Why We Took the No Poo Challenge

Why We Took the No Poo Challenge

Shampoo is one of those necessities we all think we need. Every day or every other day you hop in the shower and allow the sudsy lather to strip all of the natural oils from your hair. Not to worry, though! We have conditioner to fix that, right? Well, it’s not really that simple. There’s this thing called the no poo challenge and it may just change your life.

Last month my wife and I completed our first No Spend Challenge. Toward the end of the month we started to run out of a few basic needs. We got nervous as we added the last roll of toilet paper to the wall, we held our breath when the butter got used up on the last slice of bread, and we sighed when we hopped in the shower to find the shampoo next to gone.

Of course, we couldn’t spend any money on these because that would go against the rules of the challenge. We just had to find a way to get by without them (and for the record, the toilet paper lasted plenty long enough to get us through to February where we could buy some more).

What did we do about the shampoo, though? That’s what I’m here to tell you.

No Poo Challenge - www.diyjahn.com

Why We Took the No Poo Challenge

So, I guess this blog could have been more appropriately titled How We Took the No Poo Challenge, because the “Why” of the matter wasn’t really a choice. We originally decided to take the challenge because we simply ran out of shampoo and couldn’t buy more. That’s basically all there is to it.

On the other hand, we could have also titled the blog post Why We Continued to Take the No Poo Challenge Even After Our No Spend Month Ended, but that would of course, have been really long and obnoxious and you probably would have been bored before you even began reading the actual blog.

We started looking into the No Poo Challenge when we ran out of shampoo and then we started testing different recipes… Trying new ideas… and even making up ideas on our own. We contacted family members who don’t use shampoo (one who only rinses with water and has the softest hair her co-worker has ever felt). That’s when we came to the realization that shampoo is not a necessity. 

People will tell you over and over that shampoo is needed for good hygiene, but the reality of that matter is that shampoo is not healthy for your hair. It’s also just not cost effective. Do you even realize how much money you spend on shampoo each month? year? I bet it’s more than you care to admit.

So, what if I told you that you could stop using it entirely?

Well, it’s true. My wife and I have for about a month now and we’re loving it. Okay, we didn’t always love it, but we do now. When we first started, it was a struggle. I’ll admit that the first two weeks of losing shampoo is HARD. There’s grease and frustration and annoyance.

Your hair will take time to get used to being without shampoo.

Once you get there though, it’s definitely worth it. My hair is softer and smoother than it ever has been. It took many days to get here and a few mistakes in recipe to find the perfect combination, but I no longer have dandruff, my hair is always easy to brush, and I never need to use a straightening iron. It’s crazy, but it works. It’s just crazy enough to work.

The Recipe to Join the No Poo Challenge

Basically the No Poo Challenge is a chance for you to try not using shampoo for an extended period of time. You set the limits, you determine how long you’ll try it for, and you make the rules. You can even pick your own “no poo” recipe, but I’ll give you the one we use!

If you do decide to complete the no poo challenge – to save money and have healthier hair (without all the chemicals of shampoo products), here’s the recipe my wife and I use:

Mix 1 Tbsp of Baking Soda & 1 Cup of Water in a bottle. I usually also add a few drops of lemon essential oils just because they smell good.

Rinse your hair well in the shower before adding the baking soda concoction. You can use most of it in one shower for cleaner hair. Especially if you notice your hair getting greasy in between showers.

Don’t leave the shower yet though!

The baking soda takes away a lot from your hair in order to get it clean. We want to up the balance again. So, before you leave, pour some distilled vinegar and rub it into your hair.

Rinse the vinegar out and you’re good to go.

A few notes on the vinegar:

  • Be careful not to get it into your eyes, it burns like crazy. Just saying.
  • Rinse it well and your hair will be shinier and detangled!
  • The smell will go away once your hair is dry, don’t worry.

No Poo Challenge- www.diyjahn.com

Why We Took the No Poo Challenge

That’s it! Simple as that. I know, it seems crazy. Almost like it shouldn’t be possible, but just think: before shampoo was created, people didn’t just run around with crazy dirty hair. There was something else that came before the chemicals.

Sure, the shampoos in the store are easy to use, not super expensive, and keep your hair fairly decent. Nevertheless, the no poo challenge is unbelievably inexpensive, ALSO super easy to use, and keeps your hair healthier than it’s ever been.

Can you really deny the good it does?

Don’t answer that until you try it.

What is a crazy thing you’ve done to save money?

Leave your response in the comments below!

3 Homemade Dessert Recipes You’ll LOVE – NSC Series

3 Homemade Dessert Recipes You’ll LOVE

If you’re like me, the hardest part of this No Spend Challenge is finding ways to still get some dessert. I’ve scavenged my cupboards and come up with three homemade dessert recipes for you to try (with ingredients you probably already have)!

This Sunday we couldn’t make it to our scheduled church visit. The drive was about three hours, but the roads were covered in sheets of ice, the snow was drifting, and the wind was howling. The conditions were just too bad to make it there. So, since we couldn’t make it, we decided it would be a great day for a lazy day at home (that almost never happens).

We slept in a little later than normal, woke up to the sun pouring through our windows and the wind knocking on our walls, put on our slippers, and padded into the kitchen for some breakfast. After searching through our cupboards and deciding that cereal, eggs, and leftovers just don’t sound that good – we decided to make chocolate chip muffins. Not just any chocolate chip muffins though: warm, melt-y, made-in-the-microwave-in-only-two-minutes muffins.

