Friday, March 30, 2012

Score Another One for the Scrubbing Cleanser

As I was reading and preparing for the women's seminar last week I came across a few ideas for getting oil stains out of clothes. I loathe those annoying wet looking spots on solid shirts that remain after the shirt is dry. I was reading and the thought crossed my mind that since the ingredients in the stain removal recipes were pretty much the same as the ones in my scrubbing cleanser recipe, why wouldn't it work to remove oil stains?  I don't want to mix up one more thing if what I have will do the trick.  So I tried it on my blue shirt that I spilled a 1/4 cup of coconut oil on last summer and never could quite get out.  It worked!  Hooray for the magic scrubbing cleanser!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My "Everything" Scrubbing Cleanser

This is my favorite cleaning product because I use it everywhere.  I use it to replace the Soft Scrub that I was using on my sinks, counter tops, bathtubs.  It replaced my stove top cleaner.  I used it on the tile grout.   I even use this as toilet cleaner.  (After I scrub the toilet bowl with this I throw in an extra cup of white vinegar and let it sit.  I like the toilet to be really clean.)  This one cleaner cut down on the "cleaner clutter" and having a separate bottle for each surface in each room. There is nothing extraordinary in this recipe. 
  • Heaping ¾ cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup dish soap
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of vinegar 
I mix the first three ingredients together first and then add the vinegar last.  I have found that a little of this goes a long way.  At first I was using too much, and it took me forever to get it all wiped up!  My only "complaint" this this recipe would be that it settles.  You can store it in a jar and stir it before each use.  Right now I am using an old ketchup bottle.  (The kind with the lid on the bottom.)  All the baking soda packs down around the lid.  Before I use it I untwist the lid, push through the baking soda, put the lid back on and shake.  If anyone comes up with a better way please leave a comment below!  I would love to try it.

4/9/12 NOTE: I found another use!  Here is the post for using the scrubbing cleanser in the laundry room!

The one were I admit I don't wear antiperspirant

While I have been using homemade deodorant for about a year and a half I still cannot believe that I am admitting this publicly.  A few years ago my eyes would have probably popped out of my head, and I would have labeled someone as a "hippie" for trying this!  I didn't even tell Jordan partially to see if he noticed!  He never did.
Here is the story (because making your own deodorant probably warrants a story!) I had read a few articles about the dangers of aluminum in antiperspirants.  There are equally as many reports saying that it is totally safe, but I was nursing at the time and was wondering what was being absorbed into my body and passed onto my little one.  At the same time I was just thinking about the fact that God made my body to naturally detox through sweat, and I questioned if it was a good idea for me to bypass this process. 
So I tried a natural aluminum-free deodorant from the store, and it was a total failure.  I was sticky and smelly!  Then I read about a woman who tried the same brand I did, stank, and made her own deodorant with success!  I tried it, and it works for me too.  Here is the basic recipe:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda,
  • ¼ cup corn starch,
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs bees wax (optional in the winter, but essential in the summer!  If you leave out the bees wax in the summer you will need to keep it in the fridge.  That seems inconvenient and cold to me.  Brr!)
  • Tea tree oil 8 drops (This is optional.  I didn't use it the first time I made it, but I have since added it. I like tea tree oil because it is an antibacterial, and it is the bacteria that cause the stink!) 
Melt the oil and bees wax (together on the stove is fine), mix in the soda, starch and tea tree oil and pour into an empty old deodorant container.  Let it cool and set up!

A couple things to keep in mind.  1) When I use this I still sweat. (just a whole lot less now that my body has adjusted and isn’t trying to fight the antiperspirant). If you are switching from an antiperspirant give your body a little time to adjust. The goal with deodorant is to not stink.  2) This formula is not “little black dress approved.”   The baking soda can leave white spots on clothes. 

If your brave and tried this one let me know how it goes!  I would love to hear about it!

