Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Friday, March 26, 2010

Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Soap

Today I am sharing a recipe that, yes, I have tried, for powdered laundry soap.  I have tried the homemade liquid soaps before and neither myself nor my husband has liked them.  Someone shared this a long time ago on a yahoo group that I'm a part of, and I've been wanting to try it since.  I've been using it this week, and didn't say anything to my hubby to see if he'd notice...he didn't and that's a good thing!  LOL!

1 cup grated Fels Naptha soap (this is a bar you can find in the laundry soap aisle for just a little over a dollar...I used about 3/4 of it for 1 cup, so that's roughly $0.77.)
1/2 cup borax (I got a 4 lb. 12 oz. box for $4.26...I'm guessing there's about 8 cups in there so for this recipe, you're spending about $0.27.)
1/2 cup washing soda, NOT baking soda...I got Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (bought a 3.5 lb. box for $2.57, so guesstimating for this recipe, about $0.23)

This is enough for 16 loads at $1.27.  Not a bad deal!

Now, if you have a grater you can use for the soap that grates it into a nice powder, you can just mix all the ingredients together and use 2 tablespoons per load...Run the water, add a couple of drops of essential oil if you have it (I use tea tree oil), and add the 2 tablespoons of powder.  Give it a little stir before you add your clothes.  Be aware that you may not see suds as you do with store-bought soap (especially if you have hard water).  This is okay!  The ingredients will do their work.

If you only have something that will *shred* the soap, instead of grating it, here's what I like to do:  I first use my fingers after I shredded the soap to break it down a little more, then I store it in its own container.  I mix the borax and washing soda together in a different container (otherwise you won't have a very even mix because the powders will keep sinking to the bottom, with the soap shreds on top).  I start the water in the washer and add a few drops of tea tree oil.  Then I add 1 tablespoon of soap shreds and then 1 tablespoon of the powder mixture (after giving it a little shake).  I give the water in the machine a little stir as it's running, and then add the clothes.  That's it!

Another thing to be aware of, if you're used to using store-bought laundry soap...there is A LOT of scent in those soaps.  So when you use the homemade soap, you won't really have any scent when you pull them out of the dryer (unless you hang your clothes out to dry, then they will smell wonderful!).  But, you will notice they DO smell clean.  That kind of spooked me the first time I used this...I thought they weren't getting clean because of the lack of smell, but that's exactly how they're *supposed* to smell (NO smell)!  I was just too used to the heavy-scented store bought soap and figured that's how clean clothes were supposed to smell.  Go figure!

So, as I said earlier, I've been using this for most of the week and haven't said anything to Nick yet.  I'm really surprised he hasn't asked me if I'm doing anything different with the laundry lately, but, as I said earlier, this is a good sign!  :)  Wait until he finds out that I've been making our soap for less than half the cost of even the super good deals I've been getting combining sales and coupons!  ;)

I DO have a couple of bottles of Tide with Downy in my laundry room that I got a really good deal on awhile back.  I will save those for washing the bedding, as hubby really likes it when the sheets have that Downy smell (okay, so do I!).  :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MS Diet: Yogurt

Since rice milk was a pretty easy transition, I've decided to move onto yogurt.  This one was bit more tough, since I LOVE yogurt (don't want to give it up completely!), and I needed to find something with neither dairy NOR soy.  Yikes.

After searching (LOTS of searching), I finally landed at a local co-op, where they have...get this...coconut milk yogurt!  Well, that certainly sounded good.  So, of course, you know I had to go right down and buy some.  ;)  Wow, it's definitely more expensive than regular yogurt, at $2.45 per 6-ounce container.  But, I did have a $1.00 off coupon, and I figured if I kept it down to a few a week, that would fend off my yogurt cravings.  Here's the yogurt I bought:  So Delicious

The texture was a little different than dairy yogurt...more like the full fat version with a VERY slightly grainy texture.  The taste was just awesome!  So far, I've tried vanilla, in which you can definitely taste the yummy coconutiness (is that a word?  I love making up words!) of it all.  The only other flavors this store has is mango (which I also bought) and plain.  Perhaps later on, I'll try and get them to stock a few more flavors. ;)

So, there's two of my major dairy items replaced.  :)  Next I'll be on a cheese quest, which, besides ice cream, will complete the most obvious forms of dairy.  After that, I'm going to have to dig a little deeper and start learning what mystery words mean on food lablels.  Fun stuff to look forward to!

