18 March 2012

spring break wrap-up

Today is my last day of spring break. And it's been a wonderful week. Last weekend, I was a little worried as rain and cooler temperatures were in the forecast all week. But true to Texas weather patterns, it only sprinkled once or twice, and a few days even were a bit too warm for mid-March. But the sun felt wonderful on my pale skin. I wore short sleeves and flip flops, and I only opened my make-up bag to dig out mascara and bronzer on the days that requried leaving the house for more than The Home Depot.

My time was spent well. I was intentional in connecting with friends, whether in person or by phone. I had coffee and lunch and dinner and a pedicure and drinks and good conversation. These days were full of thankfulness for my friends. Even though I missed seeing a few during the week, I've made plans to connect with them soon.

I was productive in the yard. I worked our flower beds. Raked the final oak leaves from our front yard. Pulled up no less than 30 baby oak trees, and I feel certain that a dozen more have popped up. Bought a new container of fire ant killer. Used the new container of fire ant killer, which brings me great joy. Bought a rotary spreader and fertilizer for our grass. Used the rotary spreader, which brings me great joy. Planted baby lettuces and herbs, which brings me great joy.

On Wednesday, I made a trip to Goodwill. I've been on the hunt for a desk chair, as our current chair has wheels on the bottom, and it's only a matter of time before it ruins the carpet. I found a chair a Goodwill and decided that I would try my hand at upholstering. I have absolutely no idea how to upholster, but I decided it'd be a good and (relatively) easy project. In fact, as I eyed the chair in the store, a sweet lady came to me to tell me that I had to buy the chair. Then she proceded to tell me how much fabric I'd need for the project, along with other tips. This attracted another shopper who shared her ideas. It was a fun day thrifting! I hope to post the project soon. It might be a couple of weeks before it's all done, though.

I convinced Husby to take off work on Friday. We had a lazy morning. Earlier in the week, I decided to try savory oatmeal. I loved it so much that I was dying to make it for him. It's definitely a new favorite! After brunch, we headed to a local park to walk through the nature trails. It was so nice to be outside and together. He's gone back to school to get his CPA, so our quality time has suffered over the past months.

I feel certain that I could be a stay-at-home dog-and-cat-mom for at least another week. But it's back to work tomorrow. Routine will be nice. I'm implementing a new house cleaning strategy this week, so I'll report back on that soon.

Here's to 9-ish more weeks of school until summer!

17 March 2012

homemade laundry powder

For forever, I bought liquid laundry detergent. I thought I liked better than powdered detergent; sometimes the powdered stuff didn't dissolve well. When we moved into our new house, I decided that instead of buying jug after jug of liquid detergent, I'd buy powdered detergent to pour in a big glass container that sits on the dryer. Functional and cute. Two of my favorite things. (Actually, just one. Cute supersedes functional at pretty much every level.)

Recently, I've been on a homemade kick. I want to learn to can vegetables. I want to learn to sew. I want to plant a garden. All of these require learning a skill (and some patience) for gratification. To avoid waiting for a result or learning patience, I decided to try my hand at making laundry detergent. Even before Pinterest, I started researching DIY laundry soap. I found recipes that make 10 gallons of clumpy liquid soaps. First off, I don't need 10 gallons of soap. I don't have a vat sitting around to make that much detergent.  And then there's the clumpy part: gross. I knew that the liquid stuff wouldn't be for me. Since I'd gotten reacquainted with powdered detergent, I began researching that area.

I combined a couple of different "recipes" for homemade laundry powder. I really like the results. My whites are bright, and my towels are fluffy. Two signs that it's doing a good job. Also, instead of fabric softener, I use distilled white vinegar.

Homemade Laundry Powder
1 bar Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
1 box (55 oz) Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 box (76 oz) 20 Mule Team Borax
1 small container (32 oz) Clorox Oxi Magic (bleach-free)
4 lbs Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
4 "shakes" (~10 drops) of essential oil, optional

Using a food processor, grate Fels-Naptha Bar Soap; also, have blade in place at bottom to make smaller crumbles of soap. In a large bowl or bucket, mix all powders, and then add grated soap. At this point, you can stop; add 4 good shakes of essential oil and stir again. I chose to process mine a bit further to have a really fine laundry powder. I wanted to be sure it dissolved well. I ran small batches back through my food processor, and then added essential oil.

*I use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on a small, medium or large load. (I saved the scoop that came in the Oxi Magic.)
*If my math is correct, this laundry powder will get me through 120 loads. The ingredients cost me $16. A box of laundry powder at this cost would normally clean about 80 loads.
*If you can't find Fels-Naptha, you can use Ivory, Zote or castile soap.
*I'm sure you can substitute other brands of ingredients. I found all of mine, except for baking soda, on the laundry aisle. Just look on the bottom shelves.
*There is a debate about the toxicity of borax. I did appropriate research and found that it LARGE amounts it can be toxic to rats. Since I only use 1-3 tablespoons per load, depending on the size of my load, I feel that the clothes are sufficiently rinsed of borax. Also, borax does not contain boric acid, which is toxic.
* This soap doesn't suds. Soap (laundry, hand soap, etc) has a foaming agent added. Although we don't have an HE washer, I've read that this soap works well with those machines.
*Next time I make it, I'll do it outside. Running powder through a food processor creates quite a bit of dust.