Linked Up at

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Just for You" Women's Seminar Follow Up

I had a blast at The City Church Women's Seminar this weekend.  It was great sharing tricks and recipes and learning a few new ones!  There were a few questions that people kept asking so I will attempt a quick FAQ.

Does the laundry soap work?  Yes, I still use a spot treatment for the fun food stains my kiddos seem to think add color to my day, but I like this soap.

Why liquid laundry soap?  Why not a powder recipe with no melting?  The first reason would be that my mom said to use liquid.  My parents own an appliance store, and they say liquid for laundry and powder for the dishwasher.  (I have heard nothing positive about homemade dishwasher soap so I not even attempted it.)  The second reason is because I wash a lot in cold, and I don't think that the powder would break down and clean the clothes as well.  It took a little time to melt down the soap on the stove top even after it is was grated.  I think that liquid is the way to go on this one.

Why not use the fancy cleaning rags that just need water?  I have nothing against those cleaning products I just don't think that they are the best fit for our family.  Homemade products are so cost effective to make, that it would take a LONG time to equal out.  At $0.08 a bottle for window cleaner I could make 225 bottles before breaking even on a window cloth.  Before I started making my own I was tempted to purchase toilet brush system.  You should have seen my husband's face when I told him that it was $50+!  Often time cleaning is a family affair at our house.  I don't hand my kids $15 rags.  It isn't their fault; they are little and ruin things. I just want to keep things as simple as possible.  Having one rag for the dishes and one rag for the counters and another for the windows doesn't seem as simple as it could be.  That system just wouldn't work for our family.

What is tea tree oil?  Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Many women this weekend shared tea tree oil tips with me so I can't want to learn more about it.  I didn't start using tea tree oil until recently.  It is optional in so many recipes, but I decided that I make enough products that I wanted it around for a little extra cleaning power!  I have seen it at Trader Joe's and the health food store.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Simple Vinegar Switches

Sometimes change is a long process.  Whether your are trying to move your home to more natural living or just trying to save a few dollars it doesn't have to take any more time.  Making a few vinegar substitutions is quick and painless.  I know that many people have an aversion to vinegar to me the benefits outweigh the smell.  Maybe it was because my mom used it to clean as I was growing up or maybe because it is so cheap and versatile, but I love vinegar!  It works for some many things! Here are a few of the places that I love using vinegar as a substitution.

  • In the laundry room-Vinegar can work as both a fabric softener and color catcher.  I don’t sort the colors anymore.  I do laundry by rooms so that when it’s time to put them away I am not running all over the house!  The whole load gets put away in the same place.  I wash the clothes in cold water and use vinegar where I would normally put the liquid fabric softener.  Here vinegar saves me time and money.  The clothes do not smell like vinegar at all.  (One note: I do not use on “no iron” shirts and pants.  I heard I would have to iron them if I did, and that is one chance I am not willing to take!)
  • In the dishwasher-While I don’t think that vinegar gets the dishes as shiny a “Jet Dry,” it does work to keep the water spots off dishes when used as a rinse aid.  (We needed to use a conventional rinse aid for the first year that we had out dishwasher to keep the warranty so that is one thing to keep in mind.)  After I pour the vinegar into the dispenser I do not smell vinegar again.  I may not see my reflection in the glasses, but they are clean.  I also don’t spend as much as I would have for the blue stuff that reminds me of an automatic carwash!  Even using half vinegar and half of a conventional rinse aid is a great start.
  • On our floors-My parents got new flooring when I was a kid; the flooring store told my mom to use vinegar to keep them shiny!  It varies with the wax build up on the floor, but ½ cup vinegar 1 gallon of water is a good ratio to start with. It works well on all hard flooring options.  (Except marble.  Do not use vinegar on marble!)  By the time the floors dry the smell of vinegar is gone. 
  • In the microwave-Mix 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food is loosened, and I can wipe it clean.  (Heated vinegar has a strong smell so I try not to do it when my husband is around.) 
  • Back in the laundry room-My kiddos love gum, and every once in a while they get gum on clothes.  This used to frustrate me, but guess what works like magic?  Heat vinegar to boiling.  Pour on the fabric and rub off with toothbrush.  It dissolves off, and clothes are saved!  
  • In a vaporizer-This is the one that smell might be an issue, but most of the time when I have a cold I can’t smell anyway.  ¼ cup of vinegar in a vaporizer works wonders of a sore throat.  It works better than eucalyptus oil or a vapor plugin because it is doing more than just clearing airways.  Vinegar kills bacteria and breathing that in all night long makes a huge difference in the morning.  The smell is so worth it to me. 
This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays @ and