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Infamous Day in History

Politicians and the media have called yesterday "A day where history was made."  History was made, alright, but it's not something to be proud of.

I went back and forth in my head about whether or not I even wanted to post this, as I really don't like getting into politics here.  But this was just too much in my face to ignore.  I did have a whole tirade thought out, but I'm not going to do it.  ;)  Let's just say that yesterday, the federal government threw the Constitution out the window and spit into the face of every single American.

Whether you wanted the health care bill to pass or not, when you look at it, the way it happened was just plain wrong.  Regardless of the fact that this country is *supposed* to be a Republic, even democracy was thrown out the window.  They are both done with, this was an act of DICTATORSHIP.  In regards to a Republic, Constitutional law was broken, and in regards to a democracy, the majority did NOT rule in this.  This was a group of government officials (who are supposed to work for US, by the way, you know, of the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE, and by the PEOPLE) saying "No, no, I know you don't want it, but that's just plain crazy.  You people don't know what's best for you, so we're going to force you to take this anyway."  No, sir, that ain't my America.

And now, regardless of all the politicians that will get FIRED in this year's elections, we're stuck with this.  It doesn't matter if every single American that was originally for this bill stands up and says, "You know what, this isn't working out so well, let's take it back."  (And mark my words, there will be many that will, the first time they or someone they love gets struck with a serious ailment and will have to wait for months or even years for proper treatment...or when a society that has gotten so used to demanding what they want NOW suddenly finds themselves not getting it.)  Nope, history has shown in other countries that have adopted socialized health care, once you've created the beast, there's no way to get rid of it.  It's a done deal.  And THAT is a very sad day, indeed, in U.S. history.

All we can do now is lean on God, who is so good, and who has already won the most important battle for us.  I will leave you with some comforting words from God Himself.  HE is our refuge and strength.  We can trust in Him and His ultimate plan.

Psalm 46
 1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
 2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
 3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
 4There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
 5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
 6The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
 7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
 8Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
 9He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
 10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
 11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

MS Diet: Milk

After much research on autoimmune disorders and diet, I have decided that I'm going to be giving the MS Diet a try.  This is something that I'm going to be integrating very slowly, as we cannot afford to do otherwise.  Also, hubby and the kids will be able to continue eating foods that I cut out for myself for the time being, although, they WILL be eating the meals I make.  ;)

The very first thing on the list of foods to eliminate is dairy products.  The protein that is found in milk (both cow milk and goat milk) is not good for the immune system of someone with an autoimmune can contribute to a "leaky gut."  So, the first thing I am doing is switching myself to rice milk, and at least cutting down on all other dairy products, eventually replacing them with dairy-free things.  I don't drink a lot of plain milk anyway, so this is a nice, small baby step.  :)

I tried to make my own rice milk, but it seems really watered down.  I like the stuff from the store better.  If anyone knows any good recipes, please let me know!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Friday: Introduction

Lately, I've been thinking of different ways to really stretch my husband's hard-earned money.  While I'm better than I have been in the past, there are still so many ways I could cut costs.  Each Friday, I am going to try and make a point of learning something new that will save us money.  I have a whole list of things that I want to try.  :)  I'm thinking of things here that we would normally buy, that I can make, or learn to make, for cheaper.  I'm also thinking of services for minor repairs that I could teach myself to handle.

So, while I'm getting my list together, I will leave you with a wonderful website I've found.  Money Saving Mom  This is a wonderful site for saving money on many things...she has links to free samples, store and coupon deals, and so much more.  Go check it out!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ah, Spring!

It may not be the official date yet, but Spring is definitely in the air! It actually got too hot to wear a sweatshirt outside today. We were able to throw open the windows, air out the house, and spend quite a bit of the day outside. My two older sons spent much of the morning outside. Then, after nap time, we all took a walk to the park that's about a block from our house.

What a joy it was to watch my youngest (20 months) discover fun new things! He LOVES to slide, and this Mama got a lot of exercise helping him get to the top! It was so cute the first time he fell in the sand as he walked across it...he put his hands up like he was saying, "Ew, I don't want to touch this!" LOL! But then I stuck my own hands in the sand and let him watch it sift through my fingers. After that, he was trying to pick some up every chance he got. :)

My oldest was a big help, standing at the bottom of the slide to wait for his youngest brother, and pushing his middle brother in the swing when I had to be with the youngest. We decided to take a round-about way home, and got in a little walk before dinner. :) We came home, had some simple sandwiches, and watched a movie together. What a great day!

