7 Tips for Becoming a DIY Master

Several years ago, I was looking for ways to save money around the house so we could get out of debt even faster. I poured over books and websites and soon found that venturing in the world of DIY projects would help with our money-saving goals.

7 tips for becoming a DIY master

I was nervous – I knew nothing about DIY. But the prospect of cutting expenses propelled me forward.

Now, I’m a DIY junkie. It’s just second nature to whip up an herbal remedy, make my own shampoo or figure out how to make one of my favorite restaurant foods at home. My husband even got on board with the craziness fun (he did our bus project himself).

If you’re venturing into the world of DIY (or want to take on some more advanced projects) and are feeling a little less than qualified, don’t worry. You can do it.

Here are some tips to help you grow from overwhelmed novice to DIY master:

1. Experiment

Start making the basics. Say your doing some herbal DIY projects. Make teas, infusions, poultices. These are all very easy ways to get your feet wet, so to speak. Once you’re comfortable with how to prepare herbs, start experimenting.

Maybe that recipe could use a little comfrey. Or perhaps adding an essential oil would make it even better.  Or maybe you even come up with your own recipes (it’s super fun).

This principle applies to DIY projects of all kinds.

2. Don’t be afraid to fail

You guys. My DIY projects have failed so many times. Could I have given up when I burned my first attempt at an herbal salve (and left the kitchen smelling for days)? Yes. But I didn’t.

I knew that failure is just a great learning opportunity so I kept going. And, eventually, I created my awesome Healing Balm that still amazes me.

3. Start small

Resist the urge to try all the projects in one weekend. I know it’s hard, but you must. By choosing just a few projects to start with/have on your list at once (I recommend no more than three), you reduce the project overwhelm that so many of us have often faced.

4. Make time for your projects

Do you know how easy it is to put off your DIY projects and say that you just don’t have time for them? Too easy. (Just as it is for anything worth doing.)

I recommend sitting down with a calendar and your list of DIY projects and scheduling them in. Yes, you can also squeeze them in during open pockets of time throughout the week, but you give yourself a major advantage by also scheduling them on calendar.

5. Keep track of what works (and what doesn’t)

My friend Marta lists some excellent reasons (and tips) for journaling your health journey. And they don’t just apply to your health-related DIY projects. I recommend keeping a DIY journal so you can keep track of what works (and what doesn’t). It will help you duplicate your successes and steer clear of making the same mistakes twice.

6. Share your specialty

I have a friend who’s a genius with garden DIY and I love it when she shares her wisdom with me. Chances are, you’ll specialize in something, be it gardening, sewing or natural remedies. Don’t be afraid to share your specialty.

Not only will it benefit others, but you’ll get even better at what you do by sharing what you know. Who knows, it could even turn into something that brings in a little (or a lot) of income for you and funds future DIY projects.

7. Get the right resources

It’s always helpful to start with a user manual. If you’re planning on doing some DIY projects around the home, you’ll need at least one helpful book. If it’s herbal remedies you’re making, you’ll need recipes and tutorials for the basics. Same with sewing, cooking, etc.

If you’re looking for more in-depth knowledge, there are lots of books to check out and some great courses available that you can take from home at your own pace.

In fact, I know of a wonderful resource that’s only available for the next 48 hours.

Ultimate DIY Bundle

The Ultimate DIY Bundle is making a comeback for 2 days only. And once it’s gone, it’s gone foooooorrreeeeeeevvverrrrrr (you’ve seen The Sandlot, right?).

This bundle contains a ton of awesome resources (books, ecourses and bonuses) for a ridiculously low price – you get $847 worth of goodies for just $34.95.

Click here to see the full list of what’s included.

You’ll find resources for the following DIY categories:

  • Crafts
  • Holidays & Seasonal
  • Home & Garden
  • Home Decor
  • Photography
  • Scrapbooking & Art Journaling
  • Writing
  • Sewing
  • The Business of DIY

Plus there are bonuses. In my opinion, the bundle is worth getting for the Craftsy bonus alone  – you get to choose one free class (classes are usually around $39.99 – more than the cost of the bundle itself). I got the Container Gardening class when the DIY bundle was available last time and this time, I’ve got my eye on a photography class!

You also get freebies from Hope Ink (we’ve got some of their prints in our bus), Stampington and Co. and UpCraft Club.

Want more details?

Learn more and get your bundle here.


