Category Archives: Home & Garden


Summer Essential Survival Guide – Business Spotlight – The Nature Cottage

By Susan Hilton

The trees are budding and the grass is getting green. Flowers are springing up out of the ground and bees are buzzing around the flowers and flowering trees.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It’s not for many of us, especially those of us who are allergic to so much that’s coming out this spring. Allergies to pollen, grasses, flowers and other greenery can bring the best of us running for tissues and over-the-counter or prescription medicines. The coming season also brings sunburn, bug bites and the list goes on and on.

color_pop_flowerThere is something we can add to your arsenal of items that make up your survival kit.  Essential oils may be what you have been missing.  Let’s look at the history of essential oils and how they’re made.

Essential oils have been around for thousands of years.  From the Egyptians to the time of Jesus Christ and throughout the ages, people have used plants, herbs, trees, fruits and seeds for healing, cosmetics and their emotionally uplifting properties.  Therapeutic grade essential oils are extracted through careful steam distillation. Cold pressing is then used complete the process and both have to meet very high standards. What comes from these stringent processes is the purest of essential oils.

If you’ve experienced a spa treatment or massage, chances are you’ve been exposed to essential oils.  These oils are usually used in diffusers or rubbed between the palms to warm them and then massaged onto the skin by spa professionals.

With summer coming, essential oils can provide an arsenal to combat the worst that the warm season can bring.  There are oils to use for many purposes, from first aid to hydration and cooling and allergies to sunburn.  Here are a few examples.

  • Sunburn – Lavender and Myrrh are the best oils without a doubt. They are not sun blockers, though, and some essential oils can make you sensitive to the sun, so remember to do your research. Use these two to help sooth dried, sun damaged skin and reduce inflammation.
  • Allergies – There are many essential oils that relieve nasal congestion and inflammation. There is a trio of them that is known by some as an ‘Allergy Shot.’  These three oils are LemonLavender and Peppermint.  Put two drops of each oil in a shot glass of cool water and drink. They can greatly reduce your symptoms and possibly stop the allergic response.
  • Insect Repellent – Purification is my number one when it comes to keeping insects away. This oil can be rubbed on your skin or placed in products like sprays, creams or lotion bars. It also helps in neutralizing poisons in the bite that cause redness and swelling.
  • For those of us living in tick country, there is a product called Tickless that is made with Geranium, Rosewood, Lavender, Lemongrass and Palo Santo essential oils.  This spray will keep the ticks off you and your pets.  However, if you don’t have Tickless and get a tick on you, after careful removing the tick, use a drop of Thieves to prevent infection.
  • Drinking – Putting any of the citrus oils including Lemon, OrangeTangerine or Citrus Fresh will add hydration and flavor to any drink.
  • Cooling – Applying Peppermint to the back of your neck will refreshingly cool your neck.  Dipping a bandana in water and applying one to two drops of Peppermint, then freezing it will be a great cooling bandana both for you and your dogs.

There are many more essential oils that can be added to your survival kit. There are oils for cooking, digestion problems, and hot tub safety that can be added as well. A new store, The Nature Cottage, will be opening soon at 208 East Center Street.  The store will feature many oils and products developed with essential oils in them. There will also be products to use with the oils and a variety of gift items for the little ones, the home, the spa and your wellness. The Nature Cottage looks forward to bringing this unique store to our clients and customers. Look for us on Facebook or at


Penny Pinching – Saving Time and Money

By Stacy Vanzant

Let’s be honest. We’re all trying to save money, and the easiest place to blow your cash is around your home.  The Bible teaches us to be humble in our ways.  Although God will provide for our needs, we should take a closer look at what our needs really are and not be blindsided by our wants.

When you take a look around your house, what do you see?  When I took a deep look around my home I realized that as humans we want to make our lives easier, but at what cost and are there other alternatives?

When I watch infomercials on television or even walk down the aisle at a store, I’m bombarded with items that claim to make my life easier.  Steam vacuums, 3-in-1 dusters, cleaning supplies and even expensive organizational products all tell me they can save me time and effort.  So I took a look at many of the products I use around my house on a weekly basis and started looking for ways to be more frugal.

Here are a few of the keys finds that can save me hundreds of dollars each year and even a little elbow grease.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

On average, a container of store bought laundry detergent will cost anywhere from $10-$18.  This will average around 60-70 loads of laundry.  Here is a great and easy recipe to make your own detergent with very little effort and could save you hundreds of dollars each year.  The average cost per load using this recipe is around .01 per load. Wow!


Bar soap – The most typical type of soap to use is Fels Naptha.  It is an old-fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle.  The other options for soap are Ivory or another brand called Zote.  Any of these will work.   If you use Ivory or your own homemade soap you will need to use the whole bar.

Washing Soda – This is not to be confused with baking soda.  They are not the same thing.  It is a white powder and its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors.   Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is one type that can be found in the laundry section of the grocery store.   If you’re having a hard time finding it, you can order washing soda online through

Borax – Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate.  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is as a laundry whitener and deodorizer. The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team.  It comes in a 76 oz. box.  You should be able to locate this in the laundry detergent aisle.


1/3 bar Fels Naptha or 1 bar other type of soap, as listed above

½ cup washing soda

½ cup borax powder

You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir, then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  Use ½ cup per load.

If you want your soap to have a scent you can add ½ to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.

The finished soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup.” The soap is a low sudsing soap, so if you don’t see any suds, that is ok.  Suds are not what does the cleaning; it is the ingredients in the soap.

Replace your Household Cleaners with Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide should really be called oxygen water, since it is basically the same chemical make up as water but with an extra oxygen atom (H2O2). Because of this it breaks down quickly and harmlessly into oxygen and water.  It’s non-toxic so it’s versatile and can be used around children, food and many other areas of your home.  No need to invest in the fancy brand name cleaners.

Replace your mouthwash

Use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash to freshen breath. It kills the bacteria that cause halitosis. Use a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water.

Kitchen Cleaner

Clean your cutting board and countertop. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes.

Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans

Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked on stains will lift right off.

Clean the toilet bowl

Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

Toss the bleach

Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains — just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Clean kids’ toys and play areas

Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis.

Around the House

Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants.

Detox in the Bath

According to alternative therapy practitioners, adding half a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to a warm bath can help detoxify the body. Some are skeptical of this claim, but a bath is always a nice way to relax and the addition of hydrogen peroxide will leave you – and the tub – squeaky clean!

Steam Cleaner

Use one pint of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a gallon of water to clean humidifiers and steamers.

You can see a more in depth list of ways hydrogen peroxide can help around your home at Here

Toilet Tissue Savings

With a simple smash you can save a lot of money on wasteful toilet tissue runs. Smashing down your tissue rolls it prevents you or those in your family from running off more than they need.  It might sound silly, but just give it a squish and see how it works out for your family.


This might sound like an easy way to save, but it can add up to  savings on  your utility bill.  By simply going around your home and unplugging phone chargers, appliances, computers and even microwaves, you could save big.  Even when not in use, these items pull energy from your home.  By bending over to unplug you could save up to 10% a month on your utility bill.  It might not sound true, but give it a bend and see what happens.