped it.  Shhhhh don't tell anyone.

K-Kittens and knitting.  Kittens should stay little. Why do they have to grow up? Seriously who can pass down a kitten? Those little tiny whiskers, little noses, and tiny paws. Plus have you seen the video Can't hug every cat? Let's be serious here. I will have any cat. Kitten or adult. Seriously if my husband would allow it I would have way more. I'm a dabble knitter. I can knit & pearl but that's about it.  Need a wash cloth? I'm your girl. Need a sweater? Go buy one. 

L=Love.  I do truly believe what go's around comes around. It's funny because I tell my girls all the time this and they think I'm nuts. But every time they are being naughty something happens to remind them that karma really does exist. They trip and fall or something along those lines. Lets face it everyone, if you give nothing but love out your bound to get love back. Word.

M=Minimalist. I was a borderline hoarder when I met my husband. Obsessed with vintage Tupperware and all things old. It wasn't until I found Fake Plastic Fish (now called and had to clean my grandmothers place after her death that I realized I had way too much and should only have what I needed.  I now keep toxic plastic out of my life and have become friends with Beth Terry ( who wrote a book you should own called How I kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too).  After weeks of cleaning out my grandmother's place I finally took a look at myself and realized I had way too much stuff.  Gram didn't throw anything away (dozens of eye glasses, scissors, checkbooks, fabric, etc you name it she hoarded it). I now try to keep just what we need and be happy with what we have. Well except for pottery. You can never have too much pottery.

N=My name is Nancy. Named after my great Aunt Nancy.  As a child I really didn't like my name because Nancy Regan was the first lady. A Nancy is defined as wussy.  Plus I was the only Nancy around.  Even now days I hear my name and look to see a older lady talking to her older lady friend. I have yet to meet a Nancy my age (in my 30's).  It wasn't until the last few years that I realized it was a good thing.   Anyone talks about Nancy and its gotta be me.  Plus its always good. Or at least I hope.

O=Organic. Organic means so many things to me.  It means healthy non toxic. It means earthly as it was intended.  It means grown with love.  I could go on and on.  I grow as much organic produce as my piece of land will grow.  I buy organic as much as I financially can.  I strive to live 100% organic.  It really can happen but it takes work and passion. You can be organic and be frugal. Any budget can live organic. I'm proof and I hope to inspire everyone.  

P=Pepsi addict and pottery. Or at least I was.  No matter how much I knew it was toxic and horrible to my health my heart ruled over and I would drink it. Even when I only allowed myself to drink it from a glass bottle. I had to quit cold turkey.  Wow that sucked.  But I found a way around it.  Once in a while I allow myself to drink a all natural soda. I make a simple syrup (organic sugar/water 50/50)from things from my garden (geranium) and mix it with club soda.  As for pottery....well lets just say I'm addicted.  I have a very hard time refusing a good piece of pottery. Slowly but surely I have replaced every piece of my dish ware with handmade pottery. All bought used!

Q=Quinoa. After the whole arsenic in rice (organic or not) I found a source to get organic quinoa for cheaper(Azure Standard). So I made the switch and never looked back.  Its actually easier to cook and we enjoy the taste way better.  I use it just like rice in any rice dish. Easy peasy.

R=RECYCLE!!! Seriously we recycle everything possible! Any organic food goes to the chickens or our dog.  Anything possibly recyclable its going in the bin.  Rarely is there ever anything in the trash unless my husband cleans the garage or we do home repair.  Because of our hard work we were able to get the smallest trash bin which saves us some change each year. But honestly I reuse so many things and buy package-free food so even my recycling is going down each year. Woot! 

S=Simple. I really truly do believe simple is best. Less clutter.  We have furniture but only what we need. Simple cooking.  I'm a really good cook but use simple ingredients and simple recipes. Less stress! When I'm planning a event I do everything simple.  Its less stress and my brain feels so much better.  

T=TV. Love it and hate it.  We cut out cable out but have Netflix.  Regular TV just seems like a waste of time for me. I feel like I get sucked in and time goes by so fast.  So honestly I don't watch it often and if it is on its for the background noise only.  I'm used of my girls usual hum drum of running around the house so when they are gone its nice to have noise in my home. I really enjoy watching things on Youtube such as Coal House and shows that put real people in past life.  I also watch many documentaries on Netflix.  Ken Burns has amazing documentaries.  

Use=Use what you have.  Here I go again making it simple.  This is a HUGE money saving tip. Don't have milk? Just use water.  Don't have light brown sugar? Use regular sugar or dark brown sugar.  Not only are you wasting $$ but think about the wear on your gar and gas money  you will save.  It can also apply when it comes to other things.  A good example is a personal experience I had.  I really wanted a juicer so I could make my veggies drinks.  Bought a Ninja & returned it because it was defective.  Then I bought a big name juicer from Costco which worked fine for 8 months then died on me.  So guess what I'm using now? Yep my blender I've had this whole time.  Keep it simple people. Use what you have. Stop wasting money. Even I need to take my advise at times.