DIY Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup (with essential oils)

I love the imagery of kitchen witchery. The wise woman in the kitchen making those potions people come seeking out, crafting recipes that heal from the inside out, and dispensing the advice and remedies to help people help themselves – it’s all deliciously rich. Not to mention practical. (Practical Magic is one of my favorite books of all time for this)

DIY Lavender Vanilla Simply Syrup (with essential oils) | Shalom Mama

When people come to my kitchen, I love to leave them with a little something special that just maybe they’ve never had before. Whether it’s a feeling or an unexpected flavor combination, you can give people this wonderful gift, too.

As a seasoned barista, one of my favorite everyday gifts to give to people is a phenomenal drink. Having flavored syrups around is one way to jazz up coffee, cocktails, and so much more. However, the syrups available on the market are rather passé. They are boring, loaded with artificial flavors, and are simply not something I’d want to serve someone I care about.

That’s why I started making my own.

Lavender Vanilla Simple Syrup


Bring the water to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in a medium-sized pot, and begin adding sugar one cupful at a time, stirring constantly. Keep water hot, but not boiling. When all sugar is added, slice one vanilla bean in half, and place both halves in the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a quart-size mason jar and seal. (You may water bath can, if you need shelf life.)


  • Do NOT add more lavender before tasting the final product. I promise it is very potent with just four drops.
  • The vodka is a preservative. You can leave it off if you’re refrigerating your syrup or hot water bath canning it.

See? Entertaining and gifting doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.

Slowing Down the Speed of Life

In the past few months I have heard and read more about the Slow Movement, of living a more thoughtful life.

Slowing Down the Speed of Life | ShalomMama.com

I’ve seen references to:

  • The Slow Food Movement
  • The Slow Home
  • Slow Blogging
  • Slow Lifestyle

In an ever increasingly loud, hi-tech, and chaotic world, finding calm and peace can be a challenge. Slowing down the speed of life to be more deliberate can sound old fashioned, unrealistic and maybe even a bit crazy.

But I would hazard a guess that those that think you are crazy for wanting that kind of life, secretly want the same opportunity, but are not willing to make the changes necessary to make it happen.

To many of us however, it sounds like a breath of fresh air.

It’s not always easy; the peer pressure to be involved in everything and say yes to everything can be intense. Plus we want an answer to our emails or texts right away, we want the website to load immediately. Basically we don’t always want to wait, we want it now so we can move on to the next thing.

To move slower and slow the speed of life does take some adjustment in your lifestyle and mindset. It takes intentional decisions.

Slowing down fits right in with simplifying life and both slowing down and simplifying are part of living an intentional life.

I’ve been active, pretty much since I was born. Sitting still was never (and honestly, still isn’t) easy for me. I move, shift, wiggle, bounce my leg, tap my finger, something that involves movement and probably annoys anyone sitting next to me. So looking at a slower life, while it sounds delicious, I know at times would be hard. I still can’t sit at my desk for very long – I’m up and down a lot.

One of the ways I am working on slowing down is to pursue 2 of my words for the year – Creativity and Simplify – by taking some new photography classes. These classes are centered around still life photography, learning to create images using props from the home, from nature and more.

Through these classes I’m finding it is a great opportunity to slow down deliberately, to focus (pardon the pun …) on what is in front of my and my camera lens.

Learning to really see not, just glance around. To observe, see details and understand composition and lighting. While time may go fast while I work, my brain slows down, the racing thoughts subside and the massively long to do list fades from view. It is wonderful.

The intent of these classes by Kim Klassen is to carve out time to just be. To breathe deep and focus.

She started her adventure with still life photography during a difficult health crisis in her family. This became her escape for a short time during the day. It was a time and space she carved out just for her, a time to breathe deep, enjoy beauty and create art. She now shares her art and teaches still life photography, what an amazing gift!

Right now my slowing down is in my photography. But maybe for you it is cooking more meals at home, taking a hot bath, or scheduling time to sit and read a book. Look around your life and pick out one area where you could slow down.

Before I forget, here is one more way to slow down :). Letter writing.

You know that snail mail treasured item we usually only get on birthday’s and at Christmas now days? Did you know that February is National Correspondence month? There are a couple of challenges out there to write one letter a day during the month of February.

I love this idea – not realistic for me and my life right now, but a wonderful idea. What if you decided to slow down and send out one handwritten letter or postcard a week for a month? What if we took time to craft words that would encourage someone and brighten their day?