We cuddled into our robes and devoured our mug-muffins with no regard to the below zero temps outside. It was a beautiful morning.

And don’t worry, that’s one of the recipes I’m going to share with you today!

Homemade Dessert Recipes (1)

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.



3 Homemade Dessert Recipes

homemade dessert recipes (3)

Chocolate Chip Coffee Mug Muffins

  • Pinch of Baking Powder & Baking Soda
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • Little less than 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • Chocolate Chips

Mix together in a coffee mug. Microwave for around two minutes. Presto!

Creamy Cream Cheese-Cake

  • Crescent Rolls – These can be either store-bought or homemade. I like to use THIS recipe that I found on Just a Pinch.
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.’ Stretch 1/2 the crescent rolls across the bottom of a cake pan (greased). Mix together the sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla. Spread mixture across crescent rolls. Spread the second half of crescent rolls across the top of the mixture. Sprinkle sugar over the top of the crescent rolls. Place in oven and cook until golden brown. Yum!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Pudding

  • Chocolate Pudding – This can be either store-bought or homemade
  • 1 Cup Strawberries – 1/2 Cup Halved and 1/2 Cup Chopped Up
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • Fudge Ice Cream Topping – This can be either store-bought or homemade

Fill cups with pudding about 3/4 of the way. Place the 1/2 cup chopped strawberries into a blender or food processor with the 1 Tbsp sugar. Blend well. Pour mixture on top of the chocolate pudding. Place 1/2 Strawberry in each cup. Drizzle with fudge ice cream topping. Enjoy!

homemade dessert recipes (2)

Homemade Dessert Recipes

There you have it: 3 homemade dessert recipes that you, your family, and your friends are sure to love. In most cases, you probably have these ingredients just lying around the house – why not put them to work? Substitutions work too, if you don’t have what you need! Experiment and see what you can come up with.

Just a recap:

  • Chocolate Chip Coffee Mug Muffins
  • Creamy Cream Cheese-Cake
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pudding

Now, if you didn’t remember, today is day 12 of the No Spend Challenge – we are coming close to being halfway done and we are still somehow making it through. I hope that you guys are as well!

Here’s your inspiration for the day, our quote by Zig Ziglar.

Quote - Day 12

“You were born to WIN, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to WIN.” -Zig Ziglar

The same goes for paying off debt, getting that savings going, succeeding at this challenge, and just living life to the fullest. In order to accomplish your goals, you must plan, prepare, and expect to accomplish them. It’s all about your mindset (you can read more about that HERE).

Make the choice to WIN today – succeed at your goals and take yourself one step closer to the life you are dreaming of living!

What does your plan to succeed look like? What are your goals?

Leave your response in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

Making Homemade Bread can save you TONS – NSC Series

Making Homemade Bread can save you TONS

Making homemade bread is one of those things that everyone should learn how to do at some point in their lives. The benefits far outweigh the work and once you figure out how to make one type, you can make just about everything (I know, I’ve tried)! The taste is amazing, the texture is great, it’s warm, and it can save you tons of money, but don’t take my word for it: I’ve got a couple examples of others who enjoy homemade bread, a cost analysis, and some recipes for you to enjoy!

Imagine enjoying a steaming hot bowl of soup while dipping in a warm, soft piece of freshly baked bread…

Imagine waking up in the morning to the scent of homemade cinnamon rolls smothered in cream cheese frosting wafting down the halls…

Imagine pulling apart a big, soft pretzel – still warm and sprinkled with salt – and dipping it into some melted cheese…

Now, instead of imagining it – let’s make it a reality.

Making Homemade Bread

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.


Why Making Homemade Bread is Important

I know what you are thinking: it’s a lot of work to make homemade bread just because it tastes good. However, don’t let the work scare you away. There are so many reasons why you should make homemade bread.

A good friend of mine, Lisa, outlines them in her blog, Comfortably Imperfect (Click HERE).

She states in her post 6 Reasons Why You Should Make Homemade Bread;

  1. Homemade bread is so much better for you.
  2. Homemade bread tastes so much better than store bought.
  3. It is much easier to make than you think.
  4. Making your own bread will save you money.
  5. There is something deeply satisfying about making food from scratch.
  6. Your friends and family will think you are a rockstar

Go check out the rest of her post (HERE) for a more in-depth explanation of each of these. I promise it’s worth it, she’s an awesome blogger!

Making Homemade Bread (2)

Making Homemade Bread: Cost Analysis

Now, I want to go a little deeper into her point number four about how making homemade bread can save you money. Do you remember when I did the cost analysis on making homemade pasta and discovered you could save over $100? If not, check it out (HERE); How Making Homemade Pasta could save you Hundreds.

Anyway, I plan to do the same cost analysis here with you today so that you can easily see how making homemade bread can save you tons of money!

Let’s take a normal loaf of traditional white bread. In both price examples, we are looking at the cost of one loaf of bread.

Homemade Bread Store-Bought Bread
Ingredients 26 oz Salt: $.75 Store-Bought Bread: $3
48 oz Oil: $2.28
5 lb Flour: $2
4 lb Sugar: $2.38
4 oz Active Dry Yeast: $4.78
Average Cost for 1 Loaf $.38 $3

I know you are probably wondering where these numbers come from. Well, I took the average cost of ingredients for the homemade bread from the stores in my area. These could differ some based on your area.

As for the store-bought loaf of bread, I used a decent-quality loaf of bread on the low-end of the scale. I know that there are breads that you can get for closer to $2 if you sacrifice quality and other breads that you can get for $5+ if you want super high quality (I promise that the homemade bread is higher quality than this, though). I chose to stick in the middle/low end to give you all a decent idea of what this will save you.

