Homemade Products

How To Spotlessly Clean Shower Heads and Faucets With Ease

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


Shower heads and faucets are a breeding ground for bacteria.  Many times, we don’t even often look at the end of the spout to realize how dirty and the amount of build-up that has accumulated.

And then, once we look at it, we realize how gross it is! Well, it is the type of cleaning job that needs a good deep cleaning…like a good long soak in a good cleaning solution.

But… we also want as natural as possible, while being effective cleaning.  Deep cleaning with harsh chemicals is bothersome to me for my family as we shower and use the water coming from those faucets.

And, like every case of homemade natural cleaning, it is actually cheaper to make the homemade version, so it is a total win-win.

When it comes to cleaning my faucets and shower heads, this is not a daily task and so only I only make the solution for the immediate time of use and don’t make it to store. There really isn’t much to it to justify needing to make it before like many of our other homemade cleaner recipes.

The supplies you need are:

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Original Blue Dawn (this is the only dish soap I have tried for this and original blue dawn has many non-dish cleaning wonders)
  • Toothbrush for scrubbing

supplies needed for step 1 of stainless steel sink cleaning1

  • Ziploc – for thriftier ideas, reuse the same ziploc for all the faucets/showerheads that day. We have even recycled bread bags for this purpose too! They are nice and long for long faucets.
  • Rubberband

It is really, really simple to make the solution.

  • In the ziploc bag, add 2 TBSP of Baking Soda and add 4-5 drops of blue dawn dish soap.
  • Place the bag around the faucet/showerhead.


  • Then add enough vinegar to the ziploc to cover the surface you wish to soak (about 1/2 cup). It will foam up!
  • Secure the ziploc in place with a rubberband.
  • Let soak for at least 30 minutes, but 1+ hours is great too!


  • Then remove the baggie and rubber band (and then place on the next faucet if it didn’t get too dirty or make a new solution and the same bag for the next faucet).
  • Then, using an old toothbrush, scrub away!


  • To rinse, I just pour cups of hot water over it until the soap residue is gone.

The GREAT thing about this type of faucet or shower head cleaning process is that no matter how many crevices, nooks and crannies there are or the type of faucet, this works super well!  It is also not very time consuming, although very effective.  It can sometimes be a lot of work to scrub and scrub and scrub the faucets and shower heads, but by giving them this presoak, the gunk really breaks down nicely.

Find many more cleaning tips, recipes, shortcuts, hacks and tricks in 

the cleaning section of our site here


Alex & Cassie

Best Gluten-Free Flour Recipe Ever: Makes for Near Perfect Replacement

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


I am so excited! After a long time of trying many recipes, combinations, concoctions and other gluten-free ideas – I think I have finally found the winner! The best of the best when it comes to gluten-free flour!

You see, at our home, one way that we live frugally, but live life to the fullest, is by creating our own homemade versions of store-bought products.

We make our own breads, our own pancake/waffle mix, our own bulk muffin mix and all are wonderful – except for a relatively recent discovery of two members of our family with gluten issues.

There was “sticker shock” on gluten-free products and mixes. They are seriously an arm and a leg when you have a $125 weekly grocery budget for a family of 7, who tries to using their budget for natural, organic and whole living.

Well, this recipe has been the answer and I am so excited to finally share a gluten-free flour recipe,that is not only gluten-free, but nut free too (we can’t use almond or nut flours due to nut allergies too!).  In addition, the flours we are using are organic, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free and non-gmo.

You really can’t get much better than that and for a decent price too!

Not only does it have all of these (or rather lack of these) ingredients, but this mix actually does make very fluffy and tasty foods! So good in fact, my hubby and kids turn their noses up at anything gluten-free and leave it for the GF members.

Well, when I cook now, I make two of something – the regular and the GF version – and my family members, especially Alex, have preferred the gluten free versions.  That is AMAZING to me!

Now that I have finally found the perfect recipe, I finally feel great about sharing many GF recipes with you too! So along with our traditional, money-saving, taste bud-pleasing recipes, you will start to find a GF collection that is just as tasty (or better tasting)!

