Italian Meringue Buttercream Icing

this is hands down my favorite wedding cake frosting recipe. Especially if it’s going under fondant. It’s so easy to get the fondant nice and smooth on top of this stuff.

Yes. I know you’re laughing, especially if you’ve seen my healthy no-bake cookie recipe, where I said that I was trying to cut down on - or even cut out - sugar.

But bear with me here.

This is one of the most gourmet, decadent icing recipes you’ll ever find. It’s also one of the lowest sugar, with a little protein to boot.

See? Not so bad. And if, like me, you actually believe that butter is good for you, you won’t really feel guilty about making this at all!

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I think it’s worth pointing out that cake decorating is not as difficult as you may think it is, and it’s a great way to save money on parties. See those cupcakes up there? I just swirled on some icing and sprinkled them with candy scrolls. ten minutes for two dozen cupcakes. For real.

I’m not opposed to making ridiculously sugary treats for a special occasion. But it makes me really happy to be able to take these gourmet, yet (somewhat) more healthy cupcakes to a friend’s baby shower.

So here ya go. Now your kids can have a birthday party without an extreme sugar crash at the end. You’re welcome. wink

Italian Meringue Buttercream Icing

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lb butter, unsalted.
  • 1/4 cup water

Important note: your instruments need to be completely grease free for the egg whites to whip properly! If you have any doubt about your mixing bowl/beaters, wash them with hot water and rinse with vinegar water.

  1. Add egg whited to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low speed until frothy (suggestion: reserve egg yolks for use in another recipe such as homemade egg noodles)
  2. Turn mixer speed to medium-high, and best until soft peaks form.
  3. While eggs are beating, add one cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water to a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat to 240°.
  4. After egg white wave formed soft peaks, add remaining 14 cup of sugar and best until stiff peaks form.
    Now, here comes the tricky part, but honestly it’s not as hard as it sounds.
  5. While egg whites are beating, slowly pour sugar syrup into them in a thin stream. You can pour the syrup into a spouted pitcher if that makes you more comfortable, but you may find it just as easy to pour directly from the sauce pan as long as lift from the shoulder, rather than trying to tip the pan from your wrist… If that makes sense.
  6. Continue beating for a few minutes to cook the eggs through.
  7. Start adding the butter a tablespoon or so at a time, beating all the while.
  8. Make sure the butter is unsalted! I made this one time with salted butter and -wow! There’s not enough sugar in this recipe to cover up that salt.

    Moving on…
  9. After you add the butter, it’s all going to break down and you’ll think you’ve ruined the icing, but just keep beating! It may take several minutes, But the icing will come together.
  10. If the mixture is very warm… It can take up to ten minutes or longer for the icing to “make”.
  11. If the mixture is too cool… You may have to crank the mixer up and beat the tar out of the icing to make it smooth. In this case, it’s been my experience that the icing tends to lose some of its volume and be a little more greasy, so I actually prefer warm to cool.

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That’s all there is to it!

Now you can ice your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.

If you want to color the icing, be sure to use oil based colorants (like these). OR, something I’ve wanted to try, but haven’t had the opportunity to, is to add water based colorings (because every grocery store carries water based food coding - oil based is harder to come by) to the sugar syrup before the butter is added. I think it would work, but like I said, I haven’t tried it - so let me know if you do and how it turns out!


Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may like:

Easy Cake Decorating

January Date Check In

Earlier this month, I told y’all about my plan to have a once-a-month date with hubby, we’re on track so far! Hooray!

We didn’t do anything fancy, partly because of a missing cork screw, (ha!) but we had some “couple time” together, and that’s what’s important, right?

Gabriel and I have been learning to swing dance. It’s a slow and painful process. I never realized that I had two left feet, but apparently, I do. And learning to follow his lead - oh my goodness, that’s really hard!

So anyway, one night after the kids went to bed, Gabriel and I stayed up, lit some candles, and practiced our swing dance moves. We spent almost the entire time going over the sweetheart.

Looks simple enough, right? Like I said, two left feet.

