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April 15, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent Myths

I knew about homemade laundry detergent for several years before I considered making it myself.  I had a few concerns that I did not properly investigate for years.  Have you bought into any of these homemade
laundry detergent myths?
  1. Homemade laundry detergent won't clean as well as my favorite brand.  Actually, in my opinion, this removes smells better than the brands I use the most.  Sometimes the scent lingers in certain exercise clothing after washing using store-bought detergent.  A fresh scent remains when we use homemade detergent. Stains seem to come as clean as they would with store-bought detergent.  I have continued to use my regular stain treatment, so I don't have a good grasp of stains.
  2. Homemade laundry detergent is complicated to make.  My powdered laundry detergent recipe is made in less than five minutes, even when I make an extra large batch.  Boiling is not required.
  3. Homemade laundry detergent smells strongly.  A major ingredient in many DIY detergents is Fels Naptha soap.  Even I will admit that when you first open a bar of this soap it smells strongly.  However, once the Fels Naptha mixes with the borax and washing soda, the scent is mild.  More importantly, laundered clothing has a very light scent.
  4. Homemade laundry detergent requires hard-to-find and expensive ingredients.  Borax, super washing soda, and Fels Naptha are all found in my Walmart's laundry aisle.  (FYI, Amazon's prices are much higher than what I pay locally.)  Boxes of borax and washing soda weigh three and four pounds and you only need a half cup at a time.  These will last a long time and cost less than $4 per box.  A bar of Fels Naptha costs less than a dollar.
  5. Homemade laundry detergent is not safe for septic tanks or HE washing machines.  With no fillers or phosphates, homemade laundry detergent is safe for septic tanks.  HE washing machines require low suds.  Homemade produces significantly less bubbles than standard detergents.  See here and here.
  6. Homemade laundry detergent requires a large container for storage.  You can make as little as two cups of detergent at a time.  A plastic peanut container (as pictured) provides ideal storage for our family.  It holds about a quadruple batch and easily stores on our dryer.
  7. Homemade laundry detergent contains toxic ingredients.  Just as you should not consume baking soda, soap, or salt, you should not eat borax, super washing soda, or the soap required for homemade detergents.  Don't confuse borax with boric acid which is used in insecticides and pesticides.  As with all laundry detergents, keep it away from your eyes and children.
Have I convinced you to check out my simple homemade laundry detergent recipe?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 14, 2014

Shoe Giveaway {$120 Value}

Spring temperatures are finally here, and it's time to celebrate.  Would you like a new pair of shoes for free?  Enter the shoe giveaway below.  You may remember all the great things I shared about my comfortable ballet flats (linked to my review).   I am quite pleased to tell you Sole Provisions has offered a pair of shoes for one of you, dear readers!
Sole Provisions provides comfortable and quality shoes with free shipping and easy returns.  I have the shoes pictured above, the Vionic Orthoheel ballet flats in Olivia.  You can see my complete review, but in summary I honestly like them because they

  • Fit well on the first try.  
  • Support with a fabulous arch.
  • Provide real comfort and cuteness.
GIVEAWAY
Please enter to win your own pair of shoes from Sole Provisions. You get to choose a style valued up to $120!  Please enter to win using the Rafflecopter tool below.  (If you are reading through RSS or email you will need to visit ThisSimpleHome.com.) If you have any problems entering, just let me know.  If you have never subscribed by email, now is a great time to do it!  It's truly the best way to ensure you don't miss a post.  

Please note I will check all entries before choosing a winner.  Enter honestly, or refrain from entering a giveaway on this blog. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 11, 2014

Weekend Wind-Down

Spring temperatures arrived this week.  It was a fine week for the Race for Education at my daughter's school.  She ran 15 laps which is more than two miles.  Yesterday Little Sister and I spent a few minutes outside with the camera.  I think we both had fun.

I finally managed to bring up our Easter books and resurrection eggs from the basement.  The children were delighted.

This week on the blog I shared how we added a touch of color to make a personalized softball glove.  I also wrote about our mommy and me date night and making butter as a Little House activity with my daughter's class.

Will you link to the Weekend Wind-Down Party this week?  Were you featured?  Read on.

April 10, 2014

Homemade Butter and Little House

Friday afternoon I was the mystery reader in Big Sister's first grade class.  As the mystery reader, I chose a book to read (and optional activity) to the class. During the week, the teacher provides the class clues about the reader, and the students try to guess who it may be.  The teacher told me Big Sister guessed it was me after the second clue.  

