Saturday, April 13, 2013

Green Cleaning - DIY Laundry Detergent

This DIY cleaning series I've been planning on writing for the past couple of weeks has really been an eye opening experience for me. I've always been a closet label snob, I instinctively reach for the more expensive brands and have to force myself to buy value brands of things, like shredded cheese and butter. In my opinion, some cheaper products just aren't right, like bread and ketchup; but I'm just starting to realize that all products, cheap and expensive, just can't compare to homemade.

I've always had a problem branching out to the cheaper products for fear there's some flaw hidden by a fifty cent discount, there's always a small part of me that cringes over the irreversible damage these mystery ingredients are bound to create. That's what's so great about these green cleaning products, there are no mysteries or dangerous chemicals and it actually works well. The little pessimist in my brain has nothing to say! Plus, it opens a whole new range of possibilities; I can make my own shampoo and conditioner, soap, body scrubs, lotions, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, "febreze" copy, carpet powder, laundry detergent, and more, I'm sure.

I was pretty nervous about the laundry detergent before we made it; I love soft, clean-smelling clothes and I wasn't sure these ingredients would be able to deliver. I used my search engine to find some recipes and after deciding I'd rather have a  powdered version, I gathered my ingredients and got started.

The recipe I used as inspiration was recipe #4 from this website.

2 cups bar soap (finely grated)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
Use two to three table spoons per load.

I altered it a little by adding baking soda and I used whatever soap I had lying around, call me lazy, but I'm not interested in buying special products to make my "quick and easy" green recipes, thanks. The recipe says to avoid heavily perfumed soaps and suggests using Fels Naptha Soap, but I ended up using my husbands Old Spice bar soap and it works great. I'm hoping to eventually start making our own soap, so that'll solve that problem.

It's not a very messy job, but it is a pain to hand-grate the bars of soap (I used a bar and a half, one Old Spice and half of one Dial.). I would like to dedicate our current blender to non-food projects and upgrade! I'm hoping Santa, or hubby, figures out I want a Vitamix for Christmas.

The only gripe I have about this detergent is when I washed my large comforter with it, it left little balls of powder in places. I'm pretty sure I could solve that by putting the detergent in before the comforter or just washing smaller loads. I haven't seen any residue on normal sized loads. Also, this particular recipe makes a pretty small batch, as you'll see in the photo, so I'll probably make a triple batch so it will last for about three months. I'm guessing we'll use this much in about a month, but I may be way off, I've never been good at estimating. 

I know for a fact that this detergent works like a charm. It's amazing how when you want a batch of really dirty clothes, it seems like everyone must have wrapped themselves in bubble wrap and hid in a corner! Well, I found my super dirty clothes in the form of towels. Towels that were put underneath a leaking duck container. If any of you own ducks, you probably don't need any other description than that, but let me tell you, ducks are not clean birds. They like to make a little duck swamp of poop, food, and water. Imagine that soaked into three or four towels and your bathroom carpet. Yuck! We have since moved them to a different room with a different container, thank goodness! One wash and dry cycle later, those towels were good as new, and I'm totally sold.

Check back soon to see what we use for stain remover! I've been looking for set stains for weeks now, I even tried to create them by pouring chocolate sauce on old onesies, but they've all gone missing. I just need to pop that bubble wrap.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bird houses - Craig's Post

We have 14 bird feeders we maintain through the winter and will be adding a few Oriole and humming bird feeders as it warms up a little more. I never would have imagined we were the "bird watcher" types, but we love them! 

We were out of state for a few years and our resident bird population dwindled. The numbers are back on the rise and we want to encourage them to stay closer so we built some bird houses.

We looked online and found this model 

It is suited for Nuthatches, Chickadees and Downey Woodpeckers. We built 22 of these, 11 left hole entry units and 11, right.

We also built 4 Bluebird house of this design 

We finished hanging all 26 of them on April 6th. So far we have no tenants.

We have made one of two bat houses, so far. We plan on building several Wren houses today; as well as a few squirrel houses, and at least one Barn Owl nest box.

Check back to see our progress.

Also coming up, a post to introduce Charlotte and the family, the long-awaited green cleaning post, and updates for the chickens, ducks, and rabbits. We've been busy bees these last few weeks and now have over 43 animals in our house! Speaking of bees, as long as they're still available, the hubby and I will be buying my parents honey bees for their anniversary! Happy anniversary, guys! We love you!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Craig's Post - Carvings

After weeks of asking, my dad finally agreed to write his own post. Here are his words and his pictures.

I just set up a dark blue backdrop to try to get some better pictures.

I have three new carvings to show today and I'm going to post more pictures of the last carvings, as well. I have been using supposedly hundred year old, huge, spruce telephone poles for my last few carvings. This particular section of pole was full of nails where I imagine many "Lost Dog" signs had been hung. I pulled them from the log before I carved the section into this Angry Bear. After finishing the bear, I put all of the nails back into it. A few even went back into their original places.

The Angry Bear stands 4' 2" tall and 19" wide.

I also carved a Bear holding a "Welcome" sign that stands 44" tall and 16" across.

The Angel Bear is complete with a halo and removable wings. She stands 36" tall and 18" wide, with her puffy cloud.

The Fish Bear is 30" tall and 13" wide.

Dress Up stands 4' 4" tall.

Starry Nights is 4' tall and 21" across. I included a picture of the back that shows the rotted out center. I saved as much of the stable interior as I could. These pictures will hopefully show the trees and turquoise "stars" a little more clearly.


It's not part of his post, but it's my blog, so here's a sneak peak at what he's working on! I can't wait to see how it goes!

Accidents happen! Ouch!