1/31/13

DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent


Once I quit my job, I knew we needed to tighten our belts on some things.

We downsized our cell phone plans.  We don't eat out nearly as much.  We instantly saved money on daycare (hello!).  I pay for almost everything with my cash budget that is allowed to me between paychecks - the only exception is gas.  Not sure why, but it just is.

It's kinda nice paying for everything with cash.  Much more visual.  And therefore, much more depressing when it goes away.  But it's helped.  I've stayed on the mark more often than I've missed.  Christmas was a killer, but we've recovered and so we move on.

In an effort to skimp where I can, and to make a project for myself (because I'm super bored during the day) I researched some options to make your own laundry detergent at home.  The stuff is expensive, heavy to lug in a cart with too kids and frankly, I thought I could give it a try and give my honest feedback so you all would know if it was worth your effort of if Tide really knew what they were doing.

The hardest part was, well two things, really.
One: finding Washing Soda.  My Target didn't have it, so I had to go to scary Wal-Mart.
Two: I had to face my fear of hand graters.  I just always envision losing the tips of my fingers when I use one.  Hate hate hate it.

Gather up:

  • 2 empty milk jugs (or other gallon containers)
  • 1 huge pot - I bought a 12-qt one for $7 at scary Wal-mart (so I could just use it for this and not cook food in my soapy pot)
  • 1 bar of soap, your choice
  • Scary hand grater
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soap
All told, you'll get 2 gallons of goo.  At 1/2 cup per load, that's 64 loads of laundry you'll have on your hands.  We'll do the breakdown on cost at the end - big finale.

Here's how you get there:
1. Grate your soap bar into your pot.  Watch those fingers.
2. All 1 gallon water to pot and "cook" at med-high to high heat until soap is dissolved, stirring occasionally.  This took me about 15 minutes or so to achieve.
3. Once soap is dissolved stir in 1 cup each of Borax and Washing Soda and bring liquid to a boil.  You'll instantly feel that the liquid is starting to thicken.  As you boil, it will get thicker.
4. Once you're at a boil, turn off heat and add 2nd gallon of water.
5. Let cool.  
6. Use funnel to pour detergent into your two empty jugs.  
7. Get to washin' lady.

And if you're like me, you'll have kept one of those Tide jobies with the little push-button spout on the side to help with dispensary later.

Always thinkin'

Some notes:
The liquid will continue to thicken as it cools.  Some bloggers have posted that they split this recipe into THREE gallons to thin things out.  My family is messy, and I don't mind rinsing the cup in water to get excess out into the washing machine.

This soap will not suds.  The suds you see with your Tide is merely cosmetic (same with your shampoo)  It's getting clean, even if there aren't a ton of bubbles there.

Ready for the grand total (and somewhat subjective because while the price is split out over different batches, I still had to shell out the cash initially to make the stuff in the first place!)  The cost will vary depending on the type of bar soap you use (I guestimated a buck) and I'm calling water free because I'm not about to sift through bills to come up with a better estimate than that!

From my local Target, you can buy a 32-load jug of Tide for $9.04 - times two = $18.08
My makings for one batch of goo (minus my need to have a separate pot that won't ever cook food in) - $2.84

Two dollars.  Eight-four cents.
About 4 cents a load.
Not that I'm all about counting pennies, but that's pretty damn good if you ask me!


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1/30/13

So What Wednesday

I'm writing this from a near-food-coma state of eating Chinese food like I was mad at it.  Forgive me for any typos, as I am clearly drugged up on sodium and pea pods.

This week, I say SO WHAT:

  • I got sick of our garage door opener crapping out on us, so I made strongly encouraged Nate finally buy a new one, rather than use his McGyver skills to fix it.
  • Last Friday was a shining moment in motherhood when in the span of 15 minutes, Olivia shut her finger in the car door (as in the dark closed tight and her poor little finger was pinched between them) and Avery climbed (and fell on her face) out of the crib.  And here, I thought {marker face} was bad enough!
  • I get really excited about blog comments.  Who doesn't!?
  • I used my Cricut to make vinyl labels for things like our flour and sugar.  Yes, they already had a simple "label-maker" sticker on them, but now they're pretty.  And sit behind a closed cupboard door.  Oh shut up.
  • I keep waiting for Liv to notice that "that guy on Project Runway" has the same voice from "that guy on Princess Sophia."
  • PS, where's Michael Kohrs this season, Heidi??
  • I watched six episodes (in a row) from season one of Downton Abbey.  Addicted.  So good!  Seriously!
  • I need to take more photos for Instagram.  My photo frame could use some updating!
  • I'm super excited to get my new swimsuit in the mail tomorrow.  Probably should shave my legs before I try it on, though.
  • I love the show Catfish and yet another reason I stay with my husband.  I do not ever want to date again.  Ever.

