Find the Cozy in your Home

My friend Michele recently reminded me to look for the simple things to give my home a cozy feel. I feel like I’ve lost this lately in all the busyness of life.

Tonight some coziness is brought to our table by a big pot of comfort food. It includes homemade pasta with chicken and garlic cream sauce. My kids affectionately call this meal “colorful noodles.” The pasta will be topped with grated, homemade cheese, the salad with homemade croutons from homemade bread, and homemade lime vinegar as a salad dressing.

Now, don’t let this post make you feel guilty for not making homemade croutons. If I could buy ones at the store that everyone in my family could eat, then I probably wouldn’t make them either. But, let this encourage to stop a moment and find the things that you already have lying around, the skills you know but haven’t used in a while, or the things you’ve made in the past but are now gathering dust by the wayside. The time to reflect will ground you in the present moment as you take stock of what you need, what your family needs, and what you have been blessed with, and as a result of that reflective moment, you will be able to meet those needs in some creative way. This will look differently for everyone, but everyone has something that that will make a meal or a room or a moment feel special.

Your thing may not be croutons. It may not even be bread. But that’s what I had laying around today. So stop a moment and take stock of what that thing is for you. What is it that you are really craving? What thing, or food, or skill, or time are you remembering and wishing you could get back to? Is there something you can do that will connect you to a past memory or person and make your home feel like it is more than just the place where you live? Ponder that, and as you do, find one little thing that will move you in the direction of feeling connected to your home.

Today that thing for me was putting this meal together and filling the bird feeders. I hadn’t touched the bird feeders in so long, but I had heard the red birds calling to me earlier in the day and I realized that I wanted to see them out my kitchen window again. Some things are worth taking a moment or two out of your day to do if it adds some connection to what would be an otherwise scattered day. Today the bird feeders did that for me. That one simple thing re-connected the thread of all the times I’ve watched the red birds out my kitchen window and took me all the way back to being a tiny five year old scattering bird seed out the sliding glass door of her grandmother’s house so that I could watch them land on her patio.

So what is worth your time and effort today? Putting out time and effort to make something is an investment. You may not have any time, or money, or even creative brain space to spare today. If so, that’s okay. Just let this discussion sit there. You’ll come back around to it when you are ready.

And if you are ready to try something, don’t mimic me. Everyone’s list of the things they long for is different and the practicality of implementing it depends on your budget, skills, personality, and what you enjoy. If making homemade bread feels like work, buy the bread. Your time and effort are worth something. Put it into something that you love and enjoy. It doesn’t even have to be food like my comfort meal tonight. It could be growing flowers so that you can have a bouquet on the dinner table even if dinner is takeout. It could be crochet or knitting or some other kind of needlework because you remember sitting with your grandmother on her wine and pink brocade sofa in a living room covered with green shag carpet while she teaches you to crochet a doll blanket for your baby. Find the little things that make the everyday just a little bit more special.

I hope you find a little cozy in your home this week. I’m going to try to.

For more Homemaking inspiration, follow my friend Michele who inspired this post at She excels at combing cottage economy with modern conveniences.

And for further inspiration, the posts by @jesthepilgrim on IG are full of quaint, thrifty ideas that hearken back to the simple things. She makes her home feel beautiful and special for the people that live there.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Anyone else going through hand soap like there is no tomorrow? Between doing more as things recipe from COVID, and getting dirty playing outside it seems like we are running out of hand soap every time I turn around. I’m glad it only costs me pennies to make more rather than $3 a bottle. We’ve saved thousands over the years by making our own soap. It works great, and feels like the expensive brands you buy at the mall.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap:

In a foaming soap pump, add the following:

1 tbsp of your favorite dish soap

8-15 drops of your favorite essential oils

1 tbsp aloe gel (optional but makes it feel silky smooth)

Fill with water, and shake!

And you’re done! And it cost you about .03 to make rather than $3.

On another money saving note, you can buy empty foaming soap pumps on Amazon, but in my experience, those don’t last and stop working after a couple of months. The best I’ve found are the Dial foaming soaps at the grocery store. I buy the pumps, use the soap in them, and fill them up again. I’ve had some of them for years. They really work great.

