Author: Abby Teuber

An Active Family’s Guide to Keeping Laundry Fresh

An Active Family’s Guide to Keeping Laundry Fresh

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #SparkleWithGain #ILoveGain #CollectiveBias Laundry.  Piles and piles of laundry.  If your family is as active and busy as ours, you know what I’m talking about.  Between my husband’s […]

DIY Cat Supply Cabinet

DIY Cat Supply Cabinet

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CelebratingMorris #CollectiveBias If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I absolutely adore my two cats, Edmund and Phil.  Of course, that means we have […]

How to Clean Practically Everything in Your House Using Only Natural Ingredients

How to Clean Practically Everything in Your House Using Only Natural Ingredients

Are you looking to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals but don’t know where or how to start?  Here is an incredibly simple guide to replacing toxic household cleaners with safe, natural alternatives, many of which you probably already have on hand.  You’ll find out how to safely clean practically every surface in your house, from the windows to the toilet and everywhere in between.  These cleaners are safe enough for kids to use, so the whole family can pitch in around the house without any concern about what they’re being exposed to.  You will still want to keep these things away from young children who might accidentally ingest them.  While perfectly safe to use for cleaning, some of these ingredients can be harmful if ingested, so make sure they will only be accessible to people who won’t try to drink them 😉

There are a few basic things you’ll need to make the switch to natural cleaning:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon Essential Oil
  • Various other essential oils (optional)
  • Dish Soap
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Olive Oil
  • Microfiber Cloth (or any lint-free cloth)
  • Glass Spray Bottles (plastic can break down over time from essential oils)

Using just these supplies, you can clean just about every surface in your house.  Sounds easy, right?  It really is! Here are some specific tips for tackling all of your chores with no harmful fumes or chemicals.

Dusting– This is one of those chores that’s perfect for little hands so I usually let my kids do the dusting, but I don’t want them exposed to commercial dusting sprays.  There are two all-natural dust-busters we use in our house, so I’ll share them both.

  1. The simplest method is to dampen a microfiber cloth, add 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil to the cloth, and simply wipe the surface with it.
  2. If you want extra shine, however, you can make this all-natural dusting spray that’s safe for all finished wood surfaces.  Simply add 1 cup of water, 2 T. white vinegar, 1 T. olive oil, and 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil to a glass spray bottle and shake well.  Lightly spray the surface and wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Tubs,Tile and Grout– A paste made with baking soda and a little water can make scrubbing stains from grout and tile a cinch.  Soap and water will also work on tile for everyday cleaning.

Toilets and Ceramic Sinks–  Sprinkle baking soda in sinks and toilet bowls and let it sit for up to an hour, then pour vinegar over the baking soda and scrub with a toilet brush or cloth.  The baking soda deodorizes while the vinegar sanitizes, leaving your bathroom naturally clean!

Floors (wood, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate)-  A basic solution of 1/4 C. white vinegar and 1 C. water will clean most floors easily.  For extra shine, you can also add 1 T. oil to the mix.  Spray floors with the mixture and wipe with a soft cloth or mop.  Alternatively, you can fill a bucket with 1 gallon of water and 4 cups of vinegar and mop the floor with this solution.

Marble and granite– While vinegar is an amazing natural cleaner, it should never be used on natural stone like marble and granite, which can be etched by acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus.  Mix 1 C. water, 1/4 C. rubbing alcohol, 3-4 drops of dish soap, and 5-10 drops of any non-citrus essential oil (such as lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, etc.)  Spray on surface and wipe clean.  This solution can also be used for most floors, and it dries quickly without leaving streaks because of the alcohol.

All-purpose cleaner– If you want to keep things really simple and just have one bottle of cleaner for most jobs, this is it.  Mix 3 parts water with 1 part white vinegar in a glass spray bottle, add 15-20 drops of essential oils, and shake well.  You can use this solution to clean countertops, sinks, tubs, showers, windows, floors, and even cutting boards and appliances.  Just be sure to avoid using this one on granite or marble.

