DIY Tiki Torch

During the summer months, I love being able to sit out on my porch in the evenings and enjoy a good book, watch the kids play, and just take in the beautiful weather. I’ve always loved the look and feel of lit tiki torches on summer evenings. Something about it just totally sets the scene for me. There prices, however, horrified me.

I was so excited last summer, when I came across little globular tabletop torches in the store. For a great price!! I could totally envision the queenly atmosphere they would create. The part of my brain that logically rationed as Queen of my Castle I deserved to stoke my fairy-tale inspired fire, demanded their immediate purchase. I automatically saw my little piece of far, far away where I could decompress, and just lose myself for a few minutes each evening.

Naturally, I came home with a matching pair, assuming we’d live out the rest of our days creating beautiful, enchanted Summer memories together.  Unfortunately, my happily ever after just wasn’t meant to be.  Both pots (let’s face it, at this point their ambiance setting fairy God mother had abandoned them and, in my eyes, their clock had already struck twelve) leaked horribly. Despite my valiant husband’s best efforts, they just weren’t salvageable. For me, the whole affair was quite tragic. So much for my illusions of grandeur.

Ever my knight in shining armor, my husband came to my rescue! If I couldn’t buy the perfect table top torch, then he would make me one! This was his brain child.

This easy to make tiki torch was a roaring success. Using citronella infused torch fuel I’m able to keep the mosquitoes at bay, all while adding a little ‘enchantment’ to my evenings. My still full wallet was feeling pretty enchanted too!

DIY Tiki Torch

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Tiki Torch made out of an old Patron tequila bottle shown lit up

  • old, sturdy glass bottle
  • 2 washers that fit the lip of your bottle
  • 1 spacer
  • rubber grommet (make sure it will fit tightly down into your bottle creating an airtight seal that prevents the wick from moving around)
  • tiki torch fuel (I used one with citronella to keep the mosquitoes away)
  • tiki torch wicks

Directions

  1. Add fuel to your bottle. Be careful not to over fill.
  2. Place a wick into the bottle. Leave about 2 inches exposed above the lip of the bottle.
  3. Thread the end of the wick through the grommet, pushing the grommet towards the bottle opening. Force grommet down into the neck of the bottle, leaving it flush on top with the lip. Make sure to hold onto the end of the wick so it doesn’t also get pushed down into the bottle.
  4. Take one washer and thread it onto the wick, pushing it down until it rests on the top of the bottle. Make sure there’s not gap between the bottle and washer # 1.
  5. Thread a spacer onto the wick and push it down until it’s resting flush against washer # 1.
  6. Thread washer # 2 onto the wick, pushing down until it is resting firmly against the spacer. The washers will keep the flame away from the glass preventing it from getting hot, at all.
  7. Push the exposed wick down into the bottle, leaving only about 3/4 of an inch of wick exposed and ready to light.
  8. Allow the wick time to completely saturate with tiki torch fuel before lighting.

DIY Pinwheel Headbands

While watching my friend’s daughters one day, I decided we needed something crafty. It was my attempt to keep them from going stir crazy, in between our daily 30 minute reading time and a trip to the pool, while we waited for the littlest son to wake up from his afternoon nap. I had recently seen this idea, and knew I had most of the supplies on hand, and that it would take up just the amount of time I needed to fill. The actual headbands I found at the craft store in the jewelry making section. These simple headbands were an immediate hit with the girls. Even my boys wanted to get involved in making them and were surprised, and even impressed, at how something so simple could be turned into something so ‘professional’ looking. Next time you’re feeling ‘crafty’, create your own easy and trendy pinwheel headband. They’re so simple, you can even make a spare to share, or several, quickly.

