12/02/2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent!



I was browsing pinterest one day and came a across a recipe for laundry detergent that claimed it cost under $30 to make and would last a whole year. I was intrigued. I do a lot of laundry. At least two loads a day with a couple days off here and there. Seems that I am always lugging a big jug of Purex Naturals around. I talked it over with the hubs and we decided to go for it. If it is all that it claims then great! Here is the original post over at How does she? Which is a very cute blog if you are in the market for some entertaining reading and decorating ideas.


We bought all of our materials at Wal-mart! They were all grouped together in one section of the laundry aisle like that is exactly what they are there for!

Our materials ($23):
- One large canister of Purex Crystals (this adds scent and softens your clothes)
- 1 tub of Oxy Clean
- 1 large box of Borax
- 1 large box of Super Washing Soda
- 1 large box of Baking Soda (or you could use a bunch of the little boxes if you can't find this one)
- 2 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
- 1 good sized storage tub or bucket with a lid to mix and store your detergent



I had no idea Borax was so handy.

A few thoughts on laundry soap bars!
First, you have to grate your soap. This is the hardest part of this process but it really wasn't all that hard. I used the shredding attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer that is typically used for grating cheese. You can hand grate your soap or I have heard there are some food processors that make quick work of two bars of laundry soap as well. There are different types of laundry soap bars available but our Wal-mart only carried Fels-Naptha. I know that our Cracker Barrel carries a castile soap (I think it is called Ken's) that is supposed to be a little more skin sensitive but my boys have sensitive skin and they have been fine with the Fels-Naptha. I have also read about people using Ivory soap bars. You would probably need to use a lot of those little bars. The recipe I looked off of uses Zote soap but I had no idea where to look for that. Plus, this had to be convenient for me to make and not me running all over town looking for soap for it to be worth it for me. I have also read some different thoughts on the amounts of laundry soap bars. I found that the two large bars are plenty for us but if you are doing heavier duty laundry it wouldn't hurt to throw in another bar.
 A nice big pile of shredded cheese, I mean soap!
 Get your tub or bucket and begin layering your ingredients a little at a time. That way when you mix it you have a head start on it already being integrated. Now get a hubby or someone with good strong arms to mix up your batch O' laundry detergent. (I am sure I could've handled it but I want him to feel included.)
 A nice close up of the goods.
 We tore off the label of the Purex Crystals bottle and filled it up. This is what I keep handy to use everyday. I have the tub sitting close by for refills when needed.
 The kicker: you only need 1 - 2 Tablespoons of this detergent! Seriously, that is all you need. It measures out in the cap of the bottle perfectly.
 This is my water with my new awesome soap all dissolved in it. Yep, we are old school here. We still have a top loader WITH an agitator. There will not be any suds. That is why it is safe to use with those fancy energy efficient front loaders!
THE VERDICT:
I have used this detergent exclusively for over two months. It has not disappointed! That is why I waited so long to blog about it. I wanted to make sure it stood up to many different types of laundry needs. It actually got out a large amount of blood on a towel! We came upon a roll over accident one evening. The driver was bleeding from a few gashes and I had given her a beach towel out of our car. I figured I was going to have to toss it. It all came out! I couldn't believe it.

The scent of the detergent is light and clean. Most of the time I don't even need dryer sheets. The hub's polyester work uniforms seem to generate a lot of static so I throw in my handy dandy reusable dryer sheet with those. (I soaked a hand towel in liquid fabric softener and laid it out to dry.Throw it in the dryer with wet clothes. Don't wash it. Use it until its softening power runs out. It lasted for TWO WHOLE MONTHS!) Supposedly, this homemade laundry detergent is safe enough for sensitive baby skin. I haven't tested that out but I will have the opportunity in a couple months! I just recently had to refill my Purex bottle so I can see where this will most likely last us a long time. I am not sure about the whole year but it will be interesting to see how far it does get me. I was buying these huge bottles of liquid detergent every month and a half. I figure if it gets me through 6 months (which I have no doubts that it won't) it is worth it.