A bit later, it did get a little rough as some attitudes flared up, so I'm definitely going to have to keep them closer to me tomorrow, and make sure we get back on track. Because I definitely want to have many more days like this one! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weight Loss-How I'm Doing It

One of the exciting things that has been happening in our family lately is that hubby and I are losing weight. We have been at it since mid-January, and to be honest, this is the longest in a long time that I have stuck with something that works. I don't want to say "diet," because that's NOT what it is at all. Hubby has lost a little over 20 pounds, and I have lost 13.5 pounds so far. We still have quite a ways to go (me more so than my hubby), and we've both been down this road before, so the stage we are in right now is nothing really new. But, the progress in encouraging nonetheless. :)

As I said, we are not following any diet...we have both had it with those! I am thoroughly convinced that if you combined all the diets out there, you would only be able to drink water all day (in some cases, maybe not even that!). Since I was about 12 years old, I have had my experience with the variety of dieting methods. Many of them worked for awhile, none were permanent.

The first thing we did, was start using our Wii Fit Plus again. :) It's a fun way to get exercise in, especially in the middle of winter. Hubby began tracking his calories, then a friend of mine referred me to a free website where you can set calorie goals and track calories. This was wonderful, since I'm not the speediest person when it comes to doing math in my head, and I have a hard time remembering things that aren't right in front of me. :) Hubby set his calorie goal, and I entered my weight, height, and activity level into the website and it gave me my calorie goal. THAT'S IT. All we do is make sure and stay under our calorie goal every day, and do some form of exercise every day. Sunday is our free day...we don't track calories, but we don't go obnoxious, either. We just take a day where we're not worrying about how many calories we have, and maybe treat ourselves to something we wouldn't indulge in during the week.

At first, we just stuck with our current way of eating, but making sure we didn't go over our daily calories. However, over time, we learned that making healthier decisions regarding food meant that we could eat more, thus keeping our bodies satisfied throughout the day. It also meant more energy and more efficient workouts. We still have our share of less-than-healthy food in the house, but control (not just portion control, but SELF-control as well!) is the key. If I have calories left over, it's okay to have a serving of Twizzlers...just not half the bag! We have really gotten into the habit of measuring out our food, even our snacks, and sticking to the portions. That way, we're not in front of the computer or TV with a bag of chips or something similar, and of course, before you know it, they're almost gone! I have not done that once since we started in mid-January.

And I just have to say, I am so proud of my husband! It is really because of him that we finally decided to get this kick-started once and for all. It was about that time that he started school to be a firefighter, and he realized that if he really wanted this to happen, he HAD to get into shape, no ifs, ands, or buts. No "Well, I just really don't FEEL like working out today." It's just not an option with what he's training for.

And of course, ALL the credit goes to God! It is by His grace alone that we even got started, let alone made it this far. I thank Him every single time I look in the mirror or step on the scale and see a change. He alone is our strength!

Annual Cleaning

As spring quickly approaches here, "Spring Cleaning" is on my mind. Being the defeated perfectionist that I am, I hate to admit that I really don't think I've ever fully completed a Spring Cleaning list that I've ever attempted to start. :) This year, I am going to give the annual list from Home Comforts a try. A few of these things I may also do in the fall, if needed, and many will probably just be added to my "Odd Jobs" list as time allows.

Wash blankets, comforters, and quilts
Give away unused clothing
Clean & polish gems, jewelry, silver, brass, copper
Clean light fixtures
Vacuum books
Move & clean under heavy appliances/furniture
Shampoo rugs and upholstery
Empty and clean all closets, drawers, and cabinets
Dust or wash china, crystal, knickknacks
Wash blinds and shades
Dry-clean/wash curtains
Organize/store photos, videos, CD's

Whew! For such a "short" list, it looks pretty daunting, but, we'll see how it goes this year. ;)

Monthly and Quarterly Cleaning

If I am on my game and get all my weekly chores done with time to spare, I move on to my monthly chores. I keep these on the same notebook page as my quarterly chores, as these lists are much shorter. So, if I have all my monthly cleaning done, and time to spare after my weekly chores are completed, I work on the quarterly cleaning.

