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How we are dealing with Mosquitoes this year!


Homemade Mosquito Repellent

Thanks to a friend last year introduced me to this awesome recipe for a Homemade Mosquito Repellent.   I can spray this on my clothes or on my skin and I won’t be bit.    It is amazing stuff.


  • 15 drops lavender oil
  • 3 Tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 10 drops of citronella oil or lemon-eucalyptus oil
  • 1/4 Cup lemon juice
  • Spray bottle


Combine above ingredients in spray bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with water, water/vodka or water/witch hazel mixture.

I used water and vodka and it worked great.   I purchased this Essential set from Amazon it is perfect for this application.

If you would prefer to purchase a good insect repellent I strongly suggest this AVON skin so Soft with picaridin   This has worked very well for me.

Prepare your yard

Fairfax County has information about mosquitoes and how to prevent them in your yard.

I suggest installing bat houses around the yard.  Bats eat a lot of mosquitoes each night.    We have 2 but our bats haven’t used them 100% of the time so we will be adding more this year.

We use a handful of Tiki Torches in the yard and use a citronella oil  that we find does help get the mosquitoes confused and we get less bites.


Teaching kids how to prevent mosquitoes.  Fairfax County has created the Fight the Bite campaign

If you get bitten

If you have a lot of bites and get a strong reaction talk to your doctor about taking Benadryl or other anti-histime.  It will help decrease the reaction immediately.   In addition, if the bites are very swollen they may not be mosquito but chiggers and they too are painful.   Talk to your doctor if you don’t know what the bites are.   I’ve had to do this myself.   You may need a strong cortizone cream.

Don’t scratch!  This is so much easier said then done.  To prevent scratching I strongly suggest using a Lidocaine cream or antithetic so that it will be numb.  There are so many on the market.   I’ve used lidocaine for waxing, and even tooth gel works great.

Per my dermatologist I have to put bandages on them.  It is essential to prevent yourself from scratching and I do scratch even when I don’t realize it.  Oops!   I like the Dollar Tree bandages the best since they are a little less sticky so they will stay as long as I want and then come off when I need them too.

I hope this helps you!   Have a great summer!

Thank for supporting Redberrydeals!  Some of the links are Amazon affiliate links.


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ReStore – Habitat for Humanity – DIY Home projects

One of my favorite places to buy cheap discounted house materials is the ReStore – Habitat for Humanity.  If you haven’t been to one of the local locations in NOVA, I strongly suggest you do. They have a location in Alexandria, and Chantilly.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity has donated materials that come from home owners and builders.   Materials including tile, cabinets even paint that was used once.  You can donate just about anything to them too.  Light fixtures, ovens, and dishwashers are available.   We’ve found electrical material that my hubby was looking for and couldn’t find at any other store.

Click HERE if you are interested in donating items to the ReStore.   You can even schedule a pickup.

For our current house we bought some beautiful Bruce (named brand) hardwood flooring at the ReStore several years ago that we used in our upstairs hallway.  Wow! We got it for about $1 a square foot which is a lot less than anywhere else.  I don’t recommend this project for a beginner because it is a challenge but it is an example of getting good quality materials for a fraction of the price.  It turned out great!


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Making My Home-Made Dishwasher Detergent

April 2013 –
As I was working on cleaning up the kitchen last week, I was thinking about the fact I was getting low on dishwasher detergent and needed to find some good deals.    I just haven’t seen or heard of any recently.     In addition, I’ve become very interested in using healthy products in the home such as Shaklee Basic H2.     I did some simple searches and found several websites offering their recipes for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent including .   This got me very excited because I have most of the ingredients at home!  Not only would this be healthy but also cheap!   Now the question was would this really work???

From Homemade Dishwasher Detergent including

Soap recipe

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)

Use 1 Tbsp per load (you can use a heaping tablespoon if you feel the need, but we do not).

Each batch yields 24 ounces of detergent. We recommend storing in a container you were going to dispose of anyway, like an old yogurt container or coffee can you can fit it under your kitchen sink. Feel free to double the batch, or multiply to create any amount you’d like.