A little hesitant to try it still? Get a few friends together to split the cost of the first batch and divide that baby up! Plus, you'll get help grating those laundry soap bars!

UPDATE: See how much we liked our first batch of laundry detergent and how long it lasted our family here!

Where have I been in October and November?

Oh my word! I haven't blogged in months. I have become one of those people who once had a blog. Things have been busy around here though. The hubs got a new job and was gone away to training for 6 weeks. I actually thought that would give me MORE time to blog. Boy, I was wrong. When you become a single parent you do twice the work. I had to do Halloween alone for the first time and Gavin's first parent teacher conference! Look at my cute little werewolf and my skeleton baby!

Now he is home and working away at his new job. So far so good! I love my man in a uniform.
(That shadow at the bottom is Gavin's! Isn't that adorable?)
 
Little man had his 6th birthday!
 
 I can't believe he is 6!


I have also been busy growing this little baby in my belly.

Let me tell you, this is hard work! He is doing great and we are trying to use our last few weekends left preparing for his arrival in early February. We have cleaned out the kids bedrooms in preparations of moving them together so the baby can have a room to himself. This weekend we began painting over the purple in Kylee's rooms to a more gender friendly aqua blue. Gavin has a nice tall captain's bed with drawers under it. We are going to store the drawers and slide Kylee's bed under it to give them room to play. We borrowed a trundle bed from my Grandma and this will hopefully work out great. We are also hoping this is temporary and that we can sell our house this spring! This house just isn't big enough for four people. Even if three of them are little people. Seems that our little people have more stuff than us big people.

Now it is Christmas time! I know this month is going to blow right by me. Especially with working full time, the weekends have become the most precious 48 hours. I have to make the most of my time when all I want to do is relax in my pjs and watch my belly dance with that tiny little acrobat inside! And watch a ton of Christmas movies, of course. We started right after Halloween too! I am totally into Christmas this year. We had the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf this year! Meet Jingle Bells!

 
He is an ornery little guy. While it is fun to pose him around, I don't think the kids are behaving any better with his watchful eyes around. Maybe I will remember to do a full on Jingle Bells post with all his antics on down the December road.
 
I had planned on getting on here to update everyone on this awesome homemade laundry detergent I have been using for a couple months. When I saw how long it had been since I posted last I thought I should do a little update! So await with anticipation on that. I am actually quite happy with it!
 
Love,
B



9/03/2012

Olive Vinyl Ottoman Redo


I have this hideous olive green ottoman (circa 1962?) for about seven years awaiting me to recover it. I did a pretty half hearted Google search to try and actually figure out just how old this ottoman is. I was met with words like "vintage", "mid century", and "retro" and no actual date. It has been moved around and stored a few times. My royal pregnant-ness was feeling the need for a foot propping aid. Luckily (but not really), one of my favorite fabric stores is closing. I got remnant upholstery fabric and batting super cheap at 60% off of the tagged price.  I kind of winged it on how much fabric I needed and just crossed my fingers.

Materials:
-ugly old ottoman ($2)
-batting (doubled over) ($2)
-upholstery fabric ($3)
-staple gun and lots-O-staples (on hand)
 I laid out the doubled over batting and started pulling it tight and stapling at opposite sides. Luckily my ottoman has a nice wooden bottom.

 I continued doing this until it was nice and smooth. I stapled one side then pulled taut and stapled directed across from it.


Something like 50 staples later it looked like this.

I trimmed the extra away.

Then I had a huge marshmallow and almost considered leaving it like this. Not really, dog hair sticks to batting like crazy.
Yay! Cheapo fabric!

I did the exact same process with the fabric. I totally lucked out with having enough fabric.

Stage 1 of stapling. I was going for a smoother look than what I got but I kind of like the pleated look I ended up with.

Marvelous! The whole process might have taken 20 minutes.

