DIY Home Cleaning Products

Once I was pregnant with Buddy I became more aware of the products we were using in our home. I made sure not to use any harsh cleaning products, and left that stuff up to the husband. I switched our laundry detergent to All Free and Clear and then eventually started making our own. I’ve also made a room scent which doubles as a sort of all purpose cleaner. I’m gradually adding more homemade cleaning products to our home, and hope to eventually eliminate all the ones we typically buy from the store. Here’s a list of what I’ve tried and hope to try in the future. Links go directly to the post.

I made my own felted wool dryer balls and did a how to post about it here. I’ve loved using them. They don’t seem to have cut down on drying time, but definitely help with static.

I’ve been using this laundry detergent for over a year. I even use it on cloth diapers with no problems. Make sure to grate the soap on fine. I prefer to use Dr. Bronner’s bar soap for ours.

I made this all-purpose cleaner and also use it as a room spray. I sprayed it in the microwave and wiped off with a Magic Eraser with no scrubbing!

I think making my own hand sanitizer is next on my list. I’m not a germophobe, but I like to keep it handy after I go thrifting. Yuck!

This mosquito repellent will come in hand for those of us in the south. It has been especially rainy this summer, and they are out in full force!

I didn’t make my own baby wipe solution with Buddy because I thought it would be too much work. It seems so simple and I will definitely try it when we have another.

Pets and Toddlers

pets and toddlers 1

Meet our newest addition, Oscar. Oscar joined at us at just 17 days old after his mother was run over. He was just 5 oz and had to bottle fed and cleaned by us. He was a bit high maintenance, but he’s now 9 weeks old and so much fun! Buddy is very used to animals since we have 2 dogs and an adult cat, but we haven’t had anything so tiny in the home with him.

pets and toddlers 1

I don’t have any expertise on kids and pets living together, but I think it’s something that can easily be done as long as you know your pet’s personality. I’ve always thought the bottom line of teaching kids how to interact with pets is respect.  Children need to understand that an animal deserves respect just as any person would. As Buddy gets older I plan on teaching him the body language of cats and dogs so he can recognize when an animal is unhappy and hopefully be safe around pets that are unfamiliar to him.  So far, we stress being gentle and petting softly. Of course he can get rough and he goes to time-out whenever he doesn’t pet gently. Our two dogs are pretty good at avoiding him when they really want to and tolerate him when he’s touching in a way they don’t like (before we can intervene). Separation is always a good option too if you can’t supervise your child around a pet. We also make sure Buddy doesn’t go near the dogs when they’re eating or sleeping.

Fortunately, Oscar is bigger now and can withstand Buddy playing with him. Up until a week or so ago we didn’t let Buddy touch him unless we were holding him, mostly for Oscar’s safety. I have shown him how to hold Oscar if he tries to pick him up, although he hasn’t tried very much. They have become fast friends now! Buddy wakes up and usually asks where Oscar is, and often says, “Oh Oscar! He’s so cute!”. He really loves his kitten.

Our pets are family to us and want our kids to grow up with animals in their life. They add so much to our family and we are so happy they have all gotten along!

oscar grooming

Felt Dryer Balls

dryer ball core

I knew before Buddy was born that I wanted to wash his clothes in something that didn’t have quite as many chemicals as traditional laundry detergent. I started using All Free and Clear to prep his clothes before his arrival and continued to use that his first year. I then made the decision to switch to homemade laundry detergent using this powder detergent recipe. I didn’t use dryer sheets because of the chemicals, but his clothes came out with a lot of static in the winter. I searched for chemical free alternatives and all the felt dryer balls I found were very expensive. I finally found this tutorial on how to make them yourself. I did make some changes to the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to use as much yarn. You will need 100% wool yarn, crochet needle, pantyhose, and wool sweater. Make sure your yarn isn’t treated in any way or it will not felt.  I purchased the yarn at Michaels using a 40% off coupon. I bought a grey sweater and red sweater at Goodwill for $1.50 and $3 each.

First, you will need to cut your sweater into strips. You can do any size, but mine were about an inch wide and 6 inches long. You will wrap these around each other to make the core of the ball. I used 3 strips, but you can use more if you want to make a larger dryer ball. Mine will be a little bigger than a tennis ball when finished.

dryer ball core

Then take your yarn, wrap around and tie a knot to hold the strips together so you can begin to wrap.

core with yarn tiedIt will not be in the shape of a ball, but that’s ok. Once you begin wrapping it around it will begin to shape up. I usually just go in a clock wise motion around the strips of sweater so it will squish into the ball shape. Once I had a decent covering with the yarn it was about the size of a golf ball.

core with yarnJust continue to wrap the yarn until it is completely covered and to your desired size. I make mine a little larger than a tennis ball. They will be a bit smaller after washing. Then, you will take the crochet needle with yarn threaded through and pass through the ball. Don’t go right through the center. It will not go through the sweaters. Just go far enough in that it will hold the end of the yarn through the washing process.

dryer ball with needleCut off the remaining yarn.