We were going to do some other suttf, including sampling some of the local flavor - which Gabriel had won at an event he attended last year some time - but, as I mentioned, the corkscrew went MIA! That’s okay, I can’t honestly say that I’ve never tried a wine and actually liked it anyway. raspberry

We did a few other things this month that might also count as “dates”. One day we took the kids up to my sister and went for a short run together. It’s not easy to talk while running, but we did talk - just a little bit.

Do you have regular date nights with your spouse? If you do, leave a. Comment - I’d love to hear about them!

A Healthy Diet For $20.00 A Week

A Healthy Diet For $20.00 A Week

Have you ever seen Money Saving Mom’s article about feeding yourself on $30 a week? It showed up in my Pinterest feed a while back, and I was super inspired when I saw it.

It’s so simple, no coupon clipping or deal crunching. Just a good old fashioned shopping list and menu plan.

Even though that particular plan wouldn’t work for us because of Gabriel’s food allergies (specifically, he’s allergic to gluten), I knew there had to be a few substitutions we could use to still come up with a bare bones, $30 or less meal plan.

After some more thought, (about the fact that I function so much better on a relatively high protein diet) I got to wondering how much protein I could pack into such a tight grocery budget.

With that in mind, I drug Gabriel and the kids through the store, where I basically wrote down how much everything cost, then we went home and crunched a bunch of numbers.

I’m so excited to report that you can have a healthy diet for a mere $20.00 per week!

Here are the differences between my list, and Money Saving Mom’s:

  1. Mine feeds two people based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.
  2. is gluten-free
  3. provides a daily average of 117 grams of protein per person.
  4. Is all real food. I suppose some folks might consider packaged corn tortillas to be manufactured food, but they’re basically made with masa and water. By the way, if you have time and inclination, you could buy a bag of masa and make your own instead. They’ll be cheaper, and taste way, way better.
  5. Can easily be made dairy-free by swapping out the butter for another cooking oil, and the cheese for your preference of substitute.

So here we go.

The shopping list:

**these prices are all current prices from grocery stores in the greater Nashville area**

  • Eggs, 2 1/2 dozen. $2.69
  • Potatoes, 10 lbs. $2.89
  • Carrots, 2lbs. $0.99
  • Cabbage, 2 heads. $1.98
  • Onions, 3lbs. $0.69
  • Corn tortillas, 2pkgs (60). $2.56
  • Pinto beans, 2lbs. $1.78
  • Salsa, 1 jar. $1.69
  • Shredded cheese, 1lb. $2.88
  • Rice, 2lbs. $1.50
  • Chicken leg quarters, 8lbs. $7.60
  • Apples, 3lbs. $3.00
  • Bananas, $2.00
  • Butter, 1lb. $2.39
  • Frozen veggies, 3 bags, $2.97
  • Oatmeal, 1 carton, $2.39

Total: $39.95

Menu plan/ideas:


  • eggs, oatmeal (with butter and fruit) or hash browns/fried potatoes


  • Bean and cheese burritos with salsa.(make refried beans in the crockpot at the beginning of the week to cut out prep time).
  • Beans and rice.
  • Leftovers


  • Stir-Fry (cabbage, onion, and carrots), with chicken and rice.
  • Chicken-veggie soup (carrots, onions, potatoes, rice).
  • Chicken with steamed veggies.
  • Chicken tacos.
  • Potato and broccoli soup (using broth from chicken you’ve cooked previously), devilled eggs.
  • chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy (make sure to use the broth from your chicken in the gravy!)
  • Baked (or slow cooked) chicken and rice, veggies.


  • bananas,
  • apples,
  • carrots

There are endless variations you can make on these. Get creative! Add different spices, makes casseroles, etc. it doesn’t have to be the same meal every night.

The idea with this menu is to keep your grocery expenditure down as low as possible, so that you can save as much of your grocery budget back as you can to take advantage of sales and such to create a stockpile so that eventually you’re eating a much wider variety of things, but still not spending a lot.

I’ll be honest though, I like this menu a lot the way it is! Although I do think I’d like some beef eventually. wink

What do you think?

Other posts you might like:

Gluten-Free Apple Struesel Bars

Gluten-Free Apple Struesel Bars

We have a bunch of apples sitting in our pantry just waiting until somebody around here had time to dig out some good apple recipes.

