Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dishwashing Detergent

Okay, this will be the last of my laundry posts for a while :)  So...I also made dishwashing detergent.  Making this was even more simple than the laundry detergent I made.

Here was the recipe I used from Frugally Green:

2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Baking Soda
4 small packets of sugar free lemonade Kool-Aid (you can also use 4 tablespoons of citric acid--if you can find it)
White Vinegar


Just measure out Borax and washing soda and pour into your container.  Empty the four packets of lemonade to the mixture.  Mix together and you are done!  The vinegar gets added to that rinse receptacle in the dishwasher...and that's it!

Lesson learned:
On the first load that I ran, the plastic dishes/cups came out with a white film on them.  I had read that others had this issue as well.  I was able to fix it by ensuring that I select the high temp wash cycle when I run the dishwasher. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Craigslist Searching

Gosh,  I love craigslist.   I was realizing as I tried to bargain for this desk just how CHEAP it has made me.  I was able to get the desk for $40.  I was also recognizing that, for some reason, I seem to have much more patience with CL than most other things in my life.  I can see how it would drive some people crazy trying to sift through not-so-great photos, descriptions, etc.  Sort of how shopping for clothes at TJ Maxx usually feels to me.  I wish I had more patience for it...especially when I see friends in adorable things from there.  I guess it is that 'amazing find' that keeps you going and brings you back.  Or, at least, that is how CL is to me :)

Look at the pictures from the original post (you can see the white top here)...
I just try to picture this without the trash bag hanging from it, the broken fire alarm removed, and the box of diapers not sitting underneath it :)

 If I had to give a few CL searching tips, here is what I would say...

1.  If you are thinking about wanting to find some stuff on CL, make sure you have an app to retrieve pictures when you do your search.  I would hate CL if I didn't have one of these.

Krissy and I used to use Craiglook, but it was shut down.  That was a sad, sad day for us.  I recently stumbled across Search Tempest which seems like a great alternative.  This site has a better user interface than CL, and you can enter in how far you would travel to get the item you are looking for.  I find this to be an awesome feature because depending on how much I want the item usually determines how far I would travel.  Plus, that feature also helps search different CL areas all within one search.  For example, I usually search the Hudson Valley CL; however, we are close enough that I will also run searches on NYC.  This site will combine those two diff CL areas into one search result if both areas are within the mileage you selected.

On my iPhone (more to come on that), I am LOVING CraigsPro+!  Incredible app.

2.  Remember you can always ask for a better price.  The worst they can say is no.  When I first started buying off CL, I felt like I was getting such good deals that I never asked for a better deal.  Now I always do, and it has usually worked out in our favor.

3.  Some items go VERY QUICKLY.  So, if you really like something, get in touch with the seller right away.

I hope you enjoy CL as much as I do :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcome, craigslist desk.

Say hello to my latest craigslist steal....

Love my new find.  I wanted to find another cheap desk so that I could create a work space in the basement.  I was tired of my Interior Design stuff completely taking over our dining room table for weeks at a time - or until we had company coming over :).

The only strange thing about the desk is that it has some sort of formica or veneer white top.  Seems random.  But, I planned to paint this anyway, so I wasn't too worried about it.  
I really love the delicate hardware.  I am wondering if I can somehow strip the paint off to get it to just have the brass look.  Need to research that...
Now I just need to decide how to paint it...I am leaning towards white to make it 'all purpose', but am contemplating a contrasting color on the bamboo detailing on the drawers?  I have never tried anything like that...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Make a wish...

I recently made some 'wish' tags for a friend's baby shower.  The shower was full of gorgeous details that the girls had lovingly put together.  I thought it was such a cute idea to leave a wish for the family.  They were then placed in a glass ginger jar for Beth to take home.  How fun!

Laundry Experiment - Part 3

I have been asked some questions of why I would make my own laundry detergent...

First and foremost, I had heard about others doing it, and I figured it would be a fun and interesting project to try out.  Simple as that...

Secondly, it saves money.  I spent about $7 on the supplies and $10 for the glass jar which made about 10 batches of detergent.  I am hoping that this will be enough to last us several months.  I would spend more than that on one large bottle of Tide.  And...I felt like I was buying detergent a lot.  I had planned to figure out the cost per load, but knew I probably wouldn't be much good at following through on that.  So...I will refer to Trent, of Simple Dollar, who did a cost analysis who found that the homemade detergent cost 3 cents per load while using Tide costs about 30 cents.

Now, Mark would ask me, have you factored in the opportunity cost?  And, like Sean asked...does the 3 cents include your labor? doesn't include labor, but please reference the first reason I decided to try project.  I wanted to :)  And, it really didn't take much time at all, so yes, it was worth it to me to try this out.

