Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Comfort

I absolutely LOVE fall.
It means the return of football, cool weather and comfort food. Not that I've ever needed an excuse to cook comfort food, but it helps!

I made a roast the other day that was so good I didn't want to forget the recipe, so I submitted it to so I wouldn't forget it. They have NEVER published any of the recipes I've submitted. Frankly, I've stopped caring if they do or not. (I'm lying)

It's a combination of several different ones I've tried at different times, but this is what I'll be sticking with in the future. Even Jenda ate it. That says a lot.
So here it is!


3 to 4 lb Pot Roast
1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix
2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Red wine
1 can Golden Mushroom Soup
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch

  1. Place the onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce, wine and soup in a crock pot large enough for your roast. Using your soup can, fill with water and add that to the mixture.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Liberally salt & pepper both sides of the roast and place in crock pot.
  4. Flip roast over so it is coated on both sides.
  5. Cook until the meat shreds easily. 8 to 9 hours on low.
  6. When meat is finished, slowly stir 1 tablespoon of corn starch into 1/2 cup of water in small container. Slowly add that to the liquid in the crock pot while stirring. Replace lid for 15 minutes and serve.               
I made this with my mashed potato's and a salad, and it was beautiful.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crazy Hair Day, Pinterest Style!

Oh the fun of elementary school!

Every now and then Jenda's school has a theme day, and earlier this week it was Crazy Hair Day. Normally she waits until 10 minutes before it's time to leave to tell me about it, but this time she told me the day before. Perfect!
I had seen this rag rolling hair thing on Pinterest awhile back and we (Jenda being the guinea pig!) tried it with just a few chunks of hair. It works REALLY well. So well in fact that she looked goofy the next day because she had a couple of spots of really curly hair, and the rest was dead straight.

We sort of followed the directions here at A Beautiful Mess, however, Jenda's hair was damp from a shower, she also dampened the strip of cloth, and I rolled the rags all the way to her scalp since her hair isn't that long.
This is how she looked before going to bed:

And in the morning:

And after we freed the locks:

VERY Medusa'ish!
This is how she went to school!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More soapy goodness!

So, the same day I made the second batch of laundry detergent (October 8th), I decided to also try my hand at home made dishwasher soap. Why not, right?

I had been doing some comparing and research on the different types of recipes, and it seemed the biggest difference between most of them was that if you have hard water, you should add some type of citric acid product. This products varied between Lemon Kool-aid (or a generic version), citric acid from the canning area of the store, or Lemi-Shine.
The Kool-Aid will eventually stain your dishwasher soap cup, so I wasn't going that route. The Citric Acid canning additive sounded expensive (based on others comments) and I read wonderful things about Lemi-Shine, and Baker's down the street carried it. Done deal.

I didn't really follow any ones specific recipe on this one, but based on what I read at several different blogs, decided to go with the following...
Here are the needed ingredients:
I still have a LOT of the Washing Soda left, and the Borax, so the only thing I had to buy was the Lemi-Shine.

Here's the recipe:
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Lemi-Shine
1/4 Cup Salt

Use 1 tablespoon pure load in your soap cup. Add white vinegar as a rinse agent.

Most recommend Kosher salt, but I didn't have any so I used plain old table salt.
This is where it gets REALLY complicated.
Measure and mix all ingredients. See. Wasn't that hard?
I stored this in an old margarine container we used for leftovers. We don't use margarine anymore, so when the kids see me putting soap in the dishwasher, they get a bit teary eyed.
They LOVED margarine.
They're slowly getting used to plain 'ol butter. Whenever they ask for margarine, or complain about butter, I tell them to go eat some plastic as that's pretty much what margarine is.

One of the biggest complaints I read about these (dry) types of dishwasher soaps is that the citric acid will turn everything into a solid rock a couple of days down the road. And sure enough, it's true.
I took the advice of a couple of different people and left the lid off, and stirred it every now and then, breaking it up. It's still hard, but perfectly usable.
It works very well and I seriously doubt I will ever spend the money on the store bought stuff again.

So, in ONE HOUR, I made both dishwasher soap AND laundry detergent, both of which will last for a very long time. I have plenty of all supplies left to make more down the road. The total cost for the Borax, bar of soap, Washing Soda and Lemi-Shine was $11 and some change.
That. is. AWESOME!

