Self-Reliance Challenge: Home Skills

Week 2 of the Self-Reliance Challenge has come to an end. This week was all about home skills for us. Our goals included making our own DIY cleaners and replacing some of the cleaners we still had hiding under the sink, getting our fire starters restocked, making sure we still had plenty of “unpaper towels”, and making some emergency candles.  Now I can report to my readers just how this past week has gone…



Self-Reliance Challenge: Home Skills



Week 2: Achieved Home Skills


I wouldn’t say we accomplished as much in week 2 as we did the first week. A few challenges arose this week that made things somewhat difficult. Both kittens from the one cat we have died for no reasons what-so-ever. We found out the roof is leaking in my pantry. And after removing the carpet from my bedroom in an attempt to put down a new floor we found mold everywhere!

home skills

Let’s just say, life was not so good on the homefront this week. The leaking is a huge problem. It also came at the worst possible time. You see hurricane season starts June 1st! And of course, it has rained every day since we found the issues. Do you know what Murphy’s Law is? We live under it apparently! Anyways, with those problems at least known we did accomplish some things.



Our DIY Cleaners


One of the products I managed to accomplish was to make a new batch of citrus cleaner. I found the recipe on Pinterest and thought I would give it a try. I used lemon peels, since we had an abundance of them, and simply chopped the peels and mixed them with vinegar in a mason jar. I used white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works too. Anyways you put the lid on. Then you let it sit, shaking as often as you remember for anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. Then you strain the mixture and dilute it either 1:1 or 1:2 in a spray bottle. Easy Peasy.

home skills

I also made dishwasher detergent. I put 3 lemons (I told you I had a lot of them) in a food processor. Then I added about 12 ounces of water and blended to a fine liquid. I then placed my mixture in a saucepan with about 1 cup of salt and maybe 4 ounces of vinegar. I let this mixture not quite come to a boil for about 15 minutes. After it cooled I poured it into a jar. I’ll use about 2 teaspoons or so in the dishwasher at a time.

home skills


Firestarters and UnPaper Towels


My mom was a big help in this department! She saves all the cardboard tubes for me. She also saves all her dryer sheets and dryer lint too. It’s a good thing because I’m a clothesline girl and don’t even own a dryer. I’m kind of old-fashioned like that. Anyways, she and I sat and stuffed a dryer sheet, then lint, then another dryer sheet into all those cardboard tubes. I ended up with quite a few grocery bags of firestarters hanging in my shed. In my post, DIY Firestarters you can see how they are made.

home skills

I had plenty of unpaper towels left so thankfully I didn’t have to make any more. I will tell you though, after having them a year, they all still look good and still work. I may make more if I can find some new fabric I like for my kitchen. Read Unpaper Towels for a tutorial how you can make your own. Don’t worry, they involve almost no skills in sewing. Trust me I have none when it comes to thread and a needle.

home skills


Emergency Candles


Ok, these didn’t happen this week. I have the soy wax, but I couldn’t find the wicks I needed anywhere. So I opted out of this project for this week. I did, however, find out that if you melt some old candles and the hunks of wax from those tarts we all love so much, (shh, don’t tell Scentsy!) you can make some really good smelling candles. I may have to try that one after I order some wicks of course.


Ongoing from Week 1


I still maintained my garden this week. I bagged 4 quart sized bags of yellow squash. I harvested a bunch of zucchini which will get frozen after shredding for zucchini bread. I made a small bag of blanched peas and beans also. I also snipped more basil and parsley for dried herbs.

home skills

These past two weeks have been crazy! The 10 puppies are growing and taking up some of my time. The other cats 5 kittens are starting to leave the basket and roam at my feet in my office and the regular chores of feeding animals and watering gardens still go on too. Some days I think I may need a vacation.


Week 3 Plans and Goals


Week 3 is going to be all about rain barrels and catchment.  We intend to finally make use of heavy rainfalls and start storing water. This seems like a smart plan since we are due for such heavy rains with the upcoming hurricane season on June 1st.


Our plans include:

  • replace our current downspouts with shorter ones leading to a rain barrel.
  • research ways of storing large amounts of water for long-term storage in-ground.
  • stocking up on bottled water and a water purification kit,
  • look into ways of using the well in the absence of electricity long-term.


Hopefully our “leak problem” won’t hinder our plans this week. If so it’s ok. That’s the truth about homesteading, just when you have a plan, something changes.



Final Words:


Overall, I am happy I chose to participate in this challenge! I have accomplished a lot so far even if I haven’t accomplished it all. I have met some great new blogging friends too. And I had a guest post from My Green Terra added to my website which was really interesting since he homesteads in South Africa!


Make sure you check out the other bloggers that are doing the Self-Reliance Challenge during May below as they all are striving for the same overall goals as we are here at 15 Acre Homestead. Until next week, Happy homesteading and good luck on your journey towards Self-Reliance.


Self-Reliance Challenge: Week 1 Garden Achievements

Click to visit other bloggers taking the Self-Reliance Challenge


Nancy – Nancy On The Homefront

Kathi – Oak Hill Homestead

Robin – A Life in the Wild

Candy – Candy’s Farm House Pantry

Farmgal – Just Another Day on the Farm

Ashley – Practical Self Reliance

ShawnaLee – Homegrown Self Reliance

Frank – My Green Terra

Maria – Maria Zannini

Lisa Lynn  – The Self Sufficient HomeAcre



Come see how we did during week 3 of the Self-Reliance Challenge and check out our achievements.



  1. Great post Annie! I enjoyed the fire starter idea – definitely going to give them a bash!

    1. Author

      Hey Frank, thanks so much! Those fire starters are so simple and they work really well. The lint takes awhile to burn so they are perfect for that wood that may be slightly damp or new wood that does not like to light! Let me know how yours turns out!

  2. Busy week, sorry about te leak and finding the old, that will add to your coming week work for sure. nice reading how its going.

    1. Author

      You’re so right Val, this week is gonna be a challenge! But I am strong and I got this. Just made my to-do list a bit longer. At least we found the leak before there was irreplaceable damage right? Have a great week and good luck in the challenge! I love your posts!

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about the leak and mold. Been there. It’s a pain! I hope the mold doesn’t spread too far.

    I wonder if the stars are out of alignment. LOL! We’ve had a rough week too mostly with mechanical troubles. It happens. All you can do is roll up your sleeves and get to it.

    Good luck!

    1. Author

      Hello Maria, You are absolutely right and I think the stars are definitely wacky this week! I’m sorry you have had a rough week too! Hope we all do better and have better luck this week!

      Good luck as well!

  4. Ugh! I’m sorry about the difficulties. Between the cats, the leak and the mold, I’d have been in a lot of tears. I hope this week is going better for you.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Robin! That’s the life of homesteaders! One day all ups and the next all downs. We haven’t got much accomplished this week because it has rained every day since Sunday and will continue through the weekend. It’s ok though. We are enjoying some downtime. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Yuck finding mold would be a big downer. Cleaning with vinegar and lemon is perfect. I have learned some new ways to make fire starters. Which is good and it is things we have around the house already. The challenge is fun.

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