Saturday, June 30, 2012

Homemade Fabreeze

Last weekend, when my husband was getting ready for his retreat weekend, I was getting things around the house ready for guests.   Midway through my hustle and bustle cleaning I ran out of fabreze.  I love fabreze I might add.  Especially the Gain scented kind.  I am one of those weirdos they show on the commercial digging my nose into the couch and carpet inhaling the scent.   Well... after a number of blogs went on about the adverse effects of fabreze, let alone the price of what you pay for basically scented water... I decided to look into what I had seen all over Pinterest... homemade Fabreze!  And wouldn't you know... it's AWESOME... and only costs about 10-15 cents per bottle.

So... here's what I did!  I took a spray bottle (any that you have around the house-- the empty fabreze bottle I had worked just fine), and filled it almost to the neck with water.  I added 2 teaspoons of baking soda (some recipes online call for up to two tablespoons-- but I found that any more that 2 teaspoons left white dots of baking soda residue on my dark brown couch) and a half capful of fabric softener (essential oil would also work wonders).  Then shake up and spray away!  It's long lasting and because I love the scent of Gain so much-- I of course had some fabric softener in the same scent in my laundry room.   Could not tell a difference between the fake stuff and the store bought.   I sit here in my fresh smelling living room quite pleased!

On to see what other household cleaners/smell good products I can make at home and save a few more pennies!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Clothesline Lust...

No... I'm not getting into writing Amish romantic fiction... but I do have a fine amount of clothesline lust.  Every load of the laundry monster I attack wash, I get almost angry when I have to dry it.  I have to heat my already hot house (it's scorching these days... with no rain we're setting into a fine draught down here) to dry my clothes when the sun is just taunting me outside with all it's free clothes drying energy.  And I don't want the turny, collapsable one... I want the old school, non-pulleyed simple clothesline.  Then maybe I will take up collecting cool clothespins.  Who knows.   It's been a back burner project.... I'd like to change that... but there's so much going on with trying to move the shop right now that it's likely to remain that way... at least through today's laundry pile.  I am taking my towels outside to dry on the back porch today though... that is definitely happening.  I will not pay to dry my towels today!  No sir.  

While mama's on the laundry warpath... I'm trying to convince my sons that they do not need a brand new towel every time they shower... that the one they used to dry their clean bodies off last night would work perfectly fine today!  To be quite honest, I probably have to teach myself this lesson as well.  I have an affection for fresh towels.  I may have become a towel hoarder.  I'm that girl at the hotel who wants new towels twice a day.  But my house is not a hotel!  And there is no maid service here!  So... we're also going to invest in some towel hooks in each of the bathrooms so that towels can be hung up instead of thrown on the floor in the hamper.  And with the magic of homemade fabreeze (have I shared this yet!?  If not-- get ready!  Tomorrow I will share the details!) the towels can smell as fresh as they did when they were washed!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Laundry... what can I say?  With three boys and a husband that is one thing we are never short of.  I wish I could say laundry was a concept I have mastered.... it's NOT.   I will spend a whole day getting it all sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away and say to myself "I will never let the laundry get that far behind again... and before I know it, I'm back it again.

So... I was faced with the laundry monster this weekend and as I began to win my battle, I ran out of detergent.  Well, I had bought the jumbo size detergent at Sam's Club about 3 months ago, so it was about time.  But I had promised myself that I wouldn't buy anymore laundry detergent after that one was gone-- so the time had officially come.  Time to make my own laundry detergent.

I'm far from the first person to try homemade laundry soap... after all, Tide hasn't always existed... but these new HE front loaders can be fickle when it comes to soaps.  So I always resisted... until I started reading about the portions via Pinterest and other homesteading blogs.  So I bought my ingredients today... and altogether paid about what I would have paid for my regular detergent.   But I'll easily be able to make 4 to 5 times the amount of detergent and use much less per load.

A very close friend of ours was over to have small group with my husband and a few other guys and eyed me working on my soapy project.  His reaction was "you really ARE a hippy"... I don't know what I think about this.  I guess if making your own stuff, being more conscious of my costs around the house makes me a hippy then  I will wear my hippy-ness with pride.  It just falls in line with our family philosophy of trying to simplify things and cut out unnecessary spending.   I didn't go on to tell the friend that I purchased new hand towels in an effort to reduce our use of paper towels in the house.  That may have really thrown him over the edge.  Haha.

