Monday, December 26, 2016

DIY Cat Scratcher or Bed

Neither of my cats are declawed.  While they will scratch sometimes, it hasn't been an issue on our furniture.  Chloe, my son's cat, does like to scratch more than Carly does.  Our homeschool room is in the basement, and Chloe likes to hang out down there with the kids during the day.  I made her this DIY cat scratcher so she has something to scratch on and sleep on while she's downstairs.  Even though it's not soft and padded, she doesn't seem to mind it.

diy cat scratcher or bed

DIY Cat Scratcher

We inherited a large--I'm talking 5 feet long and 3 feet high--roll of corrugated cardboard.  I used it for shipping when I sell on eBay or Etsy, but I don't think I will use it up in my lifetime.  I used that for this scratcher bed, and it worked perfectly!  You could also use strips of cardboard from shipping boxes.

None of my cats are declawed, so they like to use cat scratchers to scratch their claws on.  I made this one big enough for them to lay on, and sometimes they use it as a bed instead of a toy.  

To make a cat scratcher, you'll need:
  • 4" strips of cardboard (I used corrugated cardboard)
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Yardstick
  • Glue gun

I marked off 4" inch lines and used the ruler and marker to make long cut lines on the cardboard.  I cut about 8 strips that were about 4 feet long.  

Then just start rolling.  I used hot glue to keep the cardboard from unraveling.  I didn't glue the entire thing; I just spread some glue every 8-10 inches to give it a little support.  

When you finish with one strip of cardboard, glue the next one to the roll and keep going.  And going.  And going.  When it's the size that you want it to be, just glue the end in place and hold securely until the glue sets up.  

Your strips of cardboard will never be perfectly straight, so just keep one side as straight as you can while you're rolling it.  The other side will be bumpy, but it will rest on the floor okay.  

I painted stripes in purple paint because I have to paint everything, and Chloe likes purple. 

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Garlic Romano Penne with Stella Black Pepper Romano

We will be hosting more Christmas parties this year, and I don't want to serve turkey and ham at each one.  I came up with this Garlic Romano Penne recipe for easy entertaining.  You can serve it alone or add shrimp, chicken, or even sausage.  After you read the recipe, be sure to enter to win a trip to Napa Valley sponsored by Stella Cheese!

Garlic Romano Penne Recipe 

This dish is very simple, but it's full of flavor.  I use Stella Black Pepper Romano because it has a salty, sharp flavor in the aged cheese and the peppercorns lend spice to the dish.

I will usually make a cheese board for our holiday parties, and I use Stella cheeses.  I think with a simple recipe like this penne or with a cheese board, you need to use ingredients that have a lot of flavor on their own.  With just two or three flavors of Stella cheese, crackers, olives, and some grapes, you can have a flavorful cheese board that's quite easy to put together.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Stella Black Pepper Romano
  • 1 pound penne, cooked
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and cook until brown, about 30 seconds.  Smash the garlic with a wooden spoon to release the flavor.
  2. Add parsley and stir well.
  3. Pour garlic, parsley, and olive oil mixture over cooked pasta.
  4. Top with grated Stella Black Pepper Romano

If you want to serve wine with your Garlic Romano Penne or a cheese board with romano cheese, I suggest a chardonnay or zinfandel.  Romano also pairs well with brandy or scotch.

Win a Trip to Napa Valley

Be sure to enter Stella Cheese's awesome sweepstakes!  They are offering a $5,000 trip to Napa Valley, CA, wine country to a lucky winner!  

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top 50 STEM Toys for Christmas 2016

Caleb, my 10-year-old, loves anything science or math.  He will spend hours with his Snap Circuits building their designs and creating his own.  He loves few things more than dumping his bin of LEGO bricks and having free play.  My daughter, on the other hand, has to be coaxed in to doing anything STEM related.  Once she starts playing though, she will have fun and start experimenting.  These toys look like so much fun, both my son and my daughter will love them.  If you need Christmas ideas, these 50 STEM toys will be a big hit.
stem toys christmas 2016
Magna-Tiles 12148 Clear Colors 48 pc DX set Toy

Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit

ClickBlock X-Bar Magnetic Building Toy School House Set, 28 Piece

Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0

ClickBlock X-Bar Magnetic Building Toy School House Set, 28 Piece

Geode Explorer Science Kit - Crack Open 7 Amazing Rocks and Find Crystals!

