Wednesday, February 29, 2012

how to make homemade laundry detergent

With trying to be more frugal and increase my ever-growing DIY project list, I wanted to try to make my own homemade laundry detergent. Not only had I read that it was easy, but that it was a cheaper option. I decided to give it a try. Here's how it's done:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

What You Need:
- 4 cups of hot tap water
- 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
- 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
- a 5 gallon bucket
- essential oils (optional)

*each of the things above was found and purchased at Wal-Mart--most found in the laundry aisle*

1. Shred the Fels-Naptha bar (or another soap bar of your choosing). I used a cheese grater, which worked just fine.

2. Take the shredded soap and add it to the 4 cups of hot tap water in a saucepan. Continually stir on a medium heat level until the soap dissolves completely in the water. 
3. Take your 5 gallon bucket and fill it approximately half way full of hot tap water. 
4. To the bucket, add the melted soap mixture, 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, and 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. (If you want to add essential oil for an additional scent, you would add 25 drops for the 5 gallons of detergent.----*we did not do this*) Stir till ingredients dissolve. Then fill the bucket up nearly to the top with hot tap water (leave enough room for stirring). Cover with lid and let sit overnight to thicken up and gel. (Ours did not come with a lid, so we just covered it with cling wrap). 
5. When you uncover your mixture the next day, it could look like any number of things. Ours looked like slightly watery jello. This is normal. Stir up the mixture again.

6. Take empty laundry detergent dispensers, or in our case, cleaned milk/juice jugs and fill them up. I used a funnel, which made things easier. Shake before each use.

For each load, you should use approximately 5/8 of a cup (to make things easy, use 3/4 of a cup). I checked, and you are using about the same amount that you would use when you fill a regular laundry detergent cap. 

We have used it, and it seems to work decently. We might add an essential oil, but the clothes smell clean. 

As for costs, I think it's effective as well. The total cost of ingredients is about $11, including the cost of the 5 gallon bucket. For $11, I made approximately 5 gallons of detergent. I will have the bucket to reuse, and I have the Washing Soda and Borax to use probably at least 4 or 5 more times, if not more. 

My bottle of Purex (that is my last bottle of detergent!) is slightly less than 1 gallon, and I bought it on sale for $3. Simple math of $3 (for just under 1 gallon) times 5 is $15. All of my ingredients cost $11, and I have many more batches I can make.

I also know you don't need to use as much, as homemade detergent doesn't have the additives that are in the bottles you by in the store.

In my opinion, a good deal! I'm excited to see what other areas I can expand my DIY love. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

(freezable) mini chicken pot pies

There is something about snowy weather that makes me want to hunker down and spend the day in the kitchen (and the night on the couch!). With having nearly no snow all winter, the snowfall that has recently happened made me want to cook some comfort food.

And what better comfort food than mini chicken pot pies.

I loved pot pies when I was younger, and then we had a falling out. This past fall I wanted to make my own, and all the recipes I found were for the regular pie-sized pot pies. I used a couple various recipes to create my own that were mini, and that could be frozen. As we are always on the go during the week, these are perfect to take out of the freezer and pop in the oven for a really good meal.

Here's the recipe, followed by a how-to:

(Freezable) Mini Chicken Pot Pies

What You Need:
1 package of pie crust (I used Pilsbury already made, but you could make your own)
1 stick of butter
1 cup of diced onion
1 cup of diced carrot
1 cup of diced celery
2 chicken breasts, shredded or diced
1/2 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups of milk
cornstarch, as a thickening agent
salt and pepper, to taste