I came up with this gluten-free recipe for apple streusel bars after after remembering how my mother used to make them when I was young. She made them with whole wheat of course - which is impossible for us because of food allergies.

Since I’m a huge fan of apples and streusel, I consider this desert nearly perfect.

The crust recipe is adapted from Recreating Happiness’s awesome (like, I can’t even describe how awesome!) cinnamon roll recipe. The topping is a mixture of lots of cinnamon, streusel mix, apples, and icing.

So here it is: one of the many desserts that bring back memories of my childhood.

Gluten-Free Apple streusel Bars


  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch plus more for flouring your surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon guar gum
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat milk to lukewarm (110 degrees). Add butter yeast, and sugar. stir to disolve yeast.

Combine flour, starch, baking soda, guar gum, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

After yeast has “proofed” mix in egg and olive oil. Pour into flour mixture and beat for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

The mixture will thicken and become less sticky as you beat it.

Spread into a greased and floured jelly roll pan.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

Combine first five ingredients and mix well. Stir in apples and sprinkle over prepared dough.

Let dough rise for 15-20 minutes while oven preheats to 350.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges begin to brown.

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There are numerous icing options, some less healthy than others. Traditionally, we used a butter, milk, and powdered sugar icing, but lately, when icing is called for, I’ve been using turbinado, so this is my icing substitute:

  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until the icing begins to thicken.

Drizzle over cooled streusel bars, cut, and serve.


Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Simplifying Your Bathroom Routine Naturally

Simplifying Your Bathroom Routine Naturally

How many toiletry items do we really need?

I’ve seen it said in multiple places that the average woman has 337 items in her bathroom. I can’t seem to find a credible source for that, so I’m not sure I believe it, but it still brings up a valid point: most of us have a lot of extra stuff cluttering up our lives. Do we really need all that?

I’m somewhat vehement in my quest to declutter, simplify and get rid of stuff (which is good, because my husband is not, so we balance each other out - in theory).

Extra stuff weighs you down and sucks time out of your day. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being productive when I’m surrounded by a bunch of clutter.

The bathroom is no exception.

But in the bathroom, it’s not just having clutter that is a problem, it’s what that clutter consists of.


Read the ingredients of your favorite lotion, makeup remover, or deodorant. It’s not pretty.

I’m not sure why having all these chemicals, and having them in such vast quantities to boot, is so popular because the truth is, most of the natural, simpler options work just as well or even better.

Let’s look at a few of them, shall we?


Surprise! Making natural, effective deodorant isn’t as much of a mystery as you might think. In fact, you probably already have the necessary ingredients in your house. This is a good thing, because slathering conventional, chemical-filled deodorant onto the sensitive, super absorbent skin of your underarms is a dangerous idea.

 Baking soda and cornstarch are the staples of deodorant making. You can brush these alone onto your underarms, or mix them with a little coconut oil to fill an empty deodorant tube and, voila! You’ll never know the difference!

Or, if you don’t have time to make it yourself (shameless plug here) buy it from here from my etsy shop!


Try gargling either hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda water instead. Since you already likely have either of those in your house, you get to eliminate another bottle in your bathroom. Double win!


Sprinkle some baking soda on your tooth brush and start brushing! If you want to get fancy try mixing a tablespoon of baking soda, two drops of peppermint essential oil, and enough water to make a paste. Store in an air tight container.

Hair Care

Wash your hair with a few tablespoons of baking soda (seriously, is there anything you can’t do with baking soda?) mixed into a cup or small bottle of water. Optionally, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil which is supposed to eliminate dandruff (haven’t tried that one yet.)

Rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can read about my experience with this method here. I’ve found that my hair changes dramatically with hormone changes (pregnant, nursing, etc.), so sometimes this method works Better than others.

 Aloe Vera Gel also works very well in place of moose or hair gel. Curly girls I’ve talked to say that aloe vera gel works even better than chemical alternatives!

