Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make your own laundry detergent

I am thrilled to have found a homemade laundry detergent that is way more economical than buying commercial detergent! In fact, it's so much more economical that I can't even figure out the math!  I honestly think it's more than 100x cheaper....but I'll let a true mathematician figure it out for me.

Here is what you need....

Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and Fels Naptha bar soap....all found on the laundry aisle at Wal-Mart
I also bought a new, clean 5 gallon bucket to store the detergent in, and used a funnel  for easier transferring.

The recipe:
1 bar Fels Naptha
1 Cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
4 Cups Hot Water plus extra to fill bucket

Using a cheese grater, grate the bar of Fels Naptha and add to 4 Cups of hot water in sauce pan.  Heat on stove on med-low until the soap is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.

It might look like cheddar cheese, but please refrain from tasting.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket 1/2 full with warm water.  Add the dissolved soap mixture, borax, and super washing soda.  Stir well and add more warm water to fill bucket to within an inch or two from the top.  Allow to sit for several hours. (I started mine at night and let it sit overnight.)

The kitchen sprayer works well for this

The soap will thicken after several hours.  Stir well.

The next morning

Using a funnel, fill an empty laundry bottle 1/2 full with detergent.  Add warm water to fill the bottle to the top.  Shake well before using.

The finished product....

I only had 2 empty bottles, so the rest of my detergent is stored in the 5 gallon bucket that I will use to refill my bottles as needed.  This will end up making 10 gallons of detergent once it is mixed with water. 

To use:  Add 1/2 cup to top-load washing machines or 1/4 cup to HE machines.

The price breakdown:
1 bar Fels Naptha -    $0.97
1 Cup Washing Soda - 0.34
1/2 Cup Borax -             0.15
10 gallons H2O -            0.10
Total -                             $1.56

Of course I had to buy the entire box of Borax and Washing Soda, so my actual cost was $6.26 for this first batch....about the same price (or less) than 1 bottle of Tide, and I won't have to buy the Borax or Washing Soda for many years to come!

I also calculated the cost per load for Tide and homemade detergent...
Tide - $0.21 per load
Homemade - $0.0002 per load (that's way less than even a penny, and I don't even know what to call that)

The outcome:

For my first load of laundry using my homemade detergent, I washed the boys' clothes (the dirtiest we have) and was very pleased with the results.  They smelled fresh and clean, but not overly perfumy.  I even checked their socks and some burp stinky, sweaty foot smell or soiled milk odors. 

For heavily soiled items, you could always use the undiluted detergent from the 5 gallon bucket for more powerful cleaning, but for everyday laundry, the reconstituted detergent seems to work just fine.

Happy and Frugal laundering!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Comeback, Guthrie's, Remoulade.....

Call it what you will, but this sauce is awesome!  It goes great on everything from sandwiches and burgers to chicken and seafood and even veggies! 

Guthrie's first introduced me to the famous chicken finger sauce, simply known as "Guthrie's sauce."  I was immediately hooked.  However, all of the Guthrie's in my neck of the woods closed (don't know about T-town), leaving me Zaxby's as a close runner-up in the "sauce" department.  I then discovered that our local Jack's served chicken fingers and one of their sauce choices was known as "comeback sauce." I had never heard it referred to as that, but it was basically the same sauce (apparently originating from Mississippi).  After eating it with chicken for quite awhile, I realized that it is also very similar to the Louisiana  remoulade sauce that I love with fried crawfish or shrimp.  I've also been known to dip fried pickles in it (shhh!).  Although I haven't tried it, I imagine fried green tomatoes (and fried green BLTs), asparagus and broccoli would also be fabulous with it.

In my not so professional opinion, it is a spicy Thousand Island minus the pickle relish....and I now have the recipe (and a jar in the refrigerator)!

To make this divine dipping sauce, you will need:

1 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard (Dijon or creole is also acceptable)
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon (not pictured because I didn't have lemons or lemon juice, and I was determined to make this sauce TODAY)

Mix all ingredients together, until it looks like this.....

You can go ahead and dip your finger to taste it now, but it will taste even better after 24 hours, once the flavors have really bonded.

The recipe makes approximately 1 pint of sauce, easy to store in the refrigerator in a Mason jar, but I had a cute penguin jar leftover from maple syrup a year or two ago, so the following is now resting (and bonding) comfortably in my refrigerator...

I'm even planning on taking it to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow to accompany my turkey.  Yes, it is that good!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Making soap

I'm starting to wonder if reading the "Little House" books to the kids at an early age was really such a good idea afterall.....Eli would rather live in a log cabin, eat outside via campfire, and milk a cow everyday than sleep in our warm house and drink milk bought from the store.  In one of the books (I can't remember which one), the Ingalls family spends an entire day making enough soap to last them all year long.  Well, recently on Pinterest, I saw a recipe for homemade hand soap and it sparked my interest since we had read about it.  Of course, I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Ingalls did not begin her soap-making with a bar of actual soap, so maybe I cheated a little....

