Category: Home

DIY Trash Can for Your Car

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I promise you my aunt is cooler than yours.

When she was going through cosmetology school she liked to experiment on me sometimes. Remember the infamous 90’s knots? Or Scary Spice Horns? I’m pretty sure we tried that one time. 

But actually, of all the people on the planet, if I could fly her out here from Reno every time I needed a haircut/color, I totally would. She’s that good.

Apart from being incredibly talented in making you look like a million bucks, she’s also got a knack for decorating and crafting. In fact, she told me about this little craft project of hers and I knew I had to share it. 

She watches her two grandkids which are roughly the same ages as my kids. Apparently, I’m not the only woman in the world who struggles with keeping her car not looking like a trash bin. She said she got fed up with it one day and this little idea came to her.

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It’s genius. My kids love it. And just like she prophesied, they fight over who gets to use it. I just leave it on the back seat in the middle, between their carseats.

Another plus is that you can use it for wet and dry garbage. It’s easy to rinse out and I love that it has a little lid which fits perfectly. Since I hate the smell of fast food wrappers or half eaten hamburgers when we’re traveling, the lid helps minimize those odors. Score! If you have to change a dirty diaper and there’s no trash bin in sight, no problem. Stick it in here with the lid on (possibly put it in the trunk )

It’s a cinch to make. Lilliana and I made it in like 15 minutes. She passed me the washi tape while I stuck it on. Super simple!

Here’s what you need:

Step 1: Open

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Get your clean, metal can. We get these from our local food storage place with things like flour, sugar, beans, oats, rice, etc. Any big metal can would do.

Then you open it with a smooth edge can opener. This makes for a perfectly fit lid for your trash can. These can openers cut from the side instead of through the top. They are great to avoid sharp edges and allows you to take the top of the can off without contaminating anything inside. They’re a great little tool to have.

Step 2: Decorate

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Now you get to decorate. Use whatever kind of tape you like. My aunt used some really cute duct tape and different kinds of washi tape. She said it was easier for her to start at the bottom and the top and work your way in towards the middle. Since my washi tapes were all the same width I started at the top and went down. Either way, just try not to overlap the tape. It tends to lift if you do. And don’t wrap any tape around the opening of your can or the edge of your lid. You want the metal to touch metal when you put the lid on in order for it to be a secure fit. If your tape drapes over the sides, just trim it with some scissors.

Step 3: Handle

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You can rough up the tape a little in the middle of the lid and hot glue your drawer pull on to use as a handle. Roughing up the tape helps it stick. Mine still keeps falling off every time I drop the lid so I’m thinking about drilling a small hole and using the screw that went with the drawer pull to secure it on there. 

Guys, that’s it. No more steps. You’re done. 

Isn’t it fun?! And believe me, your car will stay cleaner. I just empty the little thing every couple of days and it’s awesome not to have to take armfuls of garbage to the trash bin. 

Big thanks to my aunt for sharing her artistic and creative abilities with us. Love you Aunt Artie!

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What is your biggest struggle when it comes to keeping your car clean?

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DIY Wood Sign

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Every couple of years we get a crazy hair in our family and decide that we’re going to do all homemade gifts. Originally it was because we were all broke and thought homemade gifts would be more affordable. I quickly realized that first year that homemade gifts are not necessarily less expensive and require a whole lot of extra time! However, I made these last year and pulled it off for only a couple dollars each.

You can make them any size, shape, color you want and with whatever quote or saying you want. It’s a super versatile idea and I’m going to show you the basics. So if you’re not a huge fan of what my entryway sign says or the shape or color, you can easily customize it.

Also, I didn’t fully realize how many steps were actually involved and I want to reassure you that more tutorials are in the making for the basic techniques. In the meantime, I will provide some helpful links.

The first thing you need is a plan. Figure out where you want to put the sign if it’s for yourself and decide on the dimensions you want. We’re going to be using 1×4 lumber, which is actually about .75×3.5 (I still can’t figure out why they don’t just cut them true to size). So the width of the sign is whatever you want to make it and the height will be the number of boards high that you want. You can make a short sign with one board or taller with two, three, four, or however many you want. My sign is 3 feet (36 inches) wide and 3 boards tall.

