The Easiest and Cheapest DIY Car Air Freshener You Will Ever Make

One of my new favorite places here in Wisconsin is the recycling center, or, as we have dubbed it, the dump.

Less than a 1/4 mile from our house is the center where the entire township brings their trash, recyclables, and things they no longer need or want.

It is this last category of items that makes the dump so exciting.  The couple that manages it sets aside what they deem usable and allow people to grab items that others have discarded.  Literally, one man’s trash becomes another man’s treasure at this place.

I have come home with something almost every week from the dump, ranging from toys, lamps, furniture, and the least of all this:

coffee filters.



The woman managing the dump suggested I put these in the bottom of my potted plants to keep soil from leaking out.  Although this is a fabulous idea, I had another thing in mind for these babies.


I poured in 1/2 cup baking soda.  Then I added 30 drops of essential oils.  IMG_0756

I made two air fresheners:  for the van I mostly drive I used a stress relief blend that my sister sent me; it has a few citrus oils and ylang ylang, and it is lovely.  For my husband’s commuter car, I made the manliest blend I could think of:  10 drops each frankincense, cedarwood, and pine needle.

I smooshed the baking soda and essential oils around a bit and tied these off with some twine.  IMG_0760

This was the quickest, easiest DIY project I think I’ve ever done!

(And it helps to keep our cars fresh!)

Hand, Foot, and Mouth: A Conclusion

Readers, I promise I won’t be posting anymore pictures of my feet today.
You’re welcome.
Do you know why?

They are spotless.  As are my hands.

You can barely tell where the rash had been on my hands, and you can see a spot or two on my feet.  Henry’s one spot on his chin isn’t visible anymore, and the few on his hands are barely noticeable.

We have survived hand, foot, and mouth disease without any open rashes.

I count this as a huge win.

I will say upfront that I don’t believe we caught a severe case of the disease.  I believe the milder case of hand, foot, and mouth we had simply didn’t run as long as the disease often can (I read online the rash can be itchy for several days to a week).

However, I do believe that the essential oils blends I used help to heal the rash more quickly and prevented the rash from opening (in addition to not scratching, of course).

That being said, I want to share with you again the oil blends I used for the rash that came with hand, foot, and mouth disease:

On the rash itself:

5 drops lavender

5 drops tea tree

5 drops lemon

I put these together in a small roller and filled the rest of the roller with extra virgin olive oil.  I applied this about every hour when the rash was itchy/painful and less often as it bothered me less.


On the bottoms of the feet:

5 drops thieves

5 drops oregano

Same as above:  I put these in a roller and diluted with olive oil.  I applied this to the bottom of the feet about four times a day when the rash was itchy/painful and only twice a day the days it was visible by not bothersome.

I pray you never get this disease, but if you do, please try these blends out.  They just might help!

Hand, Foot, and Mouth: Part 2


I slept very well Monday night.  After getting less than three hours of sleep the night before, I fell asleep on the couch (covered in a sheet for easy sanitization) around 8:30 PM.  My husband woke me around 11:00 PM to feed Little Guy, then I went back to sleep until about 6:00 AM.

Apparently Little Guy woke up two more times, but my husband consoled him and put him back to sleep.

Because he is a rockstar.

I think Little Guy’s poor night’s sleep was due to his sixth tooth making its way through his gums more than the hand foot and mouth (HFAM).  His tooth was visible this morning, but most of his upper thigh rash was gone.  He still has just one spot on his chin and about four on both hands.  He is a bit cranky today, but who knows if it’s still the tooth or the sickness.

He’s had a tough month, this poor little sir.

I, on the other hand, am feeling much better.  My hands no longer itch, nor are they very painful, even though they look about the same as they did yesterday.  None of the blisters have opened, and some even appear smaller!

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My feet are still a bit itchy and have a “pins and needles” sensation when I walk.  The rash has become more defined on my feet.

I am continuing to treat both Little Guy and I with the same essential oils blend as yesterday but less frequently.  I apply it about every 3-4 hours.

By Tuesday afternoon, Baby Brother is definitely more in teething mode than sick mode, and my hands and feet are hardly itchy or painful at all.

The Mayo Clinic website tells me I am contagious until my spots scab over.  Since they haven’t opened, I am not sure that will even happen.  Instead, I hope to be able to leave the house again once my spots and Little Guy’s spots fade significantly.


I woke up without any itching sensation at all.  The rash on both my hands and feet is still visible, though the spots on my hands are turning more of a brownish color and fading.  The spots on my feet have become more defined and reddish, though they do not itch at all.  I treated the spots on my feet with the essential oils blend.

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Little Guy has the one spot on his chin, which is also turning more brownish than reddish.  The few spots on his hands look more defined.  I am not sure that any of the spots actually bothered him, since he never showed any signs of distress or discomfort on his mouth or hands.  I treated all of his visible spots again with the essential oils.

As it looks today, I believe we can leave the house by tomorrow or Friday.

Which is fabulous, because I am starting to get cabin fever already.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see how we continue to fare.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth: How We are Surviving It

Last week each of my girls had a fever.  For our Bean in the middle, her fever jumped pretty high, and I almost called the doctor for it.  She didn’t have any other symptoms, although she didn’t want to eat much.

