Friday, August 24, 2012

Save money with your own cleaning products!

Every time I shell out money for dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent, it makes me cringe. I saw an awesome recipe posted on Cheapskate monthly for washing machine soap and thought it might be worth a shot. There is no grating or boiling. It is a simple recipe that I was willing to try. I have used it for all my laundry this week and I am thrilled with the results. I also found on another website a recipe for dishwasher detergent. Every since the government meddled and companies had to change their dishwasher detergent formulas, dishwashers haven't been the same. I've run several loads and I'm happy to report that everything has come out so clean! My glasses sparkle!

Here are the recipes:  

Dishwasher Detergent

1 Tbl. oxygen bleach (like Oxi Clean)
1/2 teaspoon POWER CLEAN Dawn dish soap
1 Tbl. Lemi Shine ($3.66 at WalMart)
1/2 cup white vinegar (poured into a bowl or cup on the top rack of the machine) (this is optional)

You put the first three ingredients right in the detergent cup of your dishwasher right before you start the load. No premixing! Do not use more than 1/2 tsp. of Dawn or you will have a bubbly mess. There are bubbles during the washing cycles. Don't worry, they all rinse away at the end.

The water from the dishwasher cycle collects in the cup with the vinegar and spills over into the dishwasher making the perfect rise for your dishes. No, your glasses don't taste like vinegar!

I am so thrilled to never, ever again have to buy dishwasher detergent! It works better than the expensive Cascade Complete I was buying! Yipee!

(Update 8-1-13 - I've been using the LemiShine Rinse agent for a few months now. It works very well and I've noticed that my glasses are even shinier! I switched from the original Dawn to the Power Clean Dawn and my pots and dishes are coming out even better.)

Laundry Detergent - concentrated version

(Note: a few people have asked if we can double the strength of the original recipe and use half as much. I have tried it and it works just fine. The updated concentrated version is below)

6 tablespoons borax
6 tablespoons washing soda (I found "Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda" at Kroger)4 tablespoons Original Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid (I used the concentrated Dawn)

Add 2 cups water into a microwavable bowl or measuring cup. Microwave for 3 minutes. Add the ingredients and stir until dissolved. Pour into a gallon container. Fill with cold water. To use: Add 1/2 cups to each load of laundry depending on the size and soil levels.

I have an HE machine and it works perfectly.  

It is so watery, but it works perfectly! I tried it out on a very dirty white clothes load. It took the ground in dirt from the socks right out! Super easy to make!

Expect to spend about $12 for all the ingredients and depending on your laundry use, you can expect to get about 4 months out of them. I do at least one load of laundry every day. This costs about 1 cent per load! Wow! I purchased my initial ingredients in August and they lasted me through December.

I found a 2 1/2 gallon slimline water dispenser container at Wal-Mart. I make a double batch and it lasts me about a month.

Feeding Teens on a Budget

Check out my guest post on Living Life at Home about how to feed hungry teens on a budget.

Start gardening this Fall! Just do it!


Beautiful curly kale. Beauty and nutrition!
Fall is a great time to start a garden in the Houston area! Some of the best things grow in the fall: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots… You can start a raised bed garden in any amount of space. Our tiny backyard has eight 4 x 4 gardens and we grow most of the fresh produce we eat as a family there. The benefits of a garden are many! Here are a few:


1. It creates teachable moments for our kids (you could create a teaching unit around the garden including science, history, nutrition, cooking, agriculture, literature… Free one here)

2. Encourages adventurous healthy eating. Kids tend to eat what they plant and care for.

3. Helps us be more self-sufficient. How fun it is to go out back and pick fresh broccoli for supper.

4. Encourages good stewardship of the planet God gave us.

5. Many spiritual applications between gardening and our life in Christ. God speaks when you garden!

6. Makes friends when we share from the excess of our produce.

7. Saves money. It’s fun to pass up the produce aisle at the grocery store.
8. Gets us outside to work and exercise in the fresh air.

We have doubled the size of our winter garden this year. We have two beds (1 and 2) that are too shady in the fall to plant anything in. They mostly contain our herbs that will do just fine through the winter there. Six gardens will be planted with all the fall garden goodies we can fit. We are sprouting broccoli seeds inside and they will be ready to go into the ground in a few weeks. It isn't too late to build a few beds and purchase some good quality plants at your local nursery. We purchase some very good quality plants locally from Nelson Water Garden or Cornelius Nursery. 

Broccoli is a plant that keeps on giving. Once you cut away the main head of broccoli, smaller heads will sprout around where you cut. It will keep giving all winter long. When it starts getting warm, it will be too hot for the plant and it will quit producing.

Cauliflower will not resprout once you cut away the main head. You need to pull the plant once the head is picked.

Cabbage and Kale are just like huge roses growing in the garden. They add beauty but are edible too.

While our Harris County planting schedule does not list it, many gardeners plant tomatoes in the fall. We planted some last fall and they did OK. We are going to give it a try again this fall and see if we do better.

Cabbage growing in the garden last fall


This year we will plant tons more cauliflower


Fall is a great time to plant lettuce


We couldn't get enough fresh broccoli last year


Beautiful head of cauliflower growing in the garden

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer slump, baby lizards and suggestive pictures


Eggplants are still producing

It's been a bit since I posted about my garden. Why? We are in our summer slump and nothing new is going on! I am still harvesting eggplants, peppers and a few beans now and then. Plants, like us, aren't overly fond of too much heat. I'm thankful that I get a break from the garden in the August heat. Even in the heat, the bugs don't give us a break. You will see DE (Diatomaceous earth) sprinkled on the plants. It is an all-natural bug killer that comes in a white powder form. We are also getting help from lots and lots of baby lizards. Natural bug killers and cute to boot!


Gardens 3, 4 & 5 in their summer slump. Peppers, eggplant and herbs are about the only things surviving the heat

Gardens 1, 2 and 6, 7 and 8 in the distance.



Expecting a good crop of Louisiana Satsumas come Christmas


Habenaro peppers

My garden is overrun with baby lizards


banana peppers


bellpeppers are going great!

Now for some comic relief. Pictures of fruit gone wild!


Yes, this is from my garden a few years ago. Too weird!


Double cherries!


closeup of the double cherries. They are actually growing together.


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