Must Have Homemade Cleaners

Posted on July 14th, 2015 by Discount Debbie

Making your own household cleaners is not only a great way to save money, but it helps to get rid of harsh chemicals in your home. Homemade cleaners are easy on the environment and your home — which means your kids can get in on the cleaning action and you won’t have to worry about what they’re breathing in. Double win!

Cleaning Products

These 3 homemade cleaner recipes can just about replace everything you have in your cleaning arsenal.  If you’re unsure about using them on your surfaces, test them in a small area before cleaning the entire surface.

Easy Homemade Glass Cleaner

2 cups water
1/2 cup Ammonia
Essential Oils (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle.  If using essential oils, citrus oils are a great option, as they smell fresh and clean and they help to disinfect.
Use as you would store bought glass cleaner — but use newspapers to wipe your windows clean.  This will help you obtain streak free windows, without all the elbow grease!

Homemade Oven Cleaner

2-3 Tablespoons liquid soap, such as dish soap or Castille.
1½ cups Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Salt
¼ cup Vinegar
Water (if needed)

Combine the soap, baking soda, salt in a bowl.
Add in the vinegar, just a little at a time as it will fizz,  until it forms a paste.  If the mixture is too thick to spread, add in a little bit of water.
Spread the natural oven cleaner all over your oven using a pastry brush, covering it completely.
For best results, let it sit for more than 4 hours.
Then you’re able to wipe it off and enjoy your naturally clean oven!  Go ahead and bake yourself cake to celebrate!
Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

1 cup water
1 cup vinegar (White Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar both work)
10 – 20 drops Essential Oils such as Lemongrass or Lavender (these are optional, however they help your cleaner smell fresher, and can also help with disinfecting)


Combine all of the ingredients In a spray bottle and shake so the essential oils will mix in.

Clean away!

Homemade Stain Remover

Posted on May 18th, 2015 by Uncategorized

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Stains happen. They happen if you have kids. They happen if you have pets. They definitely happen when you’re wearing your whitest shirt and your co-worker happens to trip next to you while holding a takeout tray full of uncovered, brim-full coffee cups.

There are many ways to get stains out of clothes. Soak them in cold water overnight. Use a small washboard in the sink to hand scrub the fabric that’s stained. Wash them a million times in the washing machine. Eventually, a stubborn stain will resist all attempts to clean it up, and we will find ourselves reaching for the stain remover. Oh, you don’t have any? (I actually didn’t until my second kid was 14 months old…no idea how we managed that!) Well, pause before you head to the store to buy some and try making your own with just two ingredients I bet you already have sitting in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

  • 1 part blue Dawn dishwashing soap
  • 2 parts hydrogen peroxide

Pour into a spray bottle, shake it up, and that’s that! Why does this work so well? Blue Dawn brand soap is well known for cutting straight through grease and other stubborn substances in a way that other soaps just can’t do. Often, environmental agencies even use pure Dawn to gently clean up animals affected by oil spills. Hydrogen peroxide’s bubbly action helps loosen up stains as well—oxygen bleaches are basically a form of hydrogen peroxide.

You can use this homemade cleaner straight, or mixed with water if you want to dilute it or soak some fabric for a while. As always, be sure to test a little spot first to make sure it doesn’t change the color of or eat holes through the fabric you are using it on, though overall this is a pretty safe concoction. It’s also fairly safe to use around kids and pets as long as they’re not chugging it or licking the carpet directly after you apply it or anything. Happy stain lifting!

Homemade Baby Food

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Uncategorized

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Baby food can add up really quickly. I mean, really quickly! If you have chosen to feed your baby purees (as opposed to, say, doing the baby-led weaning approach), and you have a hungry kind of fellow, you will discover that you will go through baby food incredibly quickly. If you are willing to put in a little extra time in order to save a few bucks, you can make your own pureed baby food for much cheaper than you can buy in the stores!

For instance, I can find organic bananas in my city for about $0.79 a pound. There are about 3 bananas in a pound, making them about 5.3 oz each. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say after peeling them, each banana weighs a little over 4oz—the same size as a typical jar of baby food. This means once you’ve mashed the bananas, you end up with about 3 jar’s worth of baby food, for a whopping $0.79 total!

