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We make our own dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, household cleaner, bug spray, and lotions.  In the very near future I’d like to start making our shampoo, sunscreen, and lip balm.  I’d like to share a few of the recipes with you.  These three recipes save TONS of money, and don’t take long to make.

For these you will need a box of Super WAshing Soda, and BORAX.  Together they will cost you about 5.50, but you will be getting 10 gallons of laundry soap, and about 150 Dish loads out of them.  It’s well worth it.  You will also need a gallon of Vinegar, a 5 gallon bucket, a spray bottle, and a bar of soap.


For the dishwasher detergent you will need

1 cup borax

1 cup super washing soda

mix it together and voila!  you are done.  2 tbsp, per load.  If you have hard water or your dishes are spotty add vinegar to the rinse compartment.  I keep mine dishwasher detergent in an old coffee can.


Some homemade laundry soap recipes can really irritate the skin.  You need a bar of soap, and many recipes call for Fels-Naptha which can irritate sensitive skin.  I use Castile soap which is much nicer to my sensitive skin, and my laundry still comes out wonderfully clean EVERY TIME.  I splurge and buy my Castile soap at Colonial Williamsburg (2.00 a bar… I think it’s 2.50 online), but you can also use Ivory for the same result.  You will also need a 5 gallon bucket with a lid (I use the lid from an old pot to cover a moping bucket, but Ace, Lowes, and Home Depot sell 5 gallon painting buckets with lids.

Now, this laundry soap will cost you roughly, 1-5 cents PER LOAD, depending on the bar soap you use. It takes about 20 minutes to make it, isn’t very messy, and makes the house smell really clean!

1.) Grate the bar of soap… while you

2.) Bring 4 cups of water to a boil on the stove

3.) add grated soap slowly and stir it until it dissolves.  (if you add it to quickly it will just clump together, undoing all your grating!)

4.)  Once the bar soap is fully dissolved, add 1 cup each of the Borax and Super Washing Soda stir until dissolved, ADD to bucket

5.) fill the bucket with water and stir.

YOU ARE DONE!  Let it set over night.  In the morning it might be a solid mass, it might be clumpy, it might seem water… All are normal and the soap will still wash your clothes.  I use 2 ladles full per load, or about 1/3 of a cup.


You will need a spray bottle, an empty applesauce jar (or any large glass jar), Vinegar, and Orange, or lemon Peel.

Fill the glass jar AT LEAST half way with your peels.  I personally HATE oranges, but my husband and kids like them, so I will buy the oranges and leave out the empty jar and they just put their peels in the jar as they eat.  You can also collect them over time and freeze them.

Then pour the vinegar over the peels until the jar is full, put on the lid, and put in a sunny window sill for a week or two, be sure to shake it every so often.

Once the mixture smells citrusy, pour your vinegar into the spray bottle.  Usually the peels prevent themselves from coming out during your pour, but if you are worried you can always drain it, and then funnel it into the spray bottle.




I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been busy setting up our gardens.  I thought I’d take a moment and list the changes we’ve made in the past year or so.  We are a normal family, in a normal house.  If we can make these changes anyone can.  Each of them majorly reduces harmful environmental impacts, and saves money.

1.) Switched to Florescent bulbs.

2.) We only use our air if it is over 85 and humid. (as foster parents this is not allowed if we have foster children in our home.  We have to down grade the temp to 77)

3.) We air dry our laundry unless we HAVE to wash it on a rainy day.  In the winter we can use our greenhouse.

4.) We collect rain water and use it to water our garden.

5.) Make our own cleaners.

  • Laundry Detergent is easy to make.  I use this recipe.  I have two boys and am married to a soldier.  I need a something that works well!
  • Household cleaner: I use 1/2 water, 1/2 white vinegar and add orange peels.  THis works well.  The vinegar absorbs any nasty odors.  It may stink at first, but after a few minutes you’ll only smell the oranges.

6.) Grow our own veggies:  I do not have a green thumb.  I started with a few herbs, and slowly worked my way up to actual food.  This year we will have; pumpkins, tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, onion, strawberries, and several varieties of pepper.  I have also expanded my herbs to include; lemon balm, and lavender. or buy at veggie stands, or pick your own farms.

7.) along with #6, Learn to can.  I started with applesauce and apple butter.  I would suggest starting there because the high acidity requires less equipment and is forgiving of errors.  You will need the ball/mason/kerr jars, tongs, and steril cloths to start.  When you move to veggies you need additional materials.  This site was terribly helpful.

8.) also an offshoot of #6; Learned to make Essential Oils, Tinctures, and Medicinal oils.  This was important, and easy.  The oils are used to scent things (lavender, rosemary) as well as in making things like, bug spray, soap, perfumes, and deodorizers.  I use the cold fusion method.

9.) Composting;  We have a single trashcan set aside for all food scraps and animal waste.  We throw some lime (or sawdust if available) on it to keep the odor down.  We turn it over every once in a while and viola we have our very own fertilizer!