DIY Pinwheel Headbands

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Pinwheel Headbands

  • 2 different colors of felt, preferably coordinating and 1 sheet of each
  • 3 buttons
  • headband
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • hot glue gun

Directions

  1. Cut out 2.5 x 2.5-inch squares of felt, 2 squares for each pinwheel.
  2. Starting at each corner, cut a slit toward the center of the square, measuring approximately 1.5-inches long. This should leave at least a half inch of the center of the square uncut.
  3. Now there are 4 “triangles” within each square.
  4. Place two of the coordinating squares together, one a top the other. Secure with a dot of glue in between each.
  5. Begin by folding over one corner of a triangle toward the center of the square. Place a small dot of hot glue in the center of the square to hold down the edge of the triangle. Continue around, gluing down every-other triangle corner to form a pinwheel shape. Continue for the second layer.

  6. Next, glue a button over the center of the pinwheel where all the triangle corners come together. Finally, put a little dab of glue on the headband and place the pinwheels!

Son # 2 ‘pouting’ that he didn’t get a headband too! I couldn’t help but laugh, I love my little comedians.

4 Sons 'R' Us

The 5 Minute, No Sew, Bottom Bunk-Bed Fort

I often hear the saying ‘Boys And Their Toys’, but after having four of my own, I feel like it should really be ‘Boys And Their Forts’.

It seems boys, or at least all four of mine, are biologically programmed to build forts.

Almost like clock work, their first fort seemed to signify their ‘christening’ into Toddler-dom. After that, the building never stopped.

Without fail, anytime I step foot into one of their bedrooms I find sheets strung up, taped up, tacked up. Up! B

ins have been used as room dividers, with blankets for doors, and pillows inside serving as child-sized divans for lounging and comfort.

While I love the little kingdoms they create for themselves in their world of blankets and imagination, sometimes we just don’t have time for all the construction, and eventual clean-up, that that kind of creativity requires.

When that happens, I go from being the beautiful ‘Mom Princess’, as the littlest son has dubbed me, to the mean old ogre storming the gates.

I hate ruining harmless fun. Then I really feel like a giant grouchy, green ogre.

Stumbling upon Laura’s idea for an easy, DIY Bunk Bed Fort was a Godsend.

It’s fast, easy, and there’s not a single thing to cut or sew! You can literally throw it up in 5 minutes.

There’s not even a mess to clean up afterwards, and it’s always ready and waiting to play.

Perfect for any ‘Mom Princess’ or ‘Queen of the Castle’, whether you’re raising young lords or little ladies, who wants to keep letting the good times roll, even when you’re running out of time.

The 5 Minute, No Sew, Bottom Bunk-Bed Fort

4 Sons 'R' Us: The 5 Minute No Sew Bottom Bunk Bed Fort- a striped curtain drawn on a tension rod across a wooden twin bunk bed

  • flat sheet, twin sized
  • 12-14 curtain rings with clips
  • tension rod

Directions

  1. Slide your curtain rings onto the tension rod.
  2. Mount the tension rod to the bunk bed.
  3. Fold your twin-sized, flat sheet in half, lengthwise.
  4. Attach the clips on the fold, spacing them as evenly as possible so the whole sheet is evenly held up.
  5. You’re ready for playtime!

Look how it works.  The curtain can be all tucked away when not in use, but just slide it closed for your very own Bottom Bunk-Bed Fort. The sheet easily un-clips for washing, and the tension rod is equally easy to remove whenever desired.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Bottom Bunk Bed Fort- a striped curtain drawn on a tension rod across a wooden twin bunk bed

Lemon Rosemary Bath Salts

In the rush of everyday life with a large family, and four children, there isn’t always time for a lot of relaxation. Usually just stolen moments.

Even my showers have had to become ‘efficient’.

However, on the weekends when the kids are in bed, I love to enjoy a nice, long soak in the tub.

One of my creature comforts, despite budget constraints, has always been expensive bath products.

I frequently use scented ones to create my own little atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

It’s this wonderful little private bubble, where for a chunk of time, I don’t have any obligations or demands to meet. Something about the scented steam, just does it for me in the ‘reclaim a piece of my sanity’ department after a chaotic week.

