Simple, Safe, & Effective Homemade Weed Killer

Homemade weed killer is a topic we approach with perhaps a bit too much interest, and for good reason.  We have a child with a very serious allergy issue.  It goes far beyond what most people even realize allergies can do to a person.  Therefore, we’re pretty serious about eradicating weeds.  (Yes, our desert has weeds – lots and lots of weeds.)

Joshua Tree Mojave DesertWe don’t like using chemical weed killers.  They’re expensive and controversial.

(It’s not my mission to debate the controversy.  Other people can do that.  I just offer simple alternatives for those who want or need them.)

We have found it nearly impossible to physically remove every weed from our little ranchette by hand.  Can you say, “Losing battle”?  But we need to get rid of the future tumbleweeds for the health of our child.

So we improvise.

Here is the simple, affordable solution my resourceful husband concocts for homemade weed killer.

Homemade Weed Killer

Mix the following ingredients:

1 gallon distilled vinegar

2 squirts dish detergent (not dishwasher detergent)

1 cup salt

Apply it to the weeds.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Aaaaannnd done…or maybe repeat.

As with all things pale green (not truly green), homemade weed killer will require repeated applications.  It seems to work best on grasses and broad-leaf plants, but you can experiment as you wish.

It also works to use only the vinegar to kill weeds, such as in the cracks of a driveway.  Little critters love to eat the vinegary plants.  They’d love it even more if you doused them with a little olive oil and added pine nuts and croutons, maybe some freshly cracked pepper.

Of course, nothing is completely without controversy, and that includes this homemade weed killer. It is, however, better than Round-Up, and it is far better than having a seriously sick child throughout the nine-month desert allergy season.

Maybe someday we’ll discover a completely green and equally simple concoction, but until then we’re doing our best and not sweating the rest!

I haven’t the remotest idea where this homemade weed killer recipe came from.  If it is yours, please let me know so I can credit you.  Thank you.

Photo of Joshua Trees in the Mojave Desert supplied by Zemanta. No Joshua Trees were harmed in the making of this homemade weed killer.

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My Centenarian Philosophy

George Burns
The number of people who are over 100 years old is expected to reach 6 million by the year 2050. Geneticists and health analysts have tried to determine why some people live into their hundreds, but with limited success. While there are some scattered similarities, there is nothing definitive, except . . .


People who live to be over 100 years old can resiliently handle stress. Simply put, they do their best and don’t sweat the rest.

Personally, I drove myself to do better and sweated what I couldn’t manage for years, and I have the premature gray hair to prove it.

You name it, I stressed over it. Well, except dirt. I never minded a little good ol’ fashioned dirt.  And children—I’d take a dozen of those.

As an example, I stressed for years over feeding my family a healthy diet.  Considering all the modern definitions of “a healthy diet,” simply figuring out what we should and should not eat was a challenge in itself.  Everyone had something to say on the topic, some utterly confounding.  I mean, come on!  Children aren’t supposed to eat playdough? I grew increasingly overwhelmed.

The final straw came when I was informed that the sea salt I was feeding my family was not good enough sea salt. Apparently there’s the good sea salt, and the good, but not good enough sea salt. I was destroying my family with an inferior level of goodness.  I realized then and there that it was impossible to listen to all the health gurus and still remain healthy. The stress of getting healthy was killing me.

Is the stress of getting healthy killing you?

Several years ago I watched as a twenty-something mother, who was struggling financially, donated all her like-new plastic household goods and toys to our church garage sale.  Why?  She had just read that plastic may cause cancer. I wonder if she stripped her car of all its plastic before strapping her children in their metal car seats and driving home.

Getting healthy was killing her…and bankrupting her.

If getting healthy is killing you, follow my centenarian philosophy.

Do your best and don’t sweat the rest.

That doesn’t mean you should live on Doritos and cookies. give up exercise, and smoke a pack a day. Use your brain. Be responsible! It does mean that on the special occasion when you do indulge in a nachos supreme, enjoy it, savor it, eat it with a smile, a laugh even!

It will add years to your life.

If you’re hip to the groove of The Simple Homemaker’s stress-less (but responsible) life philosophy, stay tuned for future posts where I show practical steps for applying this simple life philosophy to every aspect of your life—family, health, housekeeping, homeschooling, you name it—the fun just keeps on going! For more simple, practical living tips, you can sign up for the newsletter below, like The Simple Homemaker on Facebook, and follow @TheSimpleHome on Twitter.

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Reading Adventures

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Curious about the reading adventures mentioned in Love in Action: Read Aloud to Your Children?

Together you’ll travel to Narnia and Treasure Island. You’ll be shipwrecked on an island and make your home in the trees. You’ll discover a noothbrush on your toothbrush and climb to the top of a tree to attend a big dog party. You’ll meet the Moffats and Pippi Longstocking and watch the five little Peppers grow. You’ll tame the mighty black stallion, cry through Black Beauty’s losses, and ride along with Marguerite Henry and the great horses of history. You’ll memorize Prayer for a Child and Dr. Seuss’ ABC. You’ll flee Egyptian priests from Bubastes and sail the seas with Odysseus.

