June 21, 2011

A Mix Up of Uses for Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

I’ve been hearing of all the wonderful uses of Dr. Bronner’s over the years and finally decided it was time to give it a shot myself.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap is a “combination of organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, together with pure essential oils, creates a unique soap that cleans effectively without being aggressive and produces a velvety-lather that leaves the skin silky-smooth and refreshed.” This soap is all-natural and not harsh like most soaps that contain detergents instead of oils and natural fats.  
Now, Dr. Bronner’s claims 18+ uses for their “all-in-one” bottled castile soap. I chose to try only five of the uses as the others seemed a bit too sketchy to try after reading several reviews. I’ll share the 18+ uses quickly below, then, I will share how I have put Dr. Bronner’s to use in our home.
Below is Dr. Bronner’s Claim:
Dr. Bronner recorded the "18 in 1 uses" on his label, which we have left mostly intact since his passing in 1997; however, people have told us many, many more uses for it than that. Here is his version. A more paraphrased one follows.
Dr. Bronner's version:
  1. Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath!
  2. Peppermint is nature's own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant!
  3. A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean!
  4. A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash!
  5. Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach!
  6. Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, Douche.
  7. Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart.
  8. Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe - keeps cool!
  9. 3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables!
  10. 1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!
  • For everyday body-washing: Get wet and pour soap full-strength onto hands-washcloth-loofah. Lather up, scrub down, rinse off, and tingle fresh & clean.
  • For other uses, dilute from one part soap into 40 parts water for light cleaning, to cutting it in half or using it full strength for heavy-duty grease-cutting jobs.
  • For shampoo, though we now recommend our new Shikakai soaps for this, many people are fond of using it as such. The method of application is to wet hair and scalp very thoroughly, squirt some soap into hands and work into a lather. Wash hair, then rinse well. Afterwards use our new citrus hair rinse and leave-in conditioners as directed.
  • For the laundry, use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load; adjust as needed depending on hardness of water. I've been told that adding a dash of baking soda makes it even better.
  • For toothbrushing, apply a drop or two of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap to a wet toothbrush. Brush as you normally would, rinsing accordingly. Be careful about using more than a couple drops of soap, as you might start foaming at the mouth. Many people with sensitive or softer teeth like to use our soap as a toothpaste because it lacks abrasives.
(NOTE: Please review all uses and decide for yourself what you will attempt and always remember to dilute it to the proper solution!)
Okay, I will now share what I’ve found to be helpful in my home. This is a product that really helps you to simplify your shower products, “under-the-sink” products, and much, much more!
The five uses that I have tested and loved so much to put into practice are:
·         Body wash – This stuff lathers like you wouldn’t believe, so it only takes 2-4 drops onto a wet loofah and it lathers so very well! It cleans well without over drying! I am pleased with it as a body wash.
·         All Purpose Cleaner – This is something I use to clean everything from kitchen counters, stoves and refrigerators to bathtubs and bathroom sinks! So it is a very inexpensive and eco-friendly way to keep things clean and also know you and your loved ones aren’t taking in harsh chemicals with each room you clean. The all-purpose cleaner requires 2/3 cup water to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar. By adding 2-4 drop of Dr. Bronner’s, you take away a bit of that vinegar smell and replace it with one of their many smell-a-riffic scents!
·         Pet Wash – This works very well on pets, especially if you have a sensitive puppy like I do. The oils in the soap will moisturize all while getting them clean as clean can be!
·         Shave Cream – 2 drops of this on wet skin lathers so well, it makes for a smooth, clean shave and doesn’t irritate skin. It actually leaves it moisturized and fresh!
·         Foaming Hand Soap – This requires the small purchase of a foam soap hand pump. I purchased the Method brand soap and once it ran out, I mixed the Dr. Bronner’s mixture in it and it works wonderfully. This saves SO much money as it’s 40 parts water to 1 part soap!  Simply fill the hand pump almost full with water, then add 1 Tbsp of Dr. Bronner’s, shake well and use as your hand cleanser for kitchen, bathrooms, etc. The estimates I’ve found are that this costs about $.20 a bottle! On top of all the other uses you will get out of Dr. Bronner’s, this is a major cost-cutter for your home and to top that, it’s a healthier form of cleansing!
Dr. Bronner’s can be found in many different scents at Trader Joe’s, Amazon.com, local health stores, Soap.com, Drugstore.com, etc. I love the Citrus scent for everything. It’s such an invigorating scent! The 16oz bottle ranges from $12-$15 depending on where you purchase it from and that $15.00 has already paid itself off in the above things I’ve used it for. I have had my bottle for over a month and have seriously only made a small dent in it. It could easily last me two years at this rate! So you see, this is a huge money saver, and it is a much less stressful way to keep up with the everyday household cleanings. One bottle takes care of it all!

