Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent without Borax - Repost

I am still scratching my head as to how one of my most popular posts disappeared. I really enjoyed the comments that were shared with it, as well. I didn't realize laundry detergent could spark some interesting conversations.

Some people had commented on the cost of a bottle of Dr. Bronner's castile soap. First off, you don't have to use Dr. Bronner's brand if you can find a cheaper castile soap. Second, the initial investment may seem costly, but this stuff lasts forever. I have had my current bottle for months and it still has quite a bit in it. I also use it to make a multipurpose cleaner and when I mop. I have discovered that the cheapest place to purchase it in my area is actually Whole Foods, which I must admit surprised me. It was even cheaper than ordering it through Amazon.

 I would like to note that I have been using this recipe for homemade laundry detergent for some time now and I am pleased with the results. In fact, I am about to mix up another batch this weekend. Since it does not contain any stabilizers, the mixture may become lumpy, especially in cold weather. You can either gently warm it up or give it a light shake to evenly distribute and use it chunks and all. The chunks will dissolve in the wash.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 1/2 Cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Baking Soda
  • 3/4 Cup Castile Soap ( I use Dr. Bronner's unscented baby mild)
  • 20-40 drops essential oil, such as lavender, geranium, or your favorite scent
  • 2 gallons water
You will also need a two gallon bucket, empty containers, and a funnel.

Pour the super washing soda into the two gallon bucket  and cover with hot tap water. Stir to dissolve. Add the baking soda. Once dissolved, fill the bucket to the top with water. Add the castile soap. Stir to mix in the soap. I just use my hands, but a large spoon would do. Add essential oils. Pour into bottle(s) using the funnel.

Use 1/3 cup per standard load.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Things You Can Live Without

I've finally picked up the book No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan, and started reading it. It is an entertaining read and Beavan brings up some thought provoking points. Every one of us can, and should, decrease our impact on our environment, but how far can we take it? What can we live without to lower that impact? Over the past 3-4 years, as I have worked to build a financially secure life for me and my boys, I have learned a thing or two about what is necessity and what our family can live without. I also know it takes continued tweaking to refine this simple life of ours.

My goals are twofold: 1. lower our impact on the environment. 2. Build a simple life that allows more time for being a family together. Both of these work beautifully together. The bottom line for achieving both goals is to buy/own less stuff. Economically, environmentally, and, yeah, spiritually, it makes sense for my family and the life I am building to think carefully about where our money goes, how much stuff we bring into our lives, and how much of it is disposable or stuff that actually enriches our lives for the long haul.

In case you haven't read my last post, I recently ditched my microwave. But there are other things that are in the typical household that you won't find in mine either.

Paper Towels

The ex loved using paper towels. I used to tell him he needed to plant a forest for all the trees he was killing off. I used to buy a roll of recycled towels every now and then to keep on hand, but eventually found myself no longer using them at all. We dry our hands on a hand towel. I have plenty of reusable rags for large clean up jobs and washing windows. It is a small expense off our grocery budget as well. 

If you would like to make your own reusable paper towels there are many tutorials out there, including this one. You can also purchase them through Etsy vendors.


My students, and some adults, freak out when I tell them I don't have a TV, and haven't had one in years! These days it is easy to watch a movie on the computer or tablet. We do subscribe to Netflix. But my kids aren't exposed to all those exploitative commercials selling the latest gadgets and cereal jam packed with sugar. We also aren't sitting in front of a screen for hours. One of the common questions I get asked is what do we do if we don't have TV. I have to laugh at this one. Uhm, read a book. Go outside. Move your body and/or your mind. I have four children (two grown) who love to read and who appreciate the outdoors. My youngest son couldn't think of anything to put on his Christmas list this past December because he hadn't been inundated with what he should want. He just turned six. I think this is amazing and good.

A Cabinet Full of Toxic Chemicals

The cleaning and laundry isle at the grocery store is full of items sold to make our homes sparkle and our laundry smell fresh. But the truth is they often contain ingredients that are harmful and are packaged in throw away containers that pile up in the landfill. Plus, you don't need five different kinds of cleaners to keep your home clean. I mainly use one cleaner I mix up in a reusable spray bottle consisting of a few squirts of castile soap and 10-20 drops of essential oils. Lately I have been using cinnamon, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary oils. I use this on the kitchen counters, bathroom sinks, even in the toilet. As for my laundry, I have been mixing up my own borax free laundry detergent for some time now. 

*Note* I can not link to my post for the laundry detergent because it has been deleted and/or lost in cyberspace. Not sure why or how, but I will put it up on the blog again when I can. 