How's your week??


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1/29/13

No More Thumb

When Liv was a baby, we foolishly BRAGGED that she sucked her thumb at night.
She could always soothe herself.
She never lost her thumb in the dark.
She slept for 12-hours.
In a row.
By ten weeks old.
What's not to love about that?!

I'll tell you.
Having a four-year old who would suck her thumb without even thinking about it, and having (sorry babe) majorly messed up front teeth.

We tried lots of reward and punishment ideas.
We used the "Thumb" stuff you can buy at Target, but she was stubborn enough to just power through the bitter flavor and wait for it to wear off.

At the recommendation of friends of my parents, we tried Malva Stop.  It had worked on 2 of their 3 thumb suckers.  The last is too little yet.  We were warned - the taste is AWFUL.  Both kids puked when they tried to suck it off.  True story, the same happened to Liv.  Thankfully, she was already in the bathroom.  However, even with the preparation, it's still hard to hold your little girl's hair out of her face while she says "That stuff is BAD mama!"  And as bad as that was, we turned a corner.

She knew she wanted to stop.  She didn't like what it was doing to her teeth.  Her drool and the cold weather was causing a horrible rash on her chin.  It was just time.

So that and the fear of violent vomiting was enough to help her fill up a reward chart.  All to earn face paint.

Well worth her efforts.





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1/28/13

Cheesy Frogs

If you like pickles, cheese and anything fried (or baked for health reasons) I've got the treat for you!

I made baked pickle fries for you all a few weeks back.  Lots of fans said they looked yummy (smart gals, they were right) so I thought we'd keep the pickle theme going a bit longer.

This one included cheese.
Hello, Heaven.
I made both options, both fried in canola oil and baked with a little cooking spray.

Both options were tummy and melty.
The fried version resulted in a much crispier wonton and, ironically enough, a less greasy taste.
I can appreciate the want to bake for "healthy" but factor in the taste and texture as well...
I'd probably fry before baking these babies again.


The makings regardless of baking or frying are the same:
1 wonton wrapper
1 pickle wedge
1 slice of Havarti cheese

Make as many as you want to eat.

Assembly:

Dry off the pickle wedges as much as you can.  Moisture in baking or frying does not exactly go together too well.


Layer the wonton, cheese and pickle like this...
Diamond shape makes for easier and cleaner rolling.


Fold up the bottom and slightly tuck the wonton under the pickle.
Dampen the exposed sides with a little water on your finger and gently fold in the sides.  Make sure the seals are fairly tight so you don't loose any cheesy filling while cooking.
Keep folding up and lay seam side down until ready to cook.



Frying at about 375 degrees about 2-3 minutes per side
Baked at 400 degrees about 6-8 minutes per side



Caution, they are amazingly hot fresh out of the oil/oven.
Let cool slightly before diving in (and I know restraint may be difficult, however avoid the pain of a burnt tongue in infinitely more enjoyable.)
Enjoy!
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1/25/13

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Heathly body, healthy mind.  Enter the Nineteen Eleven giveaway {here}

Got a baggie full of super-ripe, black, frozen bananas in your possession?

Skip the banana bread for once and tries these babies.  Very easy to put together, very easy to grab for mornings on the go, very tasty.


I did find my original recipe at C&E {here}

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, line 12 muffin cups with your favorite wrappers and gather up the following:
  • 2.5 c rolled oats (not the instant kind)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
Feel free to add in a little extra flavor with some cinnamon, apple pie spice or vanilla extract.  All of these flavors merry well with the banana, making them your own extra special creation!

Blend all the ingredient in a food processor or blender.  Because you're not using at flour, you need to grind up the oatmeal to help act as a binder.  The mix will be runny(er that your normal muffin batter) but fear not.  Pour the batter into your muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.



Being that I'm on a skinny mission, I plugged this recipe into My Fitness Pal and came up with the following specs (per muffin)
137 calories
1.1 g of total fat (.2 g saturated fat)
28.3 g total carbs
4.8 g protein

Certainly better than the store-bough kind.  And better than skipping breakfast all together!

1/24/13

Awesome Ad Space

Time for some bloggy business...

February is right around the corner.
You're baking those heart-shaped treats,
Neatly dressing your kids in pink and red, and
Drafting all those sweet nothings for all those Valentines cards.

Or if you're like me, you're
thinking about baking treats, but will probably just by a bag of Dove Promises,
hoping that the favorite pink shirt is clean on the day she actually wants to wear it, and
waiting until the last minute so Valentine cards are 1/2 price!

One thing you don't need to wait on is getting a great deal on some ad space.  We all know how critical promotion is to the betterment of our business, be it blog, Etsy or otherwise.  Word of mouth builds a fan base.  But how to you get people talking about you??


I am here to help!