You also need something to attach the boards to. I used a very small piece of trim and cut three pieces at 10 inches long to screw the boards into. You could just as easily use leftover pieces of 1×4’s but the smaller trim helped the sign sit more flush with the wall.

You will need some kind of saw to cut the boards unless you have really nice Home Depot workers to do it for you. I didn’t have that but I did have a dark and handsome man living here in my house who took care of it for me 🙂

Then you need to know your color scheme and the style you’re going for. I love the farmhouse, vintage kind of look and so I used three colors. You can just as easily, or probably easier, use just one color or just wood stain. 

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Lastly, you need some words. I spent a long time coming up with the words I wanted in my entryway. I decided on this quote from LDS Church President Harold B. Lee because I thought it was a great reminder to me everyday that I walk in my house what is most important.

Ok, now that you have a plan, let’s get started!

What You Will Need

Materials

  • 1×4 lumber (cut to meet your dimensions)
  • small pieces of trim for backing
  • screws (1 inch)
  • sandpaper (100-150 grit)
  • stain, chalk paint or acrylic paint (background and text color)
  • finishing wax or some kind of finishing varnish
  • D Hooks (or whatever hanging hardware you can find)

Tools

  • saw to cut lumber
  • drill
  • 2 regular paint brushes
  • small paint brush for writing
  • printer and paper
  • chalk
  • pen

Steps

1. Cut and sand wood

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Simple as that. Once your boards are cut according to your dimensions, just sand the edges to get rid of any rough spots. If you’re going to stain your wood, do that before assembling. I usually stain my wood a darker color even if I’m going to paint over it. The dark color pops through the sanding in the finished product and makes it look older.

 2. Assemble

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Decide which side of each board you want to be the front and order them the way that looks best. Beware of eyes and rough spots and try to keep the middle of the sign as uniform as possible to make it easier to paint the words on. Then flip them over and screw the trim onto the backs of the boards with a screw in each board.

If the backing is very thin you will want to drill small holes before you screw into them so the wood doesn’t split. Since my sign was fairly wide, I used 3 pieces of backing.

3. Paint

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You can use chalk paint or acrylic paint for this step. Here is the recipe I use for homemade chalk paint.

I painted this first color (driftwood grey from Glidden) with a really crappy, old brush and did it very lightly so I could still see the stain coming through. You can wait for it to dry in between coats but I’m not usually patient enough and I don’t mind the look from doing one color on top of another.

A word about chalk paint and dry times. If you’re trying to get good coverage it is essential that you wait at least a couple of hours between coats. If you’re going for a rougher look like me, chalk paint dries to the touch within a few minutes so it’s ok to layer without waiting for it to completely dry in between.

I layered on a second color (blue jay from Glidden) and then a last coat of white (pebble white from Glidden) with the same technique. Then I roughed it up with 150 grit sandpaper.

5. Print Words

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I am so glad there are super smart people out there who figure out genius hacks and then post them all over the internet for me to easily locate and implement. I did not come up with this idea but saw it on several different blog posts.

You can create your words in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. That is the easiest, most straight forward way. I am quite attached to this font on Picmonkey so I designed my words on there and then opened it in a Word file to print it. Here is a post about designing in Picmonkey (which is free) and here is a post about printing large images in Microsoft Word.

Either way, you’ll need to create your words, size them appropriately, and print them out. You are likely going to use several pages. Just put the puzzle together with tape until you have your saying put back together. 

6. Transfer Words

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In order to transfer the words onto your wood, you take your chalk and scribble all over the back of your words.  

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Then you tape it onto your board. Next, you take a ballpoint pen and meticulously trace each letter.

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When you take it off, you’ll see the outline of the words! It’s like magic 

PaintLettersE1Now I’m going to be honest and tell you this next part is the most difficult but it’s totally doable and just requires some patience and tenacity. You don’t need to be artistic or crafty, just patient. You’re going to use a small paint brush to fill in the space inside your chalk words. Go slowly and smoothly, bending at your wrist, to follow the lines and fill in the space. You’ll probably need two coats so let it dry a couple of hours in between.

