Sunday, February 28, 2010

Make your own laundry detergent in less than 10 minutes

I originally posted this in 2008, but thought that I would revisit this little gem since it is time for me to make more detergent. This is a tutorial on how to make the powdered version of laundry soap. I hope to be able to put up pictures of how to make the liquid kind later on today. I prefer the liquid since it lasts longer in this house, but I will whip up a small batch of powdered if I'm in a pinch. No more running to the store just to pick up detergent so I can conquer Mt. Laundry.

This is another one of those things that I would have never thought I could do until I saw it on a website I visited. It looked really easy and inexpensive. If it's easy and cheap and works well, then I'm all for it.

I have seen a few laundry detergent tutorials out there, but none for the powdered version. My girls are the one who really wanted to do this tutorial. This was their first time making detergent. They were 14 and 12 at the time. So, as you can see, it is so simple that even a child could do it.

To start with you'll need 3 ingredients:

  • Borax - 1 cup

  • Washing Soda - 1 cup

  • A laundry soap bar--->Fels Naptha or Zote - 1 cup

Many people have said that they have had a hard time finding the washing soda or the Fels Naptha. The easiest way to find Fels Naptha is to go to this website. Under brand you click on laundry care and under item click on Fels Naptha. Then you can type in your zip code. It will tell you all of the stores around you that carry it.

To find the washing soda call this number. 1-800-524-1328. It is a recording that will give you a list of stores that carry washing soda in your area.

What to do:

1. Measure out 1 cup of Borax and put into a bowl

2. Measure out 1 cup of washing soda and put into a bowl

3. Grate 1 cup of the soap bar. Add to bowl with Borax and washing soda. I am using Zote this time. I usually use Fels Naptha, but found this at my Super Target and thought I would try it.

4. Mix well

5. Put in storage container---> In this case we are using an old cool whip container

6. Use 1 Tbsp per load.

That's it. It's as easy as that. It only cost me pennies per load. A very frugal alternative to store bought detergent. It works well too. If I have a really dirty load I will up the amount I use by a small amount. I know that people use Oxyclean also. Have you made your own laundry detergent? What did you think?

Pictures of making this version later!

Liquid Detergent:
Washing soda 1/2 cup
Borax 1/2 cup
Bar of laundry soap 1/2 bar (Fels Naptha or Zote)
4 cups of hot water in large bowl

Grate soap and put in a large saucepan. Add 6 cups water and heat until soap melts. About 15-20 minutes. Add washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour the 4 cups of really hot water into your bucket. Add soap mixture and stir. Next, add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let soap sit for 24 hours before using so that it gels. Use 1/2 cup per load. If you are using a front loader use less than this.

Now, sometimes I add just a tad more soda and borax than the recipe calls for. In the summer is when I do this more as the children get dirtier. I put mine in a 2 gallon bucket with a lid. It fits on my shelf better. One more thing. As the detergent is gelling overnight, we take a hand immersion blender or my husband takes his drill with a paint stirrer attachment and will mix it up a few times. I find it just holds together better. Now, it will separate sometimes, but just mix it up before you use it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tomorrow is the day

We are so excited because by tomorrow afternoon we will have 42 fresh chickens in my freezer. It's hard work, but there is nothing better than fresh, homegrown chicken!

We will take a break for a few weeks and then start one more small batch once the weather warms up just a bit so that they can eat lots of green grass and bugs. What's even better is that this batch is not for us. We are giving others the chance to experience just what we've been enjoying for awhile now.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Planning, seed starting, and working in the garden

Our vegetable garden area after sitting all winter. Notice the green onions coming up in one of my herbs pot that I had growing until just last month. We will be expanding on the other side of the compost bin.

For the past few weeks we have debated whether we wanted to get our garden up and running again. It was not because it is too much work or that we don't have the time. It's just that we plan on selling our house sometime next year, so we thought that maybe we ought to spread the dirt through the yard and let the grass grow back.