Anyway, here’s where the final average cost per loaf comes from for making homemade bread as opposed to purchasing it from the store.

Let’s break it down one ingredient at a time:

  • 26 oz Salt – $.75: One 26 oz container of salt can create 144 batches of homemade bread making it $.005 per loaf.
  • 48 oz Oil – $2.28: One 48 oz container of oil can create 96 batches of homemade bread making it $.02 per loaf.
  • 5 lb Flour – $2: One 5 pound bag of flour can create 10 batches of homemade bread making it $.2 per loaf.
  • 4 lb Sugar – $2.38: One 4 pound bag of sugar can create around 150 batches of homemade bread making it $.01 per loaf.
  • 4 oz Active Dry Yeast – $4.78: One 4 oz jar of active dry yeast can create around 34 batches of homemade bread making it $.14 per loaf.

As you can see, with these ingredients, it costs roughly $.38 to bake one loaf of bread at home. Thirty-eight cents – how awesome is that?!

There is an upfront cost of $12.19 to buy the ingredients in bulk (it’d be pretty hard to buy one teaspoon of salt at a time…), but I promise it’s worth it. Don’t believe me? Check out the numbers below.

Now, I also want you to realize that I am doing this cost analysis based on you eating a loaf of homemade bread two times per week. Remember that you can also save money on this homemade bread by making your own cinnamon rolls, pretzels, crescent rolls, etc. and eat like kings for super cheap. In my house, we use recipes like these almost every, single day – so I know that we save more than we outlined here in this post.

The question is: will you actually save tons of money as I have suggested? Will it be worth your while? Let’s do the math and find out.

If you eat two loaves of store-bought bread per week for 52 weeks, you will spend a total of $312 – which isn’t too bad at all. The cost is $6 per week, which is pretty slim when you consider how many meals you can serve with a loaf of bread.

Now, to take a look at why making homemade bread is so much better. If you eat two loaves of homemade bread per week for the entire year, you’ll spend a total of $39.52.

What?! That’s right. You read that right. Each week you’ll spend less than $.80 and each year you’ll spend less than $40. How cool is that? Now, when I told you about making homemade pasta, I found a way to cut your bill in half saving you over $100. However, as you can tell, making your own bread far surpasses that total cutting your bill by more than SEVEN TIMES.

Over the course of the year, your family will save $272.48 – TONS of money – just by making homemade bread!

My wife and I have chosen not to buy any more store-bought bread – it’s simply too expensive once you are able to make your own. You don’t knead a bread machine to start making your own bread, but even if you purchase a bread maker you’ll make up your expenses within a few short months – how cool is that? Imagine having $272.48 in your pocket every year!

Making Homemade Bread: The Recipe

Now it’s time for the recipe. I know there are many different recipes out there, but I want to make sure that you get the one we did our cost analysis on. Remember, you can also make crescent rolls, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, pretzels, and more once you get the hang of it – saving you even more per year than what you’ll already save with loaves of bread!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Active Dry Yeast

For the full recipe, visit the Oster website. We use the Oster 1 pound traditional white bread loaf recipe that came in our Bread Machine’s cookbook. We found a similar one online from Oster, but it creates a 2 pound loaf, so we cut this in half. Here’s the link (HERE): http://www.food.com/recipe/bread-machine-2-lb-traditional-white-bread-285666

Making Homemade Bread (1)

Thank you for reading!

I hope this post helps you to further your bread-making skills and save tons of money. I know it has helped us. Imagine: over $200 every year! Crazy stuff.

Anyway, it’s day 11 of the No Spend Challenge already and things are going well. I hope the same is true for all of you!

Our quote for the day is by Benjamin Franklin and really encompasses our post for today.

Quote - Day 11

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” -Benjamin Franklin

As I continue through this challenge, I realize how much the little things add up. Like today’s post on bread: sure it’s only $3 a loaf, but that’s $312 per year! I used to go to Starbucks often too, or grab a soda at the gas station, but then I think more about how much those little things add up and how quickly they can sink your financial ship. Just something to keep in mind as we move forward!

What is your favorite homemade food to make?

Leave your responses in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

Homemade Cleaning Products for a Cleaner Home

Homemade Cleaning Products for a Cleaner Home

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can lower our bills (as you all may know). While there are many things we can cut out, we always knew that cleaning products were something that we absolutely couldn’t. When we got to thinking about it though, it only made sense to try and make our own homemade cleaning products – because, well, why not? So, today we are sharing some recipes that we have tried and some recipes that we have yet to try to save you money on cleaning products!

Homemade Cleaning Products (1)

If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are in the midst of our first ever No Spend Challenge (NSC) which started January 1.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.




Homemade Cleaning Products

First off, I want to let you all know that my wife and I do receive many of our cleaning products for free. The greatest part? You can too! You see, we work with a company called ePantry which helps both our budget and the environment. In fact, if you’re interested, I wrote a whole post about how you can get involved with them and start saving the rainforrest today! You can read it by clicking HERE.

So, because we get some of our cleaning products for free, there are some homemade cleaning products that we have yet to try. We will be trying them, but I won’t vouch for them 100% until we do. Either way, I will give you the recipes and let you experiment to you heart’s content: knowing that you will save hundreds each year by making your own!

Not only will you save money, but your house will be cleaner and filled with less chemicals. You’ll know exactly what is in each product and therefore, you will have more control over the cleanliness of your home.