It certainly doesn’t have to be perfect and not all the letters will be exactly the same. Guess what, that’s what makes it homemade  

I roughed my letters up a little bit with sandpaper after they were dry.

7. Finish

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Since I used chalk paint I used a finishing wax and a yucky old chip brush to buff in the wax and create a nice finish. Chalk paint is super porous and so a wax does an excellent job at filling in the pores and creating a smooth, lasting finish. It will harden over time and keep your paint from chipping. 

It’s super easy to do, just remember to only use a tiny, tiny bit. I barely dip my brush in the wax until there’s a very small amount on the bristles and rub it in with circular motions. That’s it! You can also buff it to give it a shine but I always skip that step since I like a matte finish.

8. Hardware

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You can use whatever hardware you have on hand or can find at the store. I used a wire hanging kit and it worked great. I’m not going to lie, hanging things on walls is not my strong point. There may or may not be several holes behind this sign now 

HangingE1I love being able to make things for my house. It’s kind of a fun hobby and then I get to be proud when someone says, “Oh that’s cute! Where did you get it?”

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What saying are you going to use on your sign?

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9 Helpful Tips To Fix an Overdraft Problem in Your Checking Account

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Let’s admit it. We all have, at some point, looked at our bank account or updated our check register and realized we are in the red. If you have never had this happen, congratulations and move on with your amazing life. As for the rest of us, this is a scary situation to be in and I must confess, I have been there more than once.

Luckily, I have matured a little through the years and although money is still tight in my family, we are getting better at staying out of the red altogether. Here are a couple of tips to both avoid getting in the red and how to get out quick if you happen to find yourself there.

How to Avoid Dropping “Into the Red” in your Checking Account

1. Keep a detailed list of deposits and transactions

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Enter YNAB. I have written an entire post about why I love YNAB, which is a budgeting software. One of the great features is the ability to track all of your spending. Remember those old school check registers that we used to use to keep on top of how much was in our checking account? YNAB allows you to do essentially the same thing via your computer or smartphone. This has been a lifesaver for me and I have faithfully recorded every transaction since the beginning of last year.

Some people fall into the trap of only using online banking to check their account balance and fail to record their spending. I would bet I’m not the only one who, while adopting that philosophy, spent money when my online banking said I had it in my account, only to overdraft later because something hadn’t gone through yet. DON’T TRUST YOUR ACCOUNT BALANCE FROM ONLINE BANKING!

Most of us have automatic payments set up for most of our bills, some of us still use checks on occasion, and some pending transactions don’t show the true amount for a couple of days. All of these things make it difficult to budget your spending based on what your online banking shows. The best way to get around this is to keep your own records. It really isn’t as difficult as you may think. If you don’t want to use a budgeting software there are many free check register apps that are helpful too.

Of course best practices would include to record transactions on the spot, which is why a mobile app is helpful. However, life is busy and there are days when I don’t record anything. This is when I first wrack my brain to remember what I paid for and then use my online banking to double check. If I get gas and it shows as a pending transaction on my online banking, I can usually remember about how much it was. I will record that number and flag it so I can remember to check back later, when the transaction is cleared in my account, I adjust the amount as needed. This helps me stay on top of my spending and always know how much is ACTUALLY in my account and not just what the bank SAYS is in my account right now. I always look at my numbers when deciding how much money I have left, not my online account balance. This helps to keep us out of the red.

2. Round your transactions

When recording your transactions, round the amount up to the nearest dollar. When recording your deposits, round down to the nearest dollar. This is helpful in two ways. 1) You are always dealing with even dollar amounts and 2) You create a small cushion of savings. When recording your transaction for your trip to Walmart where you spent $100.57, record it as $101. When entering your paycheck for $829.78, record it as $829. This makes recording and calculating much easier, as you don’t have to deal with change. Think of it as a change collector.