We decided to go ahead and plant through the summer, but not in the fall. Down here, you can almost have a year round garden. After all was said and done, we made the decision to actually plant more. That means we need to put in another bed. We started using the Lasagna Gardening method last year and it was wonderful. Our garden produced so much in such a small space. We're hoping that it will be just as bountiful, if not more, this year. Our thought is to preserve and freeze as much as we possibly can in case we cannot put another garden in next year. The price of vegetables are skyrocketing and are so low in quality when compared with what we grow. For that reason alone we knew we could not skip this year.

So, last week we got to planning and starting our seeds. Then, this weekend, in one of the outside beds, we put onions, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and a few carrots just for fun. It is a little on the late side for spinach here, but we have had an unseasonably cold winter for so far south. We are actually forecasted to get snow again tomorrow night! Even if it warms up quickly, I should still get enough to freeze a few bags.

The first two years we had our garden we would go down to the local garden center and buy our plants. We now use as many seeds as we can in our garden. It cost as much to buy one tomato plant as it does for a seed packet. One seed packet is more than enough for our family for the year. Being the frugal person I am, I now start as many plants from seed as I can. There are other reasons, besides saving money, that I like to start with seeds. Like being able to buy organic, heirloom seeds that are GMO free, but that's another post for another day.

We still have so much to learn, but every year we take away something. I encourage everyone I can to at least plant a small garden. Anyone can do it. What a great way to involve the children and do something together as a family. How rewarding it is to sit down together and eat the food that you all grew.

I've have a few people around here ask me to share what we've learned on how to start a garden using the lasagna method and start seeds. When we put that bed in next week we hope to snap lots of pictures and maybe do a picture tutorial. Have a blessed day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baking Day (part 2)

After a quick cleanup of the morning mess and a nice lunch we got back to work making our sweeter items. Mainly things that didn't need time to rise. I didn't get nearly the amount of pictures in the afternoon because my photographer wanted to cook instead, but here are a few we managed to get.

We made a double batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, a double batch of apple cinnamon muffins, a loaf of banana bread (that was part of Faith's 4-H project book), packed 10 cups of homemade chicken broth that I had simmering all night in the crock pot, cooked up some ground beef and packaged it, fed my sourdough starter, started another 2 jars of buttermilk, and finally started a batch of crock pot yogurt.

Here are the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. My daughters made them for the first time, (usually I do it). They were great!

Here I am feeding my sourdough starter. It is 6 months old now and is really healthy.

Finally, the finished result. We did not get a picture of the apple cinnamon muffins in here because they were still in the oven and the beef which was browning at the time. Also missing are the 2 jars of buttermilk, which were put away in the cabinet to do their thing overnight.

One final picture of most of what we did.

Baking day (part 1)

Well, baking day was a success! We are some tired gals I tell ya. We took lots of pictures, but they will have to wait till tomorrow because we are going to put our feet up and have a big glass of sweet tea.

Here are the promised pictures of what we did in the morning before lunch. We made 2 loaves of honey wheat bread, one loaf of sourdough bread, a double batch of waffles and a triple batch of pancakes.

I first started making by making 2 loaves of honey wheat bread.

I do it all by hand. For a long time i've wanted a Bosch mixer, but God showed me something. Every time I knead my bread I am either praying or singing worship songs. It is just one of the ways I take moments to spend with the Lord in my day. So now I love kneading my bread by hand. It is very calming and satisfying to me.

My daughter loves this picture that she took of me adding more flour while kneading.

The final product, after kneading and ready to rise.

After the first rise.

Here is me kneading my sourdough bread. It is a quick rise white sourdough. I don't usually do a white sourdough, but we wanted something like a hearty french bread to eat with our stew. It was delicious!

As you can see, it's not a true white since my starter is made with wheat and spelt flour.

Isn't it pretty when it's risen?

Second rise done and ready to be put into the oven. We didn't get pictures of the final breads until the shot of all that we did.

Here are two of my lovely helpers that are making the whole wheat buttermilk pancakes. That is my own cultured buttermilk that I make.

Starting the whole wheat buttermilk waffles.