How can you slow down the speed of life today?

How finding my style helped simplify my wardrobe

A few years ago, I approached a good friend and asked her if she’d be willing to help me hone my style, which at the time could best  be described as “minimalist frumpy”. You see, she always looks AMAZING and I knew that if anyone could help, it was her.

How finding your style will simplify your wardrobe.

But I was a bit nervous. I hate asking for help, usually because I’m afraid I’ll be made fun of for doing so. Thankfully, she was delighted. Turns out she loves this kind of thing and immediately had some things for me to do to get started.

(Don’t you just love it when you ask a friend for help with something that lights them up and they immediately come to life? It’s beautiful.)

Finding my style

My first task was to compile pictures of clothing I loved. Thank you, Pinterest, for making that task sooo easy. (You can see what I pinned here if you want.)

Next, she invited me to come to her house and bring my favorite pieces that I already owned. Getting together with her is one of my favorite things so I was very excited.

Once our fun morning rolled around, I showed her my Pinterest board and she pointed out similarities between items I’d picked (I had no idea there were any) and commented on stuff she’d seen me wear already that was similar. After a few minutes of chatting she said that my style was “classic, crafty.”

I just sat there for a moment thinking, “That makes total sense. I always gravitate toward crafty/funky pieces and mix them with more classic items. How did she do that???”

Next, she showed me a few new ways to wear my favorite stuff and even sent me home with some goodies. I love her.

Now that I think about that experience, I know that I was also hesitant to ask for help because I was afraid that by identifying my style, I’d start shopping more (which I strongly dislike) and end up with a closet full of clothes again. I’d simplified so much at that point and I didn’t want to go backward.

However, the effect was quite the opposite. Armed with this knowledge, I was able to go home and cull my wardrobe even more. I realized I’d been hanging onto stuff I didn’t even like because I thought I needed it to be more stylish.

Crafting a simple wardrobe

Recently, I’ve felt that it was time to change up my wardrobe a bit. I’ve always been a fan of neutrals (and frankly, quite scared of color), but now I’m ready to pull out some of the things I don’t wear as much and add in some more fun.

Thankfully, this will be pretty easy now that I know and am comfortable with my style. But I’ll be using a few simple tools before I go shopping so I don’t get overwhelmed or come home with stuff I won’t wear.

  • Pinterest: Before I go shopping, I take a quick peek at Pinterest for inspiration. Once I find things I love, I write down what I’m looking for. It’s so much easier to find something when you know what it is.
  • Capsule Wardrobe: I’ve talked about my capsule wardrobe before and I continue to use those principles when I shop so I don’t  come home with stuff I won’t wear. This helps me make decisions quickly so I’m not shopping all day.
  • Stitch Fix: Since shopping drains my energy so much, I’m grateful for services like Stitch Fix that send you clothes to try on. It’s way more fun than shopping – like playing dress-up.

The clothes they send are handpicked by a stylist based on what you love (they’ve got a great interactive questionnaire) and you can add comments to let them know if you’re looking for anything specific. I got my second fix yesterday and had so much fun trying things on. Most things were a bit too colorful for me this time, but I did end up keeping a dark blue denim jacket that I’ll be wearing a lot when the weather gets warmer and I can wear skirts.

You can try your own Fix here. When you sign up for an account, you’ll also get a special link that you can share with friends so you can credit when they try it, too. Why don’t other clothing stores do that?

Honing your style does more than make you look good – it gives you the freedom to get rid of the excess that’s weighing you down. And it gives you the opportunity for a lot more fun and simplicity in the process.

What’s your style?

Giveaway: Essential Oil Cleaning Trio

Giveaway: Essential Oil Cleaning Trio

Earlier this week, I released a new ebook into the world. After weeks of compiling content, writing, editing, formatting and designing, it’s done. Which means it’s time to celebrate.

And what better way to do than with a giveaway?

So until Sunday night, you can enter to win a cleaning trio of doTERRA essential oils!

What’s included?

Total retail cost: $67

Why these oils

Lavender, lemon and melaleuca essential oils boast some pretty amazing properties.

  • Lemon: a wonderful degreaser that also kills bacteria, plus it’s a mood lifter that smells amazing!
  • Lavender: antiviral and antibacterial, this soothing essential oil cleans without a nasty chemical smell.
  • Melaleuca: also known as Tea Tree essential oil, this is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal – it even kills fungus.