V=Vanilla. I love the color because its simple and versatile.  I love the smell of vanilla beans so much so that I make my own vanilla using vodka and vanilla beans. The taste oh the taste. vanilla ice cream is the perfect base for any toppings.  I really could go on and on about vanilla but you get the idea.

W=Water. One day I will own a home with a creek nearby just to ease my body. The sound just makes all my stress go away. My favorite thing to do is take a super hot bath.  Add a cup of mineral salts and I'm in heaven.  I love listening to the ocean slam against the shore. Water is so beautiful as well.  Love pictures of it! All this said I'm a horrible water drinker. My girls all drink water all day long. Water in coffee counts right? No? Boo! So a way I like to drink water is to add a slice of lemon or lime. That I can do! 

X=The Symbol X to me means intersecting. Which is why I blog/write. I walk in my perfect line doing what I can to be kind to all and along the way intersect with all of you.  Seriously cool! 

Z=Zoo. I'm like a child each time I visit. I love animals and their characteristics.  They are so smart in so many ways.  I also get a big work out at the Oregon Zoo.  They have some serious hills going on!  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Natural Ways to Cope with Hand Eczema

This Fall has really did a number on my hands. Anytime the weather gets really cold my skin has a hard time keeping up.   In the beginning of September I started noticing my hands were getting scratchy feeling.  I used every lotion I could think of to try to deal with it. Nothing worked.  I washed my hands constantly with soap hoping to kill any germs or whatever was bothering my hands. Reapplying lotion after each wash. It continued to get worst.
I then went to my doctor and had some blood test done to see if maybe I had a food allergy. After using a steroid cream (which I didn't want to take at all) and a week of waiting for the test results. Came up clean and the steroid cream did nothing. She recommended I no longer use the cream. Thank goodness! By this point my hands were cracking and bleeding to the point where I just wanted to go hide in a corner and scream. I felt like a freak. 
As most of you know because you follow Surviving and Thriving on Pennies on Facebook, I asked for advise from all of you.  I tried everything possible and have had great results! So as promised I have some tips and advise for those fellow freaks (calm down your not a freak just feel like a freak) who could use it.  
Here's the proof! You see any cracks or bleeding? Neither do I! Now I can walk among the rest of population feeling normal.  Phew!  If you have hand eczema and need some relief try these idea's out.  Who knows maybe it will help you feel less freakish.  

1. Aura Cacia Tea Tree Oil  or any essential tea tree oil.  I added a drop or two of tea tree oil to my clean dry hands.  Rubbed it in completely and let it soak for a minute.  Even with my hands cracked & bleeding this didn't hurt my hands at all.  Also didn't leave them oily.  Tea tree oil is known for killing bacteria, fungus and many many other issues.  

2. Alba Botanica has some Un-Petroleium Jelly but you can use any un-petroleium jelly with I'm sure the same results.  After using tea tree oil I would use a very small blob of this on my hands.  I rubbed it in completely and let it soak in for a minute or two.  Anymore of this and your hands will be oily.  Let it soak and let it do its thing.  

3. NO SOAP!!!! Seriously none at all.  To wash your hands simply use warm water and scrub the crap out of your hands. Rub your hands together for a good 20 seconds and dry as usual.  No soap in the shower, no soap at the sink and for goodness sakes no soap in public bathrooms.  Unless you are in a natural grocery store those soaps are the cheapest and most toxic soaps around.  This was a very hard thing for me to do. My husband pointed out my OCD pattern with hand washing. Thank you honey! lol.  Seriously I never knew until he pointed out how many times I washed my hands throughout the day.  

4.  Gloves are a must. I picked up myself a pair of natural rubber gloves (found mine at Kitchen Kaboodle but New Seasons also carries them). I used these gloves anytime I washed dishes, cooked food and cut up food.  Foods such as tomatoes have lots of acids that could aggravate your hands.  Instead of washing my hands I would wash my gloves. Kept my hands dry!  When my hands were cracked & bleeding I would apply my oils (top two of this list) and wear thin cotton gloves at night when sleeping.  When my hands were just fine with no cracking I wouldn't wear them.  Note-I green clean homes for a side job and gloves are to be worn 100% of the time.  Even green cleaners dry your hands out.  

5.  Avoid things that dry your hands out. Folding clean laundry was a HUGE issue for me. The clean clothes sucked away any oil/lotions I had on my hands. If you can pawn this chore off on your kids or loved ones.  One less chore woot! 

6.  Let your family/loved ones help.  I felt like a complete freak for a few days.  Especially my cotton gloves at night. Let's just say they are not the sexiest things ha ha.  Family/friends know that you are having a hard time with this and are there to support you.  If they want to help then let them.  Less stress is also a good helper when it comes to eczema.  Your body needs to concentrate on getting better and stress can only prolong your healing.  

After one week of keeping up these tips I have successfully beat flare ups.  I will likely have to battle eczema all Winter but am thankful I have found some relief.  As long as I keep this up it should be smooth sailing.  I hope this helps you feel less freakish.  It sure did for me!