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

Now you will put them in the panty hose. You will tie a knot in between each ball. Otherwise, you will have a felted mess. I didn’t use dental floss or thread because it kept slipping whenever I tried that. You could do this and reuse the panty hose for more dryer balls, but I thought the 33 cents for knee highs was worth saving myself the frustration. I just cut them out. You will wash the dryer balls on the hottest setting. I tried them with and without a regular load of laundry. They felted much, much better when they were in with some other things. I think the agitation helps.

dryer ball in hoseI was able to fit 5 or 6 into each knee high at this size. After washing, put them in your dryer on the hottest setting as well. You now have pretty, felted dryer balls!

felted dryer ball

I was able to make 6 or so balls of this size using the sweater core. My sweater was 100% wool, although I’m not sure this is necessary since it will be covered by the yarn. I just figured it wouldn’t hurt and didn’t want to chance it. I also made a set for darks using a dark brown yarn. You will get some pilling and lint on them, but you can use a sweater stone to remove most of it. Dryer balls are a great way to keep static away without chemicals. They also seem to cut back on dryer time for many people, but I didn’t notice this with our dryer.

I think this would be a super cute craft for the fall. You could make a few from different colors and put them in a wood bowl on the coffee table, or in a glass vase on the mantle. They are so easy, earth friendly, and cute!

Whole Mom Giveaway

Check out our giveaway through Whole Mom! We are giving away a  Jane Goodall Collection Gorilla, Ever Earth Ramp Racer, and Green Toys Tugboat. These are all big hits in our house!

Earth Friendly Tots Giveaway

Fun New Ways to Use Buttons

Our friends at have found several blog posts on how to reuse buttons you have laying around . Check it out and maybe you’ll find a fun craft to do with the kids!

18 Blogs with Creative Uses for Buttons

I especially like the DIY button monogram and recycled button artwork. The DIY monograms could be fun for older kids to make for their rooms. Have fun!

Use What You’ve Got

box supplies

We recently redid the shelving in our laundry closet in an attempt to create more space and organize. When we bought the house all the closets had the standard builder grade wire shelving. Hate that stuff! I’ve seen many people use peel and stick tile over them, or slim boards to solve the problems that come with wire shelving. We are slowly but surely replacing them with wood. It’s a bit more permanent but we spend time working out the configurations that work for us, and my husband does it himself. We’ve gotten the pantry done, just finished the laundry closet, and will do Buddy’s big boy room next. To help with our laundry closet organization I figured I needed some boxes to help keep all the smaller stuff contained. We’re on a budget so I thought I would use what I had myself. Enter basic cardboard boxes, paper bags, and Mod Podge. I did this the first time with a shoe box and used a big flimsier box for the example below. First you need to gather your supplies. A box, paper bag, Mod Podge, and brush. I tried to cut out pieces of the bags with the least lines. I put what remained in the recycle bin.

box supplies

You will want to cut four pieces from the bag. One for each side. Cut them slightly bigger than the side so you will have some overlapping. I did about 1/2 inch. Then, apply Mod Podge to the first side and completely cover it with the Mod Podge. Once you have gotten it on and smoothed out as much as possible, you will make a diagonal cut from the corner of the paper to the edge of the box. Then make a straight cut, parallel to the side of the box so that the straight cut will be at the bottom and top of the box, not the side.  It should look like this, making a small triangle cut-out.

 triangle cut-out

Next, you will put Mod Podge on the overlapping edges with the straight cut, and smooth the paper down. You should be left with the overlapping edges that are cut at an angle, like this.

angle edge

You will then apply Mod Podge to those pieces and smooth down the overlapping edge which should cover up the rough edge of the other piece. The bottom will look like this.


You are done! I put dish towels in the box and have one other that I use for small pet accessories. The first box turned out better. It was a sturdier shoe box and was just cardboard. The one use for the example above wasn’t as thick and had some packing tape on it which I think caused more wrinkles. The shoe box was really smooth except for the creases from the bag. Overall, I’m happy with the way it turned out considering I didn’t spend any money and they won’t be seen by anyone but us.  You could also use some cute scrap book or wrapping paper if you wanted something a little more decorative to put out.

dish towels


Our Experience with Torticollis-Part 3

At 2 years old and 7 months post surgery

We took a couple of weeks to make the decision about surgery. We were so confused.  His tilt was much better since he started walking, but he was still slouching and tilting when he was laying down.  There was some obvious facial asymmetry that most likely wouldn’t be corrected without surgery. Even with all that I had a hard time justifying it since it wasn’t absolutely necessary. We had started just seeing the PT and OT every other week since there wasn’t much else we could do therapy wise. We finally decided to go ahead with surgery. The fact that he was still slouching and tilting while laying down was telling me there was still a problem. I was also concerned with him being picked on as he got older if  his face continued to get worse. We called to schedule the surgery. We would need another consult since it had been about 3 months since the initial visit. That was kind of a pain since it was a two hour drive, but we just dealt with it. We scheduled the surgery for August 2012 when he would be 18 months old.