Facial moisturizer

I’m a coconut oil girl all the way. I have super dry skin during the winter, and coconut oil has been the best moisturizer I’ve ever used on my face. At first, I used it cautiously and sparingly, afraid that I’d start seeing pimples and whatnot, but now I just slather it on.

I realize though, that not very one shares my love for the stuff. For a non-greasy, but totally amazing facial moisturizer,  aloe Vera gel works wonders.

Body lotion

Here again, you can just use straight coconut oil, which is great! But even better, make some of your own lotion with more skin nourishing stuff like cocoa butter, jajoba oil, vitamin  E oil… And the list goes on. There are lots of great and simple recipes floating around like this one for whipped body butter. Give it a try!

Shaving cream

Soap. I’m not talking about the glycerin-stripped bars of detergent you buy at the store - that stuff just dries your skin out - I’m talking about real soap here. The stuff you make yourself, or get from someone else who makes it. I use goat milk soap (again, find it in my etsy shop), but really, as long as it’s soap. You’ll be surprised how much you love using soap in place of shaving cream. If you’re like me (and other people I’ve talked to) you’ll even like it better.

Hooray for one less item in your shower!

Cleansing (Soap/body wash/face wash)

One bar of soap. That’s all it takes. Just one bar of soap in the corner of your shower. It’s cleansing, it’s moisturizing, it’s natural. Cosmetic companies try to sell you a different wash for each body part. you don’t need it!

Makeup remover

I use a mixture of olive oil and witch hazel with some skin nourishing essential oils thrown in, but really, all you need is some sort of oil in which to dip of Q-tip or tissue.

Sanitary Pads

Oh yes, I went there. Paper menstrual pads are so full of chemicals and toxins - and we put them on some very sensitive, absorbent skin! You can save a lot of  money, and live a lot greener by switching to cloth. (Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the topic.)

If you look  look into our shower, you’ll see exactly three items - four if you count my razor. Shampoo, conditioner, and a bar of soap. We all use the homemade soap from head to toe - I’ve found it to be mild enough even for little babies. I still use the shampoo and conditioner occasionally, but when it’s gone, I also don’t plan to replace it. Then we’ll be left with only one item in our shower.

Now that’s some serious minimalism there!

What are some ways you simplify your bathroom routine?

Free Online Job Chart

Have you ever heard of My Job Chart? I heard about it about two days ago, and it looks really neat!

The smart phone app allows you to add chores to your child’s chart anywhere, and the rewards for chores completed helps motivate children to get their chores done.

I like this idea!

Disclosure: there are affiliate links in this post.

Free Baby Carrier From Seven Slings

When my first child (Garrett) was about four months old, I purchased a pocket sling from Seven Slings. Oh my goodness, we both loved it so much!

Up until that time I had used a ring sling, which I love - especially for the newborn stage when the baby doesn’t have any head control. But a ring sling is pretty cumbersome as slings go. When I got my Seven Slings carrier, I was really impressed with how small it was. folded, it easily fits inside my purse - and consequently, I never leave home without it - and it’s so easy to get on and off. Nothing to loosen or unfasten. just drape it over your shoulder and lift the baby in.

Best. Hip. Carry. Sling. Ever.

Also awesome about this carrier is the price. Right now, you can use the promo code “ENBABY” at checkout to get a free baby sling! You just pay shipping. You can use this offer more than once too, just open a new browser. This company seems to always be offering free carrier codes, which seems kind of spammish. Maybe they make their living from the shipping. But I know it’s a real deal, because I used it (different promo code at the time), and I LOVE it. So I want to pass it on to y’all.

In my opinion, this carrier is second only to the ErgoBaby carrier ErgoBaby carrier - which is kind of the gold standard in carriers, and pretty pricey. Baby H seems to actually prefer the sling to the Ergo - I think because in the hip carry position she can see more.

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Carrying a tiny baby H around Lowes in our Seven Sling carrier

The fabric on these slings is sturdy, but breathable. So they’re much cooler to wear in the summer than a lot of carriers. If you have a baby or toddler that you carry much, I highly recommend Seven Slings Carriers. For the $7 shipping price (that’s what it was for me anyway) they can’t be beat!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This in no way influences my opinion of the product. As you can see in this post written some time ago without affiliate links, I really just love this sling.

