Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Homemade Cleaning Supplies

I have been looking for ways to live more simply, more naturally, and to save money in the process! For years I have advocated for making things yourself instead of buying it from the store – I don’t like pre-packaged foods as a whole; yet it never even crossed my mind to make my own cleaning supplies.

I never did have a ton of different cleaning supplies, just the basics – glass cleaner, disinfectant (liquid and powder), bleach, laundry detergent, fabric softener dishwashing liquid, and dishwasher detergent. I never really did believe that you needed many different products for all the different cleaning jobs, but mainly I did not buy them because I am way to cheap, or should I say frugal, to put out the money. So why did I never make my own cleaning supplies before??? Honestly – it never even occurred to me that I could! I was just merrily going about doing what I always did, what I saw my mother do. The more I researched natural methods of cleaning, the more impressed I was! Not only could making my own cleaning products save me money, but also it was better for the environment, it was better for the health of my family and they really worked! Honestly, it had me at “save me money”!

I don’t mind putting in a bit of effort if it will save me money, if it works better or tastes better (food that is!). What is a few minutes of fun concoction mixing worth anyways??? So here is the rundown on what you will need:

Vinegar: Everywhere I looked I was finding benefits and uses for vinegar. Vinegar is a deodorizer, disinfectant, antiseptic, natural fabric softener…and so on.

Borax: Borax is usually found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soaps. Borax is a natural mineral and has no toxic fumes and is safe for the environment. Borax is used as a natural laundry booster and a multipurpose cleaner – it cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens waters and even repels and kills bugs like ants.

Washing Soda: Washing soda, like Borax, is found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soap. It is a pure power that comes from natural deposits and is safe for the environment. It has been said that it has been used as a household cleaner for centuries – it cuts greases, neutralizes odours, and softens water.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, ¼ cup vinegar, 3 cups water, and 2 – 3 drops of essential oil (such as Lemon, Peppermint, or Tea Tree oil).

All Purpose Cleaner: ½ cup vinegar, 2 tbsp borax, 2 L hot water, 3 – 4 drops of essential oil.Window Cleaner: Mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Rinse Agent (in your dishwasher): Vinegar (my dishes never looked better!)

Slow Drains: ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar and 2 L boiling water. Mix and pour down the drain. To help maintain fresh, clog free drains, repeat this once per week.

Fabric Softener: Mix 1 L of both vinegar and water, add 3 – 4 drops of essential oil (such as Tea Tree oil, Vanilla, Lavender). Shake before use - add 1 cup of mixture in your rinse cycle as you would any liquid fabric softener.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap:
1 soap bar ( I used Sunlight, as that is what I could find, but saw lots of recipes for Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars)
1 cup Washing Soda
½ cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with 4 cups hot water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted

Fill a 19 L (or 5 gallon) bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir. If using a top load machine, fill the dispenser with soap. Shake before each use.

(Note: If using a front load machine, fill the dispenser half full with soap and the other half with water)Top Load Machine- ½ cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)Front Load Machines- ¼ cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

This works for me!!

*This is an archived post


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teaching Weekly Kitchen Chores

I have said this many times before – I am not a naturally organized person – it is something I need to work at and keep focused at in my priorities. Since being organized is a priority I do lots of things that help me from being totally scatterbrained and flighty. One of the main things I do is to make chore charts – I do have a love for making lists, so I put this talent to use.

One of the chore charts I have posted in my kitchen is the children’s weekly kitchen chore. Since I have four children I assigned one chore per week per child that rotates:

Week One - Cooking
Week Two - Setting the table
Week Three - Clearing the table
Week Four - Dishes

Each child is responsible for helping in their area for one week, the next week they will move on to the new chore. It is easy. I just start each new week on Monday and there is never (okay – normally) any grumbling about helping or comparing what they are doing to what their brother/sister is doing because everyone is doing their fair share. Plus, they are getting the important lesson of how to cook for a week every month (which will help them not to starve once they move out).

Since I have a tendency to just take over and do everything myself (easier/faster/less complaining/etc) this also helps me to remember that it is important to teach my children basic kitchen tasks and responsibility.

This definitely works for me!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School - Chocolate Lava Cakes

Today is the first day back at school for children all over our city and my three younger kids were all up early in anticipation and excitement to see all their friends again, and in my son's case, to see if any new girls were in his class (ahem - that's my Jess).

I have to be honest, although I enjoy having some time to myself again and for our schedules to get back in tune, having my "babies" gone all day again is always an adjustment for me. I know - I am a suck, but I do miss them when they are gone - they are just so much fun to be with!

So tonight I am going to bbq an easy and nourishing supper with lots of meat and veggies and then surprise them with Chocolate Lava Cakes, which all the kids LOVE! These little cakes are rich and warm and when you cut into them chocolate pudding pours out. I serve them with a scoop of ice cream, whipping cream or they can stand all by themselves.

Chocolate Lav Cakes
* Recipe from Kraft magazine

4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate (about 2/3 of a cup chocolate chips or cut chocolate)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp flour

Melt chocolate and butter together. Stir in sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolks. Stir in flour. Divide the batter between four greased custard cups (3/4 cup size).

Bake at 425 F for 12 - 14 minutes, until sides are firm but the center is still soft. Let stand a minute or so then loosen the sides with a small knife and invert cakes onto a small plate. Top with ice cream or whipping cream and eat warm.

Since they need to be served warm the picture will be up this evening - sorry :)

For more recipe ideas check out Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and At the Table!