Remember to test each of these products on a small surface before utilizing them full to ensure that they do not hurt your surfaces! Also, do not use vinegar based cleaners on granite or marble surfaces!

Homemade Cleaning Products for the Kitchen

Surface Cleaner

I’ve got to be honest from the get-go here: most of our cleaning products utilize vinegar, baking soda, and water. That’s it. No, really, that’s all you need to get a clean home (okay, some take a little bit more, but that’s basically it). So, for your surface cleaner, I recommend using a combination of equal parts vinegar and water. Shake together, spray, and wipe down most surfaces!

  • 1 Part Vinegar
  • 1 Part Water

Wood and Other Hard Flooring

For wood floors, a combination of equal parts vinegar and vegetable oil will do the trick! But for other hard floors, utilize the surface cleaner mentioned above!

  • 1 Part Vinegar
  • 1 Part Vegetable Oil

Stainless Steel Cleaner

Cleaning your stainless steal appliances can sometimes be trick. While I can’t say that I have any, I do know some friends who utilize their homemade cleaning products to clean and shine their steel appliances! I’ve heard of using straight vinegar to shine stainless steel, but I think it works best if you add baking soda and water. Try this recipe for your appliances!

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

Homemade Cleaning Products for the Bathroom

Toilet Cleaner

My wife has been cleaning our toilets with vinegar and baking soda for as long as I’ve known her and our toilets are always sparkling. (I sure do appreciate her doing it, too). She pours a little vinegar in, pours some baking soda in, let’s it sit for a little bit, scrubs it, and flushes – no nasty blue chemicals for us!

  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda

Drain Cleaner

To clean out a clogged drain, use equal parts baking soda and vinegar, followed by hot water. I recommend 1/4 cup each and a LOT of hot water. Let it sit for a bit before you add the hot water though – it’ll fizz and eat away at the clog!

  • 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 10 Cups Hot Water

Disinfectant Wipes

My wife and I adore Clorox wipes. We use one every single night to clean off our stove, counter tops, fridge, etc. They also come in handy when spills occur or when deep cleaning. We love them. However, we do not love the price tag. They are so expensive. SO, here’s a recipe to make your own disinfectant wipes that are reusable! I’m so excited to use these.

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Dawn Dish Soap
  • Water

Get the full recipe by visiting Living on a Dime – Click HERE!

Homemade Cleaning Products for the Home

Glass Cleaner

For a glass cleaner that makes your windows and mirrors shine, mix one part rubbing alcohol to one part water! You can add vinegar for more difficult scrubbing needs, but it is not necessary.

  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Rubbing Alcohol

Furniture Polish

A good furniture polish is one of the easiest homemade cleaning products to make. All it takes is one part olive oil to one part vinegar. Mix and use!

  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar

Laundry Softener

I haven’t tried this recipe, but Aura Cacia offers an awesome-sounding homemade fabric softener for use during the rinse cycle! Since my wife and I hang-dry our clothes, it would be great to have a fabric softener to use during the washing process.

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda

For full recipe and directions, visit Aura Cacia – click HERE.

Additions to Homemade Cleaning Products

Homemade Cleaning Products

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be added to any of the above homemade cleaning products for better scent and for a better cleaning quality. What? I know! It’s hard to imagine that the hype over essential oils can be legitimate, but after trying more and more of them – I’m realizing how great they truly are. So, here’s what you can do with some of them (but trust me, there’s plenty more you can do too).

Peppermint Oil – can be used to disinfect and to help keep away pests (mice, spiders, roaches, etc.) I wrote a whole post on how this is the best way to get rid of mice – view it by clicking HERE. It has very power antibacterial properties and therefore, should be used more often during cold and flu season.

Lavender Oil – has been proven to be a calming scent. Add it to your carpet cleaners and laundry detergents for a calmer home. It also has antiseptic and disinfectant properties, so it can be added to many more homemade cleaning products as well.

Tea Tree Oil – use this to add extra disinfectant qualities to your homemade cleaning products (such as sprays, polishes, and wipes). Tea Tree is also great for getting rid of mold or mildew – try it in your bathroom next time you are cleaning.

Citrus Scents (lemon, orange, grapefruit) – these oils can be used as natural degreasers – add them to disinfectant cloths, cleaning sprays, or dish soap for a cleaner and fresher-smelling home! Lemon can also be used to help get stains out of clothing and carpets.

Eucalyptus – can also be a great scent to utilize during cold and flu season for it’s antibacterial properties.

Getting Started with Essential Oils

These are only a few of the many different essential oils that can aid in your cleaning. Now, you make look at these oils and notice that they aren’t exactly the cheapest purchase to make, but remember – only a couple drops is needed in each homemade cleaning products recipe for the properties to take effect.

That being said, if you are unsure of where to start, why not get a starter kit! My wife and I bought one for our stocking for Christmas and have loved experimenting with different scent combinations and how they make us feel.

We are personally fond of the one we purchased on Amazon because we got a lot of oil samples for a low, low cost. Check it out: Essential Oil Variety Set – Set of 14

Day 6 of the No Spend Challenge

There’s your post for the day – all about making your own homemade cleaning products to create a cleaner home on a frugal budget. Now, your quote of the day is one of my absolute favorites by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Quote - Day 6 (1)

“For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve heard that there is a possibility that F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t write this line and someone else did – if so, it’s misquoted a lot on the internet (is anyone surprised?). In either case, I love this quote and as I move forward to make changes in my life, I know I need to build my courage to start all over again. I’m certainly working on it – are you?