I found this recipe from A Little Sanity site, where Erika claimed this was the “Best Gluten-Free Flour Mix” and if you are like me… you are like..”yeah right” until you try it! Right?  Well that was me!  And I was impressed to say the least!

Just like my homemade cleaning recipes and other recipes, I try and try until I find what I consider to be the best combination of ingredients to do a good, natural job!  


Here’s what you need:

  • 4 1/4 Cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 4 1/4 Cups White Rice Four
  • 4 1/4 Cups  Sweet Rice Flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups  Tapioca Flour (aka Tapioca Starch)
  • 2½ TBSP Xanthan Gum

As a note, the xanthan gum comes in a several sizes, but most commonly 6-8oz.  This means you will have tons left over and be able to use it for a very long time.   This is a very important ingredient as it is the gluten replacer.

The bags are plastic/paper flour type bags, which are not great for longer term storage and so I just put all of the remaining xanthan gum in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar to store for longer term.

xanthan gum sm

How To make the Best Gluten-Free Flour Ever

It’s so easy, that I am not even going to break it down – just mix all of these in a big bowl until well mixed and then store in a glass container.

Then use this mix as a replacement in recipes for the flour.


I picked up these at Hobby Lobby during a common sale where they will have glass storage for 50% off.  This sale happens about once a month and they have teeny tiny glass storage to giant glass storage for a great price with the common sale!  The other place has been Walmart. In addition, I recycle all of my glass food jars, we’ve also used the giant Costco/Sam’s Club pickle jars for dry pre-mix storage solutions.

Where to get the best prices on the ingredients for the Gluten-Free Flour Mix 

So, I wanted to talk about the price of this mix. It is actually quite affordable, especially when compared to many pre-made gluten-free products, or baking mixes. This still fits in our budget, unlike many products.

I purchased all of the products from one of my favorite sites: Vitacost.  I had to also buy products that were totally peanut and tree nut free due to other allergies – so this can affect prices.  However, even with that, it was still a fantastic deal! This is a big batch of bulk mix and it will last a while.

When I made this, I used these exact products, but there are lots of options, including Bob’s Red Mill (which we love, but not nut safe and it makes it even cheaper).


You can head to the Vitacost site for all of the ingredients at a discount.  If you get these exact sizes and packages, here’s how this works:

  • The Tapioca Flour (2.5 lbs) and Sweet Rice Flour (3 lbs) will make for 2.5 batches.
  • The Brown Rice Flour (2 lbs.) and the White Rice Flour (2 lbs) will be about 1.5 batches.
  • Xanthan Gum will last for around 12 -14 batches (haven’t used it all yet to know for sure!).

Each batch of this mix is a large bulk amount that usually lasts me 3-5 weeks of regular use.  So this is a few months worth of mix for a much better price than buying already made flour.

You get free shipping with orders for $49 or more OR if you are a first time customer to Vitacost…. you can get $10 off your total order of $30 or more if you use this link HERE for the $10 coupon! 

Returning Customers: Head to Vitacost HERE to see the current sale prices on these ingredients

First-time Customers: Use this link HERE to check sale prices and get a $10 off coupon on the Vitacost site!

If you use the $10 coupon for first time customers to Vitacost, it is even that much better of a deal!

You can probably also find these at various health food stores in your area. Kroger will often have a decent health foods section too!

I hope you have as good of results as we have had with this recipe.  It has been a huge help to the budget and makes GF living a bit more enjoyable!

See more Recipes in our Recipe Art Gallery

See our Recipe Pinterest Board


Alex & Cassie

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink and Make it Shine: Simple 3-Step Solution with Ingredients Found Around Your Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

Are you ready to combat the chrome and get geared up to defeat the grungy stainless steel sink? Well, we want to share with your our 3-step process on  how to clean a stainless steel sink and the best part is, there are no expensive cleaners – only simple ingredients found at home already!