With Passionfruit ads, and pennies a day, I will help take you and your business to the masses!


Check out my sponsors page {here}
And that deal I mentioned before - all spots will save 30% with coupon code:  EARLYBIRD


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1/23/13

So What Wednesday

Another week, another round of one of my favorite things!

SO WHAT WEDNESDAY!
But first, make sure you enter my giveaway with Nineteen Eleven {here}

So What Wednesday


  • I am seriously annoyed by Pinners who don't read/edit the comment that they repin.  No you did not make these at your restaurant (you've never worked there).  No you don't want "Mark" to make this.  Who the hell is Mark?? No you don't know this is the "best thing ever," you JUST figgin' pinned it!
  • I leave for Turks & Caicos in 30 days!  And with that, I need to leave my readers with something.  Got some content to share (past favorite or new gem??)  Leave a comment below!
  • My proudest moment this week was when Olivia filled up her "reward sheet" for not sucking her thumb!  It's hard to say when she's falling asleep at night, but other than that, we've gone DAYS without even the need for a reminder!  Our dental bills are pleased as well!
  • Liv earned face paint as her "reward" for this sheet.  I may or may not regret allowing her to pick her own prize.
  • For her second prize, she wants new goggles for our trip.  They're already bought and paid for, so no problem kid.
  • The THIRD prize she wants... her ears pierced.  Nate reminded her that she needs to get BOTH done and can't quit after the first one hurts so bad!
  • I have the next six days worth of blog posts scheduled.  YEAH ME!
  • I am struck with sudden panic that we leave for vacation in a month and I need to start organizing to pack three (let's be realistic, four) people to be gone for nine days!
  • I may call for a team vote on swimsuits.  I don't think I'm going to have the bikini body I was craving, but I've still worked my ass off (almost literally) and deserve a reward of my own.  Who's with me!?
I plan to purchase one of these babies via Ebates and 6% cash back.  Seriously - right to the old bank account.  It's not huge, but it's better than 0%!


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1/22/13

Nineteen Eleven {giveaway}

I mentioned last week during my SWW that I got a new yoga mat strap from Nineteen Eleven and gushed about how much I loved it.  I wasn't lying.  I LOVE it.

So cute, easy to stretch the elastic over my mat (as I am not capable of every wrapping it as tightly as the manufacturer once did) and I even get compliments in class.  This is important for my ego as I still feel like the "new kid" in class who doesn't quite know what she's doing.  The Yoga gurus like my mat strap.

Yes.  It does sound that pathetic when I say it outloud.

But anyway, let me introduce you to the amazing women behind my new "popularity:"



Liz & Laura
Owner, Sisters Who Sew Together!
Welcome to NINETEEN | ELEVEN! We are two sisters; one who is a crazy fitness junky and the other a mom, but both of us love to decorate our homes. We decided to open this shop to help support a passion of ours - Child Sexual Abuse Awareness.

Our first address was 1911 and a lot of wonderful family memories were at this home address for us. We both love to sew and are passionate about two separate things and wanted to bring those two together to support a common cause, awareness of Child Sexual Abuse and Sex Trafficking. A portion of our sales is donated to Darkness to Light - for more information please check out www.d2l.org


I was first drawn to their vibrant colors and the well-made nature of the product, but what struck me was their kindness and passion to giveback.  We all have well-meaning hearts, but to actually make that promise to every customer.  It was refreshing.

And now here's your chance to be the cool kid in class.

Not a yoga fan?  I challenge you to try it once.  You will like it, I promise.  A good instructor will encourage you to move at your own pace and ability.  Don't look up and compare yourself to others in the room.  Really take the time to breath, engage your muscles to move your own body and just be yourself.

It's incredibly relaxing, but also a workout.  I wore my heart strap monitor, and registered that I burned 300 calories in my one hour Vinyasa flow class.  Not too shabby.

Follow the simple entry with the Rafflecopter widget below and enter to win your very own strap!

a Rafflecopter giveaway





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1/21/13

Skinny Spinach Dip

Check out this week's giveaway with Nineteen Eleven!

It's not secret, I love to snack.  Especially, if it's salty and crunchy.

Operation Hot Mama has only 32 more days, so it's time to get super serious and get everyone on board, including family and friends.



This recipe is made with greek yogurt instead of sour cream and boasts only 70 calories per 1/2 c serving (according to my recipe creation via My Fitness Pal).  Serve with veggies and you've got a great snack.  Even with pretzels, as they also fill my crunchy-salty need, and it's still not as bad as a bag of Doritos (which was my previous norm.)

Here's what you need:
8 oz non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 c non-fat sour cream (or in my case, just sub in more yogurt)
1 package of dry veggie soup mix (or if you don't have any, a good serving of garlic salt and pepper)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 yellow or white onion, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well (I use a few layers of paper towels and squeeze over the sink)

Mix well and let chill for a bit before serving, if you can wait that long!