Coffee Filters/ Disposable Coffee Cups

This includes cups obtained through stops at your local Starbucks. I make my own coffee using a coffee press, no filters needed, and drink in my favorite coffee mug before I even leave the house. Sometimes I will fill a glass jar with coffee and warm it up at work. My go to travel mug needs replaced, so there is no consuming on the go right now, but I have gotten into the relaxing routine of getting up early and savoring my coffee before the rush to get out the door happens. It's a much better way to set the day than by juggling hot coffee on the way to work and spilling it on my lap. My compute these days is only a short 7 minutes anyhow. 

There are other things I just have never seen the necessity in, like dryer sheets for instance, and plastic water bottles. And there are things I don't use often. Disposable razors are one of them. I rarely shave. My legs get neglected all winter. Then there are the things I may have to get used to going without, like my dryer that is on it's last bit of life. It is going on 14 years old and when it dies I'm not sure I am gong to replace it. I have my clothes line. I'll just have to readjust how I do laundry. Now, the washer is another thing. If it dies, it is getting replaced...somehow. 

My point is, you can live a simpler life and there are many things you just chuck into your cart that you can live without if you just think it through for a moment. That list of things may be different for you than it is for me and my family, but it is important to take the time to eliminate these things from your life to make room for a simpler, happier, less cluttered life and decrease your impact on our beautiful planet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Aak, I've been hacked? Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe Gone!

It is with some alarm that I discovered my blog page for homemade laundry detergent is gone!!! When you click on the link it says the page doesn't exist. One of my most popular posts ever, and poof! Has anyone else ever had this happen with blogger? Have I been hacked? I will re-post when I have the time, but I am disheartened. Where did it go? It was still live yesterday. Since this little blog is a gathering of my thoughts and not a major money generator, I haven't backed up my posts, but I guess it's time...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Why I Ditched My Microwave

I had been mulling over getting rid of my microwave for some time when a friend gave me a convection oven. Having very little space in my kitchen, it was an either or position. Either I kept the microwave or ditched it for the convection oven. Here is why I chose the convection oven over the microwave:

More Control Over What We Eat.

I must confess. Our schedule has been very busy. Now that the spring soccer season has started, it has become even busier. It is really easy to slip into filling up the cart with convenience items out of the freezer section at the supermarket, but it is also unhealthy and more costly. Slipping back out of that habit isn't easy and I still tossed in a frozen pizza on my last grocery trip. But getting rid of the microwave provides a chance to take a step back and reassess our eating habits. 

Precooked convenience foods tend to have more sodium than home cooked meals. They also have mystery additives and preservatives that can make one feel like a biochemistry experiment. I avoid eating fast food for those reasons, so why did  I become dependent on prepackaged foods? Taking away the convenience of the microwave, I now can refocus on quality ingredients and pay attention to what I am feeding my family. Yes, it takes a little more time, but to me it is worth it, even when I am feeling zombie tired, which is often these days.

If you'd like to learn more about the biochemistry experiment going on with your food, read this: a-feast-of-engineering-whats-really-in-your-food

Disputed Long Term Health Effects

While the radiation given off from a microwave is touted as too low to pose any possible risk, it is a big unknown of what can happen over time with low level exposure. According to some sources, it is accumulative, meaning the longer and more often you use a microwave, the more detrimental the effects. It also appears to change the molecular make up of the food we eat and deplete vital nutrients. 

While trying to get to the bottom of this mystery of microwave safety, I discovered there is a lot of controversy, but I found an excellent article that outlines the way a microwave works and how it can be toxic to your health over time. Written by Dr. Mercola, the article gives scientific sources backing up his claims. 

Embracing Simplicity 

Every choice I have made since becoming a single parent has been about creating a peaceful home environment and simplifying our lives. While exchanging the microwave for a convection oven isn't really clearing any clutter, it does allow me to test out principles of tiny house living before I actually live it. With a small number of people in our household, it is becoming apparent that I can easily prepare our meals without a full size oven. A stove top, a refrigerator, and a convection oven are the only appliances I plan on having when I finally am able to own my small home. 

I have had to make some small changes in the way I cook since ditching the microwave. I think the main use for it was to heat water for tea or coffee or cook instant oatmeal. I purchased a tea kettle. Problem solved. There is something pleasant about putting the kettle on to boil and hearing it's gentle whistle when the water is ready. Even if it is a small change, it evokes larger change toward an unhurried lifestyle that allows time to savor my cup of coffee in the morning. 

Ultimately, getting rid of the microwave was one step toward creating a healthy, unhurried lifestyle for me and my family. I encourage you to consider it.