So for the recipe I used-- I used a mix of two recipes I found online and doubled the batch:

2 bars Fels Naptha
2c Washing Soda
2c Borax
1c Oxi Clean

I found all of these in my local big box grocery store, and had I not opted for the larger size of Oxi Clean, they would have all been under $3.50 each-- the Fels Naptha was less than $1.  I began by grating the Fels Naptha bars.  I had read that the Fels Naptha bars were extremely dusty-- but mine were not at all.  They were very soap like-- so it grated like pale yellow cheese.   Then I added the Washing Soda next and then put them into my food processor to turn it all into a finer more powder like substance.  After that was done, I poured them into my container (another recycled jug from our protein shakes!) and mixed in my Borax and Oxi Clean.  I shook the whole thing up to mix and voila!  Homemade laundry soap which will cost on average 5 to 7 cents per load versus my name brand former detergent which was more like 15 to 20 cents per load (depending on if I remembered my coupon of course--which I hardly ever do!!).

I've read that the proper use of the detergent is about 1-2 Tbsp. per load... I'm going to start with 1 and see if that is enough.  I will update soon with my results!!

***UPDATE*** The first load using just 1 Tbsp did well... I upped the second load to two scoops and it's still washing-- so I'll check back in a bit when they are dried and let you know!

***UPDATE #2***  Two scoops it is.  I couldn't believe how clean one of my oldest son's shirts got... I thought those stains were set in.   Awesome!  So... using my handy little upcycled scoop from our fiber boost for our protein shakes (it's smaller than the scoops for the shakes-- closer to 1 Tbsp) two level scoops make my laundry sparkly and smelling very fresh without smelling perfumey!  Yay!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's a New Day...

"With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Moments...

Happy Birthday to my sweet cousin, Bobby.  Not many of us get the gift of seeing the world the way Bobby does... I love you, Bob.   I can't remember our family without you in it, and I wouldn't want to.

Garden Goodness...

We always say we'll get our garden planted before Memorial Day... we never do.  I know that doesn't make us the best farmers... but this year we also started quite a few plants indoors, so we should get a little bit of "homesteader credit", right?

We are excited for our garden this summer.  We are planting in an entirely new location this year, saving our usual spot for popcorn and pumpkins this year.   We are also trying to take advantage of summer and fall garden planting and staggering our vegetables so we have several harvesting seasons... plenty of canning opportunities!!
Baby Corn

Baby "Zootini" as my littlest calls it.

And what good is a night of garden tending without some good ol' fashioned worm catching?  

My littlest has no fear when it comes to wormies.  He decided this one didn't wiggle enough for his liking, so it got chucked into the weeds... sorry wormie.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Completely Spent

So... that's it.

I don't have many words right now.  It's been a very very very long, and amazing day.  A day filled with multiple affirmations about transitioning to the farm.  A day filled with hugs from new friends to the shop and old.  Just all around a good day.  I'm very tired.  I'm very emotional.  The Main Street shop is now officially closed.  I don't really know how to feel.   Happy, tired, excited, hopeful, sad.  All of the above.   Let me throw a quick shout out to Kristi, Deb, Teresa, and Ashley who knitted most the day away with me for my final World Wide Knit in Public Day in the shop.  I am so thankful for each of you!!  Ashley, my sweet and pregnant friend came early and stayed late and was my constant helper, getting me change, winding yarn and generally just helping me keep my train of thought on track.  I couldn't have survived today without you friend.

I know I mentioned earlier what an amazing gift giver the husband is... but he outdid himself this weekend...  I will close this post with a picture of me and my gift....

My very first Shepherdess Crook

Friday, June 8, 2012

And the AFTER...

Still not awesome... but SO much better.  Several bags of garbage and a whole lot of sorting later... and here we are...

As promised.... the BEFORE...

Yeah... yikes.  I know.  I've just been pushing things behind the desk for weeks now... it's gotten a bit out of hand.

Bittersweet Feelings and Putting My Head In the Sand

When things get to be too much for me to fix, I often find myself paralyzed.  I call it my "head in the sand complex".  It will last just long enough to build into an emergency, to which then I'll flurry through whatever the problem is, to find a solution to whatever urgent thing had been immobilizing me.  Growing up, some blamed this on procrastination... but as I've gotten older and much more familiar with over analyzing myself... I have found that it's not procrastination--"I'll do it later"-- as much as its complete inner shut down "I cannot do this".

