Self-inflicted Hiatus?

It’s been a while. I know. I keep thinking of things I want to write, investigate, get feedback on… and then life takes a bite, and swallows me whole and it is sink or swim. Facebook posts are quick, not posting anything is quicker yet.

But, as life busies, I feel my brain turning to mush, wondering how I ever was able to function in college, writing, studying, thinking? My goodness, I’m only 38 years old, I shouldn’t be feeling the decline of an aging mind. What I’m feeling is the stifling of a creative soul. The yearning for something different. For being busy with creativity, wellness, inspiration. Rather than the drone of a hamster-wheel, day blending into day, excitement extracted only from a crisis, a blip on the chaotic norm.

Nevermind that, we’re going on a roadtrip. Out east, as far as our over-sized van can take us. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York… off we go. Me saving money, me mapping the finances, me planning the trip, me reserving hotels (and contemplating a night’s sleep in the van)… it is working my brains and my nerves. And we leave soon. How soon I shall not say, as I’d rather not have my home burglarized (mwahahaha). Advice would be happily taken. Free, frugal stops – adored.


Homemade Deodorant? Still using it!!! Haven’t looked back. Pits are healthy are less smelly than when I wore regular deodorant. Yay. Mine’s a version of the common one thrown out there (cornstarch, coconut oil, baking soda). Less of the baking soda, some essential oils, and voila. Good stuff.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Challenge? Verdict still out. Two batches and numerous loads later, I was not entirely unconvinced. However, once our water softener broke down, it was impossible to use. We have really (REALLY) hard water. It is a shame.

Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Puree? Fabulous. Just fabulous. And you can freeze those loaves for future snacking. They freeze just dandy. I wrapped in foil, then put in a freezer bag, brought it out a month (or two) later and the kids were all, Yay, pumpkin bread — when did you make this? and I’m all – Twahahahha, you know your momma takes care of you, hel-lo? and not feeling too guilty about defrosting pumpkin bread. I mean, I did make it. Just not recently.

I found another bread recipe that I love-love-love-love and will share that puppy soon.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Challenge

I realize I have an obsession with laundry and laundry detergent. I’ve swung through so many phases of brand name, generic, homemade, eco-friendly… it is shameful. I don’t even want to dig up the archives that reference it. At this time I have a jug of Tide, Gain, Charlie’s Soap, Downy dryer sheets, Gain liquid softener, Ecos… So we will move forward (after one quick digression). The only recipe I could dig up from my archives was this:

Marthat’s Homemade Detergent
Here’s another laundry detergent recipe, sent in by Martha. I haven’t made it yet, but she tells me it’s easier than mine:
1 quart water (4 cups)
1/6 bar fels naptha or other soap grated as fine as possible (now I soak the cube for a week or two in a cup of water).
¼ washing soda
¼ borax
½ quart hot water
cold water
Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints of water, and heat on low until dissolved. (now I nuke it for 5-6 minutes in the microwave). Stir in Washing Soda and Borax (pop back in the microwave for a minute or two– but watch it as it does bubble up. I really don’t think this part is necessary if it is stirred real well.). Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 1 Gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with hot water, and mix well. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

I don’t know if it was “Marthat” or “Martha” but the recipe is what it is. At that time, I remember using a liquid version of homemade detergent. Since I’m not still using it, I’d have to say that I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. I still have the bucket that I kept that homemade glop in, though.

At any rate, I wanted to do a powder this time. Less hassle, easier to make and store. The internet has a gazillion recipes, and most of them are the same (Fels Naptha, Borax, Washing Soda). Same ingrediants, different ratios. I went with this one:

Homemade Laundry Powder
4c Fels Naptha (almost an entire bar of it, grated, you can use Kirk’s or Zote’s, too)
2c Borax
2c Washing Soda

Mix, store, use.

Simple to remember. I have a hunk of the bar leftover, though, so it isn’t the best ratio for complete usage. But I can store it and grate it for next time. I also didn’t use any scent in mine because, from my experience, the scent doesn’t stay anyway. So what’s the point in wasting it?

I had help in the grating. No, he’s not naked. He’s still in his shower towel, though. He insisted on helping to grate the soap, and stuck with it until the bitter end, something I am entirely grateful (get it – grateful?) for. When it came time to mix the two powders I had two “helpers” who wanted to get their hands in there. Lootie’s always one who likes to feel, and learns by touching. I am still amazed that he hasn’t had his hand completely burned off from Don’t touch the burners (touch). He’s just one of those kids.

grating away mixed and ready to use

I kept it in one of those plastic shoe boxes. You can see my scooper. You may also notice my empty wine glass in the background of these pictures…

The hard part of the whole laundry thing is figuring out how much to put in each load. With this ratio, I’ve read anywhere from 2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup. I’m still experimenting and will let you know how it works out for me. There’s a great post here from Frugal Upstate that breaks down the costs per load on homemade (using same formulation above) vs. Tide.

