Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DIY A Year's Worth of Dry Laundry Detergent for $60 + Review

9/9/14 UPDATE: I made half a batch of this soap and we ran out within 2 months. We used more than the 2 tablespoons per load recommended. I think we were using at least 4 so we used twice as much. Meaning this should have lasted 4 months instead of 2. I think 2 tablespoons might be too little so we are meeting in the middle and decided to use 3 tablespoons and see how far it stretches out this next round. Yet and still, we do a lot of laundry in our home and were averaging at least $35 a month between commercial soap and fabric softener. Even at 2 months we are averaging about $15 a month which is a huge savings. Also, our old washing machine broke down on us. So we purchased a new LG High Efficiency Top Loader from Home Depot, which washes our clothes much better. Will provide another update when the second batch runs out.

A YEARS worth of Laundry Soap? Yeah right! Although the idea sounds awesome in theory, it was hard for me to get my mind wrapped around the concept! But I have been more than curious about the “dry” version of homemade laundry detergent that so many people are raving about. I've always wanted to try it so while I was on stay-cation this month, I figured it was a good time to give it a try. So I did!

I got the recipe from Liz Marie's blog, where she not only claims this is the most amazing soap ever, but also that it really did last her a year! WOW!

I continued to do my own research online and took the time to look up each of these ingredients to see how effective they are in cleaning laundry. When I was done with my research I was actually shocked at what I had discovered.  Reading all the materials on the ingredients for homemade laundry detergent made me feel confident to use it in my own home because I think any of these ingredients on their own would clean our clothes efficiently but when you add them all together they make an incredibly efficient detergent with maximum cleaning power for all types of water. And it's safe to use in standard machines or HE machines! YAY!

So here is what you will need:

Although you may be able to find these items in your local store, I prefer to take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership at every chance possible. Not only was I able to get these items with free shipping, some of them were at an incredibly low price as add-on items.

To start out, I grated the bars of soap. You are more than welcome to use a food processor but I decided to be all domesticalistic and do it using an old cheese grater I had in the kitchen. I would offer one tip though if you decide to use your food processor to “grate” your soap: add something else to the bowl to aid in the process like a cup of the Oxiclean to each bar when you process it. It will help the blades do their job better.
ANOTHER TIP: This makes a LOT of soap. So I found the easiest way to mix everything up was to toss it into a garbage bag, tie it off and toss it.  Now you have a boatload of soap they say that it will last a family of four at least a year.

Be sure to store your soap in air-tight containers. I picked up a couple of THESE from Amazon. I love that it has 4-locks.

When using the detergent, you'll want to start your washing machine, let it fill up a little with water, and then add your 2-3 tablespoons of detergent before adding your clothes. Keep in mind that this detergent will not suds up or bubble, but it will get your clothes so clean you won't believe your eyes. And with the Downy Unstopables, my clothes are smelling cleaner and better than they ever have before.

It can also be used in HE machines because it has no sudsing agent. If you have a high-efficiency machine, be sure to mix the detergent with a little hot water before adding to your machine's dispenser.

SIDE NOTE: We are a family of two...well, three if you count our puppy, Kai. I personally think we go through more than your average laundry because I wash everything all of the time, so I am not expecting this batch to last a full year. But based on my initial use and recommended amount of 2 tablespoons per load, it's going to last us a good long time.

{photo via askannamoseley.com}

I will do my best to check back in with you at a later date to update you on how long the detergent is lasting. If you have DIY'd your own detergent or are joining the bandwagon and are going to give this a try, please comment and let me know about your experience! 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Step 4: I'm Not a Girl {Babygirl's Room Design: DIY String Pendant Lamp + Macrame Ombre Lamp Cord | Part 1}

Hey there! We are so incredibly excited to have the walls painted. Initially, we were going to stencil a cool design behind the bed but my lovely babygirl changed her mind. Since turning 13, I have noticed that her mind changes quite a bit and that I need to exercise more flexibility than I usually do! Ah.... teenage parenting... so fun!