Monthly Chores:
Launder underbedding (mattress covers) and blankets that are NOT comforters
Dust blinds, shades, door tops, and other hard-to-reach areas
Wash windows
Clean ceiling fan blades
Wash bathroom rugs

Quarterly Chores:
Turn mattresses
Wash or air pillows
Clean light shades, globes, dust lightbulbs

As needed:
Clean oven
Wash woodwork (I usually just do spot cleaning for this)
Organize drawers, cabinets, closets (these will usually get done as I have time as odd jobs)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Odd Jobs

Odd jobs are things I want to get done, but are not specifically mentioned on my other lists. Yes, I am a big list person. Especially with my MS, I have found that I NEED to make lists. If I don't write it down, it may or may not get done. ;)

Right now, my goal is to get the house completely organized and to get rid of clutter. I still go by the zones from Flylady. So, seeing as I am just beginning to implement these routines, I am starting in Zone 1. So, my current "Odd Jobs" list includes:

Organize front hall
Organize dining room
Clean the yard and decks

I do not give myself a specific period of time to complete odd jobs, so they will stay on the list until they are done. That way, I know they are getting done thoroughly, and not just rushed through to get them crossed off by the end of the week.


Weekly Homekeeping

Once the daily chores are done or in progress, I begin tackling the weekly chores.

Change beds
Wipe fingerprints/smears from doorknobs, woodwork, phones, computer, and switch plates
Wash entire bathroom (both)
Clean entire kitchen
Wash out garbage cans
Vacuum floors/furniture
Wash all washable floors
Odd jobs (will post about these later)
Mini-cleaning and laundering (because let's face it, a family of 5 cannot do laundry or vacuum just once per week!)
Iron clothes
As needed:
Wash mirrors

With the weekly list, I do cross off as I go. I don't really have a routine to complete this list, I just try to get it done before the next week starts.

If I finish the weekly list with time to spare, I begin on my monthly list.


Daily Homekeeping

I thought I would begin to post my new homekeeping routines. Much of these are taken and adapted from the book Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson. It's a great book, and I highly recommend it.

I keep a notebook on my kitchen counter with lists of daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annual, and annual chores. For the daily chores, I don't really cross anything off, I just go through the list several times throughout the day and make sure everything is being maintained. Here is the list:

Dirty clothes in hamper (this reminds me to run a load of laundry if there is enough for a load)
Clean sinks after use (this reminds me to do the dishes if necessary)
Check bath supplies/towels
Meal prep/clean-up
Fresh kitchen towels/cloths
Fresh cleaning utensils (this reminds me to bleach kitchen brushes and dustpan if necessary)
Clean kitchen and hall floors (high traffic areas are done daily, and this includes washing if necessary)
Make beds
Pick up house/neaten
Empty trash (in evening, if full)

That's it. Once everything is done or in progress on the daily list, I work on the weekly chores, which I will post next.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Getting back into the swing of things

Oh, boy, there is so much on my plate right now it's not even funny. But the Good Lord has been getting me through. :) Yes, I have obviously taken a blogging break, and for now, I am taking a bit of a break from my Proverbs 31 study.

I kicked off the New Year with my birthday, and then an exacerbation of my MS symptoms. We had hosted Christmas, and with all I had going on, I had missed a few of my shots. The medication I had to take to help with the exacerbation took me on a whirlwind of not-so-fun side effects that lasted longer than usual. But, I'm all better now, and don't plan on missing my shots like that again!

The hubby took on another job as a paid on-call firefighter at our local fire station. As such, he is now going to school again to further his training. I am so proud of him! It has meant even more diligence is needed from me on the homefront, but I thrive on the pressure. ;) I came up with a much better routine for my household tasks, and it has been working great so far! I will try and post more details sometime this week.

Also, both the hubby and I have been losing weight! We are not on any particular diet (I have been sworn off diets for quite awhile now), just watching our calories and making sure we try and get in some exercise everyday. During these winter months, the Wii Fit has been working great for us. I have lost 11 pounds since mid-January, and I feel great and am looking forward to many more pounds lost! :)

Speaking of winter months, I do believe it is officially March and I have a bad case of spring fever! During the day here, it's been beautiful, and the snow is quickly melting away. I cannot wait to throw open all the windows and get some fresh air into this house.

As far as the kids go, I see it's time to get back to training better. Isaac, who's now almost 20 months old, has not been responding to "no" very well and has begun throwing tantrums over everything! Most people say it's because of his red hair, but I know's because of a lack of consistency from Mamma.

I'd like to get back to the Proverbs 31 study soon, especially during this season in my life. It may be busy, but what better time is there to study what the Proverbs 31 woman does? :)