So here’s my challenge: I’m going to use my own homemade laundry detergent powder for two weeks (exclusively).

For what it is worth, I have an HE washer, top-loading (NEVER get a top-loader, I really don’t think it cleans that well), soft water.

I know it won’t be easy, at least not for me. I thoroughly enjoy my highly-scented detergents. I’m a scent driven person. If it weren’t laden with chemicals and didn’t skunk up my washer, dryer and clothes, I’d probably be one of those Tide/Downy people that you can smell across the room. In fact I have been, off and on. But the more I read about it, the less I like. And the more build-up I see on my washer and feel on my clothes, the more I steer away. But, I do fall off the wagon. My lust is severe. Hence the line-up of product I have sitting by my washer and dryer.

My routine for the next couple weeks will be my homemade detergent to wash the clothes, and vinegar to soften (I add this to the softener dispenser – this has been my main source of “softener” for quite some time when I’m not gucking it up with commercial softener, though sometimes I mix the two – don’t ask), bleach occasionally. We’ll see how it goes. Today was Day 1. I’ve got 13 more to go.

Day 1 observations: First observation is that it is really Day 2, since I threw a load in last night. But I need to stop. This isn’t all that technical. I’ve done a couple loads of darks, 1 white, 1 blankets/jacket. All have been fine as far as I’m concerned. Not much unlike Charlie’s Soap, really. I dug my nose in a few different items and they all smelled clean. I even plunged it in some pits. Take one for the team, I do. One bra still smelled faintly of Tide. None smelled like the bar of Fels-Naptha. None smelled like vinegar or the essential oils I put in my vinegar hoping they will smell of the oils. This is not new to me, but I’m letting you know about it. Why I keep wasting my EOs? Slow learner. My whites looks as dingy as they always have. I blame my washer for that. My 2nd load of darks that I removed from the dryer today were laden with static. Not sure why. Stay tuned.

Coldwashing Laundry

Day 8 of Nabloplomonoinon-whatever it is.

I’m enjoying the challenge (and reminder) to blog daily. But it is a chore, only because of my scatterbrained lifestyle.

Today I accomplished a lot, while seemingly accomplishing nothing. I don’t know how that works out, but I just know it makes sense to me. Although I did do load after load of laundry. I used my Tide Coldwater detergent. Have you used that? I wasn’t sure if it was all hype, or worth the extra money (less loads in same size bottle), but I felt compelled to give it a try. A girlfriend of mine uses it pretty much exclusively. I noticed that after going to her house a few times and only seeing 1 bottle of detergent: Tide Coldwater. I didn’t say anything to her about it. In fact, I felt like a weird-o snooping around her laundry room. Instead of asking, I just noted it in my head. And then told myself that I was trying it.

I read up on it one day, spending way too much time googling, and far less doing. Story of my life. Finally, though, I threw a load in. It seems to work just fine. I have no complaints and don’t notice a difference between my warm-water washing, and my washing with the TCW in cool/cold or cold/cold. I don’t wash the towels or underwear in it, though. Something about coldwashing those items doesn’t seem… right to me. I didn’t use it for my whites, either, because those I do wash in hotter water.

I really shouldn’t have such a wacky system for doing laundry, mirroring the same indecisiveness as other areas in my life. But I take my laundry seriously and have particular ways of doing it. I can get into that another time, though. Today I got to talking about the TCW – or is it CWT? Who knows. Or cares. If you’ve been to a store, you probably know what I’m talking about, and since I’m tired, we’ll just leave things as they are.

So today I washed some darks in some TCW and hung them out to dry. Beautiful, 60-degree Wisconsin weather in November. I couldn’t ask for much more, save for a bit more wind to dry my stuff faster. But I won’t complain. I did loads of blankets. Having the windows closed for a while now makes everything feel stuffy. I wish I could take all fabric items from my house, put them in a humongous washing contraption and hang them all out to dry, carpets included.

Line-hanging brings the freshness of outdoors in; I really do love it. My TCW-washed clothes and blankets smell and look fresh and clean. Bottom line, though, I don’t think I’ll be making TCW one of my staples. The jury is still out, since I haven’t really given coldwashing much of a try prior to picking up the TCW. Stay tuned.