Reusable Napkins, Wipes, Paper Towels

I’ve chosen to use lots of reusable cloth products over the years – cloth napkins, cloth diapers, and mama cloth. At the beginning of COVID, I had to come up with a cloth alternative for paper towels when all the regular paper towel were out of stock. I ended up using something I already had. I raided my cloth diaper bins and pulled out our cloth baby wipes. I’m so glad I did. We’ve probably cut our paper towel usage by more than half. I still keep paper towels on hand for extremely greasy or germ-filled cleanups. But for the messy faces and daily spills, these work great for us. Read on….

Many companies offer various different reusable paper towels these days to help people reduce their use of disposable paper products. I tried some of them. But, honestly, the flannel baby wipes we used when we did cloth diapers with our kids, are the best washable cloths that I’ve found.

They are small, soft, and absorbent. I keep a tissue box cover full of them on the kitchen counter with them all folded over tissue style so that the kids can pull them out easily. They are just the right size for what the kids need. I keep a bin in the Butler’s Pantry for dirty towels. The kids throw them in there and they get washed with all the kitchen laundry.

I keep this tissue box cover on my kitchen counter for the kids to grab flannel wipes from when they need to wipe a messy face or clean up a spill. This makes convenient so they reach for the cloth wipes rather than a paper towel.
How to fold tissue style. 1) Purple wipe goes down first. 2) Green wipe covers half of purple wipe. 3) Red wipe covers green wipe.
4) Fold purple wipe over red and green edges. 5) Repeat process by laying another wipe on top of the purple. 6) Fold the Red over. 7) Go again until all are folded. 8) Place in your tissue box.

I like this Tissue Box Cover best. It works great on the kitchen counter and looks nice. I like that I can set things on top.

My favorite wipes are these flannel baby wipes by OsoCozy.

Recycled Sewing:

You could also easily make reusable wipes for this purpose using an old flannel shirt or pajama pants. I have some saved for just this purpose. I’ll get around to it someday. In the meantime, these work well for me.

Jump in and make your own. It would be a great upcycle project. Break out the scissors and sewing machine, or give some purchased wipes a try.

It certainly has saved us lots of paper towels each week.

* Note: There are no affiliate links in this post.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

I took this photo 9 years ago when I started reusing my foaming soap bottles and making my own hand soap. I made a batch of 8 bottles today. My ingredients have changed over the years, but the basics are the same.

Your favorite dish soap + your favorite essential oils + water = soap for pennies!

You can see my original post if you visit the Kitchen Sink page.

Lately I’ve also started adding 1 tbls of aloe gel to each bottle which helps keep your hands soft and makes the soap feel silky like the fancy soaps you buy at the mall. I vary the oils I use. Lately it’s Tea Tree and Grapefruit. I also like lemon and lavender, orange and clove (just one drop), geranium and pine. Be creative and experiment with your own favorite scents.

The essential oils you use also add disinfecting properties. Many people think that soap disinfects. This is a misconception. Soap actually does not disinfect inasmuch as it changes the pH of your hands. Soap on it’s own is a solvent. It lifts the dirt, grease, and germs and allows them to be washed away with the water. This is why hand washing is so important for fighting COVID-19. But soap, in and of itself, does not kill germs. If you want to add anti-microbial properties to tour soap, this is where the essential oils come in. Oils like tea tree, clove, and lemon are anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. Grapefruit is anti-microbial. So choose yours oils based on their properties and the smells you like.

If you want more info on what oils are good to use based on their properties, check out my Herbs and Oils Pocket Reference Chart.

I’ve saved myself hundred of dollars each year by making my own hand soap. Here’s my soap bottle lineup. All refilled and ready to go.

Pantry Help – Organize Those Bulk Herbs and Spices

I love my herbs and spices. One of the biggest perks of living near the City is that you can get bulk herbs and spices very cheap. (See last week’s post bulk spices on the Since Your Last Visit page.)

But a cute little spice rack will not do for keeping them organized. These bulk containers were wreaking havoc with my pantry shelves. So I came up with a handy DIY solution.

Over-the-door shoe organizer to the rescue!

I labeled all the lids of my spice containers with a permanent marker and filled up all those pockets. 

I love the results. My favorite herbs and spices within easy reach and I don’t have to shuffle through my shelves looking for them anymore. Hooray for organization!

Sewing curtains

I finally got around to making curtains for two of our bedrooms after 1.5 years of living here. 

I made a border and tie backs for our son’s room.

I made two curtain panels for our bedroom and repurposed some old curtains from a previous apartment for the center panel. 

It’s to finally get some of these things done. It’s starting to feel like home. 🙂

Life the last year….

I haven’t posted anything this past year. Life happened.


We bought a house and moved.