June 20, 2011

Homemade Yogurt

Now for something homemade AND yummy! This is another favorite of mine. I stumbled upon homemade yogurt while looking for jams and jellies for the season. My wheels starting turning and I decided that I wanted to give this whole yogurt thing a shot. The benefits of making your own yogurt are:
·         Cost effective – By using the 7th jar of yogurt as your “starter”, you end up using 42oz of the gallon of milk you buy for you family each week anyway, so it’s drops your yogurt cost exponentially!
·         You know what’s in it! – You choose all the ingredients that go into it and know that there are no preservatives in it.
·         Eco-friendly – No more throwing away container after plastic container!
 I researched different methods and recipes and decided on purchasing a yogurt maker and sticking with a simple vanilla recipe that can be made as sweet or as tart as you like. There are several methods to making homemade yogurt, but I chose the yogurt maker, because in the end it is most cost efficient (especially if your wonderful parents give it to you as an anniversary gift) and it is actually the easiest method. You can also make yogurt in a crock-pot or using an old glass bowl/towel method that requires the light of your oven.
The yogurt maker I chose to use was the Euro Cuisine YM80. It can be found on Amazon for around $30.00. The yogurt maker comes with 7 – 6oz glass jars with lids that can be used time and time again. You can also purchase the next step up, YM100. It has an automatic shut off on it so you don’t have to keep up with what time you started the yogurt. I chose to simply use my oven timer.

Okay, here’s the yogurt recipe I modified to mine and Hubby’s liking!
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
42oz milk – this can be whole milk or 2%
1 – 6oz cup of plain organic yogurt – to get you started. Make sure you get the yogurt with active cultures.
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup honey (be mindful of this ingredient if you have children under a year old)

1. Set 6oz of yogurt starter out to come to room temperature.
2. Bring the milk to a boil, do not stir as the bottom will scorch and you don’t want the scorched milk mixing in with the good milk. Bring it to a boil (as it starts climbing up the side of the pot). Pull the pot off the eye and let the milk temperature drop to 95-100F. Letting it get to this temperature is very important. I use a candy thermometer to test the temperature. To speed up the process, you may drop the pot in an ice water bath. Otherwise, it will take about 30 minutes for the temperature to drop to proper 95-100F.
2. Mix your agave, honey, and vanilla extract together and pour into the heated milk. Whisk this together well.
3. Add in your 6oz jar of yogurt and whisk well.
4. Pour this mixture into a pitcher (for easy pouring into jars.)
5. Pour the mixture into each of the seven glass jars and place jars (without lids) into the yogurt maker.
6. Place lid on yogurt maker and turn on for 12 hours. 12 hours is the perfect time to bring the yogurt to the thickness that most yogurts we in America are used to. You may let it “incubate” for only 10 hours if you prefer the thinner, Kefir-style yogurt. Also, for a thicker “greek-style” yogurt, you can leave the yogurt in the incubator for 14 hours.
7. Once the timer goes off, lift lid slowly off the yogurt maker (being sure not to let the condensation drip into the yogurt from the lid.) Twist the white lids onto the glass jars and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before eating.
Note: The longer the yogurt remains in the incubator, the more tart it will become, as yogurt is a sour milk product.
There are a number of things you can mix with the yogurt to make it a great and filling breakfast:
·         Fresh fruits
·         Jams and jellies
·         Granola (we enjoy this the most!)
·         Blackstrap molasses
·         Finely chopped nuts and veggies
·         Cinnamon or nutmeg
So go out there and try your very own homemade yogurt! I’d love to hear what you come up with!