So, tell me, are you proud of the life you are living
OR
are you working on starting all over again?

Let us know in the comments below!


Disclaimer: Some of DIY Jahn posts contain affiliate links. While I do earn money through Fronto, Ibotta, and other companies, and bonuses for referring people, all of my opinions on the company are 100% honest and my own. Also, please note that recipes, fitness tips, and financial tips are not given by a professional. To understand what this all means for you, click here.

Living Frugal: Don’t Throw Away Leftovers! – NSC Series

Living Frugal: Don’t Throw Away the Christmas Leftovers!

Merry Day-After-Christmas Day (or something like that…)! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends. I know that I did. Living frugal doesn’t have to mean a boring life – yesterday I celebrated Christmas at my parent’s house with my wife and today we are headed to her parent’s house for another Christmas celebration. Woohoo!

We ate tons of delicious foods and we are off to eat more today, but first I wanted to let you all know a little secret to living frugal: don’t throw away the Christmas leftovers! I know what you are thinking: we spent days or weeks preparing for this meal, hours upon hours cooking it in a chaotic kitchen, and now we are tired of it. We don’t want this food anymore – and here’s another secret: I am too.

The thing is, saving the leftovers means creating a plethora of new meals that can save you money in the long run. As we know, living frugal is all about saving money – especially with the No Spend Challenge coming up so quickly! Don’t worry, this post is filled with ideas to utilize your leftovers without eating the same thing over and over again. Like I said, living frugal doesn’t have to be boring!

LIVING FRUGAL


If you are new to our NSC Series, start here!
-If not, you can skip this section-

As some of you may know, we are preparing for our first every No Spend Challenge (NSC), starting January 1, and holy cow, it is approaching quickly.

The short story is that my wife and I racked up a ton of debt (read how HERE) and want to pay it off as quickly as possible so that we can live our dream lives (read about our goals HERE). This challenge will help us learn about living frugal, saving money, and paying off our debt faster.

Visit our post, Frugal Living at its Finest: the No Spend Challenge, to view why we are doing the challenge, what the challenge entails, and the rules.

The hardest thing about budgeting and frugal living is doing it alone and that’s why we want to invite you all to join us on our NSC. Sign up below to opt-in to our email community, filled with exclusive tips and tricks for saving money to survive living frugal during your NSC month.

Follow our rules or make your own! Join for one week or the entire month! We know that not everyone is in the same situation we are in. Stick with the No Spend Challenge for as much or as little as you are able in your situation and don’t be afraid to hop on after the starting date (it’s never too late to join in on the fun!).

We’ll be taking the challenge right alongside you – with daily blog posts, encouragements, and exclusive email information and communication: this will be the single, greatest choice you make to jump start the New Year.




Living Frugal

Along with your exhaustion that comes from holiday merriment, I’m sure you’re also suffering from food boredom. You’ve spent the majority of this past week working to prepare your Christmas meal. After the filling Christmas day, you are now faced with a fridge full of leftovers that you are no longer interested in – I definitely know how that goes.

Living frugal though, during the NSC, means that you won’t have any money to spend on groceries. Before you think about throwing away those leftovers in exchange for a nice hot pizza, let’s think about some ways that you can reuse them, instead, to make new and exciting meals!

I know what you’re thinking: not more cooking… Well, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it today. Most leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to one week before they go bad. Just make sure to do some cooking and freezing before they do go bad so that you can have some extra food to start off the No Spend Challenge. Remember, we’re living frugal which means not wasting ANY food.

Now, here are some ideas for using your Christmas leftovers and living frugal as you prepare for the challenge.

  • Use your turkey or ham bones to make broths and soups! Turkey makes a great broth to be used in recipes for soups, casseroles, and more. Ham broth can be a nice base to a minestrone type soup. Try freezing broths in cupcake pans first to create portion-sized pieces!
  • For leftover fish from a seven fishes feast, consider making an Italian White Fish Stew such as was showcased on the Healthy Helper Blog – Click HERE
  • Got a ton of potatoes? We all know that these have many uses, but here are a couple from the Healthy Helper Blog including: Sweet Potatoes – for Frittata (HERE) and Potatoes for High Protein Potato Salad (HERE).
  • Casseroles can freeze nicely, but are hard to reuse in new recipes. Simply place cooled casseroles in a freezer-safe container or baggy and freeze.
  • Freezing vegetables can help you to make delicious soups, casseroles, and dinners later. Throw them in a freezer-safe container or baggy and pull them out when you need a side for a meal, something to beef up your soup, or an important ingredient for your casseroles!
  • Mashed potatoes are great for making delicious homemade bread (which is great if you’re working on living frugal). Simply google “Mashed potato bread” and you’ll see thousands of results (or you can look at your old fashioned Betty Crocker cookbook, like me, and you’ll find it in there too).

I hope this list helps as you work on living frugal and paying off debt.

Now, here’s a question for you:

What is YOUR favorite way to use your Christmas leftovers?

Leave your answers in the comments below!

No Spend

How to Crochet a Blanket: The perfect gift

How to Crochet a Blanket: the perfect gift for any occasion

When I first learned how to crochet a blanket, I was in the hospital. No, I wasn’t actually in the hospital, but my father was. He had been in a horrible accident causing him to break half the bones in his body and become permanently disabled. I was 12.

The accident led to an elongated stay at the Iowa City Hospital. My mother and I, with no car, stayed there alongside him throughout his journey. Days upon days of waiting for visiting calls (once an hour for 15 minutes or so) led to nights upon nights of sleeping in waiting room chairs.