In contrast, a 4oz jar of organic banana baby puree at the same store I bought the organic bananas at costs $1.29! So for $0.79 and maybe ten minutes of work at home, you get the same amount of baby food that would cost $3.87 at the store! You might point out that if you make your own baby food, you also need to have containers to store the food in, and utensils to mash or blend the food with, all of which cost money—though if you already have a blender, this cost goes down. Small mason jars or even ice cube trays, which many people already have on hand, can be used to store freshly prepared baby food in as well. You also have the freedom to make up combinations of baby food that don’t even exist in stores! Is your child like mine and likes to mash his beef into his applesauce? Now you make a beef-and-applesauce puree that your child will love, even if you want to barf while making it! Homemade baby food is a little time consuming, but can end up saving quite a bit of money versus buying jarred baby food in the long run.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

Posted on April 21st, 2015 by Freebie Felicia

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Maybe you dislike using store-bought cleaners that smell weird and are full of chemicals you can’t pronounce and aren’t even disclosed on the bottle. Maybe you want to do your part in saving the environment and want to use something that’s eco-friendly and won’t kill small furry animals when the runoff gets dumped into the local river. Maybe you love store-bought cleaners, but it’s 1am and your kid has vomited on your floor three times in the last five minutes and you’re out of cleaner and all the stores are closed and you need something now. Hot water, a washcloth, and a heck of a lot of scrubbing is good in a pinch, but certain mishaps often require something a little stronger. Try the recipe below!

Mix one-half cup vinegar and one-quarter cup baking soda into one-half gallon of water. Shake it, stir it, do whatever is necessary to dissolve the baking soda all the way. Store or use immediately. This works fairly well on almost anything in a bathroom made of tile, and most other hard surfaces. Nasty water rings on the bathtub you really, maybe, probably should have cleaned a few months ago? Sayonara, baby.

Cleaning carpet and other fabrics with this solution are not recommended. While this solution is fairly diluted, vinegar is acidic and can munch away at delicate fabric fibers and other less durable materials. As always, test clean a small, discreet spot first if you’re not sure if your cleaner will suddenly eat a gaping hole in the finish of the antique sewing machine table your toddler decided to scribble crayon all over. And even though baking soda and vinegar and generally gentle on skin, you probably should avoid taking a bath in gallons of the stuff. However, overall, this is a cheap, basic, effective all-purpose cleaner for most things around your home.

DIY: Make An Airplane Birthday Cake

Posted on March 2nd, 2015 by Discount Debbie

airplane cake

My son turned 4 years old today. Last year, I made him a fun (and very easy) construction site cake. Did I mention that it was easy! So, you might imagine that this year, when I asked him what kind of cake he’d want for his birthday, I was a bit intimidated by his immediate answer, “An airplane!” Why, oh why, did I let them watch Planes so many times before this?! HOW on earth am I going to turn a cake into an airplane?

I could have simply gone to our local grocery store and ordered a cake with ingredients I’d rather not have and with a price I’d rather not pay in order to come up with a birthday cake. Instead, I did what any mom today would do… run to Pinterest!

I had to adapt a recipe I found because the cake I made (a grain-free, honey sweetened one) was much thinner than the one pictured on the pin I saw. But, here’s what I did.

First, bake two layers of cake in 9 inch pans using the batter of your choice. Once baked, slice the first one in half.

cake 1

Use icing to “glue” these pieces together to form the body of your airplane.

cake 2 cake 3

Next, slice the next cake in thirds, as pictured.

cake 4

The middle pieces will become the wings and the ends will be used for the tail. Ice everything and put it all together. Hopefully, you’ll get a better looking plane than ours turned out. In the end, the children were both very happy that we had an airplane cake… and it tasted great!

cake 5


And, here’s the birthday boy, proud of being 4, blowing out his candles.

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How do you make your children’s birthday’s special?

Thrifty Tip: Make Your Own Pickles

Posted on July 8th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

make pickles

Our little garden has done very well this season. And, we have gotten lots of cucumbers, among other things. But, aside from just snacking on cucumbers and adding them to a salad, I haven’t had much else to do with them. So, I finally tried what I’ve talked about doing for a long time – Make pickles! I wish I had done this sooner! What an easy, inexpensive way to make a healthier version of this tasty condiment.