Healthy No-Bake Cookies

I have a weakness for no-bake cookies, problem is, I’ve really been trying to eat more healthy and stay away from excessive amounts of sugar.


So a few days ago, during one of my all too predictable no bake cookie cravings, I decided that, instead of hitting up the sugar jar, I’d experiment with some more healthy ingredients based around other healthy dessert recipes I’d seen (namely these no-bake chocolate bars from Momy’s Kitchen).

After they were finished, Gabriel and I tasted them, declared them quite good (so did Garret, but he’s not really a trustworthy judge), and I decided I better photograph them before they were gone. That was when I discovered that I have no idea how to photograph no bake cookies in such a way that they look like something other than mud pies. See?

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I’ll try again with the next batch I make. Because there will be a next batch. Oh yes, there will. (Update: As you can see by the top photo, the “next batch” turned out pretty well! grin)

I have to say, these were definitely different than your average no-bake cookie. The main difference is the lack of sugar crystals. These have a much more creamy texture. But never fear!  if you love no-bake cookies these will not disappoint!

I mean, for real, who’s going to complain about rich, creamy, chocolate cookie?!

You may have noticed that most of my healthy dessert recipes contain peanut butter (like these three ingredient toddler cookies). Peanut butter is such a great binder, and source of protein - I just can’t seem to leave it out!

So here it is, a healthy version of a really bad dessert!

Healthy No-Bake Cookies

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder

Note: You can use regular peanut butter - but of course, that will make your cookies reduced sugar rather than sugar free.

Combine first three ingredients in a sauce pan and warm gently on stove top. If you’re using raw honey, you’ll want to be careful to warm it only until the coconut oil melts and the peanut butter softens. No reason to heat the life out of your honey! smile

Next, add in the vanilla, oatmeal, and cocoa, and stir well.

Drop by the spoonful onto a saran lined plate and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator - if they last that long.


Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

30 Household Uses For Baking Soda

I have 100 pounds of baking soda in my pantry. No joke.

For most people, I suppose that would last a life time, but for me? Well, I do expect 100 pounds to last for quite a while, but I’m guessing we go through it a lot faster than the average person.

So what do we do with all that baking soda?

 photo usesforbakingsoda_zpscc3d99d1.jpg


First, I use it to wash diapers - and I wash diapers a lot.

Secondly, did you know that goats eat baking soda? Yup. It helps balance out their PH level. And we currently have five goats.

But you don’t have to live on a farm, or use cloth diapers to get a lot of use out of the stuff. Baking soda is an amazing, natural cleaning agent. It can take the place of a lot of harsh chemicals to help you live a more natural, healthy lifestyle.

Here’s a list of 30 ways you can use baking soda no matter where you live:


  1. Make modeling clay using equal parts baking soda and cornstarch, and enough water to make a dough
  2. make playdough. Bakng soda playdough is a favorite with us!
  3. Cuticle care:  Exfoliate dead skin cells and soften your hands with a baking soda paste.
  4. Use as a facial scrub the same way as you would the cuticle exfoliant.
  5. Use as an antacid. Gabriel does this regularly. Baking soda is very alkaline, so it helps balance out the PH in your gut.
  6. Use as hair wash You can read about my experience with this here.
  7. Deodorant. Love using baking soda deodorant. Good stuff!
  8. Make Toothpaste by mixing baking soda with peroxide to make a paste. You can add peppermint oil if you prefer your  toothpaste to taste good. smile
  9. Use on itchy insect bites and rashes.
  10. Boost your laundry detergent. As I said above, I do this regularly - especially with diapers.
  11. Use to wash baby laundry. When Garrett was a baby, he had this rash that just wouldn’t go away, so I switched to washing his laundry in nothing but baking soda. The clothes came out sprkling clean!
  12. Use as deodorizer - refrigerator, trash can, cutting board, drain, etc.
  13. Extinguish Fires. What I read is that as the baking soda heats up, it gives off carbon dioxide, smothering the flames.
  14. Keep brushes and combs clean by washing with a solution of 1 tsp. baking soda to a cup of water. Rinse and dry.
  15. Clean crayons off the walls. Apply baking soda to a slightly wet cloth and rub lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.
  16. Keep cut flowers fresh longer by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water in the vase. I’m excited about this one!
  17. Produce wash Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda in a sink full of water, add fruits and veggies, rub vigorously, and rinse.
  18. Add to bath water to soften skin.
  19. Add to water vaporizer to clear sinuses.
  20. Put it under sinks and along basement windows to repel cockroaches and ants.
  21. Sprinkle it onto your cat’s litter box to absorb the bad odor.
  22. When boiling a chicken, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. Feathers will come off easier, and the flesh will be clean and white. this is great for those of us who occasionally process older chickens.
  23. Soak dried beans in a baking soda solution to make them more digestible.
  24. Remove the fishy smell from your fillets by soaking the raw fish in a baking soda solution for an hour inside the fridge.
  25.  Make fluffier omelets by adding half a teaspoon of baking soda for every three eggs used.
  26. Reduce the acid content of your tomato-based recipes by sprinkling them with a pinch of baking soda.
  27. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water, and used it to scrub enameled cast iron and stainless steel.
  28. Use to remove cradle cap
  29. To remove perspiration stains, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rub paste into the stain, let it sit for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  30. To remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, wipe them with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda paste.