If the idea of making your own cleaners is too overwhelming, or you don’t really want your house to smell like vinegar every time you clean something, there are plenty of non-toxic, natural cleaners available to purchase.  I’ve tried several companies over the years, but my absolute favorites are from Red’s Gone Green.

Her products smell so amazing that I genuinely want to clean my house just so I can enjoy the scent of clove-cinnamon-vanilla (which smells just like chai tea) or lavender-vanilla (incredibly calming.)  Check out all of her products here.  The all-purpose cleaners (except the grapefruit-orange-lavender) are even safe on granite and marble, so you can basically reduce your whole cleaning cabinet to just one incredibly fragrant bottle!

Hopefully this is a helpful crash course on how to start swapping some of your commercial cleaners for more natural alternatives.  It really is simple and affordable to enjoy the benefits of non-toxic cleaning supplies.  Have other natural cleaning hacks or tips to share?  Leave us a comment below!

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 2

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 2

Hopefully you’ve seen the first part of this tutorial and are already obsessively working on your own quiet book! If not, go check it out here.  There are some tips and suggestions you might want to read before getting started. As promised, here are instructions […]

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

My cousin ,who is really more like a sister, recently had her first baby and she wanted someone to make a quiet book for him.  So, my 8-year-old daughter and I decided to take on the challenge.  After months of working on it little by […]

Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MorrisKnowsBest #CollectiveBias

If you ask my son about his siblings, he’ll tell you he has two sisters and two brothers. The sisters are both regular human girls, but the “brothers” he’s referring to are our cats, Edmund and Phil. And the funny thing is he isn’t the only one who thinks of the cats as important members of the family. We all love these little guys more than I ever dreamed possible. I never knew I was a cat person until we rescued Edmund from a shelter two years ago.  He was a sweet, playful little kitten and we all loved him from day one.  He brought so much fun and joy into our household.  It left us wondering why we hadn’t adopted a pet years earlier.   But we were perfectly content with one pet and never even considered adopting another.  We had no idea that it wouldn’t be long before we took the plunge again.

One day, we were outside and a tiny gray tabby cat just wandered over to us looking completely adorable.  He was friendly and affectionate with beautiful green eyes and the softest fur ever.  The kids were all so excited and begged to keep him.  I was certain my husband wouldn’t want to mess with adopting another pet, so I dismissed the idea and started asking around the neighborhood to try to find his owner.  After all, we already had a cat.  What if they didn’t get along?  And adopting another pet means vet visits, added expenses, more responsibility…It just seemed like too much trouble.

No one claimed him, and he took up residence on our back porch and made himself right at home, while we were still trying to find him a home somewhere else.  Thinking he was a girl (we hadn’t bothered to check), my son named him Phyllis.  My kids would call him and he would jump right up on their laps and purr like crazy.  My youngest would pick him up and he would just stay on her lap looking absolutely content.  He never scratched or snapped at anyone.  He would playfully chase strings as long as someone wanted him to, keeping my kids entertained for a long time.  Everything about this cat was wonderful.  After several days of this, my husband and I both agreed that he would be worth whatever it took to make him ours.   And we’re so glad we did!  He loves everyone in the family and appreciates all the affection we can give.  We weren’t sure how Edmund would handle it, but after the first couple weeks, Phil (as he is now more appropriately called) and Ed became best buddies. They play together, eat together, and follow each other around.   Edmund actually seems happier now that he has Phil around.

But aside from the fact that they look very similar, they are as different as can be in every way.  And that’s one of the best things about Phil!  He’s not just another cat like the one we had, he’s a completely different cat with his own personality and habits.  Edmund prefers to relax in quiet places, while Phil loves to play with balls, string, or anything he can chase around.   Ed finds a hiding place when he’s had enough attention, and Phil never seems to get tired of being around people.   Having two cats that are so different is a tremendous blessing.  While one is sleeping next to my daughter as she reads, the other is playing with my super energetic son.  Phil’s playfulness is the perfect complement to Edmund’s seriousness.