We have a mason jar where we keep most of our extra change and I sometimes dig through it when I go to the car wash or something. This is essentially the same thing. Instead of accounting for every penny, forget you even have it and round your transactions. Throw the change in an invisible mason jar and feel good about the fact you are building a small cushion in your checking account to avoid overdrafts. This is another reason to record your transactions because your bank account will always say you have more than your records say you do. Trust your records and you’ll be fine.

3. Build an emergency fund

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This is a no-brainer but apart from your invisible mason jar, you want to set aside money in some kind of easy-access emergency fund. This helps to avoid going over your budget when you blow out a tire on your car one day or forget you have your amazon prime yearly subscription due this month and you don’t have that money budgeted. You can build it little by little. Making this step automatic is even better. If your job allows for direct deposit to more than one account, take advantage of that and set it up for a certain percentage to go into a savings account to build up that emergency fund. In just two years, you can save $1,000 with only $42 a month going into that account. If you get paid biweekly, that’s only $21 a paycheck!

4. Set up overdraft protection

This is the last option because I’ve come to find out that this doesn’t necessarily avoid paying fees. Most banks now charge a fee if they have to transfer money from your savings account or transfer transactions from your checking account to a credit card in cases of overdraft. It’s good to have this set up as a precaution but remember to include the other steps above in order to avoid problems in the first place. If you completely fail to check your account balance one day or by the time you check it the banks are closed, this would be a great protection. The fees associated are most likely much less than the alternative of insufficient funds fees.

What To Do Immediately If You “Drop Into the Red”

1. Start a spending freeze

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If you’re in the red, please do not continue to spend money. Insufficient funds fees are usually based on the number of transactions overdrawn. The minute you find out you’re in the red, freeze all spending in your family. That means letting your spouse know it’s NOT ok to buy a coke on their way home from work and you will have to cancel your hair appointment that day.

,Challenge yourself to only cook what you already have in the house for dinner this week, until your next paycheck. You may need to contact your utility company, cell phone provider, or any other bills that are scheduled to come out of that checking account between now and your next paycheck. Many companies will work with you if you let them know you’ve run into a small financial crisis and many times they will allow you to pay your bill a little late with little to no penalty.

2. Deposit cash or directly transfer from savings

If you check your account daily, which you should, you will see those red numbers and should act immediately. If you’re quick and you check it in the morning, you can deposit cash or directly transfer from your savings account within the same bank to cover the deficit in your account. Most banks, I believe, will waive the fees associated with overdrafting from your checking account if the problem is taken care of immediately. Depositing a check will not take care of that immediately. It must be cash or direct transfer within the same bank.

3. Raid your house for things to sell

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If you don’t have the cash…or savings…or mason jar of change…raid your house for things to sell quickly. Do you have something you meant to return to the store but haven’t yet? Get your butt to the store, with the receipt hopefully, for a cash refund. What can you part with at home that you could sell quickly? There are usually many facebook groups where you can sell things locally and if you do it right, you could sell it the same day and deposit that money right away. In Utah we also have KSL classified ads where you can sell things online, or there’s always craigslist. Get real about things you don’t necessarily need and let somebody else benefit from them while saving your financial butt.

4. Do a service for quick compensation

A while back while chatting with my sister about having to replace the transmission in our truck and wondering how that was going to be possible with our budget at the time, she quickly said, “Oh hey! I’ll pay you $100 to finish painting my furniture I started!” She gave me the money right then and it took me a few days to finish her furniture.

Maybe you don’t have a gracious sister like I do but I bet you have a neighbor who could use your help in clearing the leaves and debris from their yard. Or I once heard of a young man going door-to-door offering the disgusting service of washing out your city garbage bin for 20 bucks. The point is, people are willing to help you if you let them know you need it. I wouldn’t recommend borrowing money if at all possible. That can drive a rift between you and the ones you love. Instead, ask if there’s anything you can do to help them out and receive a little compensation in return.

5. Work on avoiding these situations in the future

There are small changes you can make to totally avoid ever going through this again in the future. I rarely overdraft in my account anymore but I do sometimes “overdraft” according to my own records. This is when my online banking shows I have $500 but according to my records, I’m negative $78. It’s sometimes easy to let that slide because I know I have an invisible cushion from rounding my transactions and it’s unlikely I will really overdraft in my checking account. However, I try to treat these “overdrafts” just as I would a real one with insufficient funds fees from the bank.