A few days later her sister had a fever that lasted only a day, as well.  Hers wasn’t as high, but she did complain of a sore throat.  She, too, didn’t eat much that day or the next.

I hadn’t considered either of these episodes serious.  My kids tend not to get sick very often, and if they do, it’s for a very short period of time.  I assumed my middle child picked up a virus either on the playground, at the store, or at the library.  It’s easy to do.

Shortly after my oldest girl got sick I started to feel a bit under the weather.  I have been working on sleep training Baby Brother, and that has really diminished my hours of quality sleep at night (in hopes to eventually get more).  I assumed I was just getting tired from all of that.  Saturday afternoon my husband’s company had a huge picnic, and our little family spent all day playing, eating, walking, dancing, and bouncing.  It was a great time, but it definitely wore us all out.  We brought the stroller, and I ended up pushing Little Guy in it for a while because it was almost too hot to wear him.  I’ll start my illness progression right after that.

Sunday:  I woke up with a very sore throat, though I chalked it up to tiredness and the weeding I had done earlier in the weekend.  My palms were sore, and I thought it was because I had been pushing the stroller.  We didn’t think twice about piling into our van and heading to church.  By the time we got back and started lunch prep I noticed small red dots on my palms.  They itched quite a bit, and I considered they might be from stinging nettle that I may have touched accidentally.  Then I saw that Baby Brother had a similar spot on his chin, and he hadn’t been feeling himself for most of the morning.

A quick internet search led me to the conclusion that he and I both had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.

[What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?  It is commonly a childhood illness, affecting children five years old or younger.  It’s caused by one of two viruses:  Coxsackievirus A16 (most common) or Enterovirus 71.  The later has been linked to other much more serious diseases such as encephalitis, as well.  The disease is characterized by a fever (mild or severe, depending on the strain), following by a sore throat.  After the fever breaks, a rash appears, usually on the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, around the mouth, and in the diaper/groin area.  In children, this rash may itch a bit, but it doesn’t bother them as much as the lingering sore throat.  Throat blisters can last up to a week or more, and they can restrict appetite and food intact.  The disease is spread through bodily fluids (saliva, urine, feces, and open sores from the rash).  Because it is viral, there is no treatment for the disease, just symptom management.  Most adults do not contract the disease because they have already built up immunity to protect against it.]

By Sunday evening the spots on my hands became more visible, and more popped up.  My feet began to itch, and a few spots became visible there as well.  Baby Brother had only one spot on his chin and one on his thigh.  He had no fever but seemed irritable.

I searched the internet for any relief he and I could get that I didn’t have to leave the house for.  My husband had already left for work, and there was no way I was going to share this with the rest of town.

I made sure we both had plenty of fluids, and I fixed up two essential oils rollers:

The first roller, to be put directly on blisters, had 5 drops each of lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oils.  The second roller, to be used on the bottoms of our feed, had 5 drops each of thieves and oregano.  I used olive oil to dilute in both of these.  I treated both Little Guy and I twice before bed.

This is how my rash looked before I settled in for a long night:

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It certainly didn’t look all that bad, but it itched  A LOT.  And it was pretty painful.  It wasn’t painful enough to make me wince, though I had read that from other people’s stories about the disease.  Instead, it was just painful enough to keep me from falling asleep.  So at 1:00 am when my husband strolled through the door from work, expecting the house to be asleep, I was in an oatmeal bath.

I put 2 tbsp rolled oats, 1 tsp iodized salt, and 1 tbsp coconut oil into a wash cloth and put a rubberband around it to make a sachet of sorts.  I threw this into a warm (not hot!) bath with about 5 drops of lavender essential oil.

The oatmeal bath provided some relief, though not as much as I’d hoped.  I tossed and turned until Baby Brother woke me around 5:00 am.  He nursed back to sleep (lucky guy), and I just started my day.

Monday:  I moved about slowly, washing my sheets and any towels or washcloths I had used.  I let my husband climb back into bed (with clean sheets) to get some more rest.  My rash became more defined, and it definitely hurt more than it itched.  I also began to feel spots forming on my thighs and my back.  My throat was too sore to each much of anything.  It’s been a chicken broth and tea kind of day.

I am continuing to use our two essential oil blends quite a bit.  I estimate I’m putting it on both of us just about every hour.  My rash looked like this today:

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Again, it doesn’t look as bad as it itches.  I am, however, hoping to avoid the opening of any of these spots.  The liquid that oozes from them is very contagious, and it sounds absolutely gross.

Little Guy woke up around his normal time, and he was a bit fussier than normal.  He had several more spots on his thighs, though the one on his chin remained by itself.  He doesn’t seem bothered by the rash, but he is having some pain eating his solids.  He’s nursing quite a bit more today.

I intend to give both Baby Brother and I an oatmeal bath this evening.  I’ll continue to update on our progress and how our symptom management plan is working.

Baby Food – To Go

Around here we have been getting excited for our upcoming road trip back east.

Did you catch that?  I already sound Midwestern.

I said “back east”.

I digress.

