Homemade Laundry Soap!

Every time I need to buy laundry soap, I just cringe! Tide is so expensive, yesterday I checked and it was $14 for 52 loads. So, I have several friends that are making their own, but I’ve never gotten recipes from them. I found a recipe that sounded good on Pinterest. The White Silk Purse Laundry Soap
I decided to try it out.  I had never heard of Fels Naptha, but apparently it is very easy to find.  The Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha were all on the top shelf in a row at Reasor’s.  Here’s the recipe if you don’t want to link back to it.  I followed her instructions, but took pictures as I went.  I am a visual person, so instructions without pictures worry me a bit.  🙂  Here you go.  (Text is from White Silk Purse, pictures from Sew Lucky)

White Silk Purse Laundry Soap
~ makes 4 quarts {one gallon} of concentrate ~
~  that’s 256 loads of laundry! ~
Homemade-Laundry-Soap-(3)
2 bars Fels Naptha
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
6 cups of hot water (+ more water as needed)

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Put 6 cups of water on to heat. It will almost boil by the time you are done.  While the water is heating, grate the Fels Naptha.  I cut the bars in half the long way and run them through my food processor with the grater attachment, but it could be grated by hand. Add the soap to the water that is heating, and stir frequently.  This part takes 10 – 15 minutes.  Keep stirring until the soap is completely melted. Don’t let this boil or you’ll have soap all over the place. (Don’t ask!)
When the soap has melted turn off the heat and add the Borax and the Washing Soda. (Do not confuse Washing Soda with baking soda.  They are NOT the same.  Washing Soda is in the laundry aisle.) Stir and stir and stir. You will stir for about three minutes.  The powders will dissolve into the liquid.

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Pour the liquid equally into 4 quart jars. Now, add just enough water to bring the contents up to the “shoulders” of the jar.  This will leave about 1 ½ inches of headspace.  Put lids on the jars and let them sit overnight (about 8 hours).
The soap in the jars will separate while it is standing. This is OK. There will be firm soap on top and kind of gel-like soap on the bottom. Sometimes “crystals” form at the bottom of the jar, don’t worry.

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This next part is really quite fun.  Take one of the jars and cut up the firm soap.  I just stick a knife down into the jar and cut it up like a pie. Next, pour all of this into your blender of mixing bowl I have a BOSCH. Now, because I am frugal I pour about 3 tablespoons of water into the quart jar and swish it around to get all the rest of the soap out.  If there are crystals, I use HOT water and stir a bit. I add this to the blender too.
 Start on the lowest speed of your blender or mixer and increase  the speed gradually.  Your result will be something that looks like really thick, pale yellow whipped cream. You may need to scrape the sides down with a spatula a few times to get it all the way blended/mixed. It’s like creaming the butter, sugar and eggs when you make cookies. (I can blend/mix two jars at a time in my Bosch bowl.)

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Pour/spoon the now blended soap back into the quart jar(s).  Your jar(s) will be all the way full now and you may even have a little more for another jar. Pop a lid onto the jar(s) and your soap will keep indefinitely. It gets a little firmer in the jar when it sits, but it stays spoonable.
Just a few notes: The following makes 12 quart jars of laundry soap–
•  6 bars of Fels Naptha (.99 each), 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax ($4.15), and 1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda ($2.79) {then there was a little tax – .86 cents}
• I made 12 quarts of concentrate for $13.74.  That means it costs 1.7cents per load J. That also nearly uses up the above ingredients. (Sometimes I find the products on sale for even less, then I buy more!)
• I had a little Borax left over… It’s good for lots of stuff. Read the box.
• 12 quarts of soap would do just over 14 loads of wash a week for a year!
• I thought I’d need about 18 quarts for a year’s supply at my house.  
• The supplies for the soap are easy to store.  I don’t feel compelled to make it all at once. • I use a Bounce Bar in my dryer.  I think it is the best anti-static and smell good invention of all time.
Dry Laundry Soap Recipe

June, 2011 — I’ve tried the recipe dry this summer and have been happy with the result; especially happy that it only takes about 5 minutes to make and then does the job just as well.  Here is the recipe: Grate two bars of Fels Naptha, then run the blade in your food processor that turns it into “powder.”  It won’t be quite as fine as real powdered soap, but very close.  Then add two cups of Borax and two cups of washing soda.  It only take TWO TEASPOONS to do a large load.  I have a soup spoon that holds two teaspoons that I use to measure. — The hardest part is thinking that two teaspoons will do the job, but it does! — I do keep a jar of the paste kind on hand to rub into tough stains.  I live in a farming area and have a friend who says it even gets ground in cow plop out of her husbands jeans (apparently that is her toughest stain to conquer).

