Thursday, February 7, 2013

This Weekend's Homesteading Projects and Why I'll Never Run Three Errands with Four Small Children in One Afternoon Again



Two things I've been wanting to make myself, but just haven't had the supplies (or courage) for, are homemade laundry detergent and yogurt. I've seen post after post about how to make your own laundry detergent on Pinterest, and last year a dear friend of mine even gave me some in a cute little jar with a scoop attached for Christmas (such a great and practical gift!) but whenever the excitement to make my own struck, I always seemed to already have a full bottle of store-bought detergent on hand...so I never got around to it. About a week or so ago, my mom, who works at Ace Hardware down in Orange County, sent me a "recipe" for homemade laundry detergent from her store and it rekindled the unfurling DIYer inside of me. Then, after yesterday's post on How To Cut Your Food Budget In Half many of my Facebook friends gave me even more great ideas on ways to save money and other practical things to make at home for way less than store-bought! One of these great suggestions was homemade yogurt. I knew my good buddy (and beer-making, cheese-making, Kombucha-making friend) Mary made her own yogurt, but the idea of it seemed a little complicated and scary (I know nothing about canning or preserving and find myself flooded with fears that I'll instead make something poisonous and give my children botulism or something). But Mary posted these Instructions for Making Yogurt at home and after reading through them a few times...it actually looks quite simple! And I don't think there's much chance of me accidentally killing my children...yay! She also passed along this recipe for a delicious Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal as one way to make a quick, yummy breakfast...with the homemade yogurt! So, all of that got me really excited and this morning I made the decision: I'm going to do it. I'm going to go right now to find all the supplies. The one little hang-up? That meant dressing, shoeing, feeding, corralling, and loading four tiny children into the van before we could head out on our - er, my - mission. And let me tell you, I was nearly defeated. Just between the laundry room and garage (said rooms being attached) we had meltdowns, a near potty accident, a crying hungry baby who refused to go in her carseat, and a kid get tangled up IN the straps of her carseat. It was so incredibly stressful I actually made everyone go back in the house for lunch, a debriefing, and a do-over. One fed baby and nearly an hour later, we tried again. First stop, Ace Hardware. There we found 2 out of 3 of our laundry detergent ingredients and some free root beer in the back for the kids (why I thought letting them have that was a good idea, I'll never know). Grace also managed to find the paint-mixing machine the employees use and started pushing buttons before I could get to her. Anyone need a quart of eggshell "green meadows"? We left there and headed to the thrift store hoping to find some cheap mason jars. Success! I found a whole slew of them in both quart and 8oz sizes! And the guy who worked there was so kind (it couldn't have been he just wanted to get my small herd of children out of his store as quickly as possible) that he sold them all to me for half-price! 50 cents each! So back in the car we all went to head across town to the other Ace Hardware to find the third item on our detergent list and some new lids for our mason jars. All said and done, I spent about $8 on 8 yogurt jars and new lids and $13 on detergent supplies - but it looks like I'll be able to make about twice as much detergent as I normally get for that price! And Mary said that once you buy the supplies, the yogurt comes out to be around $1 a QUART (really just the cost of the milk used to make it) which is going to save us a lot of money because we go through at least two quarts a week at our house - and we buy those for $3-$4 dollars each! So. It looks like me, my apron, and my live active cultures will be getting to know each other quite well this weekend. I also learned that taking four children on three errands equates to bucking a child in and out of a carseat 32 times and about a half-dozen temper tantrums. No thank you. Next time the outing limit is either two stops...or two kids :)

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent (adapted from AceHardware)
1 bar of soap 
(I'm using Fels Naptha, but you could also use Dr. Bonner's, Zote, Kirk's Castile, etc.)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
A few drops of essential oils

Use a grater to shave the bar of soap into small flakes. Mix well with borax and washing soda until you achieve an even, fine mixture. Add your essential oils and mix well to break up clumps*. Store in labeled, air-tight container. Makes approximately 32oz of detergent. Use 1-2 T per load (depending on load size).

*Here are a few ideas of various oil combinations to make your new laundry detergent smell wonderful! Using Essential Oils in Your Detergent



I'll let you know how it all turns out! What are YOU making/growing/building this weekend?!

9 comments:

  1. I have Kefir culturing on the counter right now. Even easier than yogurt--it cultures at room temperature!! And I'm roasting a turkey tomorrow just to eat, you know, for the next 2 weeks. Proud of you for all your brave adventuring!!!

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    1. Aw, Sami, you're so cool! And so sweet. It would be so fun if you, me, and Mary lived close together ;)

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  2. I'll be learning all about composting this weekend! Heading out to purchase my first compost bin and excited to get started!

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    1. Ooh, Kristen, I'm jealous! I hope to compost too one day! I love those cute little kitchen composting jars;) It freezes here for about 3-4 months...I guess you just let it freeze during the winter-? I'll add composting to my list of things to investigate!

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  3. I'm growing a child in my uterus. Hopefully only 5 more weeks til we get to see the finished product. Also I'll be making mac and cheese later. :) Good to see the blog going and that you've completely turned into a hippie!! Love you and kiss the kids for me, miss you guys

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    1. Ha! Oh, Kel, that gave me a good laugh. I love you so and can't wait to meet my newest little cousin-niece/nephew ;)

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  4. You are a very brave woman! I wouldn't do more than two stops with my two kids. You're doing great :)

    It took me awhile before I tried homemade laundry soap, too, but I'm glad I finally did it. It really does save so much money. After using Felsnaptha for awhile I noticed my whites didn't stay white. I even tried making my one bar of soap to go into my laundry soap, with the same results. I finally found Zote soap, which works really well. The plus side to Zote is that it is cheaper and is made from lard instead of petrochemicals like Felsnaptha. But start with Felsnaptha and see what you think. Either way, it is going to be way cheaper than store-bought. Great to find another "Oregon Mama" her in Blogland. We live in Eastern Oregon :)

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    1. You know, another friend told me the same thing today about the Felsnaptha making her whites kind of dingy. She whittled it down to about 1/4th a bar instead of a whole bar and also grated in a bar of yummy smelling Mrs. Meyers. Or she suggested I could use Castile which is vegetable based. I guess I'll have a few recipes to try before settling on a favorite! Thanks for stopping by ~ nice to meet you, neighbor!!

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