Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Make Laundry Detergent

We've been counting every penny since I quit my library job and looking for big and small ways to cut corners. One thing I spend a lot of money on is laundry detergent. Between cloth diapering and the insane amount of clothes worn and shed by two adults and two children, I'm going through gallons of the stuff. I always buy non-toxic, environmentally friendly detergent and those aren't cheap.

So when I came across this age-old, very basic recipe for detergent, I had to try it. There are lots of homemade detergent recipes out there (see the link list below) and unfortunately, from what I've read, most of them won't work on cloth diapers unless you're only using all cotton (and I'm not). So it looks like I'll continue to buy Sun and Earth for the diapers and use the homemade stuff for everything else. At least I'll only be purchasing laundry detergent a few times a year now.

For a basic detergent recipe here's what you'll need:

Washing Soda


Natural Castile Soap (I prefer Kirk's Castile soap, but you could use Dr. Bronner's or a bar of homemade castile soap)


Using a cheese grater, shred one bar (approximately 2 cups) of Castile Soap.

Mix shredded soap with 1 Cup of Borax and 1 Cup of Washing Soda.

Pour powdered detergent into a container that holds at least 4 cups. I used an old bee pollen container.

To wash, use 1-2 tablespoons of detergent depending on your preference. I use 2 tablespoons per load. By the way, this is a perfect low-suds detergent for HE machines.

If you feel like experimenting, try some of these recipes for homemade laundry soap:

Tipnut has 10 recipes and lots of tips.

Want to make liquid laundry detergent? Here's a step-by-step tutorial with pictures.

Here's a recipe for liquid detergent using Fels-Naptha.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny from Small Things for another Wednesday Yarn Along...

On the Needles: Kate Davies's Owlet Sweater. I love her designs, and her patterns are so well-written. This will be my third time making this sweater (and in the exact same color). Between moving and adjusting to life with two kids, I've not made much progress. This is normally a quick knit, taking maybe a week at the most. However, I've been (hardly) working on the body for over a month now.

From the Bookshelf: A couple of bird field guides. We've been having fun identifying all the bird species coming to our feeders and on the property. So far the most exotic bird we've seen is a Scarlet Tanager.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Eight years ago today...

I married the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary, Sweet T! I love you!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Columbia Trail

To our family weekends are for hiking. So this past Saturday we tracked down a trail close to our house.

Screw GPS, we prefer getting lost the old school way...

We began the Columbia Trail in High Bridge, New Jersey. Even though it's a much better bicycle trail, there are several trail off-shoots that lead to the Raritan River and Solitude Falls, and you could never get there by bike.


There were also quite a few of these trail side gnome homes that you might miss if you weren't walking.

Hiking and nature exploring is Seamus's favorite kind of fun, and on this hike we couldn't help but notice how much Vivian seemed to enjoy it as well. She was completely silent for the first half of the hike and kept leaning back in her baby carrier to stare up at the trees.

We drove home on old country roads with windows down and came home tired and sweaty. I rolled out the pizza dough I'd made the day before and used the leftover tomato sauce cooked up earlier in the week, and we had a great little pizza for dinner. Then we stayed up late watching a creature feature. It was the perfect kind of Saturday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Saturday...

The Saturday before Father's Day we were driving down our road and almost home when we spotted this happening in a field...

We found a little side access road, parked the car, rolled the windows down, and watched...

Once home, we could see the balloons floating over our house and hear the burners firing.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Home (again)

More scenes from around our new place...

Baby bunnies abound...

Two different types of Wild Raspberries. I think the fuzzy ones might be yellow when ripe. Anyone know?



Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird...

Downtown Clinton, just a few miles from our home...

Driving around our neighborhood at sunset...

Bull Thistle...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Make Insect Repellent

Now that we live in one of the most tick infested places in the world, I've been a total neurotic mama about keeping my kiddos tick-free. Seriously, New Jersey has one of the highest rates of Lyme Disease in the country and our county has the highest rate in New Jersey. That coupled with the fact that we had an unseasonably warm winter and many of the ticks and tick eggs didn't die off, means our yard is a haven for ticks (and mosquitoes).

Since there's no way I'm putting DEET on my babies, I scoured the internet looking for all-natural insect repellents. I've made a soy oil based mosquito repellent before that worked wonders, but I wasn't sure it would work for ticks.

As it turns out there's a very simple repellent you can make that will work for both. Ticks and mosquitoes detest the rose geranium scent. With that in mind I looked for recipes using this essential oil.

For a spray that can be used on clothing and skin (but not on the face):

Mix 4 ounces of Witch Hazel


25 drops of Rose Geranium Essential Oil.

For a repellent that can be rubbed into the skin:

Mix 2 Tbsp. of Sweet Almond Oil


25 drops of Rose Geranium Essential Oil

Shake well and apply a dime sized amount to skin (a little goes a long way).

For pets, a couple of drops of Rose Geranium Oil on a cloth collar will repel ticks.

Check out this article for more ideas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We're settling in to our new home...

Sorry for the long blog absence; we only got internet yesterday. Now I look forward to catching up with everyone. Come back for more pictures later in the week.
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