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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Part Two

Good morning! Welcome back to the adventures of pioneer woman!

Totally kidding about that. Anyone that knows me would laugh at that description of me. I’m a big fan of air conditioning and running water. And coffee. And my phone and computer. But I am also a fan of being frugal, and that’s what started this whole making laundry detergent thing. I outlined the first part of the process here. Once I let the detergent sit overnight, I finished the last couple of steps and washed my first load of laundry with it!

Here are the rest of the steps, after letting it settle overnight:

After sitting all night... solid gloop

 

Break it up!

Use something (I used a long-handled serving spoon) to break up the solidified state of gloop. Then add hot water to each bottle up to a couple inches from the top.

Adding hot water

Shake it, shake, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture again… really put your muscles into it!

All shaken up

There you have it! Ready to use! I washed a small load of laundry to test it out. The clothes came out clean, and smelling fresh.

My review:

* I am going to separate it into three containers next time, per Jillee’s updated post. I think I’m going to have to refill the two containers with water about halfway through using them.

* I am going to invest in better containers. The heat from the detergent after taking it off the stove was a little too much for the flimsy plastic of milk jugs. I want to use a harder plastic, or even glass. I like something like this to keep a smaller portion at the laundry area, to be refilled.

* Make sure to use VERY hot water to fill the container up the rest of the way. If it isn’t hot enough, the detergent will stay lumpy.

* For those of you with sensitive skin: You don’t have to keep buying expensive free and clear detergents. You can make your own with whatever sensitive skin bar soap you use at home: Dove, Ivory, Aveeno, etc.

*This detergent is safe for h.e. machines. High efficiency machines clean using low suds formulas. The homemade detergent makes very little bubbles, and has been used by many people with h.e. machines. **Side note: bubbles are an aesthetic marketing tool. Your soaps (body wash, shampoo, dish detergent) do not need bubbles to clean. The soap itself cleans. The bubbles just make you feel like you’re doing a good job scrubbing.

I’d love to hear your stories about making your own products! If you try out the homemade detergent, leave a comment about how it works for you! Have a wonderful day!!

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Part One

I am not going off the grid.

I just thought I would put that out there so none of you start to worry about me. (My mother may have something to do with me beginning this post in such a strange manner.)

I am, however, dedicated to saving my family money wherever possible. I also am dedicated to living a healthier life, in order to model health and happiness for my children. Through couponing, I have been able to save hundreds of dollars on laundry products, and the thought never crossed my mind to try to make my own. Until I happened across Jillee at “One Good Thing” and her recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I was hooked on the idea after that. 3 ingredients (4 if you count the water), and a little time. I couldn’t wait to get to the store to find what I needed!
Here is the basic recipe for the detergent:

1 bar of laundry soap (Jillee uses Fels-Naptha soap, but I couldn’t find that locally.. more on that in a minute)

1 cup of Borax (an all natural laundry booster. I used 20 Mule Team brand)

1 cup of Washing Soda (Arm & Hammer, stronger than baking soda)

Water

“That’s it?” you may ask. That’s it. I was able to find the Borax and the Washing Soda at my Publix, in the laundry aisle. The Borax was near the Oxiclean, and the Washing Soda was near the Shout. Now the laundry bar soap is where it got tricky. I couldn’t find any at my Publix or Walmart. After checking three different Walgreens stores, I found it at the one all the way across town. (Thank you to my sweet, patient Music Man for driving me all over creation to find what I needed!) I was able to find two brands, this is the one that shows up online. You can use the link to find if a store near you carries it. I may order the Fels-Naptha brand just to see the difference in smell/cleanliness.

I used the brand on the right for my first batch

I followed the recipe and directions that Jillee laid out. Here are a few pictures and a description of what I did.
I grated the bar of soap… this is NOT as easy as it sounds. My right bicep definitely got a workout!

I put the grated soap in an 8 quart saucepan. (Look at how pretty it looks all grated up!! Yes, I think soap is pretty… doesn’t everyone???)

Then I added water to the pan, enough to cover the soap with a couple of inches to spare.

On medium heat, I stirred the mixture occasionally until it came to a low boil. (Keep stirring and scraping the bottom to keep it from “sticking”. Don’t ask me why I know this.)

Once all the soap dissolved, I added the Borax and Washing Soda, stirring to combine. I let the mixture come back up to a low boil, stirring every few minutes.

I transferred the detergent to my Pampered Chef glass measuring bowl (filled it right up, oops!) and grabbed the containers I planned to use. (Two milk jugs, washed out.)