The next couple of months were nerve wracking, just waiting for the date to come around. I kept going back and forth about whether or not to do it. I just felt bad about doing something that wasn’t an absolute. I wouldn’t have doubted myself if the tilt was still really bad, but it wasn’t anymore. I just couldn’t shake the feeling there was still something wrong though. We were also afraid we might regret not doing it. We knew if we went ahead, and there was still a problem in the future, that we had done everything we possibly could.

The morning of surgery came around. We left very early to make his 10am surgery time. The check-in process was really fast fortunately. He was taken back and had his blood pressure checked and all that good stuff. They took us to a small room with a hospital bed, chairs, toys, and a basketball hoop. They let him pick out a toy from a toy chest that actually had some really nice stuff. The anesthesiologist came and spoke with us. She let us know that I could take him back. He would be under for about 30 minutes and bring him back to us immediately after so we could be with him as he woke up. The surgeon came in and just went over the procedure. The only real risk is that there is a nerve that runs into the shoulder. If that was damaged he might not be able to lift his shoulder up, but he said they rarely even see that nerve during the surgery. We waited another 15 minutes or so, then they came to get us. I carried him back to the operating room and laid him on the table.  I held his hand as they put him under and told him I loved him and I would be waiting when he woke up. One of the men in there told me at some point that he couldn’t hear me anymore. I really wanted to punch him and tell him a few not nice things, but I just said, “I don’t care.” I wanted my voice to be the last one he heard.  Maybe that was an over reaction, but I felt the comment was really insensitive. Obviously a mother of a small child is going to be freaking out over her baby having surgery.

A very nice nurse took me back to the room and tried to have a little conversation with me, I’m sure to try to keep my mind off what was happening. She said he was a very observant boy and seemed to know what was going on. I agreed and told her he’d been like that since he was really small. She commented on how he didn’t seem scared, and he really didn’t. Once I got back to the room I let the tears go and my husband tried to reassure me and tell me that it wouldn’t be long. They came and got us after 15 minutes and took us to the recovery room. We waited another 15 minutes and he finally was brought back to us. It had only been about 30 minutes, as promised. Buddy had started to wake up but was pretty out of it. They got me some pillows to put in the chair with me so I could hold him. We turned on a tv so he could watch Nick Jr., but he had no idea what was going on. He was very groggy and really fussy, but didn’t really have the energy to cry. We waited in there for about an hour and a half. The nurse went over some care instructions and we were able to go home. He was wearing a soft neck brace that he would have to wear for 2 weeks all day, then 2 more weeks at bedtime. We were to follow up in 2 months.

The two hour drive was uneventful and he slept most of the way. He was fairly awake when we got home. My parents were there to help out since we had been up since 5 am. It was a good thing since he was pretty much back to himself by 5pm. He was still a little loopy, but was more than happy to play and see his Nene and Papa. I was so relieved that he didn’t seem to care and didn’t seem to mind the neck brace. I did give him the prescribed Tylenol for a few days. By the next day you couldn’t tell anything had happened. He was completely back to himself.

At 2 years old and 7 months post surgery

At 2 years old and 7 months post surgery

Over the next few weeks we noticed some small changes. He was using his upper body A LOT more. Before surgery he loved to dance, but would mostly just bounce and move his legs. After surgery he was swinging his arms and using his whole body. He was no longer tilting when he laid down. He did slouch for a while, but as his upper body strength improved that went away also. We went back to PT and OT once a week for a couple of months. He was dismissed from PT at this point since he had greatly improved. We had a 2 year check up for OT and he met all the goals set and exceeded some of them.  The little bit of tilt that was left was gone after a couple of months. Even though his tilt was only minor by the time we did surgery I’m so, so glad we did it. I feel the small changes that happened because of surgery made a big difference overall. I think had we not done it we would have had some bigger issues down the road and been back in PT and OT in a few years. He is still not very strong in his torso, but it isn’t too bad. He does have some weakness in his arms and hands, but the OT said that will probably remedy itself with some exercises at home.  His facial asymmetry already seems to be improving, but I think it will take another few years to fully resolve, if it ever does. He had a small one inch scar from surgery which is now almost completely gone.  He does occasionally tilt when he is tired or sick, but it goes away very quickly.

Dealing with torticollis and the decisions that came with it was not something I want to go through again, but I’m still very grateful that it was the only health problem we’ve had with him. I have scoliosis and wonder if that might have contributed to him having it, but I guess we will see what happens when we have another. Even if we go through it again I at least have some exercises to begin immediately and know that it is very manageable.



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dump truck

Need help hauling a big load while helping save the planet? The Green toys dump truck is ready to get working.  Made from 100% recycled plastic milk container this really is the most energy efficient vehicle on the entire planet. The super cool eco-design has a workable dumper and no metal axles. Your little boy is going to love this dump truck.


Bead Maze

Is your family planning on traveling during the holiday season? Children will delight in our bead maze while developing visual skills, eye-hand coordination, and color and shape recognition, made of rubberwood, and earthfriendly hardwood, these colorful toys provide hours of  play! Handcrafted and hand-painted using child-safe paints.