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Crocheted Animals

Okay, I am trying again on my Crafting With the Stars entry.  I’ve recently started a little business making things.  I make an assortment of things, but one of my favorites is crocheted hats.  I love how cute they are and how happy they make people.  Also, crocheting is nice, because I can take it anywhere with me and still be involved with the people around me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE to sew, and I love my little sweat shop (sewing room, those machines create a lot of heat!), I just appreciate being around the people I love.  🙂 

So here’s my entry.  These are hats I created using a basic pattern for the hat base, but designing the rest of the hat on my own.  I have a zebra, horse and kitty cat. I did the photography last weekend with a pretty little model named Olivia.  We had so much fun!

Sew Lucky Hats

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  Here are some more pics!

Olivia modeling the Zebra Hat

Olivia modeling the Zebra Hat

Olivia modeling the Horse Hat

Olivia modeling the Horse Hat

Olivia modeling the Horse Hat

Olivia modeling the KittyHat

Olivia modeling the KittyHat

Thanks! ~Joanna

My Dream Wall

Ever since I bought my house, I have had a dream of hanging tons a pictures on my dining room wall.  I even got a bunch of pictures printed a while back that I took of my parents salt and pepper shakers.  I didn’t end up liking the pictures very much and thought it would be incredibly expensive to get them all framed and matted.  So I did what anyone would do, I gave up.

Fast forward 2 years probably and I still don’t have my dream wall.  In the meantime, I went on a great trip to NYC and took tons of pictures on a couple photography walking tours.  I love these pictures and I never get to see them.  So, I went attic diving and saved a bunch of frames from the dumpster.  I figured what a good time to do this.  I ended up spending about $50 on printing pictures and $40 on mattes and 1 piece of glass I needed for a frame and probably $10-15 on spray paint.

So, last month, I painted each frame, and put them together piece by piece, cleaning the glass and only cutting myself once in the process (glass is sharp).  I framed 18 pictures, and used 14 of them.  I am debating adding another row on top.  It’s just so nicely balanced for now, I thought I’d live with it for a while and see how I feel.

About the pictures:

Pictures-2

The top left is a picture my grandpa took in 1939 in California when he was walking around I think in Downtown Los Angeles.  To the right is the salt and pepper picture I took years ago when I planned this project.  I put it up, because I like it and it is kind of an homage to my original plan.   The little pictures are from New York City.  The top is the benches in Central Park.  The bottom one is one I took during a walking tour of Greenwich Village.  I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s an awesome wooden carved owl on the fire escape.  The bottom left picture is a shack we found driving around Parachute, Colorado where I go for work occasionally.  It was beautiful, as we drove up there were deer grazing in front of it.  I got a picture right as they looked over at us.  I also got one of them running away, but it’s not quite as good.   The bottom next picture is from Central Park as well.  I laid down in the middle of the sidewalk to get the great perspective of the trees.

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The big picture on the top row is behind a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles.  My grandpa took this picture in 1947.  I love it.  It’s kind of eerie.  My grandpa is who got me into photography, so I love having pictures he took up.  To the right of this is a fence from the walking tour of Greenwich Village.  I love the colors and shapes.  The windows below also from Greenwich Village.  The two little pictures to the right are also from NYC.  The first is a tree in Central Park.  The trees there were beautiful, it was the beginning of spring and they were just turning green with new little leaves.  The next is on the way to the Statue of Liberty.  If you’ve ever been, you know how beautiful Ellis Island is and how many birds there are.  I love this picture of a seagull with Lady Liberty in the background.  The two small pictures on the bottom row are also from NYC.  The left is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling to a little swan.  There was a duck walking around in front of the statue.  The way the duck and the swan look in the picture, there little noses are touching.  I love it.  The next was a restaurant window in NYC.  The carved duck was cute.  The last one is a beautiful net of tree limbs with little buds all over them.  The lamp post makes me think of The Chronicles of Narnia.  Also, there’s a little birdy hiding in the branches.

I’m not sure if this is my most impressive project, but it’s one I could get done in time for the Crafting With the Stars audition.  So, vote for me and I will do some more awesome things.  I promise.

So here it is, my dream wall:

Photo-Wall-All

And closer:
Photo-Wall

I can’t believe it took me living in this house for 5 years to finally do this.  I am so happy with the result.  If you ever want to hang a ton of pictures, I’ve got some hints for you.  I might post a tutorial of all the great tricks I have learned from my dad over the years.  My mom is an artist so we’ve always been moving pictures around the house and adding more to the mix.  I hope you like it!