(for a list of our upcoming projects, click HERE)

Where were we? Oh yeah, the walls. So now that the walls are pretty, the next project we moved forward on was installing a pendant lamp in the corner where her armchair will eventually go. The first idea was to DIY a feather pendant lamp. However, we are on a budget and buying the ostrich feathers for a lamp was turning out to be quite cost prohibitive. So we scoured the internet and babygirl settled on another super cool but more economical lamp project... a String Pendant Lamp. YIPPEE! I loved this idea so much. Plus we had 90% of EVERYTHING to make this project in our home. So the cost = $ LOW!

A while back we both fell in love with a string light fixture that we saw in the window display of Anthro, so this was a perfect opportunity to bring that design into our home.

What you'll need for the string pendant:

We went with a beach ball because Babygirl didn't want a really large lamp, but I have seen DIYers who have used exercise balls (36" round). You can go smaller or larger than what we are doing. It's totally up to you and what fits into and looks best in your space.

1. Inflate the beach ball and, taking your Sharpie, draw a circle a little larger than the size of your lightbulb. It doesn't need to be perfect. This is where you will insert your cord kit. We drew our circle around the air valve to make it easy to hang and to make it easy to deflate later. Next, you want to rub vaseline all over the rest of the beach ball. This prevents the string from adhering to the beach ball when it's time to deflate it.

2. Hang the ball so that it's not touching anything. (We tied a string to the air valve on the beach ball and hung it from a spare closet rod between two folding chairs. I also HIGHLY SUGGEST covering your work surface with newspaper or a drop cloth or old sheet to protect it. The old sheet we used had decoupage glaze all over it by the time we finished.

 3. We didn't really measure out the glue mixture. Basically you want to pour the entire bottle of Mod Podge into a mixing bowl, add a handful of cornstarch and then slowly add water until you get the consistency of coffee cream. VOILA! So profesh, right?

4. This project definitely takes two to tango - even if you have it hanging. To get started, you want to pull out a length of string from your yarn ball and tape the end of the string near the top of the ball just inside the circle you drew. We will cut this away later. Now place the rest of the yarn ball directly into your glue mixture.

5. Starting the design can be a little tricky, but once you get going, it's simple and fun. I recommend getting your fingers a little wet with the Mod Podge to get started. Ultimately, you want the yarn to have a cool, chaotic look. But to get started, I recommend doing a bunch of vertical wraps until you feel like things are pretty secure. Don't be afraid to pull tight into the beach ball a bit.

6. Babygirl and I each took an assignment: I held the beach ball still, while she wrapped as intentionally chaotic as she wanted to. After all this was her lamp so it needed to be her creation.

7. She took a step back several times to gauge how it looked. You don't want to under-do this, but you don't want to over-do it either. At some point you'll hit the sweet spot and you'll know it. That, or your back will be so tired and your hands will be so sticky that you'll cry uncle and conveniently be at a happy stopping point. You know either way.
8.Let it dry a full 24 hours. I periodically checked it for "soft spots", re-coated those areas with a foam brush and gave it another 24 hours after that. It is worth making sure all of the yarn is really good and hard.

WOO HOO! We can't wait for this to dry so we can hang this bad boy! Next up we will be creating an ombre lamp cord to hang this awesome lamp. I know you want to see the finished project, dontcha? Yeah you do... so to quote the Beverly Hillbilies... "Y'all come back and see us now, ya hear?


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Making No-Pectin Fig Jam

Not too sweet. Beautifully fruity and earthy. Delightful on toast. Perfect with cheese or spread on a turkey sandwich.

We're talking about fig jam, peeps! Fig jam is sort of a curious thing–not at all what I usually expect in a jam but everything I never knew I wanted. 

Some of you may know, I have a huge fig tree in my backyard that is ripe with plump juicy figs. In fact, they are ripening so fast that I have just as many figs on the ground as I do in the tree! Picking the figs has been an interesting task, to say the least. The birds in my neighborhood LOVE figs, apparently. Hey, God provides for the birds, too. And boy are they loving it. So, I as I head out to the fig tree a few days ago, ladder in tow, a black bird decided it was offended by my presence. I mean, how dare I pick figs off my own tree! Mr. Black Bird perched himself on my roof and commenced to cawing as loudly as he could. Was he yelling at me? Was he warning the other birds in the area that the human has approached? Who knows.