The Clues
1. I love to read books.
2. I have three children.
3. Pizza is my favorite food.
4. I am not a good swimmer.  
5. I had my first pair of glasses when I was in first grade. 
(If you are interested, I shared 37 facts about me on my last birthday.)

Introduction
I showed the children Big Sister's pioneer apron.  They had a difficult time guessing what it was.  The pioneer bonnet was much easier for them to guess.  

Next, we discussed how people long ago had to make a lot of things right at home.  We looked at an image of a butter churn, and several of the children recognized it.  

I explained that since I didn't have a butter churn, we would use a jar and marble as a substitute.  Since I didn't have a cow at home to provide milk and cream, I purchased heavy whipping cream at the grocery store.

I instructed the children to make butter by shaking the jar for a bit and then pass it along while I read the story.  I encouraged them to shake even after they couldn't hear the marble moving.
The Book
I decided to read Summertime in the Big Woods, a picture book based on the Little House chapter books.  Maybe you remember how much Big Sister appreciates Little House.  She had a Little House birthday party a couple years ago!  (Linked to lots of activities and ideas!)
As first graders, I know some of the children are beginning to read chapter books and others enjoy them as a read aloud with their parents.  With this in mind, I took Big Sister's Little House boxed set along with some of the simpler Little House abridged chapter books that read at a second grade level.  I took a moment to emphasize Farmer Boy for the boys in the class.

The Activity
Though Summertime in the Big Woods does not have the Ingalls family making butter, they did make cheese.  Wintertime in the Big Woods does discuss butter making.  However, it's April, and we all want this long winter to be over.  Since the children made the butter while we read the story (plus some extra shaking as the children returned to their seats), it was time to enjoy the treat.

Big Sister and a friend passed out napkins.  The teacher and I passed out two Saltine crackers for each student.  Then we went around and buttered the crackers.  The children thought it tasted great.  Best of all, my daughter loved every minute of it.  She thought all the children loved it.

Homemade Butter Recipe
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt, optional

Place a clean marble in a jar.  Add whipping cream and salt.  Seal jar tightly.  Shake until butter is thick and creamy.

(You may serve immediately if crunched for time in a classroom environment.)

Pour off the buttermilk liquid.  Rinse the butter with cold water.  Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.

Please Note:
If you make butter with a group of children, choose your jar carefully.  Too many children have allergies to use a peanut butter jar!  A canning or mayonnaise jar will be better options.

Be sure to check out our old-fashioned Little House party activities.

Do you have any memories of making butter as a child?  Isn't it delicious?

When we finished making butter it was time for dismissal.  Big Sister and I went on our special date.  At the end of the night I asked what her favorite part of the day was.  Despite all of our fun, me as mystery reader was her favorite!  It just shows how important it is to our children to volunteer at school.

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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April 8, 2014

Mommy and Me Date Night

Friday I spent some time in Big Sister's classroom as the mystery reader.  Upon dismissal, we went on a little date, which is a big deal for us.

We drove into the local college town to visit a nice, used bookstore.  After nearly an hour, we made our way to the register with three of the American Girl: Addy books, along with a memory book.  (She really wanted a lock and key diary, but the store didn't have one.  The memory book was an acceptable, temporary substitute.)

We went to the mall and searched for a belt for Big Sister.  We didn't find one, but we had fun on the escalator at JC Penney.  She requested a photo on the escalator for our date night photo.   (I do not have a smart phone.  I actually carried my camera in my purse through the mall.)
From there we used the bathroom and then had dinner at the food court.
She loved having the choice of anything at the food court. Big Sister enjoyed two tacos from Taco Bell.  I had a chicken cheese steak at Charley's.  After dinner we used the bathroom. Again.  We left the mall and went to Dick's Sporting Goods in hopes of finding softball pants for Big Sister that fit.  We struck out since she's still so small, but we did buy baseball socks for her and Brother.

We ended our night eating ice cream with peanut butter topping with the family.

When asked about her favorite part of the night, I was amazed when she said making butter in her class.  The whole afternoon and evening were special for us!  She needed the extra attention and appreciated guiding the evening's events.

The next morning I took my younger two children to a different used book store.  They weren't nearly as eager for it which just goes to show when we take our kids on dates, we need to make sure it is special for the child!