Then I hit a road block. I planned to pour the mixture into the containers. Did I have a funnel? No, of course not. Why on earth would I have one of those handy little contraptions? It’s like the pastry brush that you use to brush butter on top of things, or the turkey baster. You never think of buying one until you need it, and then it’s too late because you need it RIGHT THEN! Okay, back on track… So I looked around my kitchen, frantically trying to think of what to use for a funnel. And brilliance hit me like a lightning bolt. Don’t laugh at me. You know you’ve used the old, “Necessity is the mother of invention” line before. Here is my funnel:

Yep, a plain old, unsuspecting water bottle. Just drained into my thirsty, pioneer-woman body. (Okay, okay pioneer women probably didn’t have bottled water. Whatever.) I cut the heck out of the bottom, and I had a beautiful, workable funnel. Boo-yah. (Is that still a thing?)

Whew. Back in business. I divided the detergent between the two milk jugs laundry soap containers, and added hot water to the half-way point of each container.

Then the fun part: Shake it like a Polaroid picture. (Preferably to the song. So much cooler.)

Leave to sit overnight.

Aren’t they cute, sitting on my kitchen floor? No, they don’t have a spot on my over-crowded counters.

Now, because they need to sit overnight and there are a few more steps to the process, I’ll be posting Part Two tomorrow. In it, I’ll finish the last couple of steps and give it a spin in a lovely load of dirty clothes! Until tomorrow!

Searching for Neverland, Small World, and a Magic Carpet Ride

Sometimes I wonder how our kids’ imaginations and lives would turn out without the Disney influence. I see it in so much of their pretend play: princesses and pirates, magic carpets and dancing elephants, pixie dust and mermaids. Would my little girl be as obsessed with princesses? Would my boy be as obsessed with fighting imaginary bad guys? Probably, but their imaginations might dictate more freely how their play time runs its course if they didn’t have preconceived ideas of how it SHOULD happen.

On the other hand, we are avid Disney World goers. The delight and amazement that I see on my little ones’ faces when they see a character, or get on Splash Mountain, or watch a parade is more fun to watch than the event at hand. They feel the magic, the wonder that Walt Disney dreamed for every child to experience in his parks.

So obviously a balance is needed. As parents, it is our job to find where that balance should lie in our own families. I don’t judge the families that don’t watch any movies/tv; they have found the balance they require in their family. Families that watch a lot of movies/tv together; well, that is what works for them. I do find myself limiting my kids’ screen time lately. I just enjoy hearing their “play” more than the tv.

What about you? What do you feel influences your child(ren)’s imaginary play? Do you encourage a lot of imagination in your home, and if so, how?

Friday Food Fest: Nutella Crepes

I admit. I love food. I love sweet food, salty food, starchy food, healthy food. There aren’t many foods I’ve met that I don’t like. So when I noticed that many of my favorite bloggers do a “food post” once a week, I was intrigued with the idea. Friday mornings are pretty easy going at my house, since Music Man is usually  sleeping in from working the night before, making it a good day for a weekly Food Fest post!

When I saw these Nutella Crepes over at Tidy Mom, I thought I had gone to heaven. One thing you’ll learn about me is that I ADORE, CRAVE, PRACTICALLY INHALE Nutella. I’ve never tried to make crepes before, but this recipe made it sound so easy! So I decided to give it a try for my first Friday Food Fest post. I grabbed my camera and my apron and went to work. Here is how it happened…

Gather Your INGREDIENTS!

Gather the ingredients

 

I followed the recipe from TidyMom, using 100% Whole Wheat flour, Sugar in the Raw, and Sea Salt. (My OCD self is really annoyed that the butter is upside down in the picture!)

Blend all ingredients (except flour and Nutella)

 

My kids thought this part was great fun, and helped me measure and dump. I love my little kitchen elves!

Blend until frothy

 

L&C wanted to pop the “bubbles”…

Blend in the flour, until smooth

Smoothly blended with all ingredients (except Nutella)

 

Pop the blender into the refrigerator for an hour, then proceed with cooking up the crepes. I had to switch to cell phone pictures for this part, because my battery died in my camera. I ended up using about 2/3 of the batter for today, and put the rest in a container in the refrigerator for another morning.

Melt some butter in a small, non-stick pan

Pour 2 tbsp (I just eyeballed it) into the pan and swirl batter around to spread around the bottom of the pan.

This was my first try, and not very smooth… I got better though!

After about a minute, flip the crepe and cook for about 15 seconds.

I took TidyMom’s advice and heated my oven to 250°F with a baking sheet on the top rack and kept the crepes in there while finishing up the batch.

