Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Non Chemical All Purpose Cleaner

so I ran across this recipe (if you want to call it that) just at the right time.

You know--when you actually have the ingredients handy. We had gotten a bag of navel oranges from my mom, so as we ate them (they were yummy) we put the peels in a quart sized widemouthed jar.

When its full, cover them with plain white vinegar.

 Let them sit.  Directions said 2-3 weeks. I admit, I stopped at a week, as I was already dabbing in and using it with success. I had 3 quart jars, and you should turn them at least once a day. (I did 2 or 3 times a day.)  The vinegar pulls the orange oil from the skins.  To be honest, you couldn't even really smell the vinegar after the second day.
 Strained the liquid using a double layer of butter cloth. (cheese cloth used for cheese. Much finer weave. You could use regular cheesecloth, but I'd use 4-6 layers of it.)
This is what it looks like when done. (this is a half gallon jar).  I have read that some people 50/50 this with distilled water and put in a spray bottle.  I might do this for my cabinets. But I'd still want to have access to it at full strength to clean things like my stove. (look below)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Frugal Laundry Soap

As I continue to try to find ways to save money and live healthier, I've looked at the cleaners in my life. I've learned to make my own, homemade soap, made it into liquid soap (another blog to come up soon!) use baking soda and vinegar in myriad ways. (newest favorite use? Vinegar as fabric softener.)

There are a few cleaners that I'm working on ridding myself of.  Toothpaste is high on the list, but I know I won't shift my family from their traditional usage.  Floor cleaner is another.  But a few days ago, I tackled laundry soap.  Since I do the bulk of the laundry, this showed promise.

I've known for a couple of years that to make laundry soap, I would need borax.  Looked in hardware stores, grocery stores, etc. and hadn't been able to find it until recently.

There are a few recipes out there, and after reading and patching together, this is what I came up with:

1c. Borax
1c. Washing Soda (can't find it? read this tutorial here on how to make it!)
1 bar of soap, shredded (not beauty bar. Fels naptha is an excellent choice, Ivory would be--though I'm personally allergic.) between 5-8 oz.
1/2 c. baking soda (not to be confused with washing soda)
another possibility that I found in a number of recipes that I didn't add, but you could, is a cup of Oxyclean. 

First, you are going to need to shred your soap. Use the fine side of a shredder. (Thank goodness I got a box shredder for Christmas!)
Now, I will also say, I made a double batch, and the second bar of soap was one of my homemade varieties. When I shredded it, it was a much moister, softer soap than the Fels-Naptha.  My mother had also told me, that the Fels-Naptha became popular during WWII because of its ability to wash in hard and salt waters. So for me, I feel more comfortable using half and half, than ALL homemade soap.)

Now, while Borax is NOT boric acid, it is caustic to your eyes.  It is also dusty, which I knew, but didn't take into consideration.

Please learn from my mistake, and even if you feel a bit foolish, wear eye protection.

I had put all the ingredients in my gallon glass jar, and started to mix it up--and flung some right in my eye.

Tip of the day:
If you have a pull out sprayer on your sink. pull it out, and flip it upsidedown. Turn the water on only slightly, enough so it bubbles up about an inch over where the water exits on cool, but not cold. This will allow you to use this as an eye wash.  Use for 5 minutes, blinking your eye slowly.  You may want to use eye drops after to return the salinity to your eye.

Some bloggers/creators suggest after shredding your soap, putting it through your blender.  I have to admit, I didn't like this idea.  It's only soap. I get that. So what I did instead was use my immersion blender that I use for making soap.  I wouldn't let it run continuously, but would shimmy it around and work in pulses.  The shaft of my comes off, so in future batches, I'm going to cut off the top of a soda bottle, fit it on the shaft to create a sort of splash guard over the top of the jar as it can kick up dust if you aren't careful.

The result is safe to use in front loading HE washers, and takes 2 tablespoons. I use an old medicine cup to measure out the soap. (I think the scoops from powdered lemonade, etc would work as well.)

The laundry came out of the drier smelling like I had hung them out on the line--beautifully fresh, and soft and clean.  Bonus too, my washer, which can sometimes smell a bit mildewy also smelled clean!

I've heard cost breakdowns between 3-5 cents a load. Since half my soap is homemade, that would go down, and when I run out of bought washing soda, I'll make my own--which costs about 1/2 of what you would buy it for, even less still.

The last note is in all my reading, I have heard this soap is very hypo allergenic, so it can replace baby laundry soap and be used for people who have other soap allergies. (of course, this probably wouldn't be true for everyone...but in general a good thing to know!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Re-utilizing old sheets

Today's quick tip is based on something that happened in my home today.  When we got up this morning, my husband asks me to look at the foot of the bed.

There, in the fitted sheet, is a huge hole. (A toe must've caught and ripped it.)

I admit, these were my favorite sheets.  Cranberry red flannel.

Well, the top sheet is still good, so no worries there, but the bottom sheet was ruined.  I start to take it off, and realize I have a good 2-3 yards of nice red flannel. So I cut out the hole, and cut off all the elastic edges so I'm left with a large piece. (After washing, of course!)

Ideas of what to do with it:
* cut into squares with pinking shears and use to decorate the tops of canning jars I give away.
*there's enough material to make a nice flannel skirt.
* cut into pieces for dust rags.
*cut it down, hem and make a dresser scarf.
*cut into strips, braid and make a braided rug.

Well you get the idea.  If you have any more ideas, add them in comments!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Homemade Baking Mix and Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

As many of you might know, I've been on a mission to purge as much 'fake' food out of my family's life, without giving up on things I really enjoy, or time savings.

One of those time savers is baking mix. You know, comes in a big yellow box.  The kids really like it, because they use it all the time to make pancakes.  I like its flexibility.

I do NOT however, like the gazillion ingredients I can't pronounce.

However, this Christmas, I got a recipe book that included a 'homemade baking mix'.

Played with it a bit (it was a very large batch!)

and this is what came of it:

4 1/2 c. all purpose flour (I use unbleached)
2 tbsp. baking powder (I slightly heap them)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening

In a bowl (or if you're time-oriented like me, a kitchen aide mixer) cut shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container.

That's it!  It can be stored for _8_ months on the shelf.  I found a great way to mark this. Write the 'use by' date in wet erase marker. It doesn't wipe off, but will wash off when you put it through the dishwasher!

Now of course, this is only as good as what it makes.

Tonight, I had the opportunity to try this out, and made a batch of garlic cheddar biscuits.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Incredibly light and fluffy. Tasty beyond belief.
The recipe? insanely easy.

2 c. baking mix
1 c. buttermilk (a new staple in my house!)
1/3 c. shredded cheddar
1 tsp. garlic powder.

Drop on ungreased pan and bake 8-10 minutes at 450*.

4 ingredients, no chemicals, and amazing taste.