4M Magnet Science Kit

Math Dice Tournament Kit

KNEX Education - Intro to Simple Machines: Levers and Pulleys Set - 178 Pieces - For Grades 3-5 - Construction Education Toy

Robot Turtles Game

Geode Explorer Science Kit - Crack Open 7 Amazing Rocks and Find Crystals!

Gravity Maze

Thames and Kosmos Rocket Science Kit

Laser Maze Logic Game

Mega Shark Tooth Science - Collect 5 Real Shark Teeth with NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus

SmartLab Toys ReCon 6.0 Programmable Rover

My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope - MFL-06

littleBits Electronics Premium Kit


Melissa & Doug Human Anatomy 100 pc Floor Puzzle

Uncle Milton - National Geographic - 3-in-1 Expedition Magnifier

4M Kitchen Science Kit

Snap Circuits Lights Electronics Discovery Kit


Zometool Basic Creator Kit

Insect Lore Butterfly Pavilion

TINKERTOY 30 Model Super Building Set - 200 Pieces - For Ages 3+ Preschool Educational Toy

Ravensburger Science X Magnetic Magic Activity Kit

MudWatt - Grow your own living fuel cell - Classic STEM Kit

fischertechnik Dynamic - Fun with Physics

4M Math Magic Puzzles and Games

Ozobot 2.0 Bit, the Educational Toy Robot that Teaches STEM and Coding, Titanium Black

Educational Insights Nancy Bs Science Club Way To Grow Hydroponics Kit & Gardening Diary

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set

Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science +70 Activities

OgoSport OgoBild Animate It Studio Kit with Webcam

Trends UK Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine

4M Weather Station Kit

Thames & Kosmos Master Detective Toolkit

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

National Geographic Break Open 10 Geodes and Explore Crystals Science Kit

Thames & Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism

Thames and Kosmos Classic Science Archaeology: Pyramid

Puzzlets Starter Pack with Free Programming Game: Cork the Volcano

Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot Robot Wonder Pack

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set

Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Kit

Professional Rock Tumbler by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Improved Quality Sept. 2016

Sick Science Fast Physics Kit
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rustic Farmhouse Decor from Amazon

We've lived in our farm house for 4 years now.  The previous people didn't like the farm house look, so they painted more modern colors.  Needless to say, modern colors just don't look right in a farmhouse!  My living room, dining room, and hallway were terra cotta and yellow, which is totally not my style.  We've slowly been turning the old farmhouse back into a farmhouse.  When I saw slowly, I do mean slowly.  I can't wait to share photos, but it's not quite there yet.  Until then, enjoy some of these amazing rustic farmhouse finds.

Rustic farmhouse decor

Rustic Farmhouse Decor from Amazon

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.

Cotton Linen Square Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover (Compass), 18"x 18"

Decors Square Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover Rustic Deer Buck Burlap Throw Pillows 18 X 18 Two Sides Printed

BarnwoodUSA Rustic Reclaimed Wood Shelves Open Box

Mini Mason Jar Night Light in Rustic Brown Metal Color

Mini Rustic Wood Signs - Seek Adventure, Create, I Love You, Explore, Dream, Inspire

Old Rustic Window Barnwood Frames - Not For Pictures

Rustic Primitive Milk Can Vase Container with Barn Star Country Home Decor

Wall26 - Canvas Prints Wall Art - Artistic Abstract Dandelion on Vintage Wood Background - 12" x 18"

Custom Cut Decor Customized Monogram Rustic Tin Letters

What's your favorite rustic farmhouse decor item?
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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why Doesn’t Anyone Talk About How Amazing Tweens Are Today?

