Wainscoting Project Reveal

Our walls in our eating area were showing serious signs of wear.  The finger slime spots were a bit out of control and the chairs were leaving marks.  We decided that beadboard/wainscoting would be a cute solution.  My dad is a gem and did the bulk of the work.  He went with me to purchase the materials, installed the boards and trim, and helped with some of the staining.  My hubby did lots of painting late Saturday night and early Sunday morning and the best masking job I have ever seen. I chose the materials, look, color, and helped with a bit of the staining (which does not count for much of the actual work). Its a good thing I am surrounded by good men.  My projects would not get far.

We sprang for the packages of real (pine) wood panels that fit together rather than the large sheets of white press board.  The thinking was that the real wood might look more natural and wear better overtime.  The cost difference was only about $20 because we were able to cut the boards in half (from 8 ft. to 4 ft. tall) and did not have any waste.  Either would have probably worked fine and for a larger room we might have went the cheaper route.

We spent about $75 for 6 packages of the wainscoting panels, pine boards to run along the top (not actual trim), and Liquid Nails (glue to mount the boards…along with nailing them).

The paint was another $35.  Ouch! We wanted a low VOC paint and primer in one. We got the Behr brand from Home Depot.  The green was a bit bright (long ugly story) and so we used a glaze to soften it and give it a more antiqued look.  After that my dad put some varathane over the top to seal it and make it more “wipe-able”.

Basic DIY instructions-

1) Choose the type of wainscoting you are going to use and measure and purchase.

2) Measure and cut.

3) Remove outlet and switch covers.

4) Starting at one edge (not corner) start attaching one panel at a time (or sheet). Apply liquid nails with a calking gun and then nail into place (nail gun works the best). Dad used 3 nails in each panel.

5) Measure and cut to accommodate outlets and switches.

6) Finish with trim at top.

7) Calk edges.

8 ) Putty holes you do not like if using natural boards.

9) Mask edges with blue paint tape.

10) Paint a couple coats (and add glaze and/or varathane if you desire).

11) Put outlet and switch plates back on. We chose to replace the plastic ones with wood covers that we could paint to match. We found these at Home Depot.

Project length-1 weekend

Project cost-$105 including basic materials and paint. (This does not include calking, glaze, varathane, or new light/outlet plates.)

It has been a couple weeks since we finished the project and we LOVE it. It really perks up the area and adds a nice custom touch.  I think that it will add interest and continue to be a nice classic element long after we are living here.  The paint color would be very easy to change at any point to accommodate taste preferences.

Are you working on any large or small projects at your house?

Natural Homemade Disposable Wipes

I ran out of wipes 2 days ago and did not have plans to go to the store.  In fact, I did not really want to buy wipes even IF I went to the store.  Such a rebel.  I had heard of someone making homemade disposable wipes and thought I would give it a try.

Pretty sure my semi-chrunchy status was confirmed when I had the ingredients to fake one of the recipies from stuff I had on hand.

Ingredients and supplies:

  • Natural baby wash (1 tablespoon) OR Castile soap (1 teaspoon) I used Dr. Bronners Baby Mild Castile soap from the bulk in LifeSource
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon (or less) of natural oil. I used some castor oil I purchased to try the “oil method” eventually on my face.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 roll of sturdy paper towels. I used Sparkle. They were perforated to create smaller sheets and I that was great for this purpose.  The sturdier the better. They soften up when they get wet.
  • 1 container or bag to hold the wipes
  • Serrated knife to cut the roll in half (only through the towels)

These ingredients were what I recommend after modifying my recipe a bit. You may want to also use just a bit under a tablespoon of the oil and see how you like it. Mine might be a bit greasier than I prefer. I also used 1 tablespoon of the Castile soap.  Because Castile soap is more concentrated than regular baby wash I recommend starting with a teaspoon or so and go from there.

1) Cut your paper towels in half with a serrated knife.  You only need to go through the paper towel layers…not the cardboard tube.  After that run a butter knife around the tube to separate it from the roll. Pinch the tube to collapse it  and wrestle the paper towels off of the roll while trying to keep them rolled up.

2) Mix up your solution and pour over your towels.  Use half of the solution for each half of the roll. Start by gradual adding the solution to make sure not to over saturate them. You want them all wet, but not soaked.  Different paper towel roll sizes and brands will require slightly different amounts.

Instead of getting your roll wet with solution, you could also put the liquid ingredients in a spray bottle and just wet them one or two at a time.  This might be what I try next time.  I am thinking they might hold up even better if they are just wet when I need them.  Pre-moistened work do best for travel though.

I know what you are thinking. Why is she not using cloth wipes? Well, we are not in the cloth diaper routine right now and even when we are I just can’t get into cloth wipes. I like throwing them away.

Do these work as well as nice store bought wipes? Not quite. They are not quite as sturdy and a bit thinner. BUT, they are much cheaper, easy to make, and ALL NATURAL!  Natural wipes are expensive and when I tried the Seventh Generation brand I was not too thrilled with them.

The ingredients probably cost me maybe 10 cents? And I got the roll for 75 cents as a part of a 6 pack I bought on this trip.

Let me know if you try it and if you made any adaptations to the recipe. 


P.S. If you are feeling up to it, have the little ones help you. Great lessons in measurements and absorption.


Upcoming posts.

1) Reader question- Where do I start if I want to switch to a more natural and organic diet?

2) Review of 2 products from Eco Store.


Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Not sure why I picked today to make homemade laundry soap and natural hand soap (I will blog about that project soon). Sweet Baby has been sick and the last 4 nights have been some of the worst sleep in recent history.  I think I needed to feel like I was accomplishing something outside of soothing a sick baby. I also think the 5 swallows of leftover Starbucks coffee this normally non-coffee drinker had might have been to blame.