Funeral Arrangments: Things You Should Talk About Before You Need To Talk About Them

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Before last April. Funeral arrangements weren’t something I bought a lot about. But when my mother passed away unexpectedly, I learned first hand that funerals are expensive.

So, morbid as it may seem, Gabriel and I had several talks about our courses of action should one of pass away, and I highly recommend that you do too, to keep yourself from being blindsided by the various, avoidable expenses, not to mention, the misery and uncertainty of having to make unexpected decisions.

The fact is, it’s expensive to die. The last thing any of us wants to do is saddle our loved ones with the burden of spending mass ammounts of money that they may not even have to burry us.

Personally, I feel like it’s worth while to pay a little money for the things you want, and for me, some of the things I want just happen to be less expensive, so I’m going to give you some of my non-monetarily based opinions in this list too.

  • Embalming. Ask yourself, do you need it? Is it necessary to have an open casket (assuming you have to delay the funeral)? Embalming can run several hundred dollars or more, and for me, I don’t like it. Bodies are meant to decompose, and I don’t want to hinder that process. I also don’t want to fill either the body, or the ground with toxic chemicals.
  • Caskets. I was shocked with how expensive caskets, and even urns are. It’s important to know that you don’t have to buy them from the funeral home. My personal preference is wood, or another degradable material. I hate that so many caskets are metal. Why? Are you going to dig it up after a few decades? I don’t think so. Softwoods like pine, are usually much cheaper than hardwoods.  
    Growing up as I did in an Amish community, building a casket for a loved one seems like a perfectly natural option to me, and certainly much cheaper (if you’re a skilled carpenter - which I’m not). Funeral homes don’t like it, which is understandable since they make their living selling things to you, but here at least, it’s not against the law.
  • Burial vault. I’m not really sure what the purpose of these are, but they were presented to us as optional, and as with so many funeral related things, are quite expensive, so we chose to skip it. As far as I know, not a single state requires their use.
  • Funeral homes. I’m not sure there’s a way around using a funeral home in some capacity, but limiting its use will certainly help keep the bill down. Can you have the funeral at a church, or some other venue?
  • Flower and decorations for the casket and burial. You’ve probably never thought about decorating a casket for a funeral have you? Neither had I. Not, at least, until we started going through the funeral home’s check list of things to do. Casket flower arrangments turned out to be insanely expensive, so, knowing our mother’s preferences, we chose to make a spread using wild flowers and greenery, along with a special handmade afghan. It turned out very understatedly pretty and natural, and most importantly to me, un-funeral home-ish.

So many of these decisions are so personal, there’s no one right way to do things. The important thing is that you do talk about them, and to the best of your ability, make decisions ahead of time. No, you don’t need to dwell on it, like it’s a black cloud hanging there above you head. Write your wishes, or your loved one’s wishes down. Make a file for these things. You’ll be glad you did.