Easy and Quick Homemade Laundry Detergent

This stuff is the bomb. It’s all we’ve used for over a year! It’s very close to this recipe and this recipe, both by Jillee, on one of my favorite blogs ever, One Good Thing By Jillee. I just have a slightly different method, so I thought I would share how I do it and how it’s worked for us!

Starts off with three super simple ingredients. Borax, Washing Soda, and Dawn dish soap. If you read through all the comments on Jillee’s posts, you can see that it’s pretty much ok to use any brand dish soap, or liquid soap such as Castile, so it is very versatile and customizable. I chose this because I love the grease fighting power of Dawn, and the Thai Dragon Fruit scented one smells great. 🙂

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The center container is my 20 Mule Team Borax, which you can usually find in the laundry aisle, or online. The original box looks like this. 

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Because our laundry load with just two adults is a lot less than your average family of four, I discovered I didn’t need to make as much at a time, and living in an apartment, smaller bottles are good for storage. I repurposed a couple of empty 38 ounce plastic ketchup bottles. 

I’ve had best results making this in small batches myself, but you could probably double it and only do it once to save time. I use my smallest saucepan, and add:

3 tablespoons Borax
3 tablespoons Washing Soda
1 cup water 

Stir, set over medium low heat and bring to easy boil. The mixture will be cloudy at first, but will clear up as it boils. This should only take a couple minutes. Once it is all clear and no longer cloudy, remove from heat. Add some cool water to bring the temperature down, and pour into your bottle. Fill with water until nearly full, then add 2 tablespoons liquid soap, (adding the soap last helps avoid bubble overflow) cap, and shake to combine. Repeat for second bottle!
You may choose to simply throw your dry ingredients into the bottle, add hot tap water and shake it up, but personally, I’ve never gotten all the powder to dissolve that way.  This will separate a little, so just give it a good shake before you use it. You do have to be careful not to over boil it in the stovetop method though, I did that once and when I went to use it, I had a solidified chunk of cleaning agents at the bottom of a bottle of water. Ha ha.

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This lasts us for at least a month usually. Since it has much less water, it’s more concentrated, and therefore you can use less per load. I don’t even measure anymore, I just squeeze in a couple shots, but 1/4 cup per load should be the general guideline. 

Now, how well does is work? Very well! While our laundry doesn’t come out with a strong ‘dragon fruit’ sent, it always comes out looking and smelling clean. We’ve used it on sweaty clothes, dirty cleaning rags, cloth napkins, puppy accidents, kitty accidents, the blanket out of the dog crate that was left in there way too long with a stinky indoor-outdoor pooch sleeping on it every night, and more, and all of those nasty smelly things have come out of the laundry without a hint of their previous lives! 

 

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Box Of Sunshine

A good friend of mine spent a few days in the hospital last week, and I wanted to give her something simple to let her know I was thinking of her. I don’t know where the idea originated, but of course, I came across it on Pinterest. A collection of happy yellow things put together to form a ‘Box of Sunshine’ and delivered to anyone needing a pick-me-up. No two are the same, and as far as I can tell, there are no rules besides the theme of ‘yellow.’

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So this is mine. Nothing too fancy. I bought more yellow trinkets than would fit in the box I had, so I saved those as a jumpstart on the next one. Here is some of what I tucked in this one.

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My girl is a candy girl, so I knew I would include no shortage of sugary and sour goods. She’s also a busy, working momma, so I included some bright nail polish and some cute floral pedicure toe separators, so she can have a little pampering, if even for a moment. And who doesn’t love gum, cute buttons, kleenex, and chapstick? I didn’t get it in the photo, but I even made a yellow chapstick keychain, like I have on Etsy!

It was easy, quick and fun to put together, and it cost less than a bouquet of flowers. I was going to use some of the adorable printables Karrie made for hers over at Happy Money Saver, but alas, today had to be the day the printer ran out of ink! So I just used some scrapbooking stickers I had on hand. Easy peasy.

As for deciding what to use, I just browsed through Walmart, looking for anything yellow that I knew my friend would enjoy. I love how easily customizable it is for anyone! And, knowing it brightened someone’s day is priceless in my book. 🙂

Let me know if you try one! I would love to see how you did it.