I’m not here to complain about the situation. It was long and hard, life-changing and awful, but as with everything – you eventually have to pick yourself up and move on. The accident left us with a hole in our hearts, but we have my father with us still and I am happy to be able to talk to him, spend time with him, and see him often. I grew and am stronger for having experienced it.

How to crochet a blanket

What I am here to say is that crocheting became an escape for me during this time of crisis in my family. Every once and a while we would get visitors at the hospital. Throughout our time there, over a month, family members would come to see how dad was doing, how we were doing, and be present with us in those moments.

I remember my best childhood friend visiting early on in our stay. We ran around the hospital, went up and down the elevators, and played on the children’s outdoor play equipment. She stayed for a day and had to leave.

After that my mother and I spent all of our time together. We played games in the waiting room, we went out to the smoking area, and we talked. There were times we stocked up on food at the cafeteria in case we ran out of money. There were times where we struggled to find a place to rest and sleep, but we made it through, nevertheless.

When my aunt came to visit, with my uncle, she decided that we needed something to do that wasn’t simply sitting around worrying and fretting. My mom stayed at the hospital while I traveled with my aunt to a nearby crafting store. She exclaimed that it was time I learned how to crochet a blanket

We purchased skein after skein of yarn, a hook for my mother and a hook for myself, and set back toward the hospital. Sitting in the waiting room chairs, my aunt and my mom taught me how to crochet a blanket using singles, doubles, triples, and chains. I didn’t have a pattern, but it didn’t matter. I set to work crocheting a pink, blue, and multi-colored purple blanket.

The crocheting kept me from counting my father’s breaths, from smelling the familiar scents of the hospital, and from becoming encompassed by the institutional walls around us. When my mother and I went outside to the smoker’s lounge, the partially completed blanket kept me warm.

Once we left the hospital, I set down the project and didn’t pick it back up again for years. The sting of the hospital stuck to the yarn of the blanket and I couldn’t handle its intensity. It wasn’t until six years later than I finally picked it back up and completed it.

Now, I know that the skill my aunt taught me – how to crochet a blanket – kept me sane during our stay at the hospital. I also know that it is a life skill that I am excited to know and utilize it often. Crocheted blankets are perhaps my favorite Christmas gift to give to family and friends.

how to crochet a blanket 2

How to Crochet a Blanket

Crocheting a blanket is easier than you may think and there are many ways to go about it. While I won’t give you the exact patterns here (you don’t even necessarily need them), you can find some great ones at Ravelry.

When learning how to crochet a blanket, I recommend starting with this three types and expanding from there.

Throw or Baby Blanket

Creating a throw or a baby blanket is the easiest blanket to create. Basically: you start by chaining yarn until you reach your desired width for the blanket. Turn your chain and single crochet in each of your chain stitches. Turn again and create another row.

Tip: The easiest way to do this blanket is to follow this structure: Single, Double, Triple, Double, Single. Repeat until you reach your desired length of blanket.

Easy-peasy.

Sure, there are more in-depth, fancy ways to do this, but this is a great place to start when you are learning how to crochet a blanket for the first time.

how to crochet a blanket 1

Quilted Blanket

The quilted blanket is second on the list because the concept is simple, the project isn’t too difficult, but it does become more time-consuming than the throw or baby blanket version. Basically, choose a type of granny square or decorative crochet square and start crocheting. Make as many as it takes, in whatever colors you like, to create a blanket.

Tip: Lay all of your squares on the floor to determine how many it will take to be the right size, what order you want them to sit in, and how they will look.

Once you finish crocheting these squares, use yarn to either sew them together with a yarn needle or crochet them together with looping chains.

Patterned Blanket

This one looks the neatest at the end, but definitely takes some time to make. If you have the patience, this blanket becomes a gorgeous finished product and I certainly recommend it. Similar to the quilted blanket pattern, you’ll need to create granny squares. The difference with this one is that you need the colors to match to create a pattern. Pictured below is a woven pattern created with yellow and blue mini squares (granny squares where the last row is not completed).

Tip: With this one you may want to do some research online for a pattern that you would like to complete. You can also google pixelated images and use that as a guide (create squares the color of the pixels) to create a neat and new blanket. I’d love to see a Mario one!

After your pattern and layout is complete, sew them together on the back edge. You may want to create a border by crocheting around the edges of the entire blanket at the end.

HOW TO CROCHET A BLANKET 3

The Perfect Gift for Any Occasion

Learning how to crochet a blanket can be a time-consuming task. However, the end result is always phenomenal. Once you have completed your blanket, they become a beautiful gift for any occasion, but the process can be an escape. My wife and I have both given these as gifts to multiple people (our moms included) and they are always a cherished gift. We even received one as a wedding gift and use it all the time!

For more gift ideas on a budget, check out our DIY Christmas Gift Guide for Friends and Family!

Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Last Minute Shopper

Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Last Minute Shopper

When my wife and I have time, we like to sit down on the living room floor, throw on a Christmas movie, and take our sweet time wrapping the presents we bought. We take it slow and use as many gift wrapping ideas as we can come up with.

Gift Wrapping Ideas for the Last Minute Shopper

In our storage area, we have a treasure chest filled with ribbons, tags, and bows that we can put onto any gift to make it beautiful – most of which belonged to my maternal grandmother at some point.