While I used to frequent kitschy stores and purchase the latest fragrant combinations to induce my ‘me time’. I’ve gradually shifted to making more and more of my own bath products.

As I’ve found to be true with the majority of things, I like the results from this homemade version better than other’s I’ve purchased over the years toting the same ingredients.

These bath salts are a breeze to mix up, and are heavenly to use.

Just a few simple, common ingredients, and you can easily, and cheaply, produce your own affordable, quality bath salts.

Make your reservations today for a little ‘spa’ treatment in the comfort of your own home with a batch of these easy lemon rosemary bath salts.

Lemon Rosemary Bath Salts

lemon rosemary bath salts in a wide mouth glass mason jar with a dark background and the title displayed at the bottom

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Lemon Rosemary Bath Salts

Ingredients

  • 2 cups epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh rosemary; finely chopped
  • 6-8 drops lemon essential oil
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon zest optional

Instructions

  • In a bowl, combine epsom salts and baking soda.
  • Add in half of the essential oil drops, mix, then add in the remaining drops.
  • Mix in the chopped rosemary and lemon zest if you decide to use it until fully combined.
  • Store in an airtight container.
  • To use, add as much, or as little, as you'd like to hot bath water and stir around until dissolved.

D.I.Y. Candy Bouquet

Last month we went to watch my middle sister graduate from college.

This was one of her ‘gifts’, also doubling as the centerpiece for the food table at her graduation party.

My sister happens to have a soft spot for anything sweet and sugary so this was a perfect treat for her.

The candy bouquet had originally been my mom’s idea, but the finished product was my youngest sister’s labor of love.

All of the graduate’s favorite treats were featured.

Recently, I’ve seen these in all the stores as a ‘sweet’ and trendy gift to give, but the mark-up on them is insane.

With just a few items, several of which you probably already have in your home, you can make a beautiful candy bouquet ‘arrangement’ for a special someone with something to celebrate.

I absolutely love this fun, new twist on the more traditional floral arrangement. Customizable, fun, and most importantly, edible!

What more could you ask for from a ‘bouquet’?!

Help celebrate someone ‘sweet’ in your life, and commemorate a special day, with a personalized candy bouquet.Candy Bouquet with sparkly ribbons around the base and a variety of candy bars on wooden skewers in a glass vase filled with m&m's

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DIY Candy Bouquet

Ingredients

  • assorted full-size candy bars 6 were used here
  • wooden skewers
  • strong tape
  • economy-sized bag of m&ms
  • clean empty clear vase
  • ribbon optional

Instructions

  • Tape a wooden skewer to the back of each candy bar. Make sure enough tapes is used so that it's securely attached.
  • Add m&m's to the bottom of a clean vase.
  • Stick skewers into the m&m's, adding more if necessary to hold the skewers in place.
  • If using, tie decorative ribbon around the outside of the vase and tie a bow for the finishing touch.

Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a nice cold and frosty treat to help keep cool.

Think of a glass of ice-cold lemonade, or a frosty popsicle fresh from the freezer.

While we all have our own favorites and readily use them as part of our summer arsenal to stop the heat’s oppressive assault, pets are often left out of this kind of treat. ‘Frosty Paws’ offer an ‘ice cream’ type treat for your K-9 friend that’s perfectly safe for their consumption.

However, even though our Bentley is very near and dear to my heart, I couldn’t bring myself to continue to pay the high costs just for a bag of frozen dog treats, especially when I read the ingredient list and realized how simple it would be to make my own. It was simple, easy peasy.

Now Bentley is happy, healthy, and not nearly as hot after a romp outside.

These frosty paws frozen dog treats are really versatile as well, and easily adaptable.

While the recipe I’ve given you today is how I make them most often. I have made these with finely ground chicken & chicken broth, and I’ve also included pulverized egg shells as a calcium supplement with great success.

