Monday, April 23, 2012

Tide's Got Nothing On Me...

I mentioned in one of my first ever posts that I make my own laundry detergent now. I swear by it and will NEVER buy detergent from the store again. It cleans just as well as store bought, there are no added perfumes and dyes, and the cost savings really add up! Also a benefit for my family, my detergent is great for sensitive skin.

I would like to share my recipe for my powdered laundry soap. This not an exact science. If you search for "homemade detergent" you will get many many recipes with basically the same ingredients in varying amounts. I encourage you to play around with the amounts to find what works for you. Also, powdered vs. liquid is completely a personal preference. I have always used liquid detergent, but I find the powder works just as well and seems like it is faster to make and easier to store. So basically, whatever floats your boat :)

So the Dream Team of ingredients for homemade laundry detergent are Washing Soda, Borax, and bar soap. I use Fels Naptha for my soap. Some people use Ivory or other mild soap. Fels Naptha is about a $1.00 a bar. This was the most commonly used in the recipes I found so I stuck with it. The fourth ingredient I use is a generic "Oxy-Clean" type product. All of these can be found at your local grocery store.

First thing you will need to do is grate your bar soap. I got an inexpensive grater at the dollar store. I use the very fine shred so that my soap is small enough that it will mix and dissolve well. My first grating experience was awful. It took forever and made my arm hurt. Now I take my soap, grater and bowl, and sit in front of the television. It gets done pretty fast.  Also, let me warn you. If you leave a bowl of grated Fels Naptha in your kitchen, there is a possibility that your children or significant other will try to eat it since it looks like cheese. Don't ask how I know this, and don't worry, they recovered...

So for my batch, I used the following amounts:
  • 3 bars of grated soap
  • 3 cups Washing Soda
  • 3 cups Borax
  • 1 cup or so generic Oxy

Now I am sure if you go on Pinterest, you can find a really cute, crafty container to keep your detergent in. Here is my pretty bucket...

 Mix all of your ingredients together. Try not to breathe in the dust.  It should look something like this:

 I use the scooper out of the generic Oxy to measure my detergent. You could also use a coffee scoop, a tablespoon, maybe one of the cap measuring cups from cough syrup or other medicine. Basically, you will use one tablespoon per load. If your clothes are really dirty, you may want to add a little more. 

This is now the point where if you want it to be scented, you could add some essential oils. I prefer for it to be unscented.

Making your own detergent is a great starting point in homesteading and living frugally. Just be warned... It is like the "gateway soap," once you make laundry detergent, you will want to make hand soap, dish washing soap, dishwasher soap, and so on...

Laundry Is A Four Letter Word, Not Really, But It Should Be...

The term "laundry day" is completely ridiculous in our house. If I could get all my laundry done for the week in one day, I would be the happiest lady around. I'm not sure what I hate about it the most.

Washing isn't too bad. Our laundry area is our unfinished basement. Not as creepy as some basements, but it is far from the glamorous designs you find online.You know, the ones with the twenty drawers and matching bins all labeled perfectly. And whose laundry room really has crown molding?

Then there is the folding. This is probably the part I don't mind. Its like that instant gratification when you turn a heaping laundry basket of warm clothes (okay who am I kidding? Our clothes frequently sit a day or so unfolded until I can get around to them) into neat piles of clothing organized by family member and type of apparel.

So I lied a little bit earlier, after writing about this, I definitely know what I hate the most. Putting the clothes away! It's horrible. I'm sure for some of you that may have large walk in closets and spacious dressers, this isn't really that big of a deal for you. We however are lacking in the storage department. Our "master bedroom" does not have a closet. So all our clothes go in the dresser or draped over furniture or piled in laundry baskets. The kids have so many clothes, I cannot even get everything in the dressers. They at least have closets, but I have hijacked my son's closet to hang dresses and coats. I don't think there is a room in the house that does not have at least one laundry basket in it.

I have been trying to find some solutions to our organizational dilemmas. I have read about "family closets." This is a very interesting concept that will not work at all for us in our current house. A family closet is a room, preferably with the washer and dryer, where everyone in the family would keep all their clothes. All your laundry supplies are there, when you fold things you don't have to leave the room to put it away. There are tons of blogs and articles (Lots of KidsMusings from the Heart, and True Moments of Family to name a couple) that are talking about this. Also apparently I just found out in my Googling, that the Duggar family (I know you know who this is) works from a family closet.

I normally try to store off season clothes in plastic tubs or under bed storage. This year the winter was incredibly mild, so I packed all the heaviest clothes and coats away. But of course, the weather is almost freezing today and there was a threat of snow (it's almost May!?!?!). Needless to say, my kids had to wear lightweight jackets with layers of shirts and sweatshirts underneath to stay warm.

Are we the only family out there with this problem? I guess the best answer to this would be to downsize the amount of clothes we have and find creative organizational solutions. Anyone have any good suggestions? What works in your home?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Today I ate a baby...

I ate a Dutch Baby, that is. If you have never tried one of these perfect desserts disguised as breakfast, you are missing out my friends. This morning I woke up and remembered seeing a picture of this big fluffy pancake on Pinterest and I just had to make it. After about 30 minutes of trying to find the pin, I gave up and just started googling. I ended up with a recipe for this German pancake. I love German food and I can't believe I have never had one of these before.

If heaven could be on a plate, this is what it would look like. And of course since I love you all, I will share the recipe.

6 eggs
1 cup milk, room temp
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 Tbsp butter

I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. I put my cast iron skillet in the oven to  get all nice and scalding hot. I beat the eggs until they were frothy and smooth then added everything else except for the butter. Then you have to beat it for about 5 minutes.  When your cast iron is hot, take it out of the oven and add the butter. Let the butter melt and coat the pan. Add your batter and then stick it back in the oven for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, you will open the oven door and see this:

 The kids thought is was pretty cool.  I brought it out and slid it onto a big plate. I added some sugared strawberries, confectioner's sugar and whipped cream. You would be able to top it with anything. I think next time I will bake it with apples. I love recipes that are so basic that you can change little things to have a completely taste.

Happy baking!