Third, from what I have read, it is more environmentally friendly due to less chemicals than store bought detergent, less plastic bottles bought (sorry, dad!), etc.  I wish I knew more details to relay on this, but you wouldn't want to listen to me try to be scientific - trust me.

Will I keep using this in the long run?  Right now I would say...yes.  I will definitely tweak the recipe as I see fit i.e. using more soap, changing out the soap scent I use, etc.  I also made dishwashing detergent so I will post about that soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Laundry Experiment - Part 2

Below you will find my personal take on the Laundry Experiment so far...if anything changes along the way, I plan to do another post.  I have also included a few shots of my Laundry Area which I thought I could whip into a pretty space once I had these glass jars for all my laundry needs...but I am struggling to pull it together just right...

My Reviews:
Laundry Detergent
My soap seems to be working well so far...I have not specifically 'tested' stains; however, Borax advertises itself like Oxyclean, so I have some extra plain Borax left over that I plan to use on stains when needed.

The clothes have a faint clean smell - not nearly as strong as they would usually have with Tide.  I kind of miss the stronger smell.  We think we might be able to just put more bar soap in to add more scent.  April doubled the amount of soap in her recent batch, and she loves it, so I am planning to grate another few bars to add to mine...

As I said yesterday, the recipe said to use 1 tablespoon...April and I are both using 2 heaping tablespoons per load in our HE washers.

Fabric Softener
I read that you can use vinegar as a fabric softener, so I put some into my HE washer's spot for softener, and the clothes seem pretty soft after I dried them.  Vinegar seems to be my new best friend.  Check out this site for all the things that vinegar can do!

Dryer Sheets
So, there are again lots of ideas/recipes for making your own dryer sheets...the main ones that I read about were:

1.  Dip old cloths in liquid fabric softener, let it dry, and then throw that rag into the dryer, and you can apparently use these rags several times.
My verdict:  I personally didn't want to do this b/c I was trying to eliminate buying fabric softener.  If I am going to use store bought, I would just use my Bounce sheets.

2.  Make a mixture of water with ~10 drops of essential oil, and spray a few spritzes into the dryer before starting it up.
My verdict:  I tried this and didn't notice any lavender smell.  (I am wondering if the mixture is too diluted...maybe I need to add more essential oil)

3.  Take a cloth and put several drops of essential oil onto the cloth and throw that in with the clothes.
My verdict:  I tried this (used 10 drops of essential oil), and didn't notice any lavender smell.

4.  If the clothes aren't smelling like the essential oil after the dryer cycle, then it was suggested to spray some of the water/essential oil mixture into the dryer at the end of the cycle and air dry the clothes for 10-20 minutes.
My verdict:  I tried this with my spray mixture, and didn't notice any lavender smell.

Eliminating Static Cling
 1.  I read that you can throw a few sheets of tin foil into the dryer to help eliminate static cling - call me crazy but that makes me nervous. 

FINAL VERDICT:  I am still throwing a Bounce sheet or two in IF I don't use vinegar for a fabric softener.

My Laundry Area
Like I said earlier, I wish I could claim a beautiful area to go with the pretty jar, etc.  I have been working on it, but I just don't like it yet...but in an effort to keep it real, here is what it looks like now..

a few details...
If you are wondering what all the bottles are...on top of the dryer, I have a spray bottle with water/essential oil as well as this old kettle that I use as a watering can for my plants downstairs.  On the washer, the green bottle holds bleach, the clear bottle is white vinegar, the small ball jar is left over OxyClean and the enormous jar is my detergent (which, I still want to find a pretty spoon/scoop for!).
Keeping it real shot - Look at the ridiculous white Ikea panel (my go-to solution for just about everything) - I clearly didn't hang it straight and I would need several more of them to cover the entire wall.  One of these days, I am hoping that a better design/arrangement will hit me.  I thought that having these glass jars would make it easy to pull together an area that I liked, but I am really struggling with this one!  It is just one of those many things that didn't come together as I had envisioned...but I guess that is the beauty of the design is ever-changing and evolving, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Laundry Experiment - Part 1

Why not start another new project when I have lots of existing ones that I need to finish?   April and I were thinking it might be fun to attempt to make our own laundry detergent.  I checked in with my friend, Brandi, who has been doing it for a while, and she shared the recipe that she uses.  I started doing some research on it and my brain was filled with this whole new world of your own detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent, etc.  Here were my questions and what I found out...

My Questions:
I had some questions that I needed answered...
1.  Do these recipes work for High Efficiency machines?
HE machines just need to have low suds detergents, and the homemade recipes are 'low suds'.

2.  Does the soap smell good?
You control what the detergent smells like - you just select bars of soap that smell good to you!  Also, April and I think we could probably grate some additional soap into the mixture if we wanted the scent to be stronger.