I love this method as you walk away with it looking like a brand new sink.  Mine is 10+ years old, has plenty of scratches and dings. I can’t say that I treat my sink nicely, as I don’t.  I work it hard, things get thrown in, things get left sitting in… etc. It is a well used kitchen appendage! So it is always a joy to see how she shines and the smile on her face after this great cleaning – it’s a day at the spa for her. :)

So let’s get this party started and get our sinks clean with a few minutes of work and a few ingredients.  Think of this as like a car wash – the supreme wash with the cleaning, buffing and spot-free rinse, and the waxing!

Well, that’s what we are going to do.

Step 1 for Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

supplies needed for step 1 of stainless steel sink cleaning


  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Dish soap
  • Scrubbing tools like toothbrush, scrubby pads/sponges and steel wool

How to clean stainless steel sink step #1

  • Plug the sink(s)
  • Then add about a 1/2 inch of water
  • Sprinkle baking soda all around
  • Squirt some dish soap in the sink all around

prepping big stainless steel sink for cleaning

Big sink with this solution

prepping stainless steel sink for natural cleaning with homemade mix

Small side sink with the solution

  • Then pour distilled white vinegar into the sinks and let the solution “bubble up.”

stainless steel sink cleaning big sink foaming with homemade cleaner

Bubble Fest! 

stainless steel sink cleaning with homemade cleaner foaming up

  • Then let this sit for a minute or two.
  • Go through and scrub away with your scrubby pads and steel wool. When using steel wool, gently scrub and it will also help buff away some superficial scratches (but do this carefully as you can create other scratches :))
  • This is also the time I use a toothbrush to get the crevices by dipping the toothbrush in the solution and scrubbing the outside parts of the sink.

using toothbrush on stainless steel sink for cleaning crevices with homemade cleaner

  • Then when you are satisfied, pull the plug to drain and rinse the residue away.

stainless steel sink cleaning dirty water after scrubbing

The dirty water left from scrubbing the small side of my sink – this is evidence it works well :) 

Here’s the results after step #1 of stainless steel sink cleaning.  My camera does not do this justice.  In person, the difference already is amazing!

stainless steel sink cleaning after step 1

After Step #1 of 3-Step Stainless Steel Cleaning – already a big difference! 

stainless steel sink small after cleaning step 1

Step 2 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your spot removal and spot-free rinse step.

supplies step2 for stainless steel sink cleaning


  • Cream of Tartar (buffer and scratch reducer)
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Rubbing Alcohol (optional)

How to clean stainless steel sink step #2

  • Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the sink.  This will help to buff and smooth out small scratches.
  • Then spray with the Hydrogen Peroxide – when you turn on the water after buffing, then this will create a “spot-free rinse”
  • Simply take your scrubby pad and “buff” the sink by working in a circular motion.


  • Then turn on the water and rinse away. Feel free to spray a bit more hydrogen peroxide if you need to!
  • For this step, if you have rust or other spots, you may need to go a step further in removing the rust.

how to remove rust from stainless steel sink

  • This is best done with straight rubbing alcohol on a rag or scrubby pad.  Just pour a bit of it on and scrub away the rust/tough stains BTW – this is a before all of the steps picture.  I often find that the rust will fade after completing step #1 and #2, so you couldn’t see it in the camera, so I am showing rust from first picture so you can actually see it.  However, even after the first 2 steps, there is still a bit of rust visible in real life – so this is when you might need to pull out that alcohol!

Step 3 of Stainless Steel Sink Cleaning

This is what you might consider your shammy shine/waxing when you wash your car! Well, we want that stainless steel to shine as well! This also gives your sink a bit of nourishment.


  • Olive oil or baby oil
  • A rag

To finish up, I will use a towel to dry it up and then give it a nourishing shine with oil! Olive oil or baby oil is best.  Simply pour oil on a rag and wipe down the sink.


Then your sink will shine and be happy and you will be too!


Here’s the before and after next to each other so you can see the awesome difference.  Again, camera’s (and my poor photography skills) do not give this justice, but it is beautiful instead of a dull stainless – it’s shining! 