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Breakfast Cookies

    When I found a recipe for Breakfast Cookies at I was hoping that it would solve two breakfast dilimas for us.  1.) Jordan is not a breakfast guy because he gets up so early.  He feels like eating after he has been at work for a couple of hours and then ends up snacking on junk.  2.) Sunday mornings are a rush for us to get out the door so we do cereal, but even after eating three bowls my little people burn through it in less than two hours and are "starving."  (Yes, they are dramatic.  They get it from their dad! ;) )  We tried these this week and they were a hit with all the men in the family so away we go.  Here is our family's adaptation.

    Breakfast Cookies (6 dozen)

    1 cup honey
    1 cup brown sugar (or sucanant)
    3/4 cup coconut oil (I think that you could use butter or palm shortening here)
    3/4 cup olive oil
    4 eggs
    4 teaspoons vanilla
    3/4 cup ground flax seed meal
    3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    5 cups rolled oats
    1 cup nuts
    1 cup chocolate chips
    Preheat oven to 350°.  In large mixing bowl, combine honey, sugar, and oil. Blend well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by Tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake 10-15 minutes or until set. Cool on rack.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    The Oil Cleansing Method

    My sister first introduced me to using natural products on my face about six years ago.  I loved it, but I it cost an arm and a leg.  I just couldn't justify the cost.  I have tried other skin care lines, but I didn't love them.
    I had read glowing reviews about the oil cleansing method so I had to give it a shot.  Tsh explains it well here at Simple Mom, and Stephanie at Keeper of the Home shows it on this Youtube clip so there is no need for me to reinvent the wheel here. 
    I really like it. My pores are smaller, and my skin is less oily.  I don't need any make-up remover, but I still use moisturizer.  Maybe I still don't have the ratio right or maybe I am just in the habit putting on moisturizer!  I like Jenuinely Pure moisturizer.   It was funny (but not surprising) that Audrey noticed that I started using something different. She rubbed my cheeks and said "Mommy your skin is so soft."

    This post was linked Up at

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    If you first don't succeed try, try again (especially if it is as cheap as laundry soap!)

    After seeing three different people on Facebook make laundry soap, I decided that I should give it a try. The money savings is crazy; it costs about a penny a load. (For reference Gain laundry soap costs $0.29 a load.) I could save between $2-3 a week. I read a lot of reviews, and people seemed really positive about its effectiveness so I got excited to start.
    The Duggar family laundry soap recipe seemed to be an online favorite so I decided to use that one.  (Laundry soap recipe) I figured that if it worked for their family-money saving, lots of active boys and a fancy laundry room-it would be good enough for our family. I found Borax and washing Soda (different than baking soda!) at Hy-Vee, and then made a fatal error. I had read in one place that I could use any soap as a base. I had some great smelling natural soap at home so in the name of being frugal, I went off recipe and decided to use that instead of the Fels-Naptha soap bar. I grated the natural soap.  I realized that while Orange Clove smelled lovely, I was going to have actual cloves in this laundry soap. I should have scrapped the batch there, but I decided to strain out the cloves and carried on. (The picture below shows my little brown clove specks!)