You’ll meet the real Mary Poppins. You’ll help Charlotte save Wilbur, help Christopher unstick Pooh (again), and tag along on vet visits with Dr. Herriot. You’ll make friends with Patricia St. John and Louisa May Alcott. You’ll empathize with Beezus and root for Henry. You’ll cheer through Understood Betsy and bake through The Little House series. You’ll give a moose a muffin, a mouse a cookie, and a pig a pancake. All of it, together. Why, I’m almost envious!

Here are some of the books that will take you there.

Clicking on the picture of a book will take you to Amazon where you can read a description of it.

(Sorry for using a slow-loading Amazon widget.  I decluttered “become a tech-savvy supermom bordering on perfection” from my life queue.)

What are your favorite books from your childhood?

Picture: Renoir

A Simple Life: The Good Old Days

The Good Old DaysHow often have you heard it, or even thought it?  I was born in the wrong century.  I should have been born in a simpler time.  Oh, to have lived in the good old days!

In the good old days life was simpler. There weren’t as many distractions or expectations or outside demands on people’s time. A woman could focus on her home and on her family and on what truly mattered. Or so we tell ourselves.

Get this through your head: these are your good old days.

It isn’t the century or the circumstances that make a simple life.  It is you.  Your mindset, your priorities, your attitude.

Yes, society has expectations of you, but so what! So what if your children aren’t in little league and dance and swimming and debate and choir.  So what if they’re not hosting slumber parties and going to summer camp and learning three languages and having a birthday party for all the kids at the roller rink. (Did I just date myself with that roller rink remark?)

So what?

Society’s expectations do not need to be your expectations. Change your mindset to what is best for your family at your stage in life.

Prioritize.  Let your family be your true focus.

I think of a mother not unlike you and me.  She lived over two thousand years ago.  All I know of her is that she packed her boy a lunch.  Five loaves of bread and two fish.  Read about it in John 6:1-14. (If you don’t have a Bible, contact me.  I’ll send you one.  No, I can’t afford it, but neither can you afford to not have a Bible.)  How huge, how utterly enormous was the eternal impact of that one mother’s seemingly small, loving action.  And all she did was take the time to feed her boy.

You can never know the depth of the impact of your simple actions, sharing a smile, listening to a story, packing a lunch.

Be there to pack the lunch.

Don’t just pack it because it’s your job.  Pack it because you care, because you can, because you want to.

Nothing is more painful for the one being served than knowing that the servant serves out of duty rather than joy.

You know that long, rambling, seemingly pointless story your teenage daughter wants to share with you just as the baby slipped off to sleep and you were about to sneak your first shower in three days?  That daughter is a gift.  Love her by listening with joy, and slather on a little extra deodorant.

You know that book your new reader wants to read to you over and over and over (repeat ad infinitum) in that halting, loud, hey-I-just-learned-to-read-and-have-to-shout-every-word voice?  Love the simple joy of the moment.

Live in the joy of this moment, this simple, beautiful, unembellished moment.

These are the good old days.

What is Clearing Your Queue?

Clear: to remove (people or objects); to make free of confusion, doubt, or uncertainty.

Queue: a line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for something.

Bear with me as I share what will at first seem a completely pointless glimpse into my life.

What is clearing your Queue?Some time ago we subscribed to Netflix. Through Netflix we could stream videos to watch instantly.  We could also add shows to our Netflix queue to watch at will.

Netflix offered some great shows that I loved using for school on those days when I would fall asleep while reading out loud to my children.  (Let’s just keep that last bit between you and me, shall we?)

After the children were tucked in at night, I would often attempt to preview a show for school or occasionally completely relax and watch an old favorite.  Notice I said “attempt.”

I never actually watched anything. Ever.

I spent my limited viewing time filling our queue with great shows that we couldn’t miss.  There were over 400 “can’t-miss” programs in our queue.  The queue was so full that it was difficult to find anything.  Yet, instead of watching some of those carefully selected goodies, I only added more to the queue. I was so afraid of missing something, that I missed everything.

My life had become like my Netflix queue.

It was too full of “can’t-miss” programs.  Too full of great ideas.  Too full of projects. Too full of plans and schedules and curricula.  Too full of expert advice for health, faith, education, parenting, marriage, and fun. Too full of everything it took to live up to everybody’s expectations. Yet, instead of implementing those carefully selected activities, improvements, and experiences, I only added more to the queue.

I was so afraid of missing something, that I was missing my own life.

It was a harsh lesson.  A painful lesson.

It was hard to accept that all the time I spent researching and planning for the benefit of my family was in reality a detriment to them.  It was difficult to admit that I was doing what I ungraciously condemned other parents for doing: I was doing “for them” instead of doing “with them.”  What made it even more humbling was that I have always preached “family first” and honestly thought I was putting my family first, but I wasn’t. I was putting my queue — my agenda for my family, my preaching of family first, my self-improvement on their behalf, my research for their betterment — ahead of my family. This preacher needed to heed the preaching.