I never met her, but I like to think of myself as similar to her. She was a fancy woman who loved to create beautiful things – she would create the perfect cookies for the beautiful parties she would throw and wrap gifts to perfection. I imagine her and I would have gotten along well as I truly enjoy taking my time and creating a masterpiece when I wrap gifts (and usually when I bake, too, for that matter).

However, as you may imagine, we don’t always have time to come up with beautiful gift wrapping ideas. Sometimes life gets in the way. We have all been there – you’re ready for Christmas except for one big aspect: you haven’t bought the gifts yet and Christmas is two days away.

Like a madman, you run to the store to buy the perfect gifts for your loved ones. You elbow through the mass of crowds to find the item you are searching for… only to discover that it is sold out. Instead, you overpay for last minute purchases that you pray will still bring joy to your family and friends.

You spend an hour and a half waiting at the register, claw your way out of the store, and purchase a to-go dinner on the way home because you’re absolutely exhausted. You go to bed, wake up late on Christmas Eve, and realize that you are nowhere near ready to host Christmas tomorrow – the dinner is unprepared, the gifts are still sitting in shopping bags by the door, and your house is a mess!

You barely have time to wrap your gifts, let alone think of beautiful ways to spice them up. That’s where we come in: here are some gift wrapping ideas to help you out. We have compiled these photos of beautiful gifts that you can copy to create a gorgeously wrapped Christmas present for your family and friends. Enjoy!

gift wrapping ideas 4 gift wrapping ideas 3 gift wrapping ideas 2 gift wrapping ideas 1

Brighten Up Your Space with a DIY Christmas Wreath

Brighten Up Your Space with a DIY Christmas Wreath

Top ‘o the morning to you, readers! I’m sure you’re busy preparing for Christmas, but I wanted to share with you another opportunity that I had to write an article about how to Brighten Up Your Space with a DIY Christmas Wreath!

A fellow blogger and I decided to tag team our articles and by that, I mean – we decided to exchange guest posts. You may remember her post from earlier this week: Last Minute Fashionable Holiday Gift Ideas. It was a hit – filled with awesome ideas for fashionable friends. So, since she posted that on my site, I posted about creating a beautiful DIY Christmas wreath on her site.

You can read the post here: Brighten Up Your Space with a DIY Christmas Wreath

DIY Christmas Wreath 3

I’m sure you’re wondering where I came up with the idea, though, right? Well, even if you’re not, I’m going to tell you because I think it’s wonderful.

So, every time we visit my wife’s parents for Thanksgiving they have a craft for us to complete. The first time I went there, her mom had gotten a project together for us and so we all made light balls. We took a bunch of plastic cups, drilled a hole through the bottom, and strung lights through them. Then we stapled them together to make a disco-ball type Christmas decoration that looked gorgeous!

DIY Christmas gift 11

Well, this past Thanksgiving my wife’s father got together a project for us all to make: DIY Christmas wreaths. After our big Thanksgiving meal, we headed out to the garage where he had set up a table filled with pieces and equipment to build wreaths.

My wife, her parents, her brother, her sister-in-law, and I all set to work creating our wreaths. We had a blast! My wife and I talked about it on the way home, gave a wreath to my parents, and hung two up in our house.

After we hung them up, it was like a breath of fresh air. They were beautiful and they truly brightened up our space! And from that moment came the post: Brighten Up Your Space with a DIY Christmas Wreath.

DIY Christmas gift 13

Want to make your own? Click here (HERE) to read the post and enjoy!

What is your favorite Christmas decoration or craft?

Also, if you’re looking for some other DIY Christmas gifts – check out our post: DIY Christmas Gift Guide for Friends and Family

DIY Christmas wreath

Healthy Twists on Holiday Favorites

Healthy Twists on Holiday Favorites

Today we have a special guest post written by Orthology. It’s filled with great ideas to have a healthy holiday season. Enjoy!


Unfortunately, holiday weight gain isn’t a myth. Researchers have found most people gain around one pound between November and January. Overweight or obese adults are most likely to add weight during these months. Over 14 percent gain more than five pounds.

You can’t control the number of work engagements or private parties you’re obligated to attend. However, you can make an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the season. Nutrition scientists have long understood that diet has a major impact on health, including mental health. Eating better can have a long-term impact on your mood and cognitive function. Here are some effective ways to put a wellness-conscious twist on your family’s favorite holiday dishes.

Healthy twists

Mushroom Gravy.

Choosing plant-based options can have a positive impact on blood cholesterol than non-vegan approaches to a low-fat diet, according to Stanford Research. Gravy is typically one of the highest fat holiday offerings, but a few simple changes can drastically improve it. Simply choose vegetable broth instead of turkey drippings, use vegan margarine in place of butter, and include sautéed mushrooms for a lovely texture.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Relish.

Researchers are increasingly discovering that white sugar can play a role in heart disease. Reducing the sugar in holiday dishes could help reduce heart disease risks and lower your caloric intake. Sweeten this season’s cranberry relish with grated apple and orange juice instead of white sugar. Your family and friends may even prefer this slightly tart alternative.

Walnut and Fig Pie Crust.

Nuts contain antioxidants, which are a powerful tool for fighting cancer-causing free radicals that can cause cancer. Take a healthier pie crust to your holiday events by using ground walnuts and dates in place of white flour. It’s the perfect basis for a vegan apple or pumpkin pie.

Roasted Veggies.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables is linked to optimal health. Whole foods, in particular, can provide crucial nutrients. Roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips with herbs and olive oil can make a colorful, satisfying, and healthy holiday addition to any menu or potluck.

Whole Grain Rolls.