Adding Length to a Too Short Dress

Isn’t this the cutest little dress ever?! I scored it for pennies on the dollar when my bestie and I discovered this ah-mazing Goodwill Outlet Store. It’s one of those places you have to see to believe. From what I understand, they take all the stuff that doesn’t sell at all the normal Goodwill stores in the area (I’m pretty sure it includes most of Minnesota, as well as parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota) and bring it here to sell. By The Pound. Seriously. So they take these boxes the size of a smart car, empty them out on to about eight ginormous tables, and then you just start digging! We would grab whatever we thought we might want and toss it in our cart for later review. When the cart got full we sorted through it, tried on what we could in public (yeah, the downside is no fitting rooms) and put anything we decided against back out on the tables. All in all, I spent about $30. When I got home I tried everything on, pulled off all the original Goodwill tags, and sent everything to the washing machine! I added up all the tags then, and it totaled something around $130. From the already cheap Goodwill prices!! And a couple of things still had actual NEW tags on them. I didn’t get anything grungy or ghetto or stained or dirty. Obviously those things were there, but it was easy enough for me to find a TON of stuff that was super nice. This dress is from The Limited, and from the looks of it, it had never been worn before me 🙂 And a perfect fit!! Look at that! Pretty amazing. It’s only flaw was in length… but I was able to fix that – yay!
What I did was pretty simple. I wanted to add my length in the middle of the original dress, rather than just to the very bottom, so I went around slowly and cut off about an inch and a half first. Then I cut my contrast, which ended up being two layers, muslin and lace, into long, 4 inch wide strips, and sewed them onto the dress. Then all I had to do was line everything up and sew the original hem back on! I tried to make sure the side seams matched up. I didn’t do it perfectly, but I was only off by like half an inch on one side! There was quite a lot of pinning involved in the whole process, but it really only took an afternoon. I’m quite happy with the results.
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Bonus – I even got the dear husband to participate in the blog here as photographer, and only slightly begrudgingly 😉
PicMonkey Collage

Super Easy (and practically FREE) DIY Cocktail Shaker…. And Perfectly Simple Summer Margarita Recipe, With Printable!

Now, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been around here much, we’re not really the most…upscale of all people. We’re more likely to grab a beer or pour some rum in our coke than to whip up some fancy-smancy cocktails. So a cocktail shaker is not something we’ve ever even looked into buying….until I discovered this perfect margarita recipe! It’s so easy – especially when compared to getting out the blender, remembering to buy more frozen strawberries, crushing ice, trying to guess how much tequila to triple sec you should use, and making a new batch of simple syrup each time! All you need to do is pour in 3 ingredients and shake it up. So, I started looking around for a real shaker then, and while I  know it’s probably not that big of a deal to find one somewhere, and they’re probable not that expensive, they seemed like it to me at the time. I think I like what I came up with just fine! So instead of dropping thirty bucks on another gadget to clutter my kitchen, I reused something I already had, and as a bonus, saved it from being tossed into the recycling bin. That’s something that always makes me happy!

Check it out!! 
It was so easy. Step one, polish off a jar of queso. (thanks Hunny!) 
Step two, peel off the label and scrub clean. Something abrasive like Comet or baking soda helps with this part. 
Step three, take your lid(s, I did two!) outside and give them a couple coats of spray paint! I did red and teal cause that matches my kitchen 🙂 Let them dry at least overnight. I wasn’t sure how the paint would do in contact with liquid, especially liquid I was going to be drinking, so I let mine dry two days I think. So far it’s been excellent. 
Step four – Make a margarita!! 

As I gathered up everything for this and took it outside for photos, I couldn’t help but think what a fun gift this would be!! Print out a few different margarita or tequila recipes on card stock, tuck it all in a basket, and ta-da! Hostess gift? Happy summer gift? Who needs a reason! Anyone would love it 🙂

Spring Furniture Redos!

I’ve got this little idea in my head that maybe the reason I don’t blog as much as I should is because when I do, I over-do. I know I tend to be the person who overcomplicates things in general anyway, so maybe I’ve carried that over to blog-land. So I’m gonna try and keep this one nice and simple! Short and sweet! Less is more!

I wanted to share a couple pretty cute furniture redo’s I finished a while back, when we had a short break between snowstorms and April showers. It was so nice to be outside! I even got to don a tshirt for a little bit. We had a few days where we got into the high 60’s, but I don’t think we ever reached the ideal ‘sunny and 75!’ Now we’re stuck inside again. High’s barely above freezing, and rain mixed with snow. For like 3 days!! Ughhhh. Talk about California dreamin’……

Anyway! I’m doing it again, aren’t I? too much talky talk. Down to business!

Here’s my first victim…. Mwahahaha

 

Previously it was in my bedroom housing a fair amount of clothing.. But when we moved to our current apartment, there was a ton of storage room in our bathroom and when all those clothes got relocated, this little dresser came to live in the kitchen! It’s great for holding all that mismatched tupperware, saved spaghetti jars that I just know have a new life coming, and a bunch of other stuff. It’s actually my spice cabinet right now too!

I really wanted to use chalk paint, but 1) I was too inpatient to order online, and 2) I probably wouldn’t have spent the money on it right now anyway. But I had read about making your own using Plaster Of Paris, which I just happened to have an old box of! Yay!