What do you do on dates with your children?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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April 7, 2014

DIY Personalized Girly Softball Glove

With spring's arrival, ball players are preparing for America's favorite past time.  Two of our children will play Little League this spring and summer.  We took our daughter shopping for her first softball glove after two years of t-ball.  I know she was disappointed that the only softball glove that fit her properly was a boring brown.  It was time to personalize and pretty up her softball glove.  What do you think of this decorated softball glove?
I pulled out some pink ribbon and examined the glove to decide where I could personalize it with the ribbon.  My daughter suggested weaving it into the web of the glove.  I thought this was a great idea. 
Weave a Ribbon Through a Softball Glove's Web
1. Cut a long length of ribbon.
2. Tie a knot in one end of ribbon.
3. Attach a safety pin to the other end of the ribbon.
4. Begin weaving through the web.  
5. Continue until finished.
6. Tie a knot at the end.
7. Singe the cut ribbon to keep it from fraying.
8. Play ball!

The ribbon also lets Big Sister find her own personalized glove with just a glance.  She likes the pretty pink ribbon and that it is different from the other girls' softball gloves.

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 4, 2014

Weekend Wind-Down Party


 I think this week passed me by in the blink of an eye.  Birds were singing this week which brightened my day.
  
I realize my need to dedicate at least a day each week to writing.  Writing Wednesdays will help me to dedicate time each week to freelance writing.  Don't worry.  The name is only in my head.  

Next month I will present a Blogging 101 class at my local library.  I enjoy the preparations for it and am even considering a side blog focused on writing and blogging. 

April 3, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Three years ago I first learned of homemade laundry detergent.  Though I knew it would provide significant cost savings for our family of five, I resisted.  Recently I decided to try a different recipe.  This recipe for homemade laundry detergent is surprisingly simple to make.   
Homemade Laundry Detergent
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 cup Fels Naptha soap, grated (1/2 bar)

Mix together and store in an airtight container.
Use 1-2 tablespoons of detergent per load.

Notes
  • All ingredients can be found in my Walmart's laundry aisle and likely yours.   See what the boxes look like at my homemade dishwasher detergent post.
  • If you prefer a fine consistency, similar to store-bought, you can grate the Fels Naptha soap with a food processor to make it even finer.  I have tried both ways.  I wasn't certain if grating my soap would possibly leave remnants of soap in my laundry.  In my water I had no problems with the grated soap, even in cold water washes.  
  • Homemade laundry detergent produces little suds.  This makes it a great choice for HE washing machines.
  • I use cold water for most of my laundering.  Even our stinky and dirty clothes come out clean.  Actually, some of our stinky clothes come out of the washer still a little stinky when I use store-bought detergent.  The homemade detergent eliminates all odors.
  • Fels Naptha soap has a strong scent when you first open the package.  By the time it mixes with the borax and washing soda, it is mild and barely noticeable on the laundered clothing.
  • You can substitute a Ivory soap for the Fels Naptha according to my friend who gave me the recipe.  In a Facebook discussion, I also learned that you can substitute Zote Flakes for the Fels Naptha.  Zote Flakes come ready to use, so no grating is needed.  They are also available in your laundry aisle.
  • All of these products are much, much cheaper locally than on Amazon.  I believe I paid $3.29 and $3.99 for the borax and washing soda.  (They are 3 and 4 pound containers!  You use 1/2 cup at a time.)  The bar of Fels Naptha is less than $1.  MANY batches of homemade laundry and dishwasher soap can be made with the borax and washing soda boxes!  And it costs just pennies per load.  Just think, you don't have to buy "fillers" for it like when you buy store bought.
  • The first time I made this I made a single batch.  The next time I made a triple (since I had half a bar of soap left) batch. 
  • I intend to continue to use homemade laundry detergent because it is easy to make and more effective than store-bought detergent. 
Have I convinced you to try it for yourself yet?


~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 1, 2014

5 Easter Family Activities

Now that it's April, it's time for me to consider what our family will do for Easter this year.  As always, my goal is to help my children understand what God did for them in a personal way.  Some years are
quieter than others, but the children always ask for resurrection eggs.  This year I will also revisit a few toddler Easter activities to complete with Little Sister while her siblings are at school.
We'll see what activities we actually complete.   Life seems rather busy.

1. Resurrection Eggs with Printable- A dozen filled plastic eggs tell the story of Jesus' death and resurrection.
2. Resurrection Rolls- This object lesson leaves an impact on children.
3. Simple Easter Cross Painting- Use painters' tape to achieve this effect for any age.
4. Five Christ-Centered Easter Picture Books
5. Peanut Butter Eggs- A delicious treat for the family, peanut butter eggs are easier to make than expected.
What activity do you do year after year to celebrate Easter?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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