Whole grains are a powerful way to defend your body from a host of deadly diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Choosing whole grain rolls as your holiday bread selection is a healthy and simple way to make better choices this season.

Making better food choices during the holidays doesn’t require special menus. With simple substitutions and modifications, you can improve the nutritional profile of traditional favorites.


 

Thank you again to Orthology for guest posting on our site! In case you’re interested, here’s a little more information about them.

Orthology is a world-class, innovative solution for rapid recovery from back and body injuries, chronic pain, and orthopedic surgeries, as well as ongoing ‘TuneUp’ wellness care.

How are you guys staying healthy this holiday?

Tell us in the comments below!

Gift idea for the person who has everything

Gift idea for the person who has everything

 Each year we spend countless hours coming up with the perfect gift idea for each of our close friends and family members. As many of you know, this can be tricky business – especially when the person you are shopping for seems to have everything.

My wife and I have this friend who seems to have everything. We’ll hear her say that she wants something and the next time we visit, there it is: sitting in her living room, on her counter, or in the hall. We search and search for a gift idea for this person, but we can never find something that she’ll love.

So, we decided to do some scavenging. We obviously couldn’t spend a ton to purchase a gift (with our budget being so tight and all). Instead, we wanted to find a DIY project that would be perfect for our friend who has everything. Remember that list of DIY Christmas gifts that I made last week? 

We looked back on that and found the perfect gift: DIY Wine Glass Treats – and today we are going to show you how to make them yourself.

gift idea for the person who has everything

The Perfect Gift Idea
for the Person Who Has Everything

Wine Glass Treats are an easy-to-make gift idea that always turn out beautifully. And the best part: They cost you hardly anything, they’re filled with delicious goodies, and they’re beautiful to look at it. It’s a win-win-win for that person who is impossible to shop for!

What you will need:

  • Hot Glue Gun: This is probably something you have lying around, but if not, super glue could also work!
  • Decorations: We are going to show you how we decorated ours, but feel free to get creative. Don’t have burlap around? Grab some ribbon or lace! Don’t have fabric lying around? Construction paper or strategically placed yarn could work too! Don’t have twine or fake stick-on pearls? Find some yarn or buttons! It’s all up to your choices.In order to make the wine glasses as my wife and I did, you’ll want Burlap, Fabric Pieces, Twine, and Fake Stick-On Pearls.
  • Something to Fill Them With: There are many differing ways that you can fill these wine glass treats and it all depends on you and the recipient’s taste! Fill them with small cookies or homemade fudge, baggies with dry ingredients to bake a cookie and a gift tag to explain how to make it, or store-bought candies or peppermints.

How to Make Wine Glass Treats

Gift Idea

Get your crafting space situated. Whenever I’m crafting, I like to make my space feel just right. I set out my materials, turn on some music (in this case, Christmas music on our record player), and get in the mood to do some crafting. Don’t forget to plug in your hot glue gun to get it warming up.

Cut your Burlap. You’ll need to cut your burlap to the right size. I would tell you what this size is, but it really depends on your wine glass. For my wife and I, we assumed that we wanted the burlap to be roughly have the size of the glass portion of our wine glass (as you can see in the pictures). Make sure that your burlap fits snugly around the wine glass circumference as well.

Cut your Twine. We cut our piece of twine to be twice the circumference of the wine glass. We also cut a piece to make a bow around the stem of the wine glass.

Cut your Fabric. The most importance piece for us when creating this gift idea was to make fabric hearts for the front. We wanted something that would really draw your eye in – filled with Christmas-y colors and fun shapes. So, we took two pieces of fabric – a dark green and a patterned red – and cut them into hearts. The dark green was the bigger, background heart, and the patterned red made the smaller, foreground heart.

Find the Centerpiece. In the middle of the hearts, we included some fake, stick-on pearls that we had left over from our DIY wedding day back in September. We wanted to use one button in the very center, but didn’t have any. So, it’s up to you as to whether you want to use some pearls, some buttons, or another item entirely for the centerpiece of your fabric shape.

Get to Gluing. Finally, we took our pieces and set to gluing them to the wine glass to create the perfect gift idea for someone who has everything.

Follow this order for best results:

  1. Glue your burlap piece into place (or ribbon, fabric, whatever you chose to use).
  2. Glue your twine into place – we wrapped ours around twice. Always glue in the back where the burlap met so that the front is pristine and beautiful.
  3. Add the bottom heart shape to the front and center.
  4. Add the smaller heart on top.
  5. Finally, glue or stick-on your centerpiece.

GIFT IDEA for the person who has everything

Fill’er Up! The final step for this DIY gift idea is to fill it up with whatever you would like! For some of ours, we choose to put a cute gift baggy inside and fill it with a cookie-baking kit (flower, sugars, baking sodas, etc.) and instructions on how to make the cookies inside! For the rest, we filled them with homemade and store-bought candies. Kisses and tiny peppermint candies work really well. I’m sure there are many other options that would also fit and look nice.

Give the Gift Idea to the Perfect Person

 Now you have a beautiful gift idea that takes no wrapping and can be given to anyone – especially those that are really hard to shop for. For more fun DIY Christmas gifts, visit our post by clicking HERE: DIY Christmas Gift Guide for Friends and Family.

DIY Christmas gift 1

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear some DIY Christmas gifts that you have given – share them in the comments below. I reply personally to each comment I receive. I love hearing from you!

Don’t forget: Sharing is caring! Share this post with friends and family who you think would benefit from this gift idea. Thank you in advance!