Copy-Cat ‘Frosty Paws’ Frozen Dog Treats

4 Sons 'R' Us: copy cat frosty paws dog treats shown in a white ice cube tray

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Copy-Cat Frosty Paws Frozen Dog Treats

Ingredients

  • 32 oz yogurt I've used plain, strawberry, and vanilla before
  • 1 mashed ripe banana or 1 baby food jar of fruit
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ice cube tray

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients in a mixer or a blender until evenly combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the ice cube trays.
  • Freeze.
  • Pop out and store in a zip locking bag in your freezer.
  • Give your fur-baby a treat!

 

All-Natural Flea And Tick Spray for Dogs

We have an almost 4 year old pug named Bentley. Bentley, ever the rebel, does not ever stop.

Contrary to the accepted pug ‘stereotype’ he is not fat or lazy, but instead full of muscles and hyper-activity.

He, literally, goes until he can’t go anymore, falling over in a heap of exhaustion for a cat-nap that, at most, will only last 5 minutes.

While we all enjoy watching him frolic through the grass, chase bugs, fetch sticks and so on, all this play time outside meant he was a constant tick magnet.

Literally, he set one paw outdoors, he had already attracted at least four of the little blood suckers.

We used to buy over the counter products to help keep him bugger free, but aside from the expensive costs, we had another reason to seek out an alternative remedy.

With our toddler, and other young children always in and out of our home, we just couldn’t risk the hazards of any one of them loving on the dog, and then ingesting harmful, toxic chemicals when those chubby baby hands went straight in their mouths.

I tried several recipes, but this version was the immediate, and obvious winner.

When applied to Bentley once a day and rubbed lightly into his coat, we haven’t seen a single tick. Not one! There’s also been no scratching that would indicate any other unwanted squatters trying to take up residence.

I don’t have to worry about the little ones wanting to love on, and give kisses to, the dog. Make up your own batch today and serve an all natural, affordable eviction notice to the bugs.

All-Natural Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Natural Flea And Tick Spray show labeled on a large jar

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable, or almond, oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil
  • spray bottle

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray onto your pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals.
  3. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. When pets are outdoors generally to use the restroom only, spray the solution onto the animal’s coat once per day.

‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ Grad. Gift

Another graduate, somewhere, is preparing to walk down the aisle to receive their long sought-after diploma.

Friends and family are trying to figure out the best way to recognize their achievement, or a way to put some finishing touches on a celebration or gift in their honor.

I remember, after my sister’s graduation, when she was preparing to leave for college, she couldn’t help but be nervous.

I mean, college is a big step. Life on your own for the first time since birth.

I wanted to give her a little something at her dinner the night before she left for school, and I hate just sticking money inside of a card.

This was the resulting ‘brain-child.’

She truly got a tickle out of it, especially after having seen all of the fire extinguishers in the dorm room whose displays had read them same.

This is a quick and easy graduate gift, perfect for the high school graduate preparing to head off to college.

It’s easy to make ahead, or even throw together last minute if you’re scrambling for some creative way to display a monetary gift.

This would also be cute to give to the college graduate preparing for a move into their first home or apartment.

Who doesn’t love a gift that gives them a good laugh? Especially when preparing for such a tremendous transition as embarking on the next chapter in life.

‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ Grad. Gift

Two five dollar bills in a glass picture frame that says break in case of emergency

  • A typed up ‘Break In Case Of Emergency’ header, printed on 81/2 x 11 computer paper
  • Either an 8 x 10 or 8 1/2 x 11 picture frame
  • 2 bills in whatever monetary increments you choose

Directions

  1. Tape your two bills, evenly spaced apart, to the ‘Break In Case of’ sheet.
  2. Put the finished paper into the frame, and secure the back of the picture frame into place.
  3. Give to a wonderful graduate with a sense of humor.

