organic, chem-free cleaning and more

Over the past year we’ve been making steps to become a chem-free household.  As they’ve gotten used up, I have been replacing store-bought cleaners with homemade organic and chemical-free ones.  The benefits are grand.  First, they are much less expensive.  Yay!  Second, I feel better to have them with all the little ones.  I don’t have to worry about them getting into them and going blind or dying.  Another relieving reason is mama won’t be inhaling fumes.

I take about fifteen minutes every month or so to make all the cleaners.  They smell fresh and clean.  They are so safe the kids can use them too!  No excuses there :)  I have seen many recipes online, but I prefer to have them in handy book form.  Some great sources are listed below, but let me say, I get no money from recommending these to you.  They are simply books I came across and like.

I picked up the book Organic Housekeeping from the library.  I really enjoy the ideas and tips in there.  Reusing plastic mesh produce bags for dish scrubbers,  and the chemical-free oven cleaning recipes are among my favs.  There are wonderful suggestions for organizing and time management as well.  Not to mention how to reduce your water usage while doing dishes and cleaning.

Make Your Place is a book I use for almost all my cleaning recipes.  I love it!  This book is great for many tips and changes for a more organic lifestyle.  The author teaches you how to make your own tinctures, essential oils, gardening , and body care along with the cleaning resources and an extensive herbal index.

How about you?  What changes are you making to your budget?  What steps have you taken to have a more kid-friendly system in your cleaning and household care routines?  What are some of your favorite sites for organic and chemical-free recipes?

a penny saved, a penny earned

Making healthier choices is the focus here.  Since I’m a total nerd, I have been spending hours of my child-free and child-napping time doing LOTS of research.  What for you say?  For saving our household some mullah, that’s what for.  You may have read the last post on ways I save money every month/year.  In addition to what we’ve already been doing, I decided to get serious about what our money is doing for us, and what we are doing with it.  Nick and I have strong convictions about being good stewards of the income that has been provided for us. Colossians 3:23 Matthew 25:20-21 Proverbs 22:7  Proverbs 10:4 Matthew 6:24

We are constantly re-evaluating how we can save more, give more (to others), learn new trades and skills, earn extra income from home, and how we can make better use of what we have. Recently, health has landed on the top of our priority list.  With our family of seven, it’s important for us to be as healthy as we can be so we are free to serve Jesus and home school steadily.

Here’s the plan I came up with to help serve my family, and to make use of each project for home school learning.  In each category I specified what the kids can learn, aside from general responsibility and life lessons.

Organic Gardening

Garden benefits Produce 90% of produce in three years, organic, our choice of variety, landscapes the yard, can make food gift (jams, pies, ect), fills our bellies :)

Learning: Plant biology in-depth, canning, freezing, drying methods, cooking (with the harvest)

Currently spending: $80/mon on organic produce

Start up costs: Raised beds, seeds, soil, plants/bushes, trees (2), tools, books= $300.00

Yearly costs after 1st year: fertilizers, new plants/bushes, new seed=$250 or less– I haven’t learned all there is to seed saving yet, but I plan to.  This includes watering.

Savings 1st year= $560

Saving after 1st year= $710

More info on gardening can be found at Organic Gardening, Urban Homesteading, Earth Friendly Gardening, How to Grow a Garden

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”


Beekeeping (Yeah, I’m serious)

Benefits: Thriving garden, gallons of honey for allergy control and baking sweetener (to replace sugar), beeswax for lip balm and salves, ability to sell extra honey for profit, very little work involved.

Learning:  ecosystems, biology, measuring (at harvest), small business functions, life cycles

Currently spending $30/mons on local honey

Start up costs: Hive, bees, equipment= $200

Yearly costs to maintain= $20 or less (for smoker fuel)

Savings 1st year= $160

Savings after 1st year= $340

*can sell to make profit*

More info: Backyard Beekeeping, Basic Beekeeping, Urban Beekeeping

Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”


Homemade natural soaps shampoo, hand soap, shaving soap, laundry soap

Benefits: No more skin irritations, fun/creative outlet, very frugal gifts for…anyone, very little time involved, can sell for profit

Learning:  Measuring, chemistry, fractions (cutting), small business functions

Currently spending $10/mon on NON-organic/natural soaps

Start up costs- books, supplies= $60

Yearly costs (supplies)= $50 or less (each batch makes LOTS of soap)

Saving 1st year= $60…More if you count the gift you won’t buy

Saving after 1st year= $70…more if you count all the gifts you won’t buy

*can sell for profit*

More info:  Miller Soap Cranberry Lane, Soap Making Essentials


Homemade toothpaste

Benefits:  No chemicals/all natural, waste-though not encouraged is not as big of a deal, no fluoride or abrasive ingredients, one toothpaste for everyone (even Des)

Learning:  Mixing, measuring

Currently spending $7/ month on  2 types of toothpaste

Start up costs= $10 (enough for the whole year)

Yearly cost $10

Savings $74

More info:  Lusa Organics

Homemade Lip balm/ lip stick

Benefits:  Organic/natural, will not irritate my sensitive lips, can sell for profit

Learning:  Cooking, measuring, small business functions

Currently spending $40/year on natural lip balm (not including lip stick)

Start up cost= $20 (to include making colored lip stick as well)

Savings 1st year= $20

Saving after 1st year= $30 or more if I use the beeswax from our hive

*can sell for profit*

More info:  The Ponte Verda Soap Shop, Eco Friendly Daily


Handmade Diaper Cream/Salves and ointments

Benefits: Organic/natural, great healing formulas, can sell for profit

Learning:  Measuring, basic math skills, following recipes/directions, packaging, herbal healing

Currently spending $7/ month diaper creams and ointment (for cuts ect.)

Start up costs-jars, ingredients= $10

Savings/ year= $74

*can sell for profit*

More info: Passionate Homemaker, The Ponte Verda Soap Shop

Proverbs 27:9 “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”


Poultry Raising

Benefits:  Organic eggs, garden pest control (they eat bugs), composting food scraps (they eat, they poop, I fertilize), emergency meat source, can sell eggs for profit.

Learning:  ecosystems, biology, composting, life cycles, into to building (coop repairs, fencing)

Currently spending $4 on organic or fresh eggs (we go through about 2.5 doz/week)=$432/year

Start up costs- ours are few due to borrowed chick feeder/waterer, brooding lamp, and a free coop.  Chicks (10), feed, fencing=$48

Costs/year- feed, coop maintainence = $240 or less (this is assuming an all feed diet)

Savings in 1st year $144

Saving after 1st year $192

*can sell extra eggs for profit*

More info on raising chickens can be found at Backyard Chickens, Poultry One, and because I laughed aloud City Chickens


And that’s a grand total of $1092 saved in the first year and $1490 saved after the first year.  Not to mention that some of these can be self-funding in two years or less thus actually making money on top of saving it.  I love saving money.

I realize that this is more work (especially the garden and chickens- which needs daily care and watering), but c’mon…It’s worth it for that much money saved and that much increase to overall health right?  I’m always willing to work more for the health and frugality of our household.

And you?  What are ways you save money on your bills?