 Comfy stuff. Prego piggies and Jackson approved. No really, he was totally impressed. And just ignore the hideous entertainment center wire fest to the right. I am still trying to figure out an attractive solution to the whole Ode to the Television area.
 
Thanks for checking it out!
Love, B
 

8/23/2012

Transportation Backpack Tags

 
Our schedules change often. While I keep regular work hours my husbands vary. This presents a problem when school came around. We were fretting over how to keep it all straight not only for Gavin's teacher but also for Gavin! My husband had this brilliant idea of laminated tags that clip to his backpack that could be changed out as needed. Gosh, I love him. I jumped at the opportunity to make something. They were pretty easy if you have some simple computer skills and access to a laminator. I am sure that can be done at Staples pretty cheap or these self stick labels seem like they would work too.

 
I made these in Photoshop. I had Gavin help pick out pictures that would be significant to him. I love that he chose a picture of Mary Poppins for the babysitter badge! Then I made one just with lines so we could write on it with a marker if he was going to go home with a classmate or something one day. The hubby laminated them for me then punch the holes.


I purchased a key chain kit in the craft department at Walmart and threaded a ring and a clip on to each tag. Then I slid one of the rings to his handle of his backpack.

 
I clipped the unused tags onto the refrigerator for easy access. Aww, look Gavin's first photo in the hospital. *Sniff sniff tear

 
His teacher seemed really happy with our system! We went ahead and printed extras just in case one gets lost or damaged. Who knows what can happen by the end of the school year.
 
Thanks for checking it out!
Love, Brooke

8/22/2012

First Day of Kindergarten!

I can't believe it is the very first day of my little monster's school career. I am filled with emotions and doing my best not to cry. I actually did quite well at school. Gavin did amazing! He was so super excited to go to school. Daddy got up early to make him first day of school pancakes. How awesome is that? Then we had a photo session on the front porch.

 His very cool backpack! A snazzy embroidered name I put on at work.

We drove him to school and I got hugs and kisses and waves and "I love you, Mom!" and still managed to hold it together. When he hopped off the bus two hours later he was extremely happy. Had a color page to show me. He was filled with stories of new friends and funny songs. He keeps singing "Hickety pickety bumble bee who can say their name for me?!" First day was a success. Now tomorrow I have to put him on the bus and drive off to work and not see him until I pick him up from the sitter. That may be the toughie.

Here is a little something I whipped up in Photoshop. I hope I can remember to do this every year!
There should be some sort of kindergarten parent support group meeting after they leave us.
 He is the one frantically waving good bye!
 
I know he will do great in kindergarten. This is just the first little step in becoming an independent wonderful part of the human race. He will do great things with his life. Mama will always be proud of him. I am lucky to be his mama. Love you Gavin!

8/12/2012

What is up?

Do you ever get to a point in your life where you feel like you have lost yourself? I have been feeling this way and it is making me miserable. I haven't been making anything. I had lost the want to be creative. I haven't picked up a crochet hook in months and miss blogging. It is branching into other parts of my life as well. I never want to cook, my house is a mess, I hardly ever see my extended family and never see my friends, I never feel pretty. Every morning I have to bargain with myself to get out of bed, put my feet on the floor, and get ready for work. Things have been stressful at home and work. Six months at this job and I have never found a good balance between the two. Two days off from work is not nearly enough to accomplish everything I need to do. If we haven't already made plans, it is tough to find the gumption to remove myself from the couch. Is this just depression? I don't know but this hopeless feeling has got to go.

I have so much to be happy about. We are pregnant again! While I am excited about the baby, this pregnancy has been rough. I spent weeks feeling queasy and exhausted. I feel like I have lost familiarity with my body. I am beginning to not fit in some of my clothes. Unfortunately, being overweight, it takes me a while to look pregnant and not just chubbier. Today I am 14 weeks, making it my 2nd trimester! I am hopeful for increased energy. I need it. There is a lot to do before baby comes. We need to get our house ready to put on the market, sell it and find something a little bigger for our growing family.
I am struggling with the steps to gain my sense of self back. Where do I begin?