The original recipe that I used can be found here.  I found pomegranate & mango scented Softsoap bars that I used for a sweet, fruity handsoap.  The same recipe can also be used for your favorite body wash, if they make it in bar soap.

8oz bar soap, any scent (I used two 3.9oz bars)
2 Tablespoons liquid glycerin (found at Wal-mart with the band-aids)
1 gallon water (plus a little extra)

Other items you will need:  cheese grater, stock pot, empty gallon size milk carton or other storage container, kitchen funnel to fit in milk carton, hand mixer

Please ignore the small bite taken out of the soap...My 18 month old couldn't resist the sweet-smelling temptation
 1.  Grate all of the soap.
2 cheese graters and 2 sets of hands....makes for quick work

An extra set of hands nearby...just in case

All of the grated soap....Thankfully the 18 month old was in bed by this point.
 2.  Add the soap shavings and liquid glycerin to a gallon of water in a stock pot.  Heat on medium-high until the soap dissolves.

Stirring occasionally as soap dissolves.  It will look like soapy water.
 3.  Once soap is dissolved, turn off heat and let sit for 10-12 hours to cool.  It will thicken as it cools.  I did this overnight, so it was ready in the morning.  It will most likely be completely congealed, so use a hand mixer and mix in a little more water slowly, until it is the liquid soap consistency that you want.

4.  Use a funnel to pour into clean milk carton.

My $5 56oz Softsoap refill next to my homemade $2 128oz refill
The savings breakdown for about 30 minutes of preparation (even less if you have kids you can pass the work off to!):

Commercial Softsoap 6oz - $1.29
  $0.22 per oz
  That's $27.52 for 128oz!

Commercial Softsoap refill 56oz - $5 (sale price...not sure of regular price)
  $0.09 per oz
  That's $11.52 for 128oz!

Homemade softsoap 128oz  - $2.14
  2 bars of soap                $1.63
  2 Tbs liquid glycerin  $0.50
  1 gallon water                $0.01
Total                                    $2.14

That is 1 1/2 cents per ounce! And it will refill your 6-8oz container 16-22 times for less than the cost of 2 bottles of soap!

 Of course, now I am also looking into making my own laundry detergent and dish soap....we shall see.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Keeping It Real

This post is specifically for those people who foolishly think I have it "all together" and manage to run a smooth, organized, clean home with 5 well-behaved children everyday.  Ha! Hopefully y'all are all smarter than that!

But just in case, this is what you will likely find if you ever drop by unannounced....

After baking a loaf of bread, dinner rolls, and 3 batches of cookies

 The kitchen bar "catch-all"

 At least he was being quiet....

A typical Monday afternoon

A typical Friday afternoon

And this post would not be complete without a look inside the laundry room.  Remember how nice and clean my new laundry room was about a year ago???

That was then....

This is now....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a dishwasher to load and some laundry to put away.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More homeschool fun

I know I am way behind on keeping this blog updated on a regular basis, but here is another feeble attempt to give a glimpse of the goings on here on the farm.  Just a heads up for my 3 readers out there...I am working on several new blog posts that should be up over the next few days.  I thought I should forewarn you to prevent panic and confusion.

We have been staying right on track and maintaining a regular school schedule most days since we started back after Cooper's birth.  My goal is to finish the "work" part of school in the mornings....math, english, spelling, reading and then focus on the "fun" activities....history, science, health, art....later in the morning (if there is time before lunch) or early afternoon.  We also try to plan any "projects" during Charlie's afternoon nap. 

Such a good boy...staying out of trouble

Working on his reading lesson

Phonics lesson on the letter "E"

Sharpening his geography skills

He may seem all sweet and innocent working alongside us during school, but don't let him fool you....
Destroying big brother's ABC puzzle and then wrestling over the pieces

Don't let these two fool you either...
Quietly working...for the moment, at least
Putting in the last piece of his ABC puzzle....before little brother entered

Proudly displaying his artwork
Tri-cornered hats like George Washington

Making Hasty Pudding (from the song Yankee Doodle)

Hasty pudding - a colonial staple of cooked milk and cornmeal "mush"...                        Please do not try this at home!
Eli LOVES the colonial and pioneer eras of our country, although he is very thankful to have the variety of food that we have today!  He has read through library books on George Washington, Betsy Ross, Thomas Edison and Daniel Boone within just a day or two of bringing them home, and he is currently reading the last book of the entire "Little House" series, which he just began in October!  If I forget to go back and turn off his bedroom light by 9pm, he will continue reading until almost ten o'clock!  He certainly keeps me on my toes (and searching the library's internet catalog late at night for new books every few days)!