June 16, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I believe I love this one so much because of all the homemade things I wanted to attempt this year, I wanted to this one to work so badly that when it did, I was just elated! It is such a money saver and so super easy to make! You can easily do double, even triple batches at a time! I will give you the powder recipe I use, but I will also give you the liquid (gel) recipe in case you wash all your clothing in cold water. The powder recipe calls for you to wash on “warm cold” or “hot” setting. The shaved soap will not dissolve properly in cold water if you use the powder recipe…yes, in fact, I did learn that from experience…(wink!)
The recipe for the powder is just the same as the liquid with the exception of one ingredient and one step – water being the ingredient and melting the soap into the water in a boiler being the step.
Let's get started!
Homemade (Powder) Laundry Detergent
The below items can be purchased at your local grocery store:
  • 1 – 55 ounce box of  Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - $2.19 - $.32/batch
·     1 – 76 ounce box of Twenty Mule Team Borax ­- $4.29 - $.45/batch
  • 1 – 10 pack of 4.5 ounce bars of Ivory Bar Soap - $4.40 - $.44/batch
Batch Total: $1.21 for 32-64 loads! That is $.02 a load for normal wear loads and $.04 a load for heavily soiled loads! See! It really is a HUGE deal!
Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces. This makes for 32-64 loads depending on how much you use. For normal wear clothes, I use only a tbsp. full. For heavily soiled (work) clothes, I use 2 tbsp.
Here’s the recipe:
  • 1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory, Zote, Fels Naptha, Dr. Bronner’s, etc.) – You can use a microplane, cheese grater, food processor grating blade, etc. to shave your bar soap.
  • 1 cup of borax (Twenty Mule Team)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and there you have it, your very own homemade powder laundry detergent!
*This is a recipe that works in all types of washing machines ranging from top load to HE front load.*
Now, above is the basic recipe I use, however I prefer a little citrus scent in mine, so I add 2-4 drops of citrus essential oils to the batch and stir once more. Do not add any more than that or it will stain the clothes in the wash. You can use whatever scent you like; lavender, lemon, peppermint, etc.
Soap/Detergent cost breakdown & savings
Prior to making our own, we were using a variety of liquid detergents. Here is the breakdown in cost analysis:
  • Arm & Hammer® liquid 100 ounce detergent – $6.79 – 32 loads = $0.21 per load
  • Tide® with Bleach powder 267 ounce detergent – $20.32 – 95 loads = $0.21 per load
  • Our homemade powder 32 ounce detergent – $1.21 – 32-64 loads = $0.02-$0.04 per load
So, whether you prefer liquid or powder, you are saving the same $.17 to $.19 per load. This really adds up!
I do hope you’ll give it a shot! I absolutely love how well it works! My husband works in a place where he comes home with very heavily soiled clothes daily and this stuff works perfectly on his dirty, dirty clothes!
If you are interested in the liquid version of this detergent, check out this recipe:
Homemade (Liquid) Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap, as listed above
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax powder 

You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size with a sealing lid.

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load.

-The finished soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an "egg noodle soup" look.

-The soap is a low sudsing soap.  So if you don’t see suds, that is ok.  Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.

June 15, 2011

Living Simply

(I want to amend the recipe below as, by trial and error, I have found a MUCH better and MUCH cheaper method of washing my dishes...I found the citric acid in the previous recipe was causing the detergent to not just "clump" but harden completely, making it useless. So I found a recipe for only half, yes, half the ingredients and it worked beautifully---and the best part...it costs a penny a load!! That means you could wash dishes once a day for a full year at $3.65!! Who wouldn't be thrilled with that!?) 