Love,
Brooke

6/02/2012

My 31st Birthday Part 2



The best part of a birthday is the excuse to get together with friends and family. I am blessed with some amazing people in my life. It will never be under appreciated when people make time in their busy schedules to be a part of my life.

After a long day at the St. Louis Zoo and some time in the pool, we had an appetite for something wonderful for dinner! We went to The Melting Pot in University City. We shared laughs and conversation over melted cheesy and chocolate goodness. It was a wonderful dinner. It is pricey but there is something special about it. Just once, go and enjoy yourself. Take a bunch of friends with you too.
Our little family. The kids loved The Melting Pot!

 My sister Ashley and her hubby AJ. I am so glad that they both could make it! I haven't ever seen AJ so excited!

And through the steamy fog: My best friends, Reid and Jessica Torbeck.
Thanks to all of you for making my birthday so incredibly special. I felt very loved.

We all took home a box of chocolate covered straberries that were unbelievable. Yay for The Melting Pot!

The next day we planned to go to the St. Louis Arch. Unfortunately it was crazy cloudy, cold and slightly drizzly. We nixed it. Not wanting the fun to stop, we went stopped for mini golf and go carts in Collinsville, IL.


This is after she lost her ball. Attitudes went downhill quickly after that.
 Well, not Gavin's. He is always pretty happy.
I won mini golf....like always.

..but lost the race.

It was a great birthday weekend. We had a fun time as a family. I have some really special friends and sister.

5/28/2012

Gypsy Caravan St. Louis Road Trip

Today we traveled I-55 to St. Louis to celebrate a day off from work together. Nothing like a beautiful day and a little road trip to make a little family memories.

Destination: St. Louis, MO.
Objective: Gypsy Caravan. \
Soundtrack: XM 90's on 9 and John Mayer's new album Born and Raised

This is my third Gypsy Caravan and the boys' first. I was a little nervous that they wouldn't enjoy it since it was technically shopping. They loved it though! Winner winner!

 Gypsy Caravan is a flea market/craft/antique fair that raises money for the STL Symphony. It is held every year on Memorial Day. This year there was a large increase in vendors, from what I could tell. It had expanded into additional lots of the University of Missouri St. Louis campus. They had also doubled the entrance fee from $5 to $10. I was a little put off by the doubling increase and from the talk around the Caravan so were the patrons (and the vendors). I had been prepared for the increase since I checked the website the night before. For a patron that hadn't I would have been pretty mad about it. That aside, it is a nice little open air shopping experience.


My personal favorite being the handcrafted vendors that sit at home in their little "studios" sewing, gluing, stirring, and molding little wonderful treasures. Conveniently, they put all these nifty little vendors together on one strip of walk way. As you jump from one carefully thought out and planned booth to another, you see a little piece of each individual in every item they make, each unique display and every neat little hang tag.

I also love the shabby chic upcycled furniture and home decor. The fun of searching for treasures in the antique booths and digging through costume jewelry for that one unique item. The beautiful handcrafted jewelry that are so different in each booth. My favorite items I saw were recycled typewriter keys made into necklaces and rings.

Stick em' up!

Cooling off in the open fire hydrant.

I tried to get a soaking wet smile but he was just too distracted with having fun.

A tigers blood icee to round to make the walk back to the car a little more enjoyable.

On the way home we stopped by The Pink Elephant Antique mall at Livingston, IL. It was, unfortunately, closed but we got to see some fun things anyway. That half naked man is 24 feet tall by the way. I was curious. I thought you might be too.

Lots of HUGE and ODD things like a space ship. It was green. Gavin was smitten.

 ..a big pink elephant...
..an enormous tricycle...
...and a rather large ice cream cone that you can buy ice cream from. (It was open.)
Gavi actually took this picture. Look! I am actually in a photo!

Tomorrow, I will share my treasures I brought home.