Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homemade: Laundry Soap

My first homemade project this summer was laundry soap. It was cheap and easy to make. All the ingredients were available at Woodman's, and I hear you can get them at Jewel and WalMart, too. One website I read said that it costs just $.05 per load to use! The true test was whether it cleaned my laundry well, and so far, I've gotten good results. We use cold water for most of our loads, and our clothes have been coming out nice and clean, even the extra-dirty little boy duds.

First, gather your ingredients and utensils, and arrange them attractively on your work surface.

Grate your bar soap. I chose Fels Naptha, though I understand you can use plain Ivory soap, or any other old-fashioned laundry bar soap. Be prepared to sneeze a bit from flying soap powder.

Enlist the aid of any toddler passing by and looking for something to do.

Add one cup borax...

...and one cup washing soda. Light a candle for that "Little House on the Prairie" feel.

The instructions say to mix for 5 minutes. I'm not sure why so long. I mixed for about 3 1/2 minutes and took pictures for the other 1 1/2 minutes.

My helper stopped by to mix a little, too.

Store in a container. Use your cute label maker, if you have one. Masking tape and a Sharpie work well, too.

Use 1 Tablespoon powder per regular load. Use more for extra large loads or heavily soiled clothes. I understand this is a low-sudsing detergent, so you can even use it in those beautiful high-efficiency washers I so admire. Let me know if you try it and how you like it!


This summer, I have some grand plans to make a bunch of everyday things from scratch. Mostly foods, but also household items. Why? To save a little money. To eat a little healthier. And just to say I've done it. Here's my (ambitious) list:

Strawberry freezer jam
Blueberry freezer jam
Grape jelly
Peanut butter
Artisan bread
Laundry soap
This apron

I'll probably keep adding to the list and my project will extend into the fall. I've already tried the laundry soap and will write a separate blog post about that...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dairy Breakfast

"The cow is of the bovine ilk.

One end is moo,

the other, milk."

- Ogden Nash

This Saturday, our family went to a Dairy Breakfast at a farm in Hampshire. It was a wonderful morning, and the kids really enjoyed themselves.
We enjoyed a delicious country breakfast of pancakes, sausage, fruit, cheese, milk, coffee...

...and ice cream!

There was farm equipment to explore.

I believe this huge machine is called a silage cutter. I know these things because I have a boy now.

And, of course, there were cows!

"Mama! MOOOO!!!"

The kids even had a chance to milk a cow! I think this breakfast is going to be an annual tradition for our family!

Yummy Summer-Themed Snack

Hannah found this snack recipe in her American Girl magazine and begged for me to try it. It was devoured in just a few minutes!

S'more Mix

Unwrap 3 chocolate bars and break into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix with 4 cups graham-cracker cereal and 2 cups mini marshmallows.

That's it! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thirty Years, or "I Can't Possibly Be THAT Old!"

One of the highly detail-minded members of my high school class' Facebook page noted yesterday that our commencement ceremony was held exactly thirty years ago.

Go ahead, do the math. I'll wait... Yeah, evidently I'm THAT old!

Anyway, in honor of this significant anniversary, I headed to the basement and dug up a few photos of the event...

Receiving my diploma from our pricipal.

With my parents after the ceremony. (Sorry, Mom, but I do NOT miss the fashions of the early 80s!)

With some high school friends. L to R: Lynda DiStefano (who went on to study communicative disorders at Boston College); Gina Picerno (who studied voice at New England Conservatory); Susan Chen (who studied clarinet at University of Rhode Island); me (studied violin performance at URI); Diana (Dee) Wells (studied equine studies at Johnson and Wales College).

My Dad got a little artsy with this commencement-themed still life.

A few nights eariler, my friends Dee, Gina and I had a portrait taken at Senior Prom.

Our reunion will be held in October - I'm looking forward to attending!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook - June 6th

Outside my window... the rising sun is a hazy, reddish-orange ball - the beginning of a hot, sticky day. As usual, we went from "early spring" to "mid-summer" in a matter of about a week or so.

I am thinking... about what I'm going to pack for our lunch for an end-of-school-year picnic this afternoon at the park with friends.

I am thankful for... the beginning of summer vacation!

I am wearing... denim shorts, tee shirt with lady bugs on it (pictures, not actual insects!), old pink rubber flip flops.

I am going... to the Wilton tent sale this evening for my annual stock-up on baking supplies.

I am creating... yet another weekly menu plan. This never gets easier, no matter how many times I do it. Also, trying to finish my knitted Swiffer mop cover, but I'm stuck - gotta get some help.

I am currently reading... (still) Surprised By Joy by CS Lewis. It's not a fast read, but it's a good read.

I am hoping... to try making homemade cheese with the kids soon!

I am hearing... birds. Lots and lots of birds. The word "cacophony" comes to mind.

In the kitchen... my purchases from my first super-couponing trip last week. Ingredients for some homemade versions of everyday foods. A new crockpot cookbook from the library with some great recipes to try (The Busy Mom's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Jyl Steinback).

Around the house... just the typical Moday morning mess after a busy, fun weekend. There seem to be an awful lot of flip flops and damp beach towels lying around these days!

One of my favorite things... those first days of summer vacation. So much time, so many plans! A most welcome break from the extreme busy-ness of the last few weeks of school.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Abbie and Rachel start a ceramics class this week. Baking Amish Friendship Bread on Friday. MUST make haircut appointments for the kids! Quiet weekend with nothing planned! Picked up The Soloist on DVD from the library for Al and me to watch some evening.

I won't share a single picture here - I have many to share from the past couple of weeks...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Look What I Found... Goodwill last week! Brand new with tags still on ($39.99 price tag!), fits like it was made for me!