10.) Stopped eating beef.  Beef is the #1 cause of agricultural environmental abuse.  It is the cause of the destruction of millions of acres of rain forest and violence in Brazil.  We didn’t die, even though my husband was raised on a cattle farm (a small free range operation I doubt his father knew what a gold mine he had).  In fact after eating the beef from my in laws small farm the stuff in the store only tasted like chemicals.  It was a pretty easy switch for both of us.  We made it a long time ago to be honest.  (though the man will slip up and eat a stake on RARE occasion.  I can’t really blame him).

Each of these changes means that our family is buying less prepackaged food.  Yes, this is great for our own health, but more importantly we are no longer contributing to the production of foods that use industrial farm methods, factory processing that emit harmful waste products, corporate practices that exploit the farmers.

The earth only has so much to offer us.  We are quickly approaching the limit, science has proved it.  We already have contaminated our water based food sources, and killed off 70-95% of our ocean based food sources.  My husband, a Deep Sea Diver, can attest to this.  He has observed NOTHING, not a single fish after 6 hours on the ocean floor miles from shore.  He says it looks like a lifeless desert.  The more efficient we become in meeting our NEEDS, the less addicted we are to the idea that we deserve endless comfort the better off our children will be.  This IS an emergency.  These are very easy ways to address the problem.  The thing is, most of these changes require little sacrifice on your part, so there are no excuses.  It is easy to take some herbs, put them in jar and let it set for 2 weeks.  It is even easier to boil water… the hardest part of making laundry detergent that is “organic”.  It’s a matter of conscious.



I have had the pleasure recently of realizing that most people correlate a person’s techno-savvyness with which model cell phone they own.  This is such a ridiculous farce.  We, in the name of being intelligent consumers, refuse to upgrade our technology until it breaks.  We have enough knowledge of technology to know we’re only buying extra memory, which you can buy fairly inexpensively and install yourself.  Not the mention the environmental cost of getting “rid” of electronic devices.

Here are some things to consider.  What are my actual needs.  Am I student?  Do I run a business out of my home? Where do I use technology?  Does is it need to be highly portable, durable etc?  When our sons were 2 and 5 we went through 2 DVD players, a TV, 2 laptops, and 4 cell phones in less than a year because of the wonderful misadventures of parenthood.  At that time we needed INCREDIBLY durable technological gadgetry with cheap warranties.  Now that the boys are 11 and 8 our needs have drastically changed.  We need to simplify.

For example, we use the Xbox because we can play Netflix, games, DVDs, and CDs on one device, and it comes with an EXCELLENT warranty.  We don’t have cable (chaching! money in my pocket) so this is wonderful entertainment for us!  We have a desk top computer and a laptop.  The laptop is for when my husband goes away on Duty.  He can gchat us, now that google+ does party chats we’ll have even more fun with this.  The desk top is for the kids and printing.  We need to add memory to the desk top because it’s a dinosaur (2007), but it works fine.  Honestly, if you use Google Chrome you don’t need to update your actual computer (except for adding memory) that often, all the “software” you’d need is right there in Gmail FOR FREE, or operating within Google Chrome, and you don’t need to download it onto your computer.  Most other software is on line; adobe, flashplayer, java and AVG security.  It is a waste of money to keep buying Ipads, laptops, and desk tops every year, even every other year for that matter, when what you need is all right there for FREE.

If you know your technology you don’t have to rely on manufacture upgrades that come in the latest models.  You can just download them for free online onto your existing gadget.  You’ll save yourself and the planet the trouble of recycling your electronics if you own less.

Don’t get me started on phones and phone plans, same principal.  Constantly upgrading your phone is a WASTE OF MONEY, unless you own a business and actually need a 4g network to run credit card payments, or have a medical condition which is greatly helped by an app on a smart phone.  Smart phones are fun, but for most of us they don’t really do anything for us that we can’t do for ourselves CHEAPER.  When it comes to technology go minimal, and keep it simple.

Collecting Rain Water


My husband and I received a 338.00 water bill yesterday. Triple our average bill. This utility company is having issues with it’s pipes, and has had to replace their piping for two neighbors. Looks like they’ll have to replace ours too. Of course, not before they over charge us for their problems. Thats utility companies for you. There is a plus side. It got us thinking about collecting Rain water.

The previous owners of our home already had one collection barrel set up just outside the greenhouse. We haven’t utilized it yet. While researching together, my husband discovered that 33% of water usage goes to flushing toilets, 3% goes to gardening, 13% goes to laundry, and the remaining 51% is for drinking, cooking, and showering. I am of course going to start using the existing barrel for watering my plants, but that’s only 3% of average water use. We want to start using rain water to flush our toilets.

We don’t mind carrying in buckets. We live in Virginia. It’s pretty warm here. This just isn’t practical for everyone. However, it’s a way to save money. Since we aren’t planning on using the collected rain water for drinking, laundry, dishes, or cooking we don’t need to worry about mold and bacteria. This means we can avoid expensive collection bins designed for those purposes. You can find them here.