One of the last ones I did.. much smoother!

 

Once I was through cooking the crepes, the little bitties helped me spread on the Nutella. There was some licking of fingers after this part; they definitely share my affinity for Nutella.

Okay, not perfect, but I'm okay with that!!

My kitchen elves, spreading the Nutella

Roll 'em up!

YUM!

 

The final test was passed: my little bitties (and I) loved them. After L&C finished the first one, they asked for another. Instead of more Nutella, I spread peanut butter and honey on the crepes before rolling up. I’m saving the rest of the leftover crepes to try TidyMom’s idea of yogurt and fruit centers tomorrow morning. The way I made them was (mostly) clean eating, with the exception of the Nutella. I only ate one, because Nutella first thing in the morning is really not a good idea. If you make these, let me know how they turn out and how you like them!

 

What Was I Thinking?

This is the third day in a row that it’s been rainy/overcast outside. There is something about that kind of weather combined with living in an apartment that causes normally well-behaved children and parents to get a little stir-crazy. Yesterday morning, my Music Man got up with our little bitties (L & C) in order to allow me to sleep in. Once I was up and functional, we both agreed that we needed to get our wild animals children interested in something other than destroying the property and our sanity. In the pursuit of finding this something interesting, we did something we had sworn in the past not to do. We took them to Chuck E. Cheese.

Now, our last experience with the place where a kid can be a kid was when L was a toddler, before C was born. We went at lunchtime (mistake), on a Sunday (bigger mistake). The place was grimy, packed, smelly and all together disgusting. I doubt we were even there thirty minutes. That experience was seared into our brains as the worst parenting decision. Ever. So I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking when I suggested to Music Man that we go there, other than the fact that our preferred place of patronage didn’t open until later in the day. I was mentally prepared to provide baby wipes and hand sanitizer after each and every surface touched.

Amazingly enough, we had a wonderful time. There were only two other families there at the same time, and one of them was having a birthday party at a table. $5 in tokens bought L & C a ton of fun on new ride-on games and good old arcade favorites. A couple of games “stole” tokens, and the employees were very prompt in fixing the problem, not to mention reimbursing the kids with several tokens each time. The ticket counter machine messed up, but that was okay because the “fixer man” (C’s name for him) hooked us up with 100 or so extra tickets. Every one was pleasant, nothing was grimy. We still used hand sanitizer when we left, but more out of respect for the germs we knew were there, not ones we could feel infesting the surfaces of the games. Music Man and I looked at each other when we left with identical, Wow, what do you know? expressions on our faces. The kids had an amazing time on only $5 and were telling us about these people, the best parents ever, that they knew.

So the moral of the story is, 4 years is enough time to boycott a place before you give it a second chance!

“Let’s start at the very beginning… a very good place to start”

When I was a teenager, The Sound of Music was a favorite movie of mine. The music, the love, the setting… those were the things I noticed and enjoyed. Now, as an adult and parent, the things that stand out to me haven’t changed much. However, I have noticed other things that reach out and grab me.

The music still moves me: Come on, how many of you are humming, “Do, a deer, a female deer” in your heads after reading my blog title just now? The Captain’s voice is my favorite, and I get teary-eyed when I hear him sing Edelweiss (which was actually written by Oscar Hammerstein, in case anyone cares).

The love is powerful: I adore the love story between the Captain and Maria, but that’s not the only love I’m referring to. Those siblings stick together no matter what. They band together to get rid of the governesses (okay, that’s not sweet, but they are sticking together!) They play together, sing together. Yes, yes, I know it’s a movie, but their camaraderie touches me.

The family stays together: In a society where people split up when times get tough, the determination to keep their family together through brutally hard times is moving and inspiring. Just in the last year or so, the Music Man and I have heard of so many friends and acquaintances that have split up or divorced. Where is the determination to make things work? To hold your family together at all costs? The Van Trapp family had to cross MOUNTAINS to stay together!!

The clothes: Yes, I know this isn’t as deep or thought-provoking as the others, but as a crafty mama, I love that Maria makes the children play clothes out of curtains! I’ve totally wanted to recreate some of the outfits for my kids and do a SOM photo shoot. This could still happen!

I’m not really sure what the Sound of Music has to do with my very first blog post, except to highlight things that are important to me. A little meet-and-greet, if you will. Welcome to my blog. My creative outlet for (the many, many) words, thoughts and ideas bouncing around inside my head. I can’t promise it will always (or ever) be poetic. It might be funny, it might get crazy. It’s just my own little yodeling puppet show. (:

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