Let’s quickly recap: First and foremost, avoid these problems by keeping meticulous records (and by meticulous I mean rounding your transactions ) saving money, and setting up overdraft protection as a last resort. If you end up in this situation of “being in the red” start a spending freeze and deposit cash or directly transfer from savings immediately to cover the deficit. If you don’t have anything to deposit, get some cash by selling stuff or working for it. It’s that simple folks.

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So…what are you going to do differently to avoid these situations? Or if you find yourself there now, what are you going to do to get out of it?

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8 Tips to Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh

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I live in a really tiny house. We call it the “circle house” because you can literally walk in a circle and go through every room; they are all connected. The problem this poses for me is the fact that bad smells travel quickly. For a girl like me with a hyper-sensitive nose, it drives me berserk!

I love to cook and I especially like to try new things. My husband calls them “inventions” or “experiments” as if I’m some mad scientist or something. I try to explain that I’m rarely coming up with something out of the blue, it’s usually a new recipe I’m following. Like the Chicken Pad Thai Catastrophe of 2011.

After a month of painstakingly searching the entire state for all the ingredients, including fish sauce, I was incredibly disappointed when it turned out to be a revolting disaster. I kept thinking the smell of the fish sauce would subside and meld with all the other flavors in the dish. A couple from church stopped by to say hello as we were gagging while dumping the entire pan of slimy noddles and stinky fish sauce into the trash can. I’m sure they regretted that visit but I am also sure they were warned the second they opened their car door.

Or there was the regrettable “fat-rendering in the crockpot” idea. It hadn’t occurred to me that putting a paper towel under the lid to absorb the condensation would cause the beef lard to burn. When I pulled up in my driveway after being gone for almost 10 hours, I thought my house was burning down! I’m lucky it didn’t.

I had to open all the windows and doors, take the smoking crockpot outside, which I’m sure my neighbors really appreciated, and leave for a couple of hours. I had to wash every blanket, pillow, and swatch of fabric in my entire house. 

For brevity’s sake let’s just conclude that I have some experience trying to get bad smells out of my house. These are two extreme examples but there is the everyday problem that every meal I cook seems to permeate the entire house. Without a ventilation system in my kitchen or even a range hood, the smell of bacon or any kind of frying oil is destined to lurk about my house and offend my nostrils until the next meal takes over.

I have tried every way imaginable to minimize odors or try to eliminate them after the fact. Let me share with you what have turned out to be my best practices to keep your home smelling fresh and inviting.

Keep the kitchen clean

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Prevention is key in keeping bad smells from taking over. Here are a few ideas to keep on top of it.

1. Food

The longer an odor is allowed to sit and steep, the more it is able to permeate. Common sense tells you to get that crap out immediately! I have started using a little bucket as my “garbage bowl” when I cook. When I cut up strong-smelling foods like onions, garlic, or fish I throw the scraps into my garbage bucket and set it outside until I’m finished cooking and I can take it to the outside garbage.

Getting rid of (aka taking outside, not throwing in your trash can) frying oil or grease as soon as you finish cooking will slow the spread of that wretched smell significantly. I empty the grease into a mason jar and take it outside.

It is also wise to make sure you put the leftovers in a container and in the fridge as soon as possible. It keeps your house from stinking up and it keeps you from getting salmonella the next day. So, win/win.

I suppose it also goes without saying that we should empty our garbages often.

2. Dishes

We like to have a big breakfast on Sundays with bacon, eggs, and sometimes pancakes before we go to church. Usually what happens though is I’m in a big hurry to get breakfast cooked and eaten so I can get ready, which causes me to leave the clean up until we get back. I love the smell of bacon when it’s cooking but the after smell of bacon…gag 

Washing your dishes as you go not only helps the cleanup process go much quicker but it also helps to get rid of those food smells before they unpack their bags and decide to stay a while. 