Beard and I are packing up our three kids in our new-to-us mini-van and driving half way across the country to see a lot  of family.  We are excited.  The girls are excited.  Heck.  Baby Brother is excited, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

Our girls are definitely no stranger to long road trips.  They had made the 8 hour trip between Virginia and my home state of New Jersey at least three times every year, plus they each made a few journeys out here to Wisconsin from Virginia.

There was this one crazy year where my husband and I drove to Wisconsin, stayed a week, then drove to New Jersey for my cousin’s wedding, then we drove back down to Virginia.  With a 15 month old Bitsy girl.  And I was 30 weeks pregnant.

That trip was made pleasant by our friends at Pepperidge Farm and their genius invention called the “goldfish”.

This summer will be Baby Brother’s first big road trip, and it is the first time I have brought a baby that still requires purees on a long road trip.  I have taken babies that exclusively nurse, and I have taken babies that can eat a lot of table foods.  Little Guy, though, is just not ready for much table food at all.  It means I have to be creative (and probably a bit industrious) about having enough for him to eat without relying on pre-packaged baby food.**

There are some foods that are no-brainers when it comes to feeding babies quickly, easily, and conveniently:

  • avocados:  I love feeding my babies avocados.  They are easy to mash up, have tons of good fats, and they are green.  What mom doesn’t love to have a baby covered in green mush?  At this point, Little Guy eats between 1/8 and 1/4 of an avocado in one sitting.  By replacing the avocado pit into the remainder of the fruit and putting the fruit, in its peel, in a sealed bag or container, I could feasibly keep an avocado for a few meals.  I highly doubt Baby Brother would like to eat avocado for 4-8 meals straight, so I eat some of it myself or pawn some of it off on his older sisters.  They ate the green mush as babies, too!
  • bananas:  Bananas are another of those foods that are easy to mash and come in their very own container.  Heck, I can slice off tiny slivers of banana with a baby spoon.  Bananas require no prep at all.  Like an avocado, Little Guy could probably eat 1/4 – 1/8 of a banana in a sitting, but bananas don’t keep as well as avocados once they are peeled.  Fortunately, those are also easy to feed to other family members.
  • applesauce:  I almost never buy anything that is packaged into individual serving sizes.  I will forego this rule with applesauce on road trips.  I can buy individual cups of sugar free, organic applesauce that make a very easy meal for a baby on the road.
  • watermelon:  This may be the first in this list where you think HUH?  If I buy a watermelon, or even half a watermelon, I can slice it up and put it in a large bag or container.  Little Guy can hold a slice of watermelon and gnaw on it while we are stopped.
  • hard-boiled eggs:  I have gotten Baby Brother absolutely hooked on egg yolks.  For the most part, he likes the liquid yolk from my hard-boiled eggs, but unfortunately there is not way I could bring those with us.  Hard-boiled eggs, on the other hand, are super easy to keep on a long trip, as well as easy to mash and eat.  Fortunately for me, I have a daughter that will only eat hard-boiled egg whites, so those won’t go to waste.

These are great foods to keep in the car for feeding babies while on a road trip.  I am, however, going to put together some purees to bring along in my favorite “baby food cubes” in a cooler.  I am working on a post about which purees to make and take and which are best left at home, as well as how to keep them frozen, and how to thaw them and feed them to baby.

Stay tuned!

DIY Coconut Milk Deep Conditioner

Winters in Wisconsin are long, guys.

Did you know that?

I knew that.

I thought I was prepared.

But alas, I was not.

As a person with dry skin, I knew enough to keep myself stocked with tubs of coconut oil and shea butter so I wouldn’t dry out.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that the long Wisconsin winter would wreak havoc on my dry, curly hair.

I honestly waited too long to do a deep conditioning.  I should probably deep condition twice monthly in the winter months and monthly in the warmer months.  I had been frustrated with how my hair felt for months, yet just kept changing daily conditioners to find one that felt better.  What my hair actually needed was a good deep conditioning.

Here’s how I did it:


In my microwave safe bowl, I measured 2 tbsp coconut oil and 2 tbsp honey.  I heated these for about 30 seconds, or just until the coconut oil melted and the honey become less viscous.  Then I mixed in 2 tbsp coconut milk2 tbsp yogurt (yes, that’s the stuff in the mason jar*), and  2 drops each lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil.

I had my hair in my usual “mom do”:


Super classy.  I had to, of course, let it all down to put in the conditioner:


Then, using my hands, I saturated my hair with the deep conditioner, from about 1″ from my roots all the way to the ends:


I got about as much product as I could onto my hair without having it literally dripping wet.  I used nearly all of the product I made on my medium length, thick hair.  (If you have very long hair, I would suggest doubling the recipe.)

I put my hair back into my “mom bun”:


I left my hair like this for almost an hour before I took a shower.  I washed the deep conditioner out with a homemade coconut milk shampoo (post pending).  I had to wash twice to get all the product out of my hair.

But oh.  My.  Goodness.  This deep conditioner left my hair feeling so lovely and soft.  And the smell!  There is something about lavender and coconut, isn’t there?

Try this recipe, and let me know how you like it!