Part two will come this afternoon. It's time for our school day to begin. Hope you enjoy a glimpse into our kitchen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekly Menu:

Weekly Menu Plan:

Back in the day when I used to blog pretty regularly I participated in Menu Planning Monday. I have actually had quite a few people over the last year or so ask if I would ever put my menus with the cost up again. So, here is my menu that was right at $95.00. (Lisa, if you see this, this is for you!)

Waffles and fruit
Tuesday: Baked oatmeal
Wednesday: Muffins and sausage
Thursday: Eggs and biscuits or Baked french toast made with homemade whole wheat sourdough
Friday: Pancakes and fruit
Saturday: Eggs, hash browns, and a meat
Sunday: Country ham and gravy over biscuits

Homemade piggies in a blanket and a veggie
Tuesday: Sandwiches and a veggie
Wednesday: Homemade macaroni and cheese, carrots sticks and sliced apples
Thursday: sandwiches and fruit
Friday: Baked sweet potatoes and broccoli cheese soup
Sat and Sun: We either eat leftovers, or a salad, or sandwiches

Banana bread
Tuesday: Fruit
Wednesday: Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
Thursday: Veggie and cheese tray
Friday: Tortilla wraps---> Filled with peanut butter, banana, and/or honey

Crockpot chicken
Carrots, celery, onions
Sweet potato casserole
Garlic bread

Beef stew
Homemade sourdough bread

3-cheese baked spaghetti
Garlic bread

Chicken and stuffing
Pumpkin rolls

Homemade pepperoni and cheese pizza
Homemade bread sticks

Tatertot casserole
Green Beans

Baked ham
Mashed potatoes
Broccoli and cheese sauce
Dinner rolls

Tomorrow we are having a baking day. The schools are out for Mardi Gras, so I figured the kids could have a day off too. Hopefully we'll get lots of pictures up. My oldest is begging to put her new camera to good use.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Take on the Movie: Food, Inc. (part 1)

There has been quite a bit of talk about the movie: Food, Inc. lately. Even in some of the most unlikely circles that I run in. Since our family is on a quest to live a more agrarian life in the near future, a few have assumed that we have been influenced, at least in part, by what we saw on this movie. I will just say it now, Food, Inc. did nothing to bring about the changes we are making in our life. It did, however, make my stomach turn to think about eating fast food burgers ever again.

While I think that the movie did a good job on some points, I disagree with most of the movie's views. I will start with the good aspects I saw, hence the part 1 of this post. Part 2 will be my thoughts on why I disagreed with the movie. I'm sure to ruffle some feathers.

If anybody takes anything away from this film, my hope is that they were able to see just where their food comes from and realize that it is not a healthy model. I will not deny any of the cruel and filthy conditions that those animals shown in the movie had to endure so that we can eat. Most people are so disconnected from just how they get that nice juicy steak, or their trimmed boneless, skinless, chicken breast that it has promoted a lack of responsibility on their part. "Just get it to me nice and packaged up, but do NOT tell me how you do it." Is many people's thought. So, it was nice for the average "Joe" to get a small glimpse into the large corporation mass food industry.

I also thought the movie did a good job of showing just how some people think about how healthy food can be more expensive. The scene where they showed the family going through a drive thru because it was going to be cheaper than a healthy meal on the table was sad. Yes, an all organic diet can be more expensive than cheap, fast food. You can still eat healthier without going all organic though. While ideal, you have to provide the best food possible within your means.

I am a frugal zealot for sure. I do not spend a fortune on food for my family. Right now, my current food and household items budget is $400 a month for my family of 9. I still provide healthy food for my family. While I may not have picked up that head of fresh broccoli, I would have had two bags of frozen broccoli florets in my cart for the same price, if I was out of frozen broccoli from our own small, city, backyard garden. It is my hope that people saw how taking away the responsibility of providing our own food for our family has dumbed down some. Not all, but some. I also hope that it can bring about an awareness that can cause better choices when people buy the food that they are going to feed their families.