3. Surfaces/Appliances

Quickly wiping up spills and messes on your stove, table, and countertops keeps bacteria from growing and disturbing your fresh smelling kitchen.

However, if you’re not washing those rags and towels daily, you’re just spreading nasty bacteria all over your surfaces. Please, for the love of all that is holy, change out your dish rags daily

If you are regularly cleaning out your fridge, oven, and microwave you won’t have to deal with those mystery smells that are difficult to get rid of. Keep an opened box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb strong smells and change it out monthly. To quickly clean your microwave, put a small bowl of equal parts water and vinegar with lemon wedges in and turn it on for 2 minutes. Then let it sit for 2 more minutes. When you open it to clean it out, the walls will be full of condensation and will have soaked the stuck on junk to make it easier to wipe out. 

Cleaning your garbage disposal regularly is an easy thing to do and will prevent bacteria from building up down there. Just throw in some ice cubes and lemon wedges weekly to break up stuck on food and kill the nasty stuff. Rinse, with the water and disposal turned on for a couple of minutes to make sure all the junk clears the pipes.

Get rid of lingering smells
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4. Vinegar

Vinegar is our magical tool when it comes to getting rid of really bad smells. I had read that putting out a bowl of vinegar in your kitchen and letting it sit overnight got rid of bad smells but I thought it was pretty far-fetched. So I decided to try it. I went a step further and laid out several bowls, one on my stove, one on my table, and one near my sink. It smelled like vinegar for the next 15 minutes or so but then magically, that smell disappeared and the bad smell started to fade. Pretty amazing if you ask me. Vinegar is like the all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer and is a whole lot safer than bleach. I am pretty stocked up on vinegar right now as he has become my new BFF when it comes to cleaning.

If the smell still doesn’t go away you could try heating up the vinegar mixed with equal parts water and some citrus peels on the stove for a couple of hours.

5. Febreeze

I always keep a couple of cans of febreeze air effects in my cleaning arsenal. It is a quick and easy way to spray around your house and although it doesn’t work like magic, it certainly helps the situation. If I walk in and my house smells like the Malt Shop where I used to work, I take several trips around this little circle house, continuously spraying my febreeze and usually notice it keeps the odor monster at bay. Then I can get down to business and see what, of the above steps, I haven’t implemented. 

Keeping it smelling fresh

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6. Ventilate

My little house gets so stuffy in the winter and just starts to smell stale. I have started opening a window in every room in the mornings, no matter how cold, to let the air move around a little. 

Also, when I cook, I open the kitchen windows and turn on the ceiling fan. Getting some air flowing through the house keeps those unpleasant odors from sticking around and keeps a constant flow of fresh air moving around.

7. Plants

My husband can testify I’m not very good at this one. I love the idea of having lots of live plants in my house because hello, they’re constantly breathing fresh oxygen into your space. However, I tend to kill anything green that sets leaf in my house. He has finally, after almost 7 years of marriage, resorted to buying me regular flowers that will die anyway instead of potted plants.

I am going to try it again, starting with a small herb garden. Basil, rosemary, mint, oh my! Can you imagine how delicious it’s going to smell? 

8. Smellies

I have an entire drawer in my kitchen, I’m not exaggerating, dedicated to keeping all my little scented wax packages. I have a wax warmer in 3 of the 5 separate spaces in my house. Basically, you can’t walk more than 20 steps in my house without coming across a wax warmer. 

I have also used wall plugins, candles, and an essential oil diffuser. All these things can help transform your home into a delightfully smelling haven. I can’t express the feeling I have when I walk into my house and it smells fresh and clean. It busts my anxiety like nothing else. 

Don’t underestimate the power of the sense of smell and the effect it can have on the overall feeling of your home. Making a few small changes when it comes to your cooking and cleaning habits will have your home smelling superb in no time.

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10 Minute Homemade Laundry Soap

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If I told you that you could wash all your laundry in a month for only a quarter and about 10 minutes of your time, would it be worth it to you? A batch of this stuff takes roughly 10 minutes to make and will last anywhere from 3-8 months depending on how much you use per load and how many loads you do. An entire batch (448 oz.) costs about $1.83. I assure you, it is worth your time.