Mixed it up, 3 tablespoons to 1 cup of paint, barely sanded my piece, wiped it down for dust, and slapped this on! It dried super fast. I did two coats in less than an hour I think. I did sand just a little bit between coats, but I probably didn’t really need to. I let it dry a good 18 hours or so, then decided it was too shiny and orange-y, so I kinda…colorwashed it, I think. I just mixed a drop of black acrylic craft paint with some water and wiped it on with a rag. I kinda just made it up as I went along. I added a couple coats of wax, and ta-da! I think it turned out pretty nice! 

  
I didn’t even add new knobs – those are the same ones it had, I just gave them a quick painting with some ‘oil rubbed bronze’ spray paint and voila! This adds so much storage to my kitchen. I love it!
On to victim number two…

 

Just a homely little bookshelf that I picked up off the curb when our neighbors moved out last summer. It’s made a great entry-way storage solution, storing bags, purses, shoes, tools, and, I’ve made great space saving use of the top as my ironing board lately!

I used the same paint, except I added a few drops of my black paint before I used it this time – it made the perfect color when finished – without all the extra work (and slight streakiness) of the whole color wash ordeal! (Not that I’m complaining, it was pretty fun 🙂 I did three coats, some light sanding, and a couple layers of wax, and ta-da again!

 

Not the best pictures, but you get the idea. It’s pretty, functional, and really durable! I’ve slid some heavy wooden boxes around on the bottom shelf, and it hasn’t scratched or rubbed the paint off at all! Woot woot! 🙂

Thanks for checking it out!

How I Manage Our Household Budget

Hello again!

I must apologize for my absence for the past few weeks! I’m so sorry. I have many ‘reasons’ but I’m sure if I started listing them they would sound much more like ‘excuses,’ so, what it really boils down to is being unmotivated laziness. Sure, I’ve been busy doing other things, but if I weren’t so lazy after those things, we would have had blog posts every day!

So what have I been up to? Well I’ve been sewing a little, painting some furniture, sorting through my closet in an attempt to simplify my wardrobe, working of course, and, drumroll please…. I finally worked out a bill payment/income/savings system that WORKS! I love it!!

I’ve tried other people’s methods and systems and printables before, but nothing ever seemed to work just right for us. So far the best system I had going was tacking the paper bills to a bulletin board in the order they were due. Which was logical… except for all the bills that we don’t get paper statement for! We had a couple set up to auto-pay, and the rest we just tried our best to remember. Not exactly  fail proof. So when I came across a link to this printable on Thirty Handmade Days, I was excited. ‘Maybe this is the one‘ I thought to myself, Ted Mosby style. (Side note, I’ve been on a HIMYM binge lately too) So I printed ‘er out and started penciling it in. Only to find, sadly, that it was not perfect for me 😦 wah wah wah. While it is awesome for a TON of people, it just didn’t work quite right for our needs. I loved the idea that it was on on one page in a simple, easy summary, but I realized I needed just a little more detail on mine. I also love the spending records in the packet, but wanted to see if I could incorporate them both into a one-sheet deal. I couldn’t. But I do love what I came up with… after several trial and errors – Check it out!

Two Page Month-at-a-glance Downloadable

And speaking of trial and error – I hope this works for you to download! This is my first time sharing a document, so I hope I’ve done it right. You’d think an hour of googling would pay off… Ha ha

Why is this the perfect system for us?
First off, I wanted to keep better track of exactly how much we’re making. With my house cleaning work, there are many variables, so even when I estimate what I should have coming in, sometimes someone is sick, or on vacation, or has extra cleaning or organizing to be done, so my income changes up or down accordingly. I wanted to be able to see exactly where we had extra income, and exactly where that money was being spent. So at the beginning of the month, I look at my work schedule and fill in the Expected Income box. Then I record every check I deposit, as well as any (however small) etsy sales (cause that’s not takin’ off yet!) on the Income Ledger portion below, and keep a running total on the far right. That way, at the end of the month, it’s super simple to copy all income into the Actual Income box back at the top.

As for the bills section, I listed them in order that they are generally due, but because the due date and amount changes on some, I left those columns blank so I can write in the specific date and amount when I get the statement, either in the mail or online. I also left enough room in the Paid column to record payment confirmation numbers if needed.

I didn’t include credit cards in the regular bill lineup, mainly because I had a different format in mind. I wanted to clearly see our progress in paying them off, so I needed room for starting balance, recording payments, and more than one a month, if possible (I try to send some of that extra income here) and of course the ending balance. I did include a section for new charges, although with the goal of paying all our debt off, it’s not a category I plan on using unless there is an emergency. (and no, ice cream and beer do not count as emergency purchases! Ha ha)

As for the Spending Ledger…..I have to admit, it’s a category I’ve got mixed feelings about. I did want to try the cash envelope system, but my husband wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was, so I came up with this. And I have to say, the thought of saving all receipts and copying them down when I get home does discourage impulse buying!! And we can see exactly what we’re wasting money on, assess what we need to change, and do it!

So that’s why I love my new system! Hopefully it works for you too, or at the very least inspires you to find what does. Thanks for stopping by!