When making homemade products goes too far…


I am all about making things at home. I love it. It helps save me money and I feel good about knowing the exact ingredients. I like creating, experimenting, and coming up with that perfect custom recipe that works just right for me.

My journey started 5 years ago when we were going through one of those tight financial spots.

I needed to find ways to save every penny we could so I started experimenting. The first thing I tried was homemade laundry soap. I loved it and it was saving our family hundreds of dollars a year. Before long, I was bit with the frugal-make-it-at-home bug.

Willing to try anything, my poor husband never knew what concoction I would be cooking up on the stove next.

Over the years I’ve discovered some gems:

  • I found a simple cleaner using distilled vinegar and essential oils. I add tea tree oil to the vinegar for everywhere except my kitchen. In the kitchen I use peppermint and clove. It smells so good and I feel much better using that around my food surfaces instead of things with harsher chemicals.
  • I adore my homemade sun block You can read the story behind that here.
  • My newest discovery is homemade lip balm (see my recipe here). I will never go back to buying it at the store again.
  • And oh, my herbal cough drops are a hit in my family. They taste as good as candy and work marvelously.

But I’ve had my share of epic fails too:

  • Dish soap seemed to breed grease. I think there was more on each plate than there was before I ever took a sponge to them.
  • I don’t care who tells you that cheap hair conditioner watered down with vinegar works as well as fabric softener, it doesn’t. I got a gunked up fabric softener dispenser and clothes that smelled all kinds of fun things, but not like I imagined. And when they did smell as they should I got stares because no man wants to go to work in a “man’s profession” smelling like sweet strawberries or fields of flowers.
  • Lotion worked awesome for about 1 day until it separated and became a mass of oil & beeswax floating in a jar of lightly scented water. (still determined to figure this one out but not there yet)
  • Soaking orange peels in vinegar to create a wonderful smelling all purpose cleaner encouraged me to spray sugary sweetness all over my kitchen. 4 years later we are still trying to kill the ants who built a colony under my house during this period.
  • Speaking of ants…ant bait. Leave that to the professionals too. Mixing honey and borax definitely tempts the ants. They came running from miles around. I had a semi-permanent black stripe around my kitchen for about a month. They never died, just enjoyed the extended 4th of July feast that summer.

But nothing, nothing compares to what I tried last fall.

We were in one of those tight financial spots again. It seems to be a cycle for us, but this one is stung a little harder because there wan’t anything left to cut, yet I had to cut. So I started looking at anything and everything that I had not yet experimented on but could possibly turn into a pinterest worthy success story.

And that is when I discovered No-Poo!

I had heard whispers of it for years but never gave it a serious thought. Why would I want to mess with my wonderful shampoo? But since I was cutting the budget and we have 2 girls who are still learning what an appropriate amount of hair product is, it is a significant monthly expense. I wasn’t about to make the girls suffer, but me, I was willing to sacrifice for the bottom line.

I found a simple and good recipe comprised of everything I already had in my kitchen, whipped it up, threw in a few essential oils for scent and 10 minutes later went to take a shower with my new creation.

The first few times were not that great but I knew to expect that. All the reviews said it takes time for your hair to adjust, balance, and get used to not having oils stripped off it daily. Over time my hair seemed to balance, it was a little flatter than normal but I quickly adjusted to that too. I just always wore my hair up in a clip or a ponytail. Easy fix to save money.

Then one day I grabbed my bottle of dinner and tea tree oil to clean the bathroom.

After I got done scrubbing all the grim off my tub and toilet I decided to take a shower to clean that “cleaner smell” off me.

It started with the shampoo. After an awkward wash using baking soda and orange essential oil mixed in water I grabbed my conditioner.

The irony hit me like a deer in the headlights.

I was using the same ingredients to condition my hair as I had just used to scrub the grime and mildew off my toilet!

That’s right, my conditioner consisted of (apple cider) vinegar and tea tree oil!

And that is where I realized I had crossed the line and gone to a place nobody ever wants to find themselves. A place where you lose all kinds of common sense for the sake of saving a penny.

My hair is slowly recovering from the lack of being properly washed for months, and my husband is thankful too. I now smell fresh and good after a shower instead of like toilet cleaner.

Have you ever gone too far and had to be talked back off the ledge of the for-the-sake-of-all-things-frugal-homemade cliff?


As a side note: I have also quit using homemade laundry detergent. I began noticing my husband’s work clothes and our towels were not getting clean so I switched back to commercial detergent for those. I ran out of my homemade stuff and used the commercial detergent on all our laundry one week. I noticed a difference. Recently, I discovered this article  that may explain why homemade laundry detergent is the newest addition to my “homemade fails” list.

A Lost Card (TBT)

I’m doing a little throw back Thursday today. My blog hasn’t been going for that long, but it is easy for stories to get lost from one week to another. This story first posted back in April. Most of you were not reading the blog yet so I thought I’d share again.

Nancy's family card


Nancy is someone who often has a smile on her face. She is bubbly and happy, and it is infectious! She is a realist and deals with life’s stress but she doesn’t let it keep her down. Before you know it, Nancy is back and smiling again.

14 years ago Nancy was living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being a stay at home mom to a 4 month old son certainly brought its challenges. Her husband worked as a sign language interpreter for the local school district which meant he had summers off–unpaid. Money was extremely tight and barely enough to live on.

She noticed she had enough formula in the can to make 2 bottles for her son. Still 2 weeks until payday, Nancy came to the realization that her son was going to be without and possibly go hungry.