And we had a baby.

So, I’m hoping to get back to posting things now that life is feeling a little more like normal again. I’ve made some changes to the blog, so keep your eyes open and watch for more posts to come.

Seasonal Decorating: Fall – pumpkins, leaves and scarecrows…

Pretty fall leaves in a basket.

Pretty fall leaves in a basket.

Fall is probably my favorite time to decorate for. I’m not sure why. I just love all the orange, red, and yellow. The pumpkins, leaves and scarecrows are quaint and I get excited as summer winds down and I can anticipate the crispness in the air that brings on fall. Here’s how we decorated for fall this year. It changes every year. I put some decorations in one place one year and in new place another year. I try to buy one new item on clearance at the end of every season so that we add to or decoration stash little by little.



Our fall twinkle lights. Made with orange halloween lights with paper leaves twisty tied on.

Our fall twinkle lights. Made with orange halloween lights with paper leaves twisty tied on.




Window decals.

Window decals.


Pretty candle holders.

Pretty candle holders.


Cute scarecrows.

Cute scarecrows.


More cute scarecrows...

More cute scarecrows…


Our newest window scarecrow.

Our newest window scarecrow.


Isn't this little face cute peeking over my plant leaves.

Isn’t this little face cute peeking over my plant leaves?

Leafy Twinkle Lights for Fall

Fall is coming. Time to get ready. It’s my favorite season to decorate for. Pumpkins, colored leaves, orange and red and yellow. I just love it. Here’s how to make your own leafy twinkle lights with clearance fall and Halloween items.

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First, watch for a set of orange Christmas lights on clearance after Haloween (if you didn’t do this last year, then go find some now). Next, buy a set of paper leaves. Grab a set of all those twisty ties that are hiding in your kitchen drawer that you never use on your trash bags and color them black with a magic marker (see photo above).


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Poke a black twisty tie through the base of each paper leaf. Then twist them around your orange Christmas light strand in even increments (photo above).


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Hang it up and you have your own custom Leafy Twinkle Lights. A nice addition to your fall decor. The kids might enjoy helping you make it too.


Seasonal Decorating: Easter

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It’s almost Easter. We barely got our Easter decorations up in time.  It was still cold until this last week so it didn’t seem quite right to be decorating for Easter/spring when it was still 30 degrees outside. But, it warmed up last week so the decorations are up now. And the nice thing about Easter decor is that it easily transitions in to spring. Here’s what we have up this year:


A white gauze babywearing wrap used as a garland for colored Christmas lights with a white cord.

A white gauze babywearing wrap used as a garland for colored Christmas lights with a white cord.


Easter eggs dangle from the lights. I used Christmas ribbon and poked it through the holes in the eggs to make loops to hang them from.

Easter eggs dangle from the lights. I used colored Christmas ribbon and poked it through the holes in the tops of the eggs to make loops to hang them from.


Lilies that I had from somewhere clipped on to a ribbon graces the entertainment center.

Lilies that I had from some time in the past clipped on to a ribbon graces the entertainment center.


Easter egg window clings from the .99 cent store.

Easter egg window clings from the .99 cent store.


The Valentine wreath (a wire frame wrapped with a scarf) becomes the Easter wreath with clip of a flower. I'll switch it to a spring wreath later by adding a yellow ribbon.

The Valentine wreath (a wire frame wrapped with a scarf) becomes the Easter wreath with clip of a flower. I’ll switch it to a spring wreath later by adding a yellow ribbon twisted around the frame.


Our scarecrow Rosie, gets a new hat and flower.

Our scarecrow Rosie, gets a new hat and flower.


Rosie's Easter basket with a few flowers and Easter eggs mixed in.

Rosie’s Easter basket with a few flowers and Easter eggs mixed in.


An Easter tree - the hall plant decorated with the rest of the hanging Easter eggs.

An Easter tree – the hall plant decorated with the rest of the hanging Easter eggs.


Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter Everyone!



Product Update: Cotton-lined dish washing gloves

So, see my post below to read about the virtues of these wonderful dish washing gloves. Just wanted to let you know that 3 months later I’m still using the same pair of gloves! I’m shocked and amazed at the quality of these gloves. I’ve never had a pair of rubber gloves last so long and I’ve never liked a pair as well as I like these. Usually after a month at the most mine have holes and I’m throwing them out. And these get heavy use. On most days I use them 2-3 times a day. They are wonderful and you should all order some. Use my Amazon link and I’ll get a few pennies for your purchase. Wash away…..