It seems like when people talk about the younger generation, they only have negative things to say.  I'm an active volunteer with several youth organizations, and I can say that these kids are pretty awesome.  They have opportunities that my generation never had.  They literally have the entire world's knowledge in their pockets.  The kids that I work with are polite, well read, and a lot of fun to be around.  I may be a little biased, but I think my tween son is pretty awesome too.   Now he has a pretty awesome snack to keep him fueled all day, too.

Caleb is 10 now. His struggles in life started five weeks in to my pregnancy when I was told that we'd lost him.  Thankfully, several doctors and their ultrasounds were wrong.  I went in to preterm labor that was stopped with bedrest and medication.  We almost lost him during birth, too.  I thought we were safe once he was born, but he was hospitalized with RSV at four weeks old and had an apnea in the hospital.

I'd like to say the next few years were uneventful, but they weren't.  Although he didn't have any major medical problems, he was an active and ornery child.  He was the one who kept my on my toes by moving furniture, jumping from high places, and swinging from the ceiling fan.

When Caleb was eight-years-old, he was diagnosed with autism.

In the last two years, we've secured the support that he needs to lead a successful life.  Thanks to countless hours of therapy, his wonderful therapists, and a large support network, I have no doubts he will reach his goals in life.

Caleb wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.  While I'm not thrilled about sending my baby to space--even if my baby is over 18 by then--I do believe that he will reach his goal if he sets his mind to it.

One of the things that makes Caleb so amazing is his big heart.  He loves animals.  He has a Siamese mix cat named Chloe that he plays with and takes good care of.

While I still get to sneak in a few snuggles if I sit on couch in the evening, my baby boy is growing up.  He still plays with action figures and loves watching cartoons, but I see glimpses of a young man, especially when he's eating.

It's hard to believe that our days of sippy cups and carrying cups of snacks are over, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't need a snack to get him through the day.  I started buying him Yoplait Go Big.  They are the perfect size for a snack for a growing boy both at home and on the go.

He likes the rip and grip because it's easy for him to open without using scissors, and the pouch is easy to hold with one hand.  I like that I can get them at Walmart in the yogurt section on my weekly shopping trip.  I also love that they don't have high fructose corn syrup or colors from artificial sources.

Go Big challenged me to write a letter to my tween.  Here's an excerpt from my letter.

Dear Caleb,
You've been a fighter since day 1.  You fought to stay alive, and now you fight to fit in in a world that doesn't make sense.  You're determined, and you never give up.  You have a unique journey to trek before you become an adult, but I'll be beside you every step of the way.

Do you have an amazing tween?  Tell me about him or her in the comments and be sure to visit Yoplait Go Big for more inforatation!

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Send a Letter of Hope to Show You CARE

I am lucky because I grew up in a time where women could be anything they wanted to be.  I got a free education in a public school and went on to private college thanks to merit-based scholarships and some student loans.  When I had kids, they started in our local public school, but for many reasons, they now learn at home.  My kids have a safe environment in which to learn, and they don't have to worry about anything except learning.

My daughter, Dakota, is 9 and in the fourth grade.  She loves to read, and she loves to learn.  She doesn't have any barriers to her education, and she has the full support of her parents.  Not all girls around the world are so lucky.  This is where CARE helps.  CARE is a global organization that fights poverty by empowering women and girls.  One way they empower women is by giving them more access to an education.

Meet Mary.  Mary is 15-years-old and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.  Her parents aren't available, so Mary and her three siblings live with their grandmother.  Mary wants to be a journalist when she grows up.  She works hard in school to meet her goal, but she often lacks the money for food and school fees for an education.

By contrast, Dakota never has to worry about food.  Although we don't have school fees, Dakota always has the fees for ballet, community theater, karate, and ju jitsu.

I like school because...

Mary says, "It will make me reach my goal."

Dakota says, "It is fun!"

To be successful I will...

Mary says, "try my best to work hard."

Dakota says, "work hard in school."