With tears in her eyes, she made her son his last bottle and put him down for a nap. She sat on the sofa and cried because she didn’t have enough to feed him.

She realized she was stuck in a cycle, a cycle that would continue unless she found a part time job. With that in mind, she got up from the sofa, wiped her eyes and began cleaning up the front room.

As she put her son’s toys away, she came across her mom’s old purse with memoirs and other things inside. She found an old unopened envelope–something she had missed in the past. Inside was a birthday card from her mom with $500 in it!

[Tweet “I fell to my knees in disbelief and thanked God for the #unexpected gift.”]

“I called my husband and he was as shocked as I was.”

Not only did God provide money for the baby’s formula, it changed their family forever. They learned to live in trust and faith. It motivated her husband to leave his secure job and venture into something he had never done before as a convenience store manager– job which ended up paying double what he was making previously.

Since then, she has lived in trust and faith, trusting the Lord for everything from finances and employment to where they live. This is not an easy road and the challenges still arise for Nancy, but the difference comes because she knows that God has her back.

Anytime Nancy faces struggles, she is reminded that life is temporary.

[Tweet “We often look for heaven on earth. We have to remember that #heaven is heaven and #earth is earth.”]

And that God always provides our needs.



Every Thursday I share your stories on Living In Green Grass. Sometimes they are stories of faith, overcoming, or perseverance. Sometimes they are stories of contentment and joy. Regardless, they are your stories. If you would like to share your story or nominate someone else, please click here or on the “Share a Story” tab above. Thank you! Without your stories Living in Green Grass would not be the same.



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Sue’s Solution


Sue was living a broken life and everything was coming apart.

She had one daughter when she became pregnant with baby number 2. It was a completely normal and healthy pregnancy until she went into labor at 23 weeks. Sadly, Austin passed away after only 23 minutes.

Upset and depressed, Sue turned to food.

Sue’s next pregnancy was not any happier. She lost “baby dot” at 6 weeks gestation.

Around Thanksgiving of 2006, Sue became pregnant again. To stay pregnant, she had weekly injections and some steroid injections. I have lived in fear through a tough pregnancy and I cannot imagine the terror Sue must have felt.

“I basically spent the entire time thinking I would be burying another child because I had already lost two….I flashed back to Austin’s little white casket frequently in my mind.”

Thankfully, Hunter came into this world–a little early–and survived! After 2 weeks in the NICU, Hunter was able to come home and join his family.

Some people dream of the NASCAR life, it was Sue’s reality.

Sue’s husband worked as an over the wall pit crew tire carrier.  Imagine the weekly races and traveling all over the nation. Winning big prize money and corporate sponsors to make you rich and pay all the bills.

That was not Sue’s NASCAR life. Her husband traveled from February to November every year. She was trying to take care of an infant as a virtual single mom. It caused a lot of problems within her marriage.

Sue continued to eat.

Unless you’re a top name driver, NASCAR doesn’t pay a lot. There were times when they sold personal items just to pay the bills.

“We were a month away from losing my only source of income (and knowing we cold not make ends meet just on what he made even with the help of the government systems – you know the catch 22 you don’t make enough to live but make too much to get help) so I was depressed and upset to say the least. “

Her marriage was broken. Her finances were in ruin.


Sue’s health was in decline.

She is what some would classify an emotional eater. Emotional eating is something that is complex and hard to explain. Sue explains it this way:

“Some people hit things, some people cry, some people eat. I was (and still am to some extent) an eater when I am down.”

The pounds piled on.

“I was obese, had daily migraines, was exhausted and napping every day by noon, and had heartburn every night. I popped Tylenol and Tums like they were candy.

I was a mess.”

Tired and needing to sit, Sue was scanning through facebook when she came across a post about a product that could give you energy. After trying countless other weight loss programs and even a personal trainer, Sue had not yet given up hope.

Another thing caught her eye. It was with a work at home company. A potential job. Sue started investigating.

She tried the product. She noticed a difference within herself. She began doing direct sales with the company and sharing her story. Others were interested as well. Within 2 months the income was more than that of a previous direct sales company and her unemployment.


This was the solution Sue was looking for.

“So far in my journey I am down in the around 30 pounds on the scale, I have lost almost 40 inches off my body, I have not had one single migraines since May 2013. I no longer take naps and feel tired, I have no heartburn or reflux.”

In the fall of 2013 her husband decided to retire from NASCAR. He now stays close to home, working on producing and co-hosting television shows. Hunter is enrolled in an online charter school so when he does have to travel, the family can go with him.

Sue chose to do something about her problem. When she was at the bottom, she could have allowed herself to stay there and continue down the road of poor health choices and financial ruin.

Instead she took a chance. A chance after seeing a facebook post, and her life is much better because of it.

The best part? Today I am able to influence thousands of lives – in both health and wealth. I am living proof that anyone can change their family’s future and live the life of their dreams. Follow me and my family on our journey to health and financial freedom ~ the good, the bad, the fat and the ugly… NO HOLDS BARRED!


Want to follow Sue’s journey? She blogs and shares her story at Slender Suzie. I highly encourage you check it out. All pictures were used with permission.





Every Thursday I share stories from people like you. Perhaps you have a story of overcoming something like Sue. Or maybe your story is one of contentment, happiness, success or surviving through tragedy. Regardless, I believe everyone has a story–and everyone’s story is worthy of being shared. If you would like to share your story, please contact me here or by clicking on the “share a story” tab above.

I keep it real simple. I’ve found it works best to have a short facebook or email chat–this is not a homework assignment or work project. It is a friendly conversation so I can learn your story and share it with others.


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