Have a Happy Labor Day!

~Joanna

Ice Cube Bread

I found this awesome sounding recipe on Pinterest and decided I’d make it tonight.  It is delicious!  I am not kidding, this recipe is fabulous!  It’s soft on the inside and crusty on the outside.  We’ve always made Pillsbury French Bread, but this will replace that from now on.  🙂  Unless I am feeling very lazy.  You should make this.  Tonight.  Tomorrow. Everyday.  So Good!!

Here’s how mine turned out:

Icw-Cube-Bread

I found the recipe at The Family Kitchen, but I’ll repost it here for you:

Quick & Crusty French Baguettes

  • 2 cups very warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cups flour (For me it took 5 cups)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes.  Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky.  Knead the dough until elastic.

Cut the dough into four even pieces.  Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes.  Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf.  Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf.  Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry) or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.

Now for the SECRET: Fill a large bowl with 3-4 cups of ice.  Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then toss the ice cubes on the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door.  Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes.  Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. (For me it took closer to 20 minutes).

Serve fresh and hot with your favorite olive oil for dipping.

My Pantry – All Organized!!

So, I am soooo thrilled with my pantry right now!  When I bought my house, there was no pantry at all.  My dad and I built one from nothing, and may I say my Dad is amazing.

From Projects

I painted it bright white and threw everything in there.

From Projects

Sometime last year I started organizing, but didn’t have all the storage I needed.

I asked my dear sweet boyfriend for modular storage for my birthday last week and he got it for me.  I made little labels with my Cricut and outlined them and wrote out all of the crazy labels I wanted.  I am so happy with the results.

Pantry-Top-Down

This was originally inspired by The House of Smiths – Kitchen Pantry.  It still isn’t as cute as I’d like it to be, I love the vinyl she used on the walls.  I haven’t decided yet if I am going to do anything on the back wall of the pantry or not.  For now, I am happy to have all my different flours labeled and ready to bake with!  I found an awesome sounding recipe for french bread, that I seem to have forgotten to bookmark.  Here’s hoping I can find it again and share the wealth!

On the Crochet Along front, I completed 15 Round 1 circles today during our Crochet Lunch hour.  So, I have 88 – 15 -1 which is 72 more to go by the end of the week!  Gotta get to work!

Good night!

~Joanna

Crochet Along with InnerHooker

So, I am taking on a big project that will hopefully turn out beautifully!  I’m so excited about Crochet Along with Inner Hooker.  I bought my yarn today, maybe I got enough, I’m not sure.  I think I have enough in my stash to fudge any that I am missing.  I bought a One Pound roll of white, and Caron Simply Soft was on sale for 4 for $10.00 at Michael’s!  I love this yarn, it is shiny and soft!  I can’t wait to have a beautiful blanket made from it!

Crochet-A-Long-Yarn-3

I had to share 2 pictures of it, because it is just so pretty!

Crochet-A-Long-Yarn-1

So Beautiful!  I checked gauge, and for me, I am going to do Rounds 1-4.  So, I have 88 circles to make this week.

Another project for this week is to test a pattern for Jocole Patterns.  I bought my fabric today and need to sit down and get to business.  My last knit project was a little rough, but her patterns are so explanatory that I can’t wait to see what tips and tricks are up her sleeve!

To see pictures of my projects go here to my Flickr Stream.

Thanks for reading!

~Joanna

Lessons Learned this Week

Lift with your knees, not with your back. I’ll say it again lift with your knees not with your back. I threw my back out on Sunday and was in a good deal of pain on Monday, but I though I was taking it easy…. Turns out, I wasn’t. I threw it out even worse and ended up in the ERGENT care. Many days of muscle relaxers and pain pills and I am beginning to feel human again.

So, when you are stuck in bed, what can you do? Crochet like a mad woman! I hadn’t been able to find a horse pattern I liked, so I decided to make one of my own, and might I say, I love it!

Pokey the Horse Face
Pokey Mane - Back View

The curly mane is an nice little mohawk down the back.  Please ignore the stuff on the table in the picture, I am not allowed to clean up.  I’ll get better pictures when my back is up and working again.  This horse could easily be made for a little lady with a pretty flower in its mane.  Now I am back to crocheting a cute little zebra for a little gal in Colorado.

Here’s the latest finished Cow Hat for a lovely little lady in Colorado.
Bessie the Cow Hat

To see pictures of my projects go here to my Flickkr Stream.

I hope you enjoy and have a great day.  Also, lift with your knees, every time.

~Joanna