Even their taste in food is different. That’s one reason 9Lives® wet and dry cat food varieties are just right for our cats. For wet food, Edmund prefers the Meaty Pate selections, with smooth ground meat, fish or poultry, while Phil devours the Hearty Cuts made of tender, meaty morsels with rich gravy, flakes of fish, and savory shreds.

Check out DollarGeneral.com to find coupons and save on 9Lives® wet and dry cat food for your own feline family members! You’ll find great savings through 5/31/18, and there are so many varieties your cats won’t be able to resist. They also offer specially formulated dry food to meet the nutritional needs of cats in every stage of life. Plus Care helps support digestive health and a strong immune system for older cats like Edmund, while Daily Essentials provides nutrition to support heart health, vision, strong muscles, and healthy skin and coat for cats of all ages.

We love to support companies that give back in some way, and the 9lives spokescat Morris has visited countless schools to promote kindness to animals.  He also launched an initiative to save animals in need of homes.  Check out his Facebook page here.  These are causes our family can feel good about supporting every time we purchase 9lives products.  Our local Dollar General Store carries a great variety of 9Lives cat food, so I can always find all the wet and dry food types that both of our cats love.

We’ve only had Phil for a few months, but it’s hard to imagine life without him.  He’s not just another cat to us, he’s really become a treasured member of the family.  Now the reasons we had for not wanting to take on another pet seem trivial as we watch how much our kids love Phil and how much joy he adds to all our lives.  Just look how adorable he is!

If you’re considering adopting a pet (or like us, another pet) I can tell you it’s worth the trouble.  The little bit of extra work and cost it takes to have him is nothing compared to the joy, excitement, affection, and comfort that this little guy brings to our family.  Plus my son is pretty happy to have as many “brothers” as sisters now 🙂

Have you recently adopted a kitty of your own?  Tell us about it, or share a photo of your sweet new family member.  And don’t forget to go to DollarGeneral.com to find great savings on the 9lives wet and dry food your cat will love.

Easy Crustless Quiche

Easy Crustless Quiche

  You know that game where people ask questions like, “If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?” “What one book would you take with you to a desert island?” “If you had to live on one food for the rest […]

Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler

Happy Homeschooling–Even with a Toddler

  In the almost 4 years we’ve been homeschooling, there has always been a baby or a toddler in the house. Without a doubt the biggest challenge for me has been figuring out what to do with the youngest during school time.  I can’t even […]

5 Ways to Make the Most of Fall with Your Family

5 Ways to Make the Most of Fall with Your Family

#advertisement I received compensation from Dr. Scholl’s® to write this post. All opinions are entirely my own. #CustomFitRelief #DrScholls

Is it just me or is fall the BEST season of the year? The air is crisp, the leaves are turning gorgeous colors, and the holidays are just around the corner. Something about this time of year just makes me want to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather all the time. Maybe it’s because we’ve just come out of months of heat here in Texas, but autumn somehow makes me feel energetic and ready for anything. There are so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the season, but most of them involve being on my feet for long periods of time.  Sadly this can be a real problem for people like me who often suffer from aching feet or pain in the lower back and knees, both of which can originate in the feet.

I have a really hard time finding shoes that offer the right amount of support for my feet so I pretty much gave up on finding shoes that would work for my feet and decided to just live with the pain. But then I found Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts.  Oh my goodness!  Who knew a cushiony little insert could make such a difference?  These things have four different layers, each serving a different purpose in supporting your feet to relieve the stress that can cause foot, knee, and lower back pain.

Dr. Scholl’s® experts in biomechanics have developed an incredible Footmapping®  Technology that evaluates arch type, pressure points, and foot length using over 2,000 pressure sensors, which then recommends the inserts that are right for you.   All I had to do was find the Custom Fit® Kiosk in my local Walmart and follow a few simple instructions to get my personalized recommendation.

Here’s how easy it is.

Step 1: Remove your shoes.

Step 2: Step on the mat.

Step 3: Touch the screen to begin.  Follow the prompts on the screen and in under 2 minutes you’ll know exactly which Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts are right for your feet.  I had no idea I had high arches, and it was great to have a custom recommendation just for my feet!