Half of a bar of Fels-Naptha

1 cup-Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)

1 cup-20 Mule Team Borax

2 gallons of water


Odds and Ends

Big pot OR small pot and bucket

Cheese grater

Big spoon for mixing

Funnel (if putting finished product in something with a small opening)

Old laundry soap containers, clean bucket with lid, jar, etc. Something that is shakeable would be easiest since this tends to separate.


1) Cut bar of Fels-Naptha in half and grate. You can put other half in a zipper bag for later. Looks an awful lot like cheese…keep kids out of it!

2) Melt Fels-Naptha in a pot with 6 cups of warm water. Use low-medium heat and stir almost constantly.

3) Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda. Mix in and then add about 6 more cups of water. Mix again.

4) At this point you can poor laundry soap mixture into a big bucket if you have one and add remaining water totaling 2 gallons.  If you already used 12 cups total you can add 4 more cups (16 cups in a gallon), and then another gallon of water.  I used an old vinegar jug to measure my gallons and store some of my finished laundry soap.  However you do it just make sure to mix or shake in your remaining water so that it all gets mixed.

Here is a shot of the mixing and melting of the ingredients before adding more water.

Hubs helped me funnel it into the big jug (old 1.5 gallon Costco laundry soap bottle) while I chowed part of a sandwich and took pics.

Ta DA! Over 2 gallons of laundry soap for super cheap!

Here is a rough idea of the cost to get started. I spent about $9 on the 3 materials and only used a small fraction of the Borax and washing soda.  I have half of bar of Fels left to use next time and then I will need to buy more. It is only about $1.50 a bar.

I took a picture of the prices at the store on my camera and it is GONE.  Sweet Baby might have had something to do with that.  I saved the receipt, but the twins might have ripped it in half after carefully lifting it from the bag with their sweaty little toes. It is now on the floor in the back of the van.  How is that for blog sabotage?  When I care enough to dig it out of the van and do the math you will be the first to know.

I wanted to make an all natural batch, but could not find a recipe that got great reviews.  I heard that using the castile soap might cause your clothes to fade and did not work well for some people.  Let me know if you have found one you liked!

Now off to do some laundry and see how this stuff works! Thanks to my friend Vi for the sample of her batch and the encouragement to try it.

Have you ever made you own? Give it a try! It is super easy!


Laundry Basket Dressers


The Hubs has been working hard making my dreams come true the past few days.  After a trip to Home Depot he had the supplies to make 3 storage systems for laundry baskets.  I have seen these called “Laundry Basket Dressers” and have not been able to think up a cuter name.  The only thing better than one really cool laundry-basket-holder-thingy is …three!  One would not have done us much good.  We have LOTS of laundry around here and I am a bit compulsive about my numerous categories.

Here are some basic iPhone pictures to give you an idea of the process.

This sweet girl was so thrilled to help Daddy that she was on a high for hours after.

Little man testing out the “elevator” as they liked to call them.

Here is the finished dresser without the baskets and before it was painted.

With baskets…

Here is the one that is going in our room.  We did not want to buy paint for this project so we just used colors we had.  The ones for the laundry room are a soft green (but not as soft as it looks in the last picture) and the one for our room is a bit deeper green.

Here are both beasts we squeezed into our laundry room right after Hubs carried them up.

Now instead of having a huge pile of laundry on the floor in my laundry room and digging through it each time I start a load, I can categorize it perfectly and when the basket fills up I know it is time to do that load.  The set in our room will likely be used for clean laundry (per hubbys request).  Since things rarely all get folded and put away immediately, this will be a nice clean place for it to await its next home.  Maybe someday I will go into more detail about my laundry process (I won’t call it a “system” because I have in no way mastered the laundry beast around here).  I have found a couple things that save me some time…and a few things that don’t save time but do save wear and tear on our clothes and money.

The main thing we changed from other designs we found on the web was making them for the bigger laundry baskets.  I did not see a purpose in creating storage for baskets that would not really hold a full load of laundry.  The only downside is that by making them this size they really can not be stacked on top of each other and easily accessed.  They pretty much have to go side by side.  He also left a gap at the top of each basket so that things could be thrown in without having to pull the basket out every time.

Here are some basics

  • Laundry baskets-Sterilite 2 bushel, shiny tan colored. Found Walmart for $8.99 each (regular price…I know.  Kinda killed a little part of me to pay for 9 regular priced laundry baskets.  Actually the lady did not charge us for the first 3 we bought….when we went back to look for 6 more they only had 5 and we had her charge us for the first 3 too…and we still need 1 because they did not have enough.  Did you follow that?)
  • Wood for all 3 cost about $64.  He used (2) sheets 3/4″ plywood for the top, sides, and bottom.  (1) sheet of 1/4″  plywood for the backs.  For the rails that hold up the baskets he used (4) 8 foot  2×2’s.
  • After be built them he sanded, primed, and painted with one good coat.  By rolling on where you can you will be able to paint them faster and get a smoother coat.  You can also use wood filler after sanding and before painting to get a more finished look on your plywood.
  • Tools and supplies used-wood, circular saw, drill, sander, level, 2 inch wood screws, 1/4inch screws for the back, wood filler, primer (if you have it), paint, paint brushes and roller.

I am sure I totally left something out.  Just wanted to get this post up for people who were curious to see what these looked like.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I will try to get Hubs to provide me with some more detailed dimensions for this project.  Maybe even some fancier pictures of the finished product.