My biggest challenges...

Mary says, "Sometimes I lack school fees."

Dakota says, "staying focused."

Education inspires me to...

Mary says, "To be a hard-working journalist."

Dakota says, "do my best!"

Dakota and Mary are similar in that they both want to work hard in school and have a good job later in life.  Where they differ is in their obstacles.  Mary lacks the money for an education.  Dakota lacks the motivation because she, thankfully, doesn't understand that education is a luxury to some girls in other parts of the world.

You can help by sending a letter of hope or encouragement through CARE to students in developing countries.  These letters will help students get through those rough days, and with the help of CARE, hopefully graduate to end the cycle of poverty.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

How to Fix a Clogged Sink

This post is sponsored by Roto-Rooter.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

I don't know about your, but clogged sinks happen more than they probably should here.  One time I caught the kids giving the bunny a bath in the sink...a bunny who had not been wiped clean of straw before entering the house.  Our house is an old farm house, so clogs are a little more common here than in newer homes for various reasons.  I've had to learn how to fix a clogged sink myself because we only have one bathroom and can't just use a different one until the hubby gets home.  Fixing a clog isn't too difficult.  Keep reading for some simple ways to unclog your sink without calling a plumber.

How to Fix a Clogged Sink


I usually try this method first because, with kids, there's usually debris causing the clog.  This method is also very easy and usually works.

Before you use a plunger, be sure to use a wet cloth to block the overflow opening.  This helps direct the force towards the blockage.

 If there isn't water standing in the sink, add a few inches of water.  The water helps force the blockage to move.

Simply cover the drain with the plunger and plunge up and down for 30 seconds.  If the water flows, then you are done.  If the water is still standing, try again.  After the drain opens, run water for a few minutes to clean any blockage that may be stuck on the pipes.

Using a Drain Stick

I use a drain stick if I notice that the sink is draining slowly but isn't blocked.  This usually means there is a hair clog in this house.

Simply insert the drain stick down the drain.  You may need to move it round and twist it to catch the clog.  Then pull it out and, hopefully, the clog will come with it.  Run water for a few minutes to clear the pipe.


If neither of those two methods work, that's when I reach for Roto-Rooter home products.  To use the Gel Clog Remover, which is what I normally get, make sure the cap is on securely and shake the bottle well.

Then pour 16 ounces of gel directly in the drain and let sit for 10 minutes.  Rinse well with hot water.  Some clogs will take more than one treatment.

Before you use a chemical drain cleaner, make sure it's safe for your system.  We have a septic system, and Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Cleaner is safe for septic systems.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Save Money on Home Decor with Groupon

This post is sponsored by Groupon.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

We've lived in the farm house for four years now, so I've slowly been working on decorating.  My home decor taste is usually out of my budget, so I have to work slow and look for deals.  I have pretty much the entire house that I want to redecorate, including bedrooms, so I'm thankful for sites like Groupon that helps me save money.

Save Money on Home Decor with Groupon

With Groupon, I can save on most anything for the home, including the bedroom, kitchen, bath, living areas, and even the back patio.  I can even save on a mattress when I redo my bedroom!  Shopping online for Groupon Goods can help save a significant amount of money.  

The deals on Groupon can change frequently, so you'll want to check frequently to see what's available.  The amount of money that you can save varies by the product.  Some products have 20 percent savings, and other products are marked more than 50 percent off!

It's easy to find what you're looking for on Groupon.  You can use the search bar the top if you know exactly what you want to buy.  If you're just browsing, you can go through the categories to narrow it down.  You can also narrow down the results by price, color, or brand so you only see the results that you want.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Imagine a Life Without Leaks

Women will often freely share their pregnancy stories, but not many will talk about what happens after the baby is born.  Our bodies are permanently changed, and it's not always for the better.  Along with sagging body parts, stretch marks, and usually some extra weight, some women also experience light bladder leakage (LBL) after childbirth.  If you're experiencing it too, you are not alone.