*One final note, you may have noticed my sink, an extra big sink with a small sink instead of it being divided in half. Let me just say I HATE this sink design. It looks like it would be quite cool and functional – but the truth is…. the small sink is useless! You can’t wash dishes and rinse reasonably without water going everywhere, it is too small for holding strainers and cleaning food (which is why I get a lot of buildup on the edges as seen in the toothbrush picture – the water always leaks out over the sides!), water not only spills over the counter tops, but onto the floor and has been a real pain.  If you have a choice, I would recommend not going with a sink like this. When I change one day – I will steer clear of this useless design.

See more specific Cleaning Tips HERE

See our Cleaning Pinterest Board HERE 


Alex & Cassie

2-Ingredient Homemade Sunscreen (A More Natural Sunblock Solution )

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


Are you looking for an affordable, DIY, more natural alternative to sunscreen or sunblock?  Well, this is a very easy, simple, effective, affordable and more natural option than a typical store-bought sunblock.


Let’s talk about the 2 ingredients:

  • 1 cup of lotion
  • 4 TBSP of non-nano zinc oxide


First – the lotion.  We recommend starting with a plain, very creamy, unscented lotion.  The zinc you will be adding will cause the lotion to become more dry in application (as it is a powder you are adding). So the thicker and creamier – the better the application.

Second – the non-nano zinc oxide. This is the important ingredient to making this more natural.  You could use micro zinc oxide to make your own, and that is fine too, but what makes this more natural is that the non-nano zinc oxide is not absorbed by the pores in the skin.  It sits on top of your skin instead of being absorbed. This is what you want.

Where to Get Non-Nano Zinc Oxide

This is going to be the most challenging part.  We cannot find non-nano locally (but truthfully, there are not many natural brick and mortar stores in our area), so you may or may not be able to find it in yours.

However, there are some great and affordable options online.  Amazon has a few options - again make sure you get non-nano zinc oxide if the more natural alternative is important to you.

The best deal that we have seen is for a bulk amount of non-nano zinc oxide from Better Shea Butter company sold through Amazon HERE.  It will last a while and make quite a bit of homemade sunscreen as well as some other personal care recipes that we will be sharing.

How Does the SPF Work?

To create different levels of SPF, you just need to add more or less non-nano zinc oxide.  In a nutshell, the formula for 20 SPF is one part zinc oxide to 4 parts lotion.

How to Make

Simply mix the non-nano zinc oxide into the lotion with a spoon.  The lotion consistency will be lumpy and the more you mix, the less lumpy.  It will begin to have a consistency similar to heavy whipped cream.

Then store it in an airtight container! Shallow glass jars are GREAT for this purpose.


How to Use

Actually, there is nothing special about “how to use.”  Just apply like you would any other sunscreen or lotion, however you will notice a couple of differences from normal lotion application.

First – a little goes a long way.  I took a picture of putting some on and even this little dollop was too much. So this 1-cup amount will last a long while!


Second – you will notice that you will go from your normal skin color, to a little “whiter” as the non-nano zinc oxide sits on your skin and is not absorbed.  Although regular sunscreen also does this, you will notice it more with the homemade version.


So that’s it! It really is that easy, rewarding, fun and pleasant! By the way, there is no scent, just the scent of the base lotion you use!

See more Homemade Products

See our Homemade Products Pinterest Board for more ideas




Alex & Cassie

26 Amazing Reasons to Have Lavender Essential Oils on Hand

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie


As a frugal and trying to be healthy family, we do and have used essential oils in our home.

First, as mentioned many times before, we have used essential oils in cleaning for 8+ years now.

Second, a few years ago, we started using essential oils for personal care too! The combination of the two uses have been life-changing for our family and our health.  We are very thankful to have healthy, affordable and effective options.

So as we shared with the 17 Household Uses for Lemon Essential Oil, we wanted to talk about our favorite oil – Lavender!