While I worked on this, Brad was doing this:
Inside view

Outside view

Looks great, doesn't it??? Then, we went to the Watson's and watched the Husker's pull off the best ever comeback to beat Ohio State - freaking excellent fall Saturday!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Liquid Laundry Detergent - Attempt #2 = SUCCESS!!!

I did it, and I LOVE it!!!
This time I started with this recipe from the blog, "Why Not Sew".  She doesn't use as much water as some others I've seen, but that's OK - it's STILL way cheaper than the store bought stuff, and it works GREAT!!!
Here's the ingredients:
Except that I took this picture after I made the soap, so what you don't see is the missing bar of Ivory soap. My bad.
Also, this makes 2 gallons of detergent. Since my previous detergent bottle isn't that size, I poured the finished recipe into a clean cat litter bucket. (I always saved them and they come in handy all. the. time!)

Here's the recipe and what I did:
1 bar of soap (IMO, the more natural, the better)
1 cup of Borax

1 cup of washing soda
a big pot
empty gallon jug
container to store your soap in

I filled the empty gallon jug full with water, and poured about half of it into a large pot and started warming the water. As it was heating up, I grated the soap bar, and slowly stirred it into the water, stirring frequently. I also measured the Borax and washing soda and set that aside. Once the soap had dissolved, I added a bit more water from the gallon jug, and then slowly added the powder products and kept stirring until it was also dissolved. Remove the pan from heat.
It will look like this:

I poured the remaining water left in the gallon jug into the 5 gallon bucket, filled the gallon bottle one more time with warm water and poured that into the 5 gallon bucket. I then added the soap mixture to the bucket and stirred until it was well mixed.
Immediately I could tell that I had what I wanted. It was a beautiful consistency!
The recipe I used calls for 1/2 cup of detergent per load. I knew that I didn't want to be slopping detergent everywhere, so I used the recently emptied store bought detergent bottle, and checked to see how much it's little blue cup would hold. Guess what - it is exactly 1/2 a cup!
I did remove the plastic spout thing on the bottle because I found the homemade deteregent does thinken a bit as it sits. When I go to do laundry, I give the bottle of detergent a good shake to even out the consistency.
I'm thrilled with the results. Next time I MAY add some lavander or citrus essential oil, and I may add a bit more water. We'll see.
Happy Laundry!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Liquid Laundry Detergent - Attempt #1, Two Fails

Well, I did it. Or tried to.
I've waited for what seems like months for the detergent we had to run out so I could make some of my own. I'm trying to replace as many commercially made products with homemade, greener products. We've already gone "poo free" here, and I have the supplies to make some body soap (I have both "Melt & Pour" and rebatched soap base for hand milled), but haven't gotten around to it yet. More on those later.

So, as I'm addicted to Pinterest, I was able to find many different types of laundry soap recipes.
Most boil down to a several key ingredients:
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
A bar of soap

Optional Ingredients: Salt (for hard water)
Essential Oil (or fragrance oil)

I decided to start with this recipe from The Simple Dollar as I love their blog. Here's what their final product looked like:
First fail.
Now, we have hard water. On several other blogs, I read that you can dissolve 1/2C Epsom salt into a cup of warm water and add that to the final product and it will soften your water AND act as a fabric softener.
Silly me, I thought I'd skip a step and after the grated bar of soap had melted into the water, I just poured the Epsom slat into the soapy water.
I wasn't trying to do a science experiment, but that's what I did. Here's how it turned out:
It was like cottage cheese in water, and no longer smooth, sudsy water. I was determined to carry on though, and continued with the recipe.
Here comes my second fail.
I had purchased an essential oil blend called "Karma", which is a blend of the following: Patchouli Oil, Orange Oil, Lavendin Oil, Pine Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Elemi Oil, and Gardenia Extract. It's great for lotions and soaps or as a body scent - if you like to smell like an earthy dirty hippy! My husband loves patchouli. I think it smells like dirt, but I kind of like it (just a teeny tiny little bit).
Instead of adding a recommended essential oil (Lavender, Orange, Lemon - you know, something CLEAN smelling!) I thought it would be a good idea to add some of the Karma oil. Bad idea.
What I ended up with was a liquidy cottage cheese water that smelled heavily of dirt. It never set correctly even though I tried (and burned out the motor) using a stick blender to break up the cottage cheese soap pieces.

My second attempt will soon follow...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I remembered

my password! Yes, it HAS been that long since my last post! I'm getting ready to take on some DIY projects at home and am going to blog the efforts. First up, the big bathroom! Pics coming soon!!!