My family would rather have my attention than my expertise. They would rather have my time than my theories.  They would rather have me playing shortstop with them in the back yard than chopping veggies without them in the kitchen.  They would rather have me laughing on the couch with them than micro-managing their futures.  They would rather I formed a united parenting front with my husband than with the parenting specialists.

They would rather have me enjoying life than figuring out how to extend it. They would rather eat a few preservatives here and there with a happy mama than eat everything from scratch with a haggard grump. They would rather hear what’s on my heart than listen to my recitation of the latest parenting guru publication. They would rather have the honest, dorky me with all my foibles than some unnatural replica of the “experts.”  They would rather see grace than perfection.

In short, my family needs me–the imperfect, unpolished, simple me.

Accepting this crucial truth in my life was the first step to clearing my queue, to releasing the baggage and expectations, to putting my priorities back where they belong.

It was the first step to living a simple life and truly loving my family.

Welcome to my journey, as I continue to release the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical clutter that was in my queue.

Do you need to clear your queue?  Join me, and return to a simple home, simple faith, simple life.

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Contentment Challenge

It’s one thing to talk about being content. It’s another thing entirely to embrace contentment, to commit to it, to be content. That is precisely what we are going to do today:

Contentment Challenge

Commit to contentment.

Are you ready?

Deep breath.

Here we go!

Today, beginning whenever you read this, make the commitment to not complain.

Don’t complain about anything.

Don’t complain with your words, with the tone of your voice, with your eyes, with the way you hold your shoulders, with that irritating little sigh–you know the one!

Don’t complain with your silence.

No complaining on Facebook, email, twitter, or anywhere else your cyber-jogs take you.

No complaining out loud or in your head.

No complaining about the weather, about your man, about your neighbor’s man, about your neighbor’s dog, about your neighbor.

No agreeing with someone else who is complaining…not even a sympathetic grumble.

No complaining about your hair, your nails, your weight, your personality, your inability to stop complaining.

You cannot stop the birds of temptation from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.

~attributed to Martin Luther

When the tempting birds of complaint fly over your head, and they will, do not let them land! Don’t give in to the temptation to complain!

Turn instead to gratefulness.

For every one complaint you feel tempted to send rippling through your peaceful home, find three things to be thankful for. If you can’t think of three, ask for help. If you have someone to ask, count that person as one blessing to be thankful for.

How long?

The challenge lasts for 24 hours, but I can guarantee your husband and children would rather you kept it going for, say, 24 years…times four. Please, please and again please don’t store up your complaints for 24 hours and unleash them. Instead, annihilate them with gratitude.

I know it sounds like a juvenile game, but isn’t our complaining really juvenile? Aren’t we just spoiled children who are unhappy that God’s gifts aren’t exactly what we would have chosen?

Live a simple life of joyful contentment…beginning with the next 24 hours.

Are you in? Leave a comment and let us know, so we can pray for and encourage each other on the road to simple contentment.

5 Tips for Contentment

5 Tips for ContentmentHarboring discontent robs us of joy and contaminates our lives. It is soul clutter, plain and simple. And since we are trying to enjoy a simple life, there is no room for clutter. Discontent has to go.

For some people, living a contented life is a daily challenge, a sometimes hourly choice. For others, contentment seems to almost come naturally. I, sadly, fall into the first category. Contentment is a constant battle, and its nemesis, discontent, is frequently jumping in to take my eyes off the daily blessings God has given.

Following are some tips for encouraging contentment and giving discontent the boot:

  1. Gratitude–find a reason to be grateful in all circumstances. Did you catch that? ALL circumstances. Thank God for everything. Count your blessings. Make it a game. Keep a list. Do it as a family. However you do it, just do it.
  2. Don’t compare–never ever look at someone else’s situation and compare it to your own. And don’t listen to others who will enthusiastically do the comparing for you. You don’t know what hurts and fears and sorrows are hidden behind a happy facade, good job, big house and successful children. You also don’t know the purpose God has for you in your situation.
  3. Don’t dwell–don’t pine away after what you don’t have. Just plain stop. Period. Return to Tip 1.
  4. Don’t complain–don’t grumble, don’t hint, don’t whine. Just stop. It didn’t work when you were four (and if it did, your parents dropped the ball), and it’s not going to work when you’re 24 or 54 or 84. There is no room in the contented heart for complaining, so just get rid of the option. Don’t do it, don’t let others do it, don’t listen to it. By the way, complaining in your head is still complaining.
  5. Focus outward–stop looking at what you want for yourself, and think what you can do for others. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Whenever you find yourself reverting inward and cluttering your life with “if only’s,” think of a need in your community, extended family, church family, anywhere, and pray. Drop someone a note. Bake cookies for a neighbor. Kiss your husband. Play catch with a child. Get your focus off yourself.

Discontent has got to go. There’s no room in the simple life for discontentment!

What are your tips for contentment?

I believe the idea for a contentment challenge came from Joy, the precious gal who runs The Stay-at-Home Missionary.  Journey through her blog for encouragement and guidance.  Time well spent, my friends.