Easy Oatmeal Bath

I’m sure most of us Moms who have older children have had to deal with the Chicken Pox at least once. I’m sure, like me, when your child has gotten the pox, you’ve run out to the nearest pharmacy and paid a pretty penny for Aveeno’s oatmeal baths to help your painfully itchy little ones find some relief. Worrying about them and this one time illness, I never really paid attention to, or cared about, the expense. Now, years down the road, I have a 3 year old plagued by eczema. Especially in the summer, he gets horribly itchy, scabby patches. What’s even worse, at 3, he doesn’t understand why he get’s in trouble for scratching when it temporarily helps him feel better. He doesn’t think about the sores he will create or the potential for infection like his Daddy and I do. With a child who not constantly, but often needs a soothing oatmeal bath as a healthier form of relief, I was getting a bit frazzled by the prices I was forced to pay for name brand products. A friend of mine mentioned to me that she makes her own version with great success and I followed her advice and I immediately made my own batch of oatmeal bath that afternoon. Now, not only am I saving a ton of money, I don’t have to run out to the store at the last minute, or even clean up sludgy oatmeal out of the bottom of my tub. Do yourself a favor and give it a try for yourself. You will never go back to the name brands again!

Easy Oatmeal Bath

4 Sons 'R' Us: Easy Oatmeal Bath mix shown in an old grated Parmesan container

  • 3 cups plain, unflavored oats
  • empty bottle preferably with a shake/pour cap (I used an old Parmesan cheese container)
  • food processor or blender
  • a clear drinking glass
  • a tablespoon
  • old panty hose/stockings (optional)

 Directions

  1. Add oats into your food processor or blender and pulverize until it’s a fine powder and you don’t see any big pieces left.
  2. Test to make sure it’s fine enough by adding 1 tbsp of the oats to a glassful of water. If most dissolves and there’s not much left settling to the bottom you’re done*.
  3. Store oatmeal bath in a container until ready to use.
  4. When ready to use, add 1 cup of oatmeal to warm bathwater, stirring until combined. This will leave some oatmeal mess to be cleaned up afterward.
  5. To avoid any messy cleanup, put the 1 cup of oats into the foot of an old panty hose or stocking. Tie the panty hose around the faucet so the oatmeal is hanging directly under the water as it fills the tub. It will run through the oats, keeping the majority of the messy stuff in the ‘bag’, but still creating the soothing, milky ‘oatmeal’ bath.

*I skip this step, but if you want to be absolutely sure you’ve gotten all the big pieces out, you can sift your pulverized oatmeal before storing it. The more big pieces the less likely it is to all dissolve.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Over the past few years, my husband and I have avidly been trying to look for areas in our home where we could cut costs by doing things ourselves and giving up convenience purchases. We’ve also noticed that the extra effort pays off, in that we’ve been able to cut out a lot of chemicals and other harmful substances. This past week I finally convinced my husband to take the plunge into homemade laundry detergent. He was skeptical since it was a powdered detergent, and also worried that it wouldn’t be able to cut through the dirt and grime of our four, very active boys. The results; however, were remarkable. Clean, clean clothes, including underwear, and soiled towels!  This recipe only costs about 5 cents per load as compared to about 20 cents with store bought detergents I’ve purchased at sale prices. Even better, this is entirely HE washer safe! All that’s required to be HE safe, is a detergent that’s low-suds. Think about it…they use less water so it makes complete sense that they would need a low suds detergent. It’s nothing else. Don’t get caught in the same trap we were initially, and continue to pay the ridiculous prices for ‘special’ detergent. It’s just another gimmick to get you, the consumer, to spend more money.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Laundry Detergent in a glass mason jar with a yellow ribbon tide around it

  • 1 bar fels naptha, or zote
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda

Directions

  1. Grate your bar of laundry soap (fels naptha or zote) as finely as possible.
  2. Put grated soap into a storage container. Add in borax and washing soda.
  3. Stir until evenly combined, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1 tbsp per load of laundry. 2 tbsp for heavily soiled loads.