Simply Clean Home. An eguide to help you clean less and live more. My ebook, Simply Clean Home, is all about creating a more peaceful, tidy home as simply as possible. In it, I share decluttering tips, my own simple cleaning routine and recipes for the natural cleaners I use in my own home.

And you can get it now for 25% off (no discount needed) and a special natural cleaning bonus!

The main cleaning recipe I use is a an all-purpose cleaner. It’s great on counters, toilets and other surfaces because it combines powerful, yet safe essential oils that take care of all sorts of germs.

So I have no problem handing the bottle of cleaner to my kids and having them clean the bathroom. ;)

I call that essential oil combo my cleaning trio. And I’m excited to send this powerful trio to one lucky winner!

How to enter

You can enter simply by using the handy widget below. There are three options:

  • Visit the Simply Clean Home page and leave a comment here telling me what section of the book would help you the most.
  • Like Shalom Mama on Facebook
  • Easy peasy entry – just hit enter!

Ready? Go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


3 Simple Secrets for Cleaning Less

Keeping my house in order is essential for my sanity. Clutter makes me feel really anxious and I can’t relax with a mess around me.


Thankfully, I’ve discovered some simple ways to keep my house in a clean-enough state without spending all of my time picking up messes.

1. Declutter

The number one way to spend less time cleaning and my favorite. The less stuff you have, the less you have to clean. You may  be nodding your head in enthusiastic agreement, and if you are, proceed to number 2.

If not, maybe it’s time to get rid of some stuff. Like the toys the kids never play with or your second set of dishes or the clothes in your closet that you never wear.

If you want some help with this task, check out my post, How to Declutter Your Home.

2. Get laser-focused

If I know that I need to get something done and I only have a certain amount of time to do it in, I zoom through it with laser focus. And then I wonder why I don’t do that everyday…

This is great when it comes to cleaning (especially if you’ve done the decluttering part). Some people call this White Hurricane as a fun way to motivate the kids to clean up before Daddy gets home.

This works best for us after dinner.

Pick a certain amount of time (thirty minutes is more than enough time for our house and I find a time crunch is a good motivator) and get to work. Upbeat music helps a lot, too, and makes it more fun.

When time is up, the dishes have been done, floors and counters cleaned and the rest of the house has been straightened. Then there’s plenty of time to hang out, watch a movie and read stories before bed.

3. Get help

Our “school” focus for the last few weeks has been on teaching the kids how to help us around the house. And we’ve found something interesting: when we let them do the chores they like to do, they’re much more willing to help out.

So rather than trying to force them to do everything, we’re letting them work in their strengths, which is working out really well for us.

It took a few training sessions, but we have helpers who actually like folding and putting away laundry (most of it), cleaning the toilets (oh thank goodness) and washing the dishes (especially Isaiah who usually ends up soaked).

While the initial “job training” takes time, it is so worth it. You just have to learn to breathe through the water spilling on the floor…

Simply Clean Home. An eguide to help you clean less and live more.Simply Clean Home

For the last few years, I’ve been asked a few questions over and over again. When that happens, I usually write a blog post to address it. But for this question, a post wouldn’t suffice – I needed a whole book. What’s the question?

“How can I declutter my home so I don’t have to clean so much?!”

I can so empathize. When my dream of staying home with my kids was finally realized, I thought it would be all snuggles and play dates. Ha! We snuggled, alright. But only after I’d spent the better part of the day cleaning. And was my house spotless? No.

There was just so much stuff, it required constant care to keep me from going crazy (turns out clutter stresses me out – a lot). As for play dates, those only happened if I had time in my schedule to leave the dreaded housework and go somewhere else.

There was no way I was inviting people over – that would just mean more cleaning!

Thankfully, that’s no longer my reality. Now, it takes me about 30 minutes to do my major chores and 30-45 minutes of daily tasks to keep the house tidy and peaceful (as peaceful as it can get with four kids, anyway).

I’ve learned a lot about keeping a my home clean simply in the last few years and I’m sharing them now in my latest ebook.

And so, I give you Simply Clean Home. It’s an easy-to-follow guide designed to help people clean less and live more. It’s broken down into three sections:

  • Decluttering
  • Cleaning
  • Now what?

Because some of us need ideas for what to do with ourselves once we don’t have to clean all the time anymore.

Click here to learn more.