    The whole process is really simple.  The longest part was dissolving the soap.  I did read about a dry detergent option, but after seeing how long it takes to melt down the soap on the stove, I don't think that I would try it.  I wash a lot in cold, and I don't think that it would break down. 
    I strained out my cloves and added the Borax and the washing soda.  The next morning I checked it, and it hadn't gelled like it was supposed to.  I used it for a week before surrendering to the fact that I needed to just make another batch, this time with the correct kind of soap!  Fels-Naptha is only $.99 at Fareway so I was sad that I wasted my $5 pretty smelling natural soap. I couldn't just throw it down the drain so we washed bikes, swings and the lawn table and chairs with it.  (This was probably still a waste, but it just felt better to me than tossing it down the drain!)
    Here is what the Fels-Naptha soap bar looked like right before melting and a picture of my 5 gallon bucket of soap before letting it sit over night. At least the laundry soap is cheap enough that making a second batch still saves me money, and the whole process took less time than sitting down to watch an episode of 19 Kids and Counting
    The new soap is great.  It congealed over night and was super thick.  I am impressed with this soap.  One batch makes enough for 320 loads so a little time equals great, money saving results!

    Friday, March 16, 2012

    Why DIY cleaning products?

    With all the cleaners that are available out there why use homemade cleaning products?  Different people have different reasons, but the selling point for me is that they are

    Simple, Safe, Effective, Cheap!

    Simplicity: I know, I know…how can it get any simpler than sitting in a chair ordering products off Amazon and having them shipped to my door?  It can’t, but I promise making your own cleaning products is easy.  It may sound unbelievable, but I honestly can clean my house with three products (and these are made with just a few ingredients.)   If I go to the store and shop for cleaners I end up with a different product for every area of my home.   This cleans the stove; this cleans the counter.  This cleans the floor; this cleans the sink.  It just isn’t necessary.  I keep it simple now with just a few cleaners and a whole lot of vinegar!  As far as making the cleaning products…I don’t think that anyone has ever said to me “Wow, how do you find time to make Kool-Aid?”  The recipes that I use on homemade cleaning products are about as complicated as making Kool-Aid! 

    Safety:  “Green” is a buzz word in our culture today that stirs up a lot of reactions.  While homemade products are green and safe for the environment my focus is on how safe they are for my family.  Conventional products can be hard on sensitive skin and asthmatics.  Short personal story: When Reuben was 16 months old I spent two days in the hospital trying to figure out the trigger for his series of seizures.  Every doctor and nurse came and asked me “Are you sure that he didn’t get into anything?  Cleaning Supplies under the sink or in the bathroom?”  I was SO glad that I could without a doubt say “No!” There was nothing for him to get into.  I thought to myself “If this is what happens to children who come into contact with these products my kids will not come into contact with these products.” 

    Effective:  They work!  Some recipes are better than others, but there are tons out there.  I know of nothing that makes a floor shine like moping with a little vinegar solution. 

    Frugal: I am Dutch both figuratively and literally!  When I did the math and saw how much money home made products it made me a little giddy!  Most green products cost more than the conventional cleaning products, but these are much cheaper I smile while I clean!   

    When something accomplishes two of my goals it is a “win-win.”  Homemade cleaning products are a “win-win-win-win!”

    A New Blog

    I started blogging a couple of years ago, and I have really enjoyed it.  One thing that surprised me was how many people were interested in the dairy free recipes that I posted.   I have toyed with the idea of splitting off my family posts from the recipe type of posts, but I never did anything about it until now. 

    I was asked to have a booth at an Ideas Fair for woman at our church.  My booth is supposed to encourage woman with different ideas about homemade cleaning and personal products.  As I was compiling recipes and info there was more that I wanted to say than I thought I could get on a handout so I branched off into a new blog.  I am looking forward to having “Simply Made Home” be a fun place to write about being a real food nerd, making “Soft Scrub” or face wash, and other ideas I have about making things both simple and homemade.