Before I start in on this amazing stuff (of which you will find I am SUPER passionate about) let me address the upfront concerns that I, and probably you, have had about laundry soap you make yourself.

1. Do your clothes smell good?

I have a slight obsession with pleasant smells. I always want my house, my linens, and my clothes to smell good and I have gone to great lengths to accomplish this. For my laundry, I used to spend inordinate amounts of money on not only detergent but add on top of that every single product on the shelves to make my clothes smell like my Nammie’s (grandma’s) used to. It was totally possible for me to spend over $50 a month on laundry products. Yikes! To answer this question, my clothes smell no different to me. My husband trains horses so you can only imagine how not-pleasant-smelling his work clothes are. However, even when I wash them with my own laundry soap, they don’t smell any worse or any better to me than with Tide or Gain or any other brand name laundry soap. Now, I do use fabric softener (although vinegar works just fine too) and I sometimes use the Downy Beads to give it a boost but I would have done that with regular laundry soap anyway. The difference now is that I can buy those kinds of products with zero guilt since I’m saving a truckload on the soap itself. As far as my Nammie’s laundry smell? Hanging my clothes outside has proven to be the answer. Totally free, totally easy, and smells glorious in my book!

2. Do your clothes get clean?

I have a somewhat messy 4-year-old and a ridiculously messy 2-year-old and I can tell you that stains are completely commonplace at our house. I use a regular stain remover like Spray and Wash or sometimes Clorox 2 but as far as the laundry soap goes, not any different than any other I have tried. Our clothes are clean but stains are still the bain of my existence. I have found that getting stains out has more to do with how soon you wash the clothes than what kinds of products you use.

3. Is it safe on HE machines?

I have an HE machine and so does my mother who also uses this recipe. We have been making our own laundry soap for at least 3 years and have had no problems to date. If you google “homemade laundry soap he machine” you will find mostly positive comments and just about every homemade laundry soap I have seen uses almost the exact same ingredients with very similar measurements. The HE machines can’t handle a lot of suds but this is supposed to be a low-suds detergent. I have also heard that liquid laundry soap is almost always better than powdered forms on HE machines. If you’re really concerned check your owners manual or call the manufacturer.

4. Are the ingredients safe?

If you were to research the ingredients in homemade laundry soap as opposed to store-bought laundry soap, you would probably find that homemade is almost always safer than store-bought. Not that I would drink this stuff, but I feel totally comfortable with the mostly natural ingredients. I have very sensitive skin and I haven’t seen any problems in that regard with this laundry detergent. But as always, do your own research if you’re still concerned.

5. How long does it take to make?

Ok are you ready to have your mind blown? This was another big hangup of mine and why it took me so long to catch onto the DIY laundry soap train. I watched my sister make laundry soap one time, grating the soap by hand and trying to pour this globby mess out of a bottle into her machine. I have experimented a little with this recipe and have found some serious shortcuts and tricks to make this as painless as possible. Most days that I make this (which I only make it about once every few months) it takes me all of 10 active minutes, if that. It takes a while to let it cool but since that doesn’t require my attention, I don’t count it. You may need once a year an extra 15 minutes or so to grate the soap and measure it out into baggies, which is what I do, but it saves you loads of time down the road. Also, a food processor and immersion blender make this job super easy and incredibly quick. You can make it without these but in my book, it wouldn’t be worth the time investment. I bought both my food processor and immersion blender at different yard sales for about the price of a month of store-bought detergent.

Let’s Get Started

Are you ready to get started?! You will need the following ingredients:
Ingredients2

  1. Fels Naptha Soap Bar
  2. Borax
  3. Super Washing Soda

All of which can be found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store, probably on the bottom shelf. I have included links to both Amazon and Walmart (I used the link where I found it the cheapest) but quite frankly, I was amazed at how expensive these are online. I can buy each ingredient for under $5 (and the fels naptha for less than $2) at my local grocery store.