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Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

  • 3 wide mouth jars with lids and rings
  • fresh or dried dill (I didn’t have any on hand. So, I didn’t use it this time. But, I plan to have some for the next time.)
  • cucumbers washed
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 hot peppers (optional)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup salt
  • black peppercorns (I used about 1 tablespoon per jar)

(Since we had peppers in our garden, I decided to use them…why not, right?)

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1. Sanitize jars. I don’t have a canning kettle. So, I just filled my largest pot with water, brought it to a boil and placed the jars in for about 10 minutes. Just before the water came to a boil, though, I placed the lids of the jars in for about 5 minutes.
2.Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a pot.
3. Put garlic, dill, and cut peppers in jars.
4. Put the cucumber slices into jars tightly until they reach the neck of the jars.
5. Pour brine into jars, leaving ½ inch head space. 6. Add lid and ring to each jar and tighten.
6. Set the jars on towel and turn upside down.
7. Cover jars with a towel until they have cooled off.
8. Once cool, store in a cool dark location. The pantry is a convenient spot. Pickles are ready to eat immediately! Store in fridge once jars are opened. 
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Thrifty Tip: Make Your Child’s Construction Site Birthday Cake

Posted on March 5th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

We just had another birthday around here. Last time we made a little lavender-colored cake in order to feature our very little Sofia the First doll. This time the cake would be a lot more rugged than Sofia. Since my now-three-year old loves all things related to construction, I decided that we’d make him a construction site birthday cake.

The best part about it was that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting any particular color just right. Chocolate is the color of dirt! Yay!

So, here’s what I did.

1. Make a two layer cake with your favorite chocolate cake recipe. I had a difficult time with one layer (on the right), but it was okay because of the kind of cake I was making.

2. Begin icing the middle layer as you normally would. Use your favorite icing. I used a simple recipe of coconut oil, raw cacao, vanilla extract and maple syrup. It was healthy and yummy! 🙂

3. Add the second layer. However, instead of icing it as you would, cut out a piece to create your mound of “dirt.” You’ll notice that I ended up cutting it in more than one piece. That was not the plan but, thanks to the wonders of icing, it didn’t matter.

4. Ice your site…I mean, cake.

5. Then, crush a bunch of Oreo’s or Oreo-like cookies for your dirt and rocks.

6. Now, put the finishing touches on your site. I sprinkled the cookie crumbs onto the hill and the hole. Then, I added a couple of his little bulldozers and cones.

It was an absolute hit…with the whole family! My daughter wanted to lick the icing and my son wanted to play with the cake!

How do you make birthdays for your children special?

Making A Child’s Birthday Special…On A Budget

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by Discount Debbie

A very special little girl turns 5 today! Five?! How did that happen so fast?! I wanted to make the day special while maintaining a reasonable budget. So, I came up with just a few easy and very cheap ways to make a child’s birthday a little sweeter.


My sister in law did this for my nephew last year. Mommy and Daddy got the balloons ready while the birthday boy slept. They put all the balloons in his room overnight. So that in the morning, he woke up to a balloon-filled room. Well, our daughter loves Sofia the First right now. So, purple has been the color of choice lately. I bought a bag of purple balloons. Just purple 🙂 My husband got them ready last night. She’ll be waking up to a floor full of purple balloons this morning! I can’t wait!

Happy Birthday Banner

Just make your own. It’s so easy and cheap. Here’s ours. As I worked on it, I thought about how I could have made it nicer IF ONLY I had started working on all this stuff only a few days earlier! You know how that goes!


Since our little princess is turning five, I printed out a bunch of 5s on different colored construction paper and have placed them all over the house in honor of the big day!



We rarely have cereal around the house anymore. But, I made a point to pick up a box of her favorite cereal (which happens to be mom-approved) as a breakfast treat.

We’ll be going to a little restaurant she likes for pizza for lunch. Shhh…it’s a surprise. And, we will, of course, be having a homemade Sofia the First birthday cake.

Scavenger Hunt

The plan is also to hide a few of her presents around the house for her to find during the day. At various times throughout the day, she’ll get to select a hint from a special jar. The hint will lead her to the next present for her to open.

I hope she enjoys the day. I know I’m super excited about it.


What do you do to make your children’s birthdays special?

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