Some of these uses can also be in the dried and fresh form, in fact, I am trying to grow lavender as well as there are many, many benefits to fresh and dried lavender.  But the benefit of the oil is that if you buy the right oils, you are getting a pure, unadulterated highly concentrated form of lavender that goes a long way and can be used much easier than a fresh or dried version – however, don’t throw out any dried or fresh lavender either!

The Details

Let’s talk about what lavender does (I am quoting my aromatherapy books and an essential oils encyclopedia where the hundreds of sources/tests/studies are listed).


The properties of lavender essential oil are that it has acted as an analgesic, anticoagulant, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anti-fungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, antitumor, cardiotonic, regenerative and sedative in hundreds of studies and tests.

Historical Uses

It has been used for thousands of years for homeopathic care and everyday use.  In a nutshell, lavender has been traditionally used for emotional issues, calming, cardiovascular functions, nervous system and for the skin.


First, always use an oil that is approved and certified for internal use or therapeutic use before you use an oil for the purpose (see notes below).

Second, evidence suggests that long term use of lavender has shown to be beneficial for hormones for women, but cause hormonal imbalance in males.  With that, we would suggest using it sparingly with young children and males.

Qualities of oils

I wanted to mention something very important – the types of qualities of essential oils that you purchase and use. First, these are not fragrance oils and you cannot get them at big box or grocery stores – those are different. Essential oils can be purchased at health food stores and online.

Cleaning Grade Essential Oils

For cleaning and many household uses, I will buy the more affordable pure essential oils that are about 1/2 the cost as the very high quality oils.  The reason why is that I am not convinced it is totally necessary to use the highest quality of essential oils for cleaning.  If you can afford the highest quality, then by all means, but for those on a budget like us, then a pure essential oil works just fine.

Essential Oils for Personal Use

For any personal, aromatherapy use – this is where I personally draw a hard fast line.  I think it is essential (no pun intended :)) to use the highest quality oils that you can get.  They already offer a more affordable option than medicines, and so this is not a place to skimp.  I am talking about when the oils touch your body or taken internally.

Where to get these different grades of oils?

I have quite a collection of both my cleaning grade and higher quality personal use oils.  Both companies that I purchase from are also available internationally (for those that have asked in the past).


For cleaning grade, I have purchased all of them from Vitacost website and they are affordable, convenient to get and have worked well.  You should also be able to get them at health food stores and from Amazon. For the best deal, see our post HERE on the 7 Best Essential Oils for Cleaning. 


For the higher quality oils, we understand that a few companies meet this criteria.  We personally have only tried doTerra, which is once such company that offers the highest quality of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils that are safe for personal use and even consumption. These have worked well for us.  We get the purest quality of oils from doTerra HERE (aff link).  They can seem to be pricey, but note that a 15ml bottle contains about 300 drops – so these really do last a very long time!

How Households Can Utilize Lavender Essential Oils Today

We personally find that we use lavender the most, or rather for the most purposes.  If anyone were to ask what one oil they should start with or have on hand, it would be lavender.

Personal Uses (we would only use the highest quality, pure, therapeutic grade oils for these) 