As I climb the ladder into the tree, I see this:
Fig after fig totally picked over by the birds. And what they picked on that wasn't still hanging on the tree had fallen to the ground. BOO! 

I made the mistake in assuming I was going to have figs aplenty for fig jam. Alas, more than half the figs were already picked over by the birds. I was able to get a nice bowl full and with more figs ripening, I am making it my business to get out there and pick the next batch a little sooner so the birds don't get them all.

I retreated back to my house, bowl of figs in hand, and proceeded to wash them and make my first ever batch of fig jam.


  • 1½ pounds fresh figs, stemmed and quartered 
  • ⅔ cup sugar (adjust as necessary for desired sweetness) 
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon 
  • 3 Tbsp. sherry (may substitute with water) 
  • pinch salt 
  • splash vanilla extract 

In a large bowl, stir figs, sugar, zest, juice, sherry (or water), and salt to combine. Let macerate for 30-45 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large pot and set over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to cook until mixture has thickened, 20-30 minutes.

If you like a chunkier jam, use a pastry blender or potato masher to cut up the fruit a bit. If you like a smoother jam, let mixture cool slightly then process in a food processor until desired consistency is achieved. Stir in vanilla. Once jam has cooled to room temperature, store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

This figgy jam is perfect for basting ham or roast turkey. I've even contemplated it with brie en croute. Mmm mmm good!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Step 3: I'm Not a Girl {Babygirl's Room Design: Painting Over Dark Paint}

Hey everyone! We are moving right along with babygirl's room design. Now that we have our gameplan determined and we planned out the space, it was time to tackle our first order of business... painting her walls.

(for a list of our upcoming projects, click HERE)

When we first viewed our new home, babygirl was really excited about the room that would become hers. It was larger than any previous room she had and she loved the vaulted ceilings, wooden floors and white ceiling fan. But the wall color! GAH! A friend of mine said it looked like Mystery Mix flavored Now and Laters! She was right. (Unfortunately, I searched for a photo of this popular 80s candy, but alas there are none. If someone finds one, I'd love it if you would send it my way.)

This is what I was faced with.... (pray for me)
HIDEOUS! The green-yellow is even more shocking in person and the eggplant purple... well.... let's just say my daughter was speechless. She is never speechless. So it was time to find the right color. We took a quick trip to Home Depot and picked up a sample can of Behr flat paint in Green Aqua.
{because her life isn't complete unless she stamps her room with her favorite word... don't ask}

We learned a few things. The color was too light. And, while I knew I needed primer for the purple wall, I found I might need one as well for the chartreuse, baby poop colored walls as well. YUK! So back to Home Depot we went, where I consulted with the guy in the paint department {Can I just add that I always get the most amazing help from the employees at Home Depot}. From there we learned we could purchase a quart of Kilz Premium Primer to cover the purple and probably be fine with a paint and primer in one by Behr, tinted in the color of choice.

The guy at Home Depot was so awesome. When babygirl told him she thought her sample was too light but that the next color on the paint card was too dark, he offered to tint her paint a color that falls somewhere between the two. She was so thrilled.

So back home the work commenced. What a job. The vaulted ceilings in our rooms reach 15 feet high. I had to stand near the top of the ladder. Vertigo anyone? Soooo scary! But being the trooper that I am, I said my prayers and got the job done for my kiddo. 
WHOA! One coat of primer on that purple wall and look at the difference! I was geeked. and then...

FAIL REPORT: I stepped in the paint tray filled with green aqua gooeyness in my bare feet... and then Kai decided he should copy me. So I spent the next 25 minutes washing my feet and scrubbing paw prints and foot prints off of the floor before it dried completely. Yeah... I blame that word DERP that Babygirl painted on the wall. 

Moving along, the paint and primer all in one by Behr covered the walls splendidly.
The new color was looking a little bit drab but as I continued making my way around the room, I realized that the coloring was affected by the reflection of that neon yellow-green. The end result is quite pretty. Check it out.
YAY! Feels so good to have this done. Babygirl is so in love with it that when she saw her room she literally jumped up and down smiling saying,  "Mom is looks sooooo good!" My mission is complete! 

(Oh don't you worry, those curtains are going soon!)

Next up we DIY a string pendant lamp and ombre macrame lamp cord. Hope you will follow along.