This weekend is a culmination of many things.  I'm officially closing the shop tomorrow.  As excited as I am for the next season of my business, I'm startled at how sad I am to be leaving my sweet little shop.  I have felt completely overwhelmed by the thought of moving everything out that I haven't even started boxing things up.  Not. One. Thing.  This will bother me next week when I'm moving everything out... I will think to myself "Self, why didn't you box/throw away/sort this junk last week... you wouldn't have to be doing it now".  But I have not been able to.  I could give you all the reasons I've given myself this week... but they hold less water when I share them.  

I don't know if I am alone in this... but sometimes translating what I'm trying to do with our home, doesn't always reflect into my work life.  The simplification... the organic, sustainable, natural way of living, has somehow not fully translated into my transition with the shop.  Like I'm waiting for it to move here.  While I'm un-cluttering my life at home, I'm letting it remain cluttered at work out of whatever this is that shuts me down.   I realize this is not really a homesteading post... more of a self journal-- but I strive to record all of this homesteading venture and this is part of me transitioning... in all of its glorious messiness.

So today... I resolve to box up my desk.   I will let you, my anonymous blog readers, hold me accountable.  I will push through and try to diligently get that packed up so I don't have to do it next week.  I will. Does it sound like I'm trying to convince myself?  I so am.  But I will take a picture of the destruction before and after and post it here today.  Scout's honor.  No more head in the sand.  If I can simplify at home, I can do it at the shop.  I can pull my head from the sand and I can set myself up for success.  I can.  I will.  I promise.  More soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bye, bye broiler birds... Hello to 'The General'

So... It was time. Our broiler birds weren't really walking around... They had just gotten too big for their legs. I have mixed emotions about this breed. The husband and I haven't decided if we will raise them again for sure or not... The essence of chickens that grow quickly and produce good meat is good on paper... And we occasionally got them out to free range, so I feel that their short life was well lived... But they were notably a stinkier breed than our hens... They were not as friendly and there's something not quite in line with our whole sustainability pursuit with birds who can't reproduce naturally and who's lifespan is a fraction of that of a normal bird. Like I said, we haven't officially made up our minds... And we hold no position against anyone else who wants to raise birds this way... It is a personal decision.

Nonetheless, with the help of a dear friend, the husband learned the proper techniques of field dressing a chicken. We decided not to keep the whole bird intact, that way you don't have to worry about feathering it.

Also thanks to our friend, we gained a rooster. He so gallant and regal looking... We named him "The General"... He's so awesome. Our hens are not big enough for "rooster time"... A few more weeks yet until that... So we are slightly worried he will go crazy waiting for companionship. We have some ideas in mind... Building some nesting boxes in the pen so that we can purchase a few older hens for him. Then begin rotating them around as the hens are ready.

He has an amazing singing voice though! He woke us up at 5:30 on the dot... I have to admit that I was anticipating it all night and kept waking up through the night to listen for him. He did not disappoint. He seems to have a built in snooze function as well because he settled back down and started his cock-a-doodle-doo-ing around 7:15. I can't wait to have overnight guests! I don't know if they will be as excited as I am for their wake up call, but I love it. He's extraordinary! Something feels right about having a rooster!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

From home to home.

Courtesy of Erin Richardson Photography
I just got back from a quick trip to my homeland of Michigan.  Home of "HOMES" (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior-- the Great Lakes for those of you who don't show where you live by pointing to your palm).   It was a short, but sweet trip, made with my littlest boy.  My baby brother was getting married and it was time for a weekend-long celebration!  A lot was packed into the two and a half days we were there, but it was worth it.    It was so nice to see family and visit with old friends.  I even got to amend time a bit by getting a picture with my brother at his wedding, since somehow, 12 years ago, that was one of the photos we missed at mine.  Can't wait to see it!   Sidenote about the wedding:   Nothing is sweeter than my darling nephew in squeaker shoes, smiling at his daddy as he walked down the aisle.  *Darling*

I was anxious to get home though, I missed my older boys, and I definitely missed the husband... but I also missed the farm.   As we expand this homesteading venture, I wonder how I will ever be able to stay away.   I've fallen in love with this place I call home.   As I fed and watered the chickens and snuggled my bunnies and my boys, I couldn't help but be completely overwhelmed with thankfulness.   It's so good to be home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  ~ Albert Einstein