  1. Use lavender oil to help with sleep issues and sleeplessness. The main use that most everyone knows about is for anxiety and help with sleeping.  We have used it for this purpose for a very long time! It’s WONDERFUL this way! This is also a great use for the fresh and dried leaves, as well as the oil! We simply diffuse the oil or place on a cottonball and stick in pillowcases.
  2. Relieve headaches naturally.  I get headaches a lot.  Lavender oil has been my go-to natural drug.  I don’t like using OTC meds too often due to risks associated with them.  However, lavender has been amazing and I am so grateful and thankful that don’t have to worry about it being to harsh on other parts of my body.  When I have a headache, I rub diluted lavender oil in a rollerball (I dilute with fractionaed coconut oil, but many carrier oils will work) and roll this on my temples, the base of the back of my neck and sometimes my feet/toes. I was so amazed at how well this works. In fact, I used this even today as I was blogging (I get headaches from working on the computer :)) and I had relief in 15 minutes – you can see my picture on Instagram HEREAre you following us on Instagram yet? It’s a great place to see what we are up to each day! 
  3. Heal and relieve burns. If myself or anyone else gets accidentally burned from a pan or something, a drop of lavender oil will help to heal the burn and heal much quicker.
  4. Heal, clean and relieve cuts. If there is a skin abrasion, this is the go-to oil! We will sometimes use others in addition to lavender for further help per issue, but on it’s own is mighty fine!
  5. Help clear acne. Due to it’s antimicrobial and healing properties, it can clean out the acne and help your skin to recover.
  6. Help relieve and heal sunburns. We have also used vinegar, but we will follow some burns with lavender because of how helpful lavender is for the skin.  In this case, it is best to apply by spraying. Dilute the lavender in a glass bottle with purified water.
  7. Seasonal allergy reliever! Smelling lavender, diffusing lavender oil and even rubbing it on your feet or temples helps to relieve seasonal/environmental allergies like hay fever.  Honestly, this works sometimes, and sometimes this works best when combined with allergy meds too.  We only have to take allergy meds a couple of times a year (assuming this must be our extreme allergy time) and the rest of the year, the other reactions are often relieved with lavender!
  8. Menstrual cramp reliever.  Just rub it on your abdomen during that fun time of the month!
  9. Cold Sore healer. Similar to the acne issue, cold sores can be relieved the same way.
  10. Achy muscle soother.  If you have a muscle ache, rub lavender oil on your sore muscles for relief!
  11. Most any issue involving the skin, lavender is a great option!
  12. It is also my most favorite oil in my homemade personal care recipes (and be watching for those as I will start sharing them now :))

Household Uses (many of these are links to other articles)

  1. Make aromatherapy tissues for allergy and cold relief.
  2. Make your own laundry detergent with scent like Tide
  3. Make your own fabric softener.
  4. Make your own Downy Unstoppables laundry scent booster, but with natural ingredients.
  5. Make your own soothing baby wipes.
  6. Fabric refresher - Create this by mixing purified water with lavender oil. Just spray your fabrics when needed!
  7. Diffuse in the air with an oil diffuser. Check out the post HERE on diffusers. 
  8. Make your own fragrance diffuser.
  9. Spa Baths – Enjoy a calming, relaxing and healthful bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Even use epsom salts with lavender oil in your bath! 
  10. Lavender pillow or rice warmer.  Fill a small pillow with rice and then sprinkle lavender oil and warm this up in the microwave for less than a minute for a sinus, headache, calming treatment.
  11. Make your own cleaning products. Because of the many cleaning, purifying and cleansing properties of lavender, it is a GREAT ingredient to add to homemade cleaning products for a chemical-free option. We share over 26 homemade cleaning products on our cleaning page HERE and some of these contain lavender oil.


Many of these cleaning recipes use lavender oil! 

Cooking Uses (only the high quality, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for this purpose!) 

  1. Teas – brew your own tea with dried lavender or even with lavender oil.  As a tip, don’t let the water boil – remove the water right before it reaches boiling point. If not, it will burn the oil.
  2. Homemade breads – adding a drop of lavender can really enhance and make a very earthy and yummy flavor to your breads.  This requires experimentation, but lavender is an herb and think about how yummy breads are with herbs!
  3. Flavor enhancer in recipes.  Yogurt, salads, ice cream, Soups, Mediterranean and Italian dishes are nice with a very slight hint of lavender – one drop is more than enough. Another area where it is fun to experiment and receive nice flavor and health benefits too!  I don’t use lavender often in the kitchen (not like other oils that I will talk about later) but I do use it on occasion.

What uses do you use lavender essential oil for?  

See more household tips HERE

See our Essential Oils Pinterest Board HERE 

*Please note, this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition or replace any medicines or medical treatment, it is purely our opinion from our experience and research from a non-medical perspective.  Please confirm all of these things with your doctor. 

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Alex & Cassie