1/17/13

Parents of the Year: 2013

It's early to call this one, but I feel I have some pretty amazing evidence to support the nomination and victory for my husband and myself.

Saturday morning.
Pancakes.
Clean up.
Sure you girls can color while we wash dishes.

This was the aftermath.




It's just a honor to be nominated.
I thank you.

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1/16/13

So What Wednesday

Happy Hump Day to all!  And we're halfway through January (how did that happen!)

So What Wednesday


Here's my week:
  • Okay, BUCKWILD is my new favorite show.  And where are the parents??  Are these kids all really 21?  Am I that old that it doesn't seem they are old enough to live along/drink/operate the stove alone?
  • BUCKWILD makes me very proud as a parent.  Not my reality.  Not my kids.
  • I need to hire a chemist and develop a Diet Wine.  There's a Diet Coke, I must be possible.
  • I scheduled a hair cut near the same time as my mother's hair appointment, so she could help with my unruly children in the overlap.  Thank God the waiting area has candy suckers.
  • I am jealous of Jules' GIANT wine glass (on Cougar Town) only because I drink white wine, and a beverage in such a large vessel would get SO WARM.  Not fair!
  • I ordered my Stella & Dot samples, and it kills me I need to wait ONE MORE DAY to have them arrive.  I'm like a puppy at the window every time the mailman drive by our house these days.
  • I used my new yoga strap from Eleven Nineteen today.  It's {this one}  I looked like I knew what I was doing (kinda).  Also, the room was VERY windy - I couldn't always balance the way I should.
  • There are lots of friends I own phone calls too, and I promise I will catch up.  Some of you I haven't seen in months.  Very honestly, I MISS YOU A LOT.
  • Four out of the fifteen pounds lost and 37 days to go until Turks & Caicos.  I'm trying, I just love cheese and bread SO MUCH.  
  • One of my favorite photographers is taking photos for my Etsy shop over the next couple of days - this means amazing new photos for new products and an AMAZING sale coming for you!  Stay tuned!

In honor passing the less than 40 day mark til vacation, I'm offering up my ad spots at 40% off!

Check out my stats and Passionfruit offerings {here}
Use VACAY at checkout

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1/14/13

Creamy Chicken & Broccoli {Crock Pot}

Work smarter, not harder.

This is one of the 11 meals I made over naptime one afternoon.
I have a master list of recipes {here}
I felt a little guilty making this on a night where I'd been home with the kids, but hey - I got to play with them more, rather than standing in a kitchen, so we're all winners here!


I made this as a freezer meal, but you could, obviously, make this right in the crock and skip the freezer bag all together.

For the freezer bag:
1 lb chicken breast, shredded

To add the day of prep:
1 can cream of chicken condensed soup
1 can cheddar cheese condensed soup
14 oz can of chicken broth

Cook over low for 6-8 hours

Before service:
Scoop out 2 Tbsp sauce and mix with 2 Tbsp corn starch - mix back in the batch.
Add in broccoli florets (I tossed in a bag of frozen ones about an hour before we ate.  You could also nuke a steam-pack and toss them in right before service.)
Stir in 1 c sour cream
Serve over rice (or noodles, your choice)
Top with a sprinkle of cheese (for the kids.  Not me, obviously)

Easily served our family of four a dinner and we've got leftovers in the fridge.  Two dinners for not much work = my kind of meal.





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1/11/13

Toddler Matching Game

Like most moms, I used to carry a baby bag everywhere, even if I was just making a short run somewhere, it was always packed and prepared for the second coming.

I have gotten lazy.  I often leave the house without an extra diaper for Avery, let alone snacks, milk, toys, a change of clothes and other things to keep them busy.  Bad mom.

But I'm trying to be better because I know my luck of "no poops while shopping" will run out.  And when it runs out, it's going to be big.  Massive explosion needing scissors to remove the previous outfit and a hazmat suit to complete the diaper change.



With that, I thought about updating a few games for the bag.

This is a super easy project that took less than 30 minutes to put together.
You'll need:


random felt or fabric (you could even use scrapbook paper)
an even number of wooden coins (mine were 1.5" x 3/16", sold in a pack of 6)
hot glue



Cut out circles (or if you're feeling fancy, other shapes to match up) and simple glue them onto the coins.
Honestly, it's that simple.
But intricate handiwork and several hours does not a clever project make.
Zip up the coins in a ziptop baggie and toss in the baby bag and you're ready for the next dinner out!

It can be a color matching game for little hands, or even memory game to find matching colors (for older kids).
Or, it can become a towel, wheels, pretend sandwich for an imaginary friend... just go with it.  If you're out and they're not crying, consider any activity a win!

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