We plan on using a similar set to what our previous owners (Biology Professor) used ; a 33 gallon trash can attached to our down spout. This is just a little idea that I felt I could share with my readers. I know it simply isn’t practical for everyone, BUT it is worth evaluating as a possible alternative water source for some of your water needs.  Here is what it looks like.  You can also put it on cinder blocks so it’s a bit easier to get to the spigot.



This is a recipe I got from my husband’s Grandparents.  At the time his Grandfather worked on the Railroad, I’m not sure his job.  They lived on a VERY fixed income.  My husband’s grandmother would make these, over an open fire, for the “Hobos” that would jump rail cars.  It was an inexpensive way to “pay it forward” as we say now.  I’m sure they didn’t use Ground Turkey.  Knowing his grandparents, it was probably Opossum, or Squirrel.  So, I’m sharing a family recipe.  Feel special.  😉


You will need:


1# ground turkey (2.79) or Ground Beef (3.79)

2-3 Carrots (really any veggie)  (.60)

1/2 of a small onion                 (.50)

3-4 Potatoes                          (1.00)

rosemary and basil (I grow my own)

Salt and pepper 

Grand total                             (4.89 – 5.89)



Slice Carrots, Cut Potatoes into 1 in chunks, and onion into large strips (small pieces will just stick to tinfoil).

Use scissors to cut basil and rosemary into small pieces, then mix it in with the ground meat.

Rip 4, 4 to 6in pieces of tin foil.

Once the meat/spice mixture is well blended start to “roll” the meat into 2 inch balls.  I say “roll” because it isn’t that neat.  You can really just grab chunks.  

Place 3-4 of said “balls”/chunks in the middle of the tinfoil.  Add Carrots, potatoes, onions, Fold tin foil over the food until it meets in the center, LEAVE OPEN TO VENT, then roll the ends toward the center.  They should look like little tinfoil pockets.  I’m OCD, in all reality you can just grab the outer corners of the tinfoil and crunch it up in the center of the food and poke holes in it, so long as you careful handling it when it’s finished cooking.  

Place on cookie sheet, and cook in the oven on 350* for 20-30 minutes, You can also cook this on the grill, or throw it into the embers of a camp fire.  VERY FUN AND CHEAP MEAL!  Salt and pepper to taste.


Homemade bread would be yummy side.



Checking back in


I checked out for a while. Got busy with life stuff. Bought a house, working through the adoption process, substitute teaching, and fulfilling my daily duties as a momma. I’m BACK! I’ll continue to post recipes and share information on how this family of four (hopefully 5 sometime soon), lives WELL on an the salary of an Enlisted soldier.

Getting Hurricane ready on a budget


Yep, in case you were wondering why I hadn’t posted in a while it’s because I was getting ready for Ms. Irene to blow up to my door step.  This is my first hurricane, but I used my snow storm (Colorado and Michigan) savvy to get ready.   The principals are basically the same, be ready to live without utilities for an extended period of time.  At least it won’t be 10 degrees outside!  It really stinks to not have power for a week when it’s that cold!  (I am only including food stuffs/shopping interests and will not cover safety preparation).

Filled up my car (got up at 6 am to beat the crowds),No power, no pumps.

Emptied the ice from the ice maker into a separate container, so as to maximize my iceage before the power goes out.  I’ll need it for the cooler, and stores won’t be open for at least a few days, and I turned my fridge ALL THE WAY UP!

Hard boiled all of my eggs (3.5 doz), froze or cooked my meat depending on it’s sell by date, made lots of patties (veggie patties, tuna patties, etc) they are easy to store, because they are flat, and don’t need to be kept as cold as say, cheese sticks.

filled every container in the house with water, stuck a few in the freezer. (frozen meat and water can keep the cooler cooler for longer)

made AND bought bread, Bought: charcol, lighter fluid, paper plates, candles (no batteries as we have a crank powered flashlight), stocked up on carrots tin-foil, and potatoes, dry milk, and of COURSE water.  Oh, and I splurged and bought candy so that during the peak of the storm the boys can seek the candy I will hide.  Hopefully, it will keep their little minds busy.

I pulled out some cash, since DEBIT cards will be useless.

I also filled the tub with water and set some containers out to catch rain.  We learned during our first extended outage that not being able to flush the toilet for a week is ungodly, and flushing requires 5 gallons… so… I need me some water for flushing.  We have rules too… flush after #2’s is mandatory, but DO NOT flush after #1’s.  Gross, but necessary.  All our previous extended power outages were in the winter… so I can imagine how much worse the stench would be in Virginia in August!

I spent only about 30 dollars more than I had budget for groceries, so it wasn’t too bad. We already had a first aid kit, so that is a help. Because I live on a military installation I can refill my water after the Hurricane, which saves me a ton of money.  My total is a little deceiving, because I was able to only buy enough water for 3 days knowing I could refill after that if I needed too.  They say you need one gallon of water a person a day, it’s really more like two.  You have to account for bathing and dishes too (I don’t do plastic silverware, just paper products), plus any thing extra like making milk for your cereal (dry milk), or making coffee.

So now is the fun part.  It is supposed to hit us tomorrow.  So until next time… whenever that may be…