3.  Does the soap actually clean clothes?
My clothes seem to be coming out clean.  The stubborn stains are still there, just like they would be when I was using Tide.  This guy did a comparison of stain fighting power with store bought vs. homemade detergent if you want to check it out.

4.  Can you make a liquid detergent?
Yes, there are lots of recipes for liquid detergent, and I thought I wanted to make liquid at first because that I what I always buy at the store; however, the powder one was easy to make and would be easier to store, so ultimately, I just went with powdered.

Making the Detergent:
Okay, so onto the making of the detergent.  First thing first...I must have a pretty glass jar.  I bought one...and it is WAY too big.  I have now made 10 batches of detergent and the jar *may* be half full.  Lesson learned for next time.

The recipe could not have been much easier...

--1 Cup Borax
--1 Cup Washing Soda (took me a few stores to find this, but I found it at the commissary - in the detergent aisle)
--1/2 Bar Grated Soap

Here were the supplies...

1.  Grate the soap - first, I used the grater, and for subsequent batches, I used the food processor to get it done a little faster...

2.  Measure out the Borax and Washing Soda, dump it all into your container and mix it all together!
All mixed and ready to go!

The recipe calls for using one tablespoon per load, April and I have been using two heaping tablespoons...

Reviews of the Laundry Experiment to come!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh, Martha!

I had the good fortune to attend a taping of the Martha Stewart Show with 14 other West Point ladies on Wednesday.  I had never been to a taping of a show before, and to see how organized and efficient the whole process is was fascinating.  Plus...Martha's studio is like heaven on earth.  The greenhouse - swoon.  The kitchen with all the beautiful dishes and vases - jealous!  And the craft room - so organized - who could really have one like that?  It was PERFECT, just as you might suspect.  The staffers were all incredibly friendly to us (and I couldn't help but think how they all must just LOVE working for/with Martha!).

Can you believe I didn't bring my camera?  Argh.  And we were actually allowed to have them!  I made the bad assumption that we weren't (mental note - need to take time to sit down and read directions).  I snapped a few iPhone photos...

One of the beautiful images from the waiting room...

On set before taping starts...

So, we were all just trying to be excited audience members, and then, in the last segment, Martha recognized all the West Point Army Wives, and called us up on stage.  She chatted with us, let us ask her a question and then Krissy actually got to chat with her one on one when she asked if anyone had their own business!  To top it off, they gave us all quilts from her new line at Macy's!  WOW.  None of us knew that was going to happen - they definitely had the surprise factor, that is for sure.  It was incredibly kind of them to acknowledge us - we were just happy to be in the crowd - but this definitely made our day!

Their photographer sent us this picture...

The first thing I noticed about Martha when she came on stage were her shoes.  She was rocking these VERY tall gray suede go, Martha.  One of the girls asked her about the shoes, and Martha said they were from JCrew.  I think these may be the ones...

When we got up close to her, it was a somewhat surreal moment - right, girls?  I mean, to be so close to Martha, the legend?  And she is SO beautiful up close!  What a day for the memory books.  A huge thanks to Monique for organizing this wonderful day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


You know when you are in that mood to just clean out, reduce, simplify?  I have been on one of those kicks.  Sean and I have an obscene amount of keepsakes that we keep hauling around with us, and it just doesn't make sense.  When we returned home after Christmas, I decided I was going to start to tackle this project that always shows up on my list (for years now) and it never gets done.

I attempted it once in Boston, but clearly wasn't in the right frame of mind to do it.  I remember feeling like I wouldn't be able to get rid of enough pictures to make the endeavor worth the time.  Well, this time, I was ready.  I got rid of 22 photo albums and reduced our pictures to three wedding albums and two large boxes of photos, one for Sean, one for myself.

I just found some plain white photo boxes at Michaels, and they were buy one get one free, so only $2.50 each.  I went ahead and bought the four that they had, and got a raincheck for four more.   The boxes are pretty tiny, so I think Sean and I will need three each for all the photos we are saving.  More boxes than I was hoping to have, but much better than the 22 albums that were taking up lots of large Rubbermaid containers in the attic.

Friends have asked if I will regret anything that I got rid of.  I feel confident when I say no.  I just took way too many pictures back in the day. 

My strategy was basically to keep at least one picture from each event, get rid of poor quality photos, doubles, etc.  I took scrapbooks apart and kept only the pictures that I wanted.  It is funny how most of my printed pictures trail off in the last four years or so as I am HORRIBLE about printing digital photos.

It was a major undertaking for us, but it has me on a roll to continue down the purging/simplifying path.

Sean sent out a link the other day about a professional de-clutterer and how she would be worth paying $150/hour.  After my big purge, and after seeing how Sean has about 10 large boxes/trunks of keepsakes up in the attic, and I am think I am now down to two boxes, I think HE might be in need of the de-clutterer more than me!  He would absolutely disagree with the previous sentence :)