I needed to find Citric Acid.  Where do you find Citric Acid?   There were suggestions the FAQ on their site such as Amazon, and Lemi-Shine , and most stores sell canning products with Citric Acid.

I headed to my local Walmart and compared the prices and what I could tell by the labels and found Dishwasher Magic Dish and Spot Remover.   It said its main ingredient is Citric Acid so I went ahead and purchased 16 oz for $3.50.  Note:  I only need 1/2 a cup for this recipe.

I came home and followed the instructions above and as you see in the picture came up with a container.  One of the suggestions is to continue to mix it by shaking it so that there are less clumps.  Clumping is a problem with this mixture especially for high humidity climates.    I did just as mentioned and so far so good.  Then I read, there are some people using the Silica-Gel packets that you get in medicines and other products to absorb moisture and add them in.   So whenever I find one I throw that in for safe keeping.

Then using it!   I put a tablespoon in the bottom of the dishwasher and then another half-tablespoon in one of the cups.   I also have solid Jet Dry that I use since our dishwasher is more than 20 years old it doesn’t have the fancy Jet Dry dispenser.

It turns out the dishes have been coming out very clean.  I’m so impressed!   I can’t seem to get them to come clean like that with any of the name brand detergents.   I know we have hard water but this recipe works great and with the solid Jet Dry it really works.

I love my old dishwasher!

September 2013 –

I wanted to update this post and say that I’ve been so happy with this recipe and even my skeptical husband really is impressed. We use 1 tablespoon in the bottom of the machine and a little less than a tablespoon in the cup that closes. The dishes come out perfect.

I have recently purchased the Citric Acid from Amazon and it works just as good as the Dishwasher magic.

Our environment is pretty humid in the woods which causes it to clump up a bit. I put several of the moisture packets (silica gel) into the mixture so that it doesn’t clump as much and I gently shake or stir it regularly.

I find this batch lasts us about 3 weeks and we do at least 1 to 2 loads a day.

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Day #1 – 30 Day Cleaning Challenge

Day #1

I’m going for it!  I’m going to challenge myself by following the 31 Day Cleaning Challenge with Money Saving Mom.     She is using the chart from Fresh and Organized.

Per Money Saving Mom:

Your project for today is to surface clean your living room and kitchen.

  1. I plan on cleaning the kitchen counters and even turn the self-cleaning on the oven.
  2. Empty the dishwasher
  3. Put the food purchases from Sam’s Club away
  4. Clean the top bar of the kitchen counter
  5. Mop the floor in the Living room.


The kitchen looks a bit better.  There are still some items on the left hand side that need to put in their proper places and I’ve decided the hubby will take on those items.


I have the list of the 30 day challenge in a plastic sleeve with my dry erase markers.    I also have the drink 8 glasses a day chart and behind the 30 day challenge I have the list from A Bowl Full of Lemons – PDF file Daily List of Chores here.

These dry erase markers are so handy and they were from the Dollar Store.


I also did the self-cleaning in the oven.  It had been at least year since we last had done this.  Good time of year to do it right before the weather got warm and used the heat to help heat the house.   I plan on clean it out the last of the dust tomorrow.


The living room looks so nice!  I’m hoping this picture will keep me motivated to keep it that way.   It also gets me thinking of ways to get it simpler.   Just last week it had a lot of toys including a toy kitchen and puzzles which have now moved to the basement.   Those days will be the challenge!

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Check this out the next time the power goes out!

Thanks to my wonderful husband, we are fortunate enough to have a generator.   Woohoo!  So when the power goes out we can push a button that will turn on the diesel beast and it will give us power to run the well pump, some lights, TV/DVR, refrigerator, freezer and pellet stove.  The generator has been worth every penny because it has given us piece of mind and comfort.

Last night right before going to bed the power went out.  My hubby and I talked and agreed that it didn’t make sense to run the generator and use the fuel, if we didn’t need to right away.  Our refrigerator and freezer were very cold and we hoped the power would be back on soon.

So as we collected our LED flashlights including our Harbor Freight freebie flashlights and placed them in easy to reach locations my husband pulled out his dollar tree find!  A pack of bracelet glow sticks!   He took attached them to each of the kids door knobs and our banister.   In case, we had to get up in the middle of the night we could see easily the door knob.   It was amazing how much they glowed.   And, it only cost a couple cents.   What a great idea!