One last positive I saw in the movie, was meeting with Joel Salatin and seeing a piece of his farm. We are fans of his methods in this house. I really don't want to get into why I believe what I do about Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms right now, because I have that reserved for another post. I know some do not agree with his practices, but I believe them to be some of the most God honoring, humane, and environmentally responsible i've seen.

I really don't want to sum anything up here until I explain why I do not agree with the movie. So, until part 2....

Thursday, February 11, 2010


In Heaven there must surely be
A special place, a nursery
Where 'little spirits' not fully grown
Go to live in their Heavenly home.

The angels must attend with love
Tiny spirits on wings of doves,
The choir of angels must sing lullabies
Maybe quieten their tiny cries.

The Father must come by each day
To cuddle and play in a special way
These tiny spirits left earth too soon
Little ones called Home from the womb.

These sparks of life did not perish
But came to the Father's love to cherish,
To grow and be taught in His own arms
Safely away from all earthly harm.

The comforter was sent to earth at once
To the parents who lost their little one
Their hearts so ache, their arms feel empty
The question 'why' seems so tempting.

Then all at once in the midst of tears
There comes a peace that stills the fears
The parents share the Father's own need
To hold their tiny spirit being.

They relinquish their own desperate hold
And release their baby to the Father's fold,
Then comes an angel to whisper the truth
Of a nursery in Heaven bearing rich fruit

Of tiny spirits chosen to worship the Father
A place that couldn't be filled by another,
Called to be spared from the struggles of earth,
Chosen to be one of Heaven's births.

So Father, whisper words of love from me
To our unborn 'life' in your nursery.

(From Above Rubies website)

Self Sufficiency

With the worries about the economy there has been alot of talk about stocking up, cutting expenses, and becoming more self sufficient. Becoming more self sufficient has been a subject that has always held an interest for me. It's a horrible feeling to be so dependent on outside sources for survival.

With a 9-5 job, a large mortgage, and two car payments you are at the mercy of the ups and down of the economy. I remember that horrible feeling of worrying about how we would survive without a stable income.

We have had a desire to become as self sufficient as we possibly could for quite some time now. For a long time it was just a dream. This last year has opened up a few doors to bring us closer to our goal. Even with Scott's layoff and self-employment we have been brought so much closer to realizing that dream. I suppose God wanted to get that great paying job out of the way to bring us to where we are at now. God has blessed our business and our life tremendously through self employment so now it is just time to take the next step. If it is God's will, we will be on our own small acreage, debt free, sometime next year! It is just another step we are taking on the path God is leading us.

That means that right now we are in the research and planning phase. While we have been studying for years, it's time to take it up a notch. I am reading a great book, by Joel Salatin, called You Can Farm. What a great read so far. We have been busy trying to learn as much as possibly can before we buy. We have made some local connections with people in the agriculture industry that are showing us the basics.

We plan on learning more about raising pastured poultry, pork, and beef. We are learning more about gardening and on how to build up nutrient dense soil. So much of our soil is depleted of most vital nutrients it needs. We will also how to make our own dairy products. We by no means plan on operating a large farm, but instead, we hope to practice alternative farming. There is so much to soak in before then.

We are also doing a few small remodeling projects to spruce up our place before we have to put it on the market. Another thing that we had to do was to give up our egg layers until we move. We needed to take the coop down to let the grass regrow. For some reason, we believe that most potential buyers wouldn't see a chicken coop in the city as an amenity. It was really hard to see them go. We sure do miss our eggs. The store bought ones just aren't the same. We will still be doing one more batch of meat chickens though. We have had so much interest in our birds that we are doing a small batch to sell.

This is one our family's vision. It is exciting to be able to include our whole family as we travel down this road. To learn together as a family, all 9 of us working side by side. Building our future together while building lasting memories.

I know I have neglected my blog for some time now, but I plan to write more about what we learn this year as we travel down this road. I hope to continue blogging in some form of what I used to. I have had so many ask me to start back up. I can't make any guarantees that it will be updated regularly, but i'll try.