Original Post:

41ZtqK26hQL._SY300_I usually don’t post about products but have any of you used these? Casabella Premium Water Stop  Latex Gloves (affiliate link – see my Disclosures page). I just discovered them and they are working wonders for the eczema on my hands that flares up periodically with the use of irritants like dish soap and hot water. But, what’s a city girl to do? The dishes have to be done. NYC apartment = no dishwasher. I can’t make the kids do the dishes yet. And the regular latex gloves from the store irritate my hands just as bad as dish soap with all those powdery linings. Well, guess what? These are wonderful! They have a “cotton flocking” which means that tiny cotton fibers have been adhered to the interior of the glove. Now, I will warn you that when I first got these and opened them up my first thought was, “These aren’t lined with cotton.” You see, I was expecting a cotton fabric lining and that is not what it is. It feels like a soft, less rubbery glove on the inside. I wasn’t sure that it was what I wanted but decided to try them out. I have been using them for around 3 weeks now and let me tell you the are well worth the $7 price tag. The lining (though not what I expected) doesn’t irritate my hands, they fit well and don’t slip and they have yet to crack or get a hole which is something that I can’t say for the gloves I used to buy at the grocery store. I’m sure they will wear out eventually but right now I am very happy and will definitely order more. They have definitely made dish washing a much happier chore at my house.

 Note: These are latex, so if you have a latex allergy I would avoid them since I don’t know that the cotton flocked lining would protect your skin sufficiently. 

Shhh! My Surprising Secret for Keeping my Kitchen Clean

140204_0003Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. (Well, actually do… share this post and improve my blog traffic.) But, I’ve been finding it easier to keep my kitchen clean. It took me a while to figure out why. We moved in the fall and it seemed like in the new kitchen it’s easier to keep clean than the old one. This really didn’t make sense. The new kitchen is smaller, has fewer cabinets and storage places and less counter space. So, why would it be easier to keep clean? It took me a couple of months to figure out but it finally hit me.

When we moved, we removed some conveniences from our life. Now it seems counter-intuitive that removing conveniences would make something easier, but that’s what happened. Let me tell you the story.

When we moved we threw out our microwave. This decision was made mostly due to a lack of space in the new kitchen. The fact that half the buttons were broken had something to do with it too. And I know that it is better for us to eat food heated on the stove, but that’s another topic. So, we moved and began settling into the new place without a microwave. After a month or so I was noticing that it seemed easier to keep this kitchen clean. Why would that be? A couple of months went by and it finally dawned on me. The reason (partly) is because I no longer had the microwave to rely on.

I realized that before in my spacious kitchen where counter and cabinet space was abundant, that I often relied on the microwave for reheating food, and usually on paper plates too. When we moved we gave up both the microwave and paper plates. Since then it’s been easier to keep the kitchen clean because I end up doing it in short spurts here and there throughout the day. Before, I would let myself fall back on using the microwave and paper plates and then go about putting out the next “fire” (solving arguments, changing diapers, cleaning up spills, etc…. you know everyday life). I would move the kitchen to the bottom of my “To-Do” list because I didn’t have to do it right then. I could get to it later. When the next meal came along and I still hadn’t gotten around to cleaning the kitchen, I would fall back on the paper plates and microwave. The cycle would continue and we would end up with stacks of dishes and no clean silverware in the drawer. So, I would end up washing just enough forks and spoons to get us through that meal and then I’d have to deal with all again at the next meal. The kitchen was a monster and something that I could never get on top of.

Now, without having the conveniences at my fingertips, I have to wash the pans because there is no hot food if I don’t. And it’s easier to wash a drainer full of dishes in the morning and then another one while I cook dinner. Cleaning the kitchen is not the dreaded chore anymore. It feels smaller and easier.

Now, lest anyone have the mistaken impression that I am against ever having a microwave or against ever using paper plates – I am not. But, I’ve realized that removing those things from my life has ended up being a blessing in disguise. It’s taken away a crutch and made me keep on top of things that I otherwise would let slide. Not having the microwave and not keeping paper plates around forces me to keep up better cleaning habits in my kitchen.

2.13.14 005And lest anyone also have the mistaken impression that my kitchen is now always clean here’s a picture just to prove it. It’s not always clean. We’re busy and I still let the kitchen work slide when more pressing things like 3 kids and homeschooling takes over my day. But, it’s no longer the dreaded chore that it used to be for which I am thankful.