According to Poise, up to 50 percent of women who have given birth experience LBL before the age of 40.  Ladies, that means it's very likely that your friends are also experiencing it too.  

LBL continues to be a taboo subject among women, but it shouldn't be.  It's just one of those things that most women have to go through as moms, and it's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

If you experience LBL, Poise pads are the best option because they absorb quickly and trap odor.  You might be tempted to use period pads so you don't have to buy another product, but Poise are made for LBL, so they are better for LBL.

With Poise, LBL won't interfere with your life.  Imagine taking your kids to the park or watching their play at the school without worrying about leaks.  Wouldn't that be nice!

And if you go to Sam's Club, you can save up to $4 on Poise liners and up to $7 on Poise pads.  You can also stock up so you don't run out or have to make another trip to the store, which is why I love to buy in bulk.

Not a Sam's Club member?  Click here to learn about the many benefits of becoming a member.  
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Take Care of Your Septic System

This post is sponsored by Roto-Rooter.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

The first two homes that my husband and I lived in were in the city limits, so we were connected to the sewer system. We moved to a farm four years ago, and now we have a septic system.  My husband used to work for a waste water company, so he knew how to take care of it.  I grew up with a septic system, so it wasn't new to me either.  The only thing that I miss about being connected to a sewer system is my garbage disposal.  Those are a no no with a septic system, unfortunately.

It's very important to take care of your septic system.  If you don't, you could get septic buildup, which are plugged lines.  If this happens, your septic system can leech in to your yard and even back in to your home!  Trust me, this is not something you ever want to deal with.  It's messy, and it's very costly to repair.  Learn how to take care of your septic system to preserve it and avoid spending $1000s in repairs.

How to take care of a septic system.

Don't Add Too Much Water 

Be mindful of your water consumption when you have a septic because too much water can knock the biological system out of balance.  If you add too much water, your septic can back up in to your house.  We have a large tank, so this isn't an issue, but if your tank is smaller, this is something to keep in mind.

Enzyme Treatments

Using an enzyme treatment monthly can help prevent your septic from backing up.  We use Roto-Rooter Natural Enzyme Septic Treatment because it has twice as many enzymes.

The enzymes work on paper waste, oils, fats, protein, and grease to eliminate them.  It can help reduce odors and dampness in your leech field, and it helps prevent costly repairs.

What I love about Roto-Rooter, besides how well it works, is that I can buy a four month supply in one bottle.  I don't have to guess how much to add because it has a chamber that you fill to measure out the correct amount.

To use an enzyme treatment, just pour it in your toilet once a month and flush.  Yes, it really is that easy!  

Chemicals and Your Septic

Watch what chemicals you dump down the drain.  Common household cleaners are find when used in moderation.  Drain cleaners, bleach, and household cleaners are all safe.  What isn't safe is cleaning water for latex paint or rinsing out paint cans.

Food Waste & Other Items

As I said, garbage disposals and septic systems don't play nice.  Don't put any cooking fat or coffee grounds down your drain.  You also shouldn't flush paper towels, tissues, or other items that don't decompose.

Not all toilet paper is safe for a septic system.  Some will not decompose quickly, which can clog your system.  To test your tissue, wad up a few pieces and put in a jar half filled with water and shake the jar.  If the tissue breaks up, it is safe for a septic system.

Do you have a septic system?

Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Remover

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How to Save Money On Almost Anything

This post is brought to you by Groupon.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

I'm frugal.  I don't like paying full price for anything.  Before I buy something, I always look for a coupon to use in the store or online.  My husband always stares at me while I search on my iPhone for a coupon to use before we pay!  He teases me, but he definitely doesn't complain when the price drops dramatically after I use my coupons.  When I'm looking for coupons, I like to use sites like Groupon Coupons because they find all of the good deals, and I just have to search for them.

How to Save Money On Almost Anything

I've used Groupon before to save on tickets and other events, and now I use their Coupons section too.  Some of their coupons are for in store use, and some are for online only.  Some stores will even let you combine coupons for even better deals.  Some stores will let me show the coupon on my phone without printing it, but be sure to ask your favorite stores for their policies.