For tools you will need:

  1. Large pot
  2. 4 or 5 gallon bucket
  3. Food processor or hand grater
  4. Immersion blender or large whisk
  5. 4 one gallon containers (I use old laundry soap containers)
  6. Kitchen scale (optional)
  7. Small plastic baggies

Step One:

Fels Naptha2
I do this step once every year or two usually. I buy 4 bars of fels naptha soap and grate them all in a food processor. Use the finest grate you have and if there are any large chunks, mince them up with a knife. The chunks will not dissolve unless they are finely grated or minced. Then I use a kitchen scale to measure out 2/3 of a bar. I have already done the math for you so don’t let it be more complicated than it is. One fels naptha bar weighs about 5.7 oz. so 2/3 of that is about 3.8 oz. I separate each batch of grated fels naptha bar by weighing out 3.8 oz and putting it in a small baggie. Four bars will yield 6 batches, which is enough for at least a year or more. Doing this ahead of time will save you the largest chunk of work and time.

Step Two:

When you’re ready to make your laundry soap, heat up 8 cups of water (not to boiling but obviously hot) and pour in one bag (2/3 of a bar) of grated fels naptha soap. Stir or mix with an immersion blender until dissolved.

Step Three:

Pour in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of super washing soda. Stir or mix with an immersion blender until dissolved.

*Note: Try not to allow your water to boil or it will start to suds up with the soap in it. It just needs to be hot enough to allow the mixture to dissolve.

Step Four:

Fill your 5 gallon bucket with 3 gallons (48 cups) of hot water from the tap. I actually drew a line with a permanent marker on my bucket so I wouldn’t have to measure 3 gallons every time. Empty the contents of your pot into the bucket. Mix with an immersion blender or large whisk until mixture seems properly diluted in the water. Let sit until mixture comes to room temperature, preferably overnight.

Step Five:

This is what the soap will look like after cooling to room temperature. There are several inches of congealed soap sitting on top. You can use your hands to break it up or just start mixing again with the immersion blender.
CongealedThis is what it looks like after a couple minutes of mixing.
Blendfinal
Mix, mix, mix! The more often you mix the detergent while in the 5 gallon bucket, the less you’ll need to shake it in the container to keep it from congealing. I usually mix it with the immersion blender once after adding the mixture to the bucket, again after it starts congealing and before I go to bed, and once in the morning before I start to empty the mixture into my detergent containers. That seems to be the trick and I rarely need to shake my container afterwards.

Step Six:

Fill your laundry detergent containers with the soap. I use old Gain containers and fill them with a ladle and a funnel. Each container should only be about 3/4 full. This allows for room in the container should you need to shake the detergent a little in case it congeals.

I made you a little label that you can print out on waterproof sticker paper and stick on your containers. These labels look like they would work but I actually ordered and used these ones. It helps to have the recipe on the back so you don’t have to look it up every time you go to make it. 

Download (PDF, 847KB)

And there you have it…the easiest laundry soap and $30 of savings per month. That’s almost $400 a year! What could you do with that extra money? I hope you do something fun with it…tell your husband that you worked hard to make it and so that’s your extra money

 

10 Minute Homemade Laundry Detergent
Super easy and quick DIY laundry detergent to help you save loads of money.
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Ingredients
  1. Water
  2. 2/3 Fels Naptha Bar (3.8 oz) grated
  3. 1 cup Borax
  4. 1 cup Super Washing Soda
Instructions
  1. Heat (just under boiling) 8 cups water in stockpot and add grated fels naptha bar. Stir until soap dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and add borax and super washing soda. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Fill 5 gallon bucket with 3 gallons of hot water. Add soap mixture and blend with immersion blender until completely dissolved (about 2 minutes).
  4. Allow detergent to cool to room temperature or overnight. Blend with immersion blender two more times, allowing to sit for several hours in between to avoid congealing.
  5. Empty detergent into containers.
  6. Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load of laundry.
Adapted from Life at Cobble Hill Farm Blog
Count the Happies http://countthehappies.com/

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Let me know if you try this and any questions or concerns you have. I’ll do my best to answer them! Happy Laundry Day 🙂

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