mini disposable pot pie tins (I found them at Meijer in the kitchen section)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Melt butter in large pot, and add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook for a couple minutes, until translucent. 
3. Add shredded/diced chicken. Sprinkle flour into pot and stir. Cook on medium-heat for a couple minutes, while stirring constantly.
4. Add the chicken broth and milk to the pot, while stirring constantly. (Original recipes I looked at used heavy cream, which is something I don't normally have on hand. I used milk, and a touch of cornstarch which worked just fine and is probably far healthier.)
5. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let it cook for a couple minutes to thicken. 
6. While the mixture thickens, I get the pie crust and mini pot pie tins ready (detailed and shown below).
7. Season the mixture with parsley, salt, and pepper. 
8. With the "bottom" crusts in the tins, pour in the mixture evenly between the six tins. 
9. Place the "top" crusts on top of the mixture. Cut two small vents in the top crusts.
10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.
*If planning on freezing, let the open tins sit in the fridge to cool them down (you don't want moisture trapped before they go in the freezer). Once the pies cool, place the tops on and freeze. When re-heating from the freezer, cook for about 45 minutes in an oven at 375 degrees F, or until bubbly.*

The great thing about this recipe is that it's very adaptable! I love the mini pies, but you could easily make one large one. And freezing them is absolutely perfect. They freeze well, and keep well for quite some time. 

It takes a bit of time to do, but having these as a go-to during a busy week makes me so thankful!


The cast of ingredients.

All the veggies chopped. The great this about the recipe is you can add what you'd like. I had a partial bag of frozen veggies that I added to the onion, carrots, and celery.

Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the butter and let them hang out.

Cook the chicken.

And then shred it up.

Add the shredded chicken, along with the flour.

Add the broth and milk (and cornstarch, or heavy cream if you use it instead of the milk) and let it hang out and thicken up.

While the mixture thickens, deal with the pie crusts. There are 6 tins packaged for around $3, and I used pre-made pie crusts. You can always make your own too.

The package comes with two crusts. I make one for the bottom of each tin and one for the top of each tin. I do not have a scientific way to do this, but I roll one crust thinner. I use the tin to "trace" on the crust. To make the bottom crust, I place the bottom of the tin on the crust and trace each one. All six will fit on one sheet, with some leftover.

Place each bottom crust in their respective tin.

Now onto the tops. Flip over the tin to use to trace the top crusts. You will have to use all the crust bits to have enough for all the tops.

With the bottom crusts in place and the pot pie mixture complete, start filling!

With all tins full, I crimp the edges of the top crust before placing them in each tin.

Make sure to make two little vents for while they cook.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes in an oven at 375 degrees F.

And complete. Packed full of veggies and topped with a flaky crust. I can't wait to pop one of these in the oven next week!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffins (or elvis muffins)

Isn't that a mouthful?

But they are divine.


Now that you agree, back to what I was saying. We are a muffin household. I'm not afraid to admit it. It's part of my weekly routine. Some even call it tradition. Every Sunday homemade muffins are baked for the week. (It's the perfect on-the-go breakfast option in the morning.)

I've made (and ate) my fair share of muffins, including mixed berry, pumpkin, sour cream, apple, and every other fruit imaginable. I once stumbled upon a banana chocolate chip muffin recipe, tested it out, and per my boyfriend's request, never looked back. 

This week while eating peanut butter toast, I was thinking about how Elvis loved peanut butter and bananas together. Why, I'm not sure. In any case, I had yet to make my batch of muffins for the week and that thought was my inspiration. I tweaked my recipe I use weekly and have thus created peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffins (or Elvis muffins for short).

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (Elvis Muffins!)

*This recipe yields 8-10 muffins due to my adaptations. We are a two-person household, so that's all we ever need weekly!*

What You Need:
- 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 an egg (slightly beaten)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt (other options: vanilla yogurt or sour cream with a splash of milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 1/4 cup of peanut butter
- 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (but usually I just eyeball it)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In another bowl, combine the egg, vegetable oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract. 
4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just moist. 
5. Fold in the mashed bananas, followed by the peanut butter and then the chocolate chips. 
6. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
7. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, and then remove muffins to cool on a wire rack.

Seriously, so simple! These are perfect with a glass of milk. The perfect way to wake up. 