In your emergency kit think about getting a pack of glow sticks!

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Craft: Update a Stained Shirt with cute Cupcake design!

Here is a great idea for those cute adorable shirts that get grape juice stains. Find someone like me who has an embroidery machine to put an applique on the shirt. Or you can create a simple applique on a shirt and sew around it. I will post a how to in the future.

This design comes from Just Peachy Applique a sponsor of Applique Forum.

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Craft: Cute ABC Zipper Pocket Design

Here is my first In the Hoop (ITH) project!  I’m so excited about this.   I thought I would share this on my blog.  As you may know I love to create crafts, and sew.  Recently, I’ve become re-addicted to my fancy combo sewing and embroidery machine.   Yesterday, I made this cute Zipper Bag from a new design from DigiStitches

This is for Doodle so she can keep track of her flashcards.

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Jo-Ann Fabrics: 20% off Total Purchase this week 7/22/12-7/28/12

Double check your mail because earlier between July 12-14 I got a postcard flier from Jo-Ann and it has a 20% off total purchase coupon for July 22-28! That includes sales, regular and clearance items!

The best part I just checked the ad for this month and this week July 22-28 the notions wall is 50% off! Quilting fabrics are 40% off and Pillow Forms are 50% off.

That makes the notions wall 70% off, Quilting fabrics 60% off and the Pillow forms 70% off!

If you don’t have the flier download the Jo-Ann App onto your phone and you get the same coupons!

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Spring Into Organization 2012: Cleaning Up Our Message Board


Wow!  This is what our message center looks like?  I had to do something about this.

After having twins last year, my life honestly has been insane!   It has been a huge adjustment not only on me but my daughter (Doodle) too because I went from being an outside the home working Mom to staying at home full-time.    Organization 2012 is now my mission.

Over a week ago I came across Laura from‘s post about Spring Into Organization.  I’ve become addicted looking at some of these posts.  I’ve already started on organizing my laundry room,  my family room desk, and changing table. The best part being some of the ideas are so simple you can do it in an hour or a couple hours!  Plus, some of them like this message center can be done for pennies or FREE!


On our Message Board we seem to put all of the receipts for the month on them, things that need to be done and things we don’t want to lose. It seems to be catch all for for items we don’t have time to put away right that moment. I’ve already started putting all of the receipts in the month holders and it is already proving to be an excellent system. The donate receipts are great reminders that we need to donate again soon. Then the coupons can also hold gift cards that we have available so before we leave the house we can grab what we need.

I created the envelopes by using junk mail!  We’ve gotten so many large envelopes lately so I just glued some yellow paper to the inside.  I bought the paper at the Staples FREE pastel paper after Easy rebate last week.   The clear envelope at the bottom is also from junk mail and is a great envelope so we can add our Box Top coupons for my daughter’s school.  She adds them herself.

Almost all of the posts I saw showed people using beautiful tags and shapes.   Since I have a Cricut machine, my daughter and I used the Calendar Circut card and created each month.  Then glued them on the corresponding blue paper.  The paper I already had so I didn’t spend anything.  She asked to create some more and I liked the idea so we created some circles and I did some calligraphy.  The best part is each are reusable for next year.   I just need to create new envelopes for each month and then file them away after I’m done.  Then all of my receipts are in one place!   A great project to do with my 3 year old and FREE!


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Walmart: Fabric Clearance

walmart fabric

Around the Washington D.C. metro area several Walmart stores are being upgraded to SuperCenters. I haven’t been to Walmart in a couple weeks and I forgot how crazy the store is with the construction going on.

This weekend we stopped in at the Walmart in Woodbridge, VA and discovered that they put ALL of the fabric on Clearance by the bolt. So whatever the bolt amount per yards X $3-$4 equals the cost. There were some bolts that had 10+ yards so they cost about $30 but most were less than that. If you are need of some fabric or are like me and love fabric, you might want to check out this Walmart or other Walmarts that are going under SuperCenter remodeling. I found these ranging from $4.97 – $12 a bolt.