Thanks to these inserts I can truly enjoy my favorite season!  If you experience pain in your feet, knees, or back from being on your feet for long periods, give Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts a try and start moving around comfortably!  To find a Custom Fit® Kiosk near you click here.  And right now you can even get a $10 rebate at the Custom Fit® Online Rebate Center right here!

The season has so much to offer and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  Here are some of the beautifully simple ways I like to make the most of fall with my family.

  • Take a nature walk.  This can be as simple as a trip to a local park or even a walk around the block.  No matter where you live, a new season always brings with it changes in nature that your family can enjoy together.   Slow down and really enjoy the beauty of the season.  Stop and look up at the trees and the clouds.  Keep your eyes open for acorns, pine cones, pretty leaves, or any other signs of Fall.  Gather special finds in a basket and make simple crafts out of them, or simply display them at home for a free seasonal decoration.  Need a way to get the kids interested?  Make up an age-appropriate scavenger hunt using local plants and animals and see how many you can spot.  You might even make a habit of taking an evening walk together because it’s such a pleasant way to end the day. Just being outside in the fresh air is a great way to slow down and reconnect with your family!

  • Have a family work day outside.  Outdoor chores have to be done anyway, so why not make it a fun family experience?  Turn on some music and get to work raking, gardening, pulling weeds, organizing the shed…whatever needs to be done to make your outdoor space enjoyable for the season.  Just remember to keep it fun! Let the kids rake up a big pile of leaves and jump in it (and then rake it up again, of course :).)  See who can pull the most weeds.  Make a leaf maze or obstacle course.   Keep some cups and a thermos of apple cider outside for breaks.  Snap some photos of everyone working hard and having fun!

  • Dine al-fresco.  Enjoy the results of all your hard work by eating outside.   Bundle up and enjoy a steaming bowl of soup out on the patio while the sun sets, or take your morning coffee outside and listen to the birds singing.  Here in Texas we can be outside most of the day in the fall, but if you live somewhere that’s much colder make the most of the sunshine in the middle of the day by enjoying a picnic lunch.  Having a meal outside somehow makes it feel special and memorable, so make a habit of dining outside as a family once in awhile during the pleasant autumn months before winter sets in.

  • Take advantage of local seasonal activities.  Most cities have certain activities that are only open for a few weeks every fall.  Pumpkin patches, apple-picking, hayrides, corn-mazes…these won’t be available for very long, but the memories can last a lifetime,  so check to see what’s available near you during this season.   We’ve gone to a local pumpkin patch for the last few years and my kids always look forward to spending the day running around, climbing on hay bales, and having a picnic there. And don’t forget your Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts so foot, knee, or lower back pain won’t cut your experience short.  Get clinically-proven all-day relief so you can keep moving and make the most of the season!

  • Hunt for treasures at flea markets and yard sales.  I love finding unique things that people are getting rid of and giving them a new home.  Autumn is the perfect time to spend a day at the flea market or checking out garage sales.  You might even find some perfect Christmas gifts for people who are difficult to shop for.  I have a friend whose family decided one year that they would only give each other gifts from flea markets or yard sales.  They all had so much fun Christmas shopping, and there were some unforgettable gifts that year!  My kids often want to buy gifts for people at Christmas with their own money, but they don’t usually have much money to spend.  So I love helping them find just the right thing at a garage sale that hardly costs anything.  This way they’re learning smart spending while we shop together!

What are some things you do with your family in the fall?  Share your ideas with us for making the most of the season.  Don’t let foot, knee, or lower back pain keep you from enjoying everything this beautiful time of year has to offer.  Try Custom Fit® Orthotics risk-free, with the Dr. Scholl’s® Money Back Guarantee and experience all the fun of the season pain-free!

How Books Changed Our Lives–One Family’s Literacy Journey

How Books Changed Our Lives–One Family’s Literacy Journey

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.  All opinions are mine alone.  #MyLiteracyStory #DGMyStoryEntry #CollectiveBias We all know reading is important. If you can read, you can learn about the things that fascinate you and experience far-off places you long […]