Try them out. Join the muffin household movement. Please. Don't leave me in the movement alone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

52 reasons why i love you card deck

As love is in the air, this is a perfect time to share this project. I originally saw this idea of a "52 Reasons Why I Love You" card deck through Pintrest last October. I was itching for a project and decided this would be the perfect stocking stuffer for my boyfriend. (As he's a magician, this was even more perfect.)

I adapted and shifted the idea to a reasons why I love you card deck paired up with a coupon book. But the original idea was such an inspiration. This would be the perfect Valentine's Day gift, anniversary gift, or "just because" gift.

Here's the original tutorial that inspired me (click here for the tutorial):

And here is my version:

Now the original is very sleek. She bought a deck of cards specifically because they were vintagey looking. While I love this (I really do), I'm pretty sure my boyfriend wouldn't have noticed or ultimately cared. Her deck that is completely reasons why I love you (which is adorable) is very uniform and precise. Mine is not. But, here is where I took an idea and made it my own.

I started with a set of binder rings and a deck of standard Bicycle cards, both found a Target for a couple dollars a piece. 

I first started by using my own paper hole punch. I used one of the "extra" cards in the deck to create a template. I punched two holes (like above) and used that card to punch every other card in the deck. While a little time consuming, it helps make sure everything remains lined up.

After all the cards were punched, I roughened them up myself. If you have sandpaper, fantastic. If you don't, improvise like I did and use an old nail file. The best of projects happen when become creative, and it achieved the same goal as sandpaper did. 

Now I turned my deck into a reasons why I love you deck paired up with a coupon book. Regardless of how you decide to approach the project, there are a few things that happen next. 

I stuck with black, white, grey, and red in terms of colors, so that is what guided me. I took scrap scrapbook paper for the matted backgrounds and for what I actually wrote on. I took one of my scrap pieces and approximately measured what I though was an appropriate background size. I wanted more of the roughed up pages shown, so I kept it decently small. (Months later, I can't remember the exact measurements, but you get the idea!) After the background is measured, you can figure out what size the paper you will write on should be. And voila! You're done. But not quite.

I put the cards in the order I wanted them in, affixed all the backgrounds and affixed all the paper on top of the backgrounds. I took my list of reasons and coupons (yes, I planned in advance, but you don't have to!) and got to work. This is how my deck looked:

  • reason why I love you
  • coupon
  • filler (which was just an empty card with a piece of background paper on it)
And this continually repeated itself. I made my reasons match the coupons, and highlighted one word in the reason that matched the coupon. The above photo is a good example! The reason? "I love our classic love story. <3" The coupon? "Good for a dinner and a movie date." Which is a classic choice. I love matching. I can't help it.

Once completed with your reasons or coupons or whatever you choose to do, assemble all the cards accordingly. I originally had picked a set of the smaller binder clips, but as I glued and assembled each card, I realized how big the stack was getting!  I was so thankful the set I bought had multiple sizes (which I can later up on different things). 

Because my deck wasn't traditional in the sense of the "52 reasons why I love you", I changed the name to "love you I do", complete with a rhinestone heart and sparkly paper, which is a complete reflection of myself.

And with a few finishing touches, the project was complete. (This was one of my first "Pintrest" projects that I completed, so congratulations to me.)

So whatever you do, make it your own. And spread the love!

welcome to my corner of the world


As a personal blogger for nearly ten years, I decided it was time to venture out and create a new blog to share more than just my day-to-day happenings.

This will be a creative space, which is exactly what I need.

I'm a PR professional knee-deep in web design, event planning, and publicity. I'm a DIY goddess who would rather figure things out myself before turning to someone else. I scrapbook, paint, and create. I always have to have at least one project going on. I love to cook and bake, and although sometimes I make mistakes, I'll try it till I get it right.

I love traveling and seeing the world. My next greatest adventure is working on moving to NYC. And I'm a dreamer who won't stop dreaming.

This is where you'll hear it all.