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent
I wanted take a few days to share some of the changes we are attempting to make in 2011 before Baby Ella gets here. These changes for our family are in order to become more frugal, more eco-friendly, and  become less dependent on sales/coupons as we are slowly starting to see more and more policies in place that do not help the honest couponing person. Coupons are wonderful and have been such a help to my family, however, I wanted to begin incorporating ways of life that wouldn’t be solely dependent upon a good sale, perfect timing, rain checks, etc. I wanted to begin incorporating ways of the past, if you will, that have stood the test of time and won’t pass away with this fad and that.
Below are some of the things my husband and I have tested and are slowly making a way of life. I encourage you to check them out over the next few days if all things homemade interest you. Of course, for my husband, he is thankful mostly for the frugality of it all. I will provide a cost analysis for each of the homemade ideas that will show you how you can’t get a better deal, even with coupons! Hopefully some of these ideas will empower you to become more frugal and self-sufficient as it has my family!
Homemade dishwasher detergent (soap) recipe
  • 1 cup Twenty Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup washing soda (Arm and Hammer is the preferred/easiest-to-find brand)
Fill rinse agent compartment with 1 Tbsp white vinegar.
Find detailed instructions, cost breakdown, and sources for ingredients below…
  • 1 – 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda = $2.19 - local grocery store
  • 1 – 76 ounce box of Twenty Mule Team Borax = $4.29 - local grocery store
  • 1 – gallon of White Vinegar = $1.79  Yet another excellent use for a nearly universal cleaning agent.
Prior to making our own, we used Finish Quantum Power Ball Tabs that we got a great deal on using coupons. However, we still get a better deal by using the homemade. Here is the breakdown in cost analysis:
  • borax - 76oz = 4.29 | 8oz=.45/batch
  • washing soda -55oz = 2.19 | 8oz=.32/batch
  • total for 24 oz (yields 48 loads) = $.77/batch (UNBEATABLE!!!)
  • white vinegar (as rinse agent) | 1gal = 1.79 | 4oz=.06/fill
(**note** you only need to use 1 rounded tablespoon of this homemade detergent per load.  If you feel it necessary… you may use a heaping tablespoon, but I do not.)
  • Finish Quantum Tabs Can be purchased w/ coupons at $1.75 for 10ct = $.18 per load. (So you see, even with coupons, the homemade method cannot be beat.)
  • Our homemade powder – $0.77 – 48 loads = $0.01 per load
Here are the cost savings for a homemade rinse agent that goes along with this recipe. We are satisfied with the result of the cleaner alone and do not feel the need for a rinse agent, however I have posted a cost analysis below in the event that you prefer a rinse agent:
  • FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
  • White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill
If you choose to use a rinse agent, that is a savings of 6650% on an effective rinse agent! 
Give it a try! You just may be surprised how much money you’ll save by incorporating small changes here and there. I store my detergent in a small plastic container and keep a tbsp scoop inside for perfect portions every time. These are just items I had already lying around. There is no need in going out to buy a special container for this. Happy Homemaking!!
Stay Tuned….
Tomorrow I’ll be writing on: Homemade Laundry Detergent - This is my favorite of all the homemade items I have begun making for our family! It’s easy, using two of the same ingredients the dishwashing detergent does, it’s “green”, and saves so much money! See you tomorrow!

June 10, 2011

It's A Girl!!

So, I know I said I'd come right back with a post once we found out Baby Chandler's gender...I just got lost in "all things girl" on the way back to tell you! :) We are indeed having a girl! She will be named Ella Marie Chandler after two of her great-grandmothers. We will call her Ella. Danny, Ella's sweet daddy, has been hard at work transforming his office into Ella's nursery and building a new office for himself downstairs. I'm so thankful for such a hardworking husband! It makes for one happy pregnant lady!