Most people think of using coupons for department stores and food, but you can also save on routine purchases for your home and vehicle.

One thing that I love about using Groupon Coupons is that I don't have to subscribe to several lists to get the deals, and I can find them so easily.  

What's the most you've saved with a coupon?
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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Introduction to Roto-Rooter Home Products

This post in sponsored by Roto-Rooter, but all enthusiasm is my own.  

I live in an old farmhouse, and I have kids.  You better believe we deal with some clogs.  One time I found straw, leaves, and grass in my bathtub after the kids washed off something inside instead of at the hose outside.   I also have insanely thick hair, and it constantly clogs the drain.  Compounding the problem, we have a septic system, so I have to use products that are safe for septic systems.  When Roto-Rooter asked me to be a brand ambassador for them this year, I knew it would be a great fit for my lifestyle and my home.  This is a product that we use, so it was natural to share it with my readers.

You probably think of a plumbing service when you think of Roto-Rooter, but they have new home products.  Not every plumbing situation needs a plumber, and you can save a lot of money by trying to unclog your sinks or bathtubs by yourself.  If Roto-Rooter clog remover, doesn't remove the clog, Roto-Rooter will take 10% off of your service call if you show the repairman your empty bottle.

We rarely get the clogs that completely block the drain.  Oh no.  We get those slow clogs, where the sink fills up while you're using it but empties within a few minutes.  These clogs are the worst in my experiences because most drain cleaners just slide past the clog, which means you are literally dumping your money down the drain.  Roto-Rooter has a gel formula with the most active ingredients versus other brands and the right viscosity to move to the source of the clog and break it up, so it works better on our clogged drains.

Roto-Rooter Clog Removers remove grease, soap scum, and hair, so you can use them in the bathroom and in the kitchen.  They are safe for septic systems too, which is really important to us.  Roto-Rooter also has a septic treatment, so be sure to look for that if you have a septic system.

Since I'm a brand ambassador for Roto-Rooter for 2016, I'll be giving you some tips on some basic plumbing fixes and routine maintenance that you can do yourself, so keep checking back to learn more.

You can find Roto-Rooter at Lowe's, Walmart, Menards, meijer, Dollar General, and Tractor Supply Company.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Non Toxic Sticker Remover

When I'm crafting, I have to remove a lot of stickers, especially when I upcycle something.  I use a hair dryer if I can't get the item wet, but that can leave some residue.  I can't use commercial sticker removers because most of them use orange essential oil, which gives me a migraine.  I also prefer to use nontoxic cleaners in my home.  This also has two ingredients in it that I use all the time, so I always have the ingredients.  I started to make a craft for my son, but I had to take the label off of the bottle first.  I decided to share that with all of my wonderful readers,

Non Toxic Sticker Remover

Before using this non toxic sticker remover, it's important to remove as much of the sticker as you can.  Ideally, you'll be able to remove all of it except the residue, but this will also cut through the actual sticker.  

Use a spoon to get about a teaspoon of coconut oil and spread over the sticker residue.  You can also use vegetable oil or olive oil, but I think coconut oil is easier to work with because it's not as "oily" and because it's solid at room temperature and doesn't run all over your bottle.  Simply spread the oil all over the residue and use your finger or a washcloth to remove the residue.  Sometimes this is all that you need to get the glue off.

If it doesn't get removed with just the oil, then add a pinch of baking soda to the oil and scrub it off with that.  The residue just melts off with the baking soda and coconut oil.

Once the glue is all gone, rinse well.  You can use a drop of dish soap if it's oily.  Rinse well and let dry.

Obviously, this is only for things that can get wet.  You can also mix the coconut oil and baking soda together and store in a mason jar, but I've found that this works just as well and doesn't take up any extra room in my cupboard.

If you liked this post, then you'll love:
DIY Laundry Soap
Liquid Castile Soap Concentrate

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