I am not a hippie. I am not a 1930s housewife. But maybe I COULD have been...

So I decided to make laundry detergent.

In part because I get caught up in these DIY, throwback, self sufficiency trends that are going around, in part because I have been bored and curious as to how it would turn out, in part because I DO actually want to try to curb the many processed, chemical laden things that come into our house (she said as she shoved Heath bars into her mouth and wears her jeans from Target that smell vaguely of formaldehyde from packaging while Tyson chicken nuggets cook in the oven for her kids...). AND because I found an ancient bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap on the basement window sill that was my gram's from Lord knows when, and I was thinking "What can I do with it?" - Thanks Gram, for your random inspiration to do things that make life more difficult INTERESTING.

ANYWAY... Kept finding liquid recipes that all seem like the end result is GLOP - slimy gooey liquid laundry soap, and I thought that sounded repulsive, especially when combined with the idea of stirring it up and ladling it into the washing machine. Plus I figured that CAN'T be great for the machine, right?

So then I kept looking around, and I came across this super simple recipe for laundry soap powder and thought I'd give it a whirl (Thanks, Matt Jabs!).

Here's the scoop:
1 c Borax (purchased at Target or really, anywhere)
1 c Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (purchased at Ace Hardware, also at Jewel (Albertson's grocery chain))
1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap (purchased at Ace Hardware)

I have to say, the Fels Naptha has a really pleasant clean smell in bar form, so I was excited to not lose that "clean laundry" scent in this experiment.

So I grated the bar of Fels Naptha with the finest grater I had, and since the bar was fresh (not dried out) I popped it in the oven on a cookie sheet for a few minutes at a low setting to dry it out a little bit to avoid clumps or goop. The bar yielded about 2 cups of shavings.
The whole time I was grating it I just kept thinking of tasty Parmesan cheese

Mixed it in with the Borax and Washing Soda and stirred it up, popped a lid on the container and shook it up some more. 
Borax, Washing Soda, and grated Fels Naptha

So it doesn't look like it makes a lot of detergent/soap, BUT you only use 1-2 tablespoons of it per load, so it will go a long way. AND I have a ton of Borax and Washing Soda left, enough to do a couple more batches down the line, at least.

And the results?

The first load I did was a load of towels, because they get funky after sitting in the laundry basket between wash days, and frankly if this concoction ended up horrible, I have no problem with stains, marks, or anything else happening to our towels. And they came out clean! It is hard to get your head around not having the perfumed "fresh scent" telling you that something is clean, so I found myself snuffling along the length of the towels, trying to get a whiff of funk, but no funk. Spots were out. They were clean. I was pleasantly surprised.

The fresh scent of the Fels Naptha did not come through as a "scent" in the end result, but that's okay. Many have recommended adding a few drops of an essential oil to the mix for a scent if you want to have one, and maybe I'll do that down the line. But it was a "fresh" scent - like by virtue of being an absence of chemical fragrances, if that makes sense? Kinda like when you hang dry your clothes on a sunny day. Nothing beats that fresh smell and feel, though it doesn't really "smell" like anything. Y'know?

As always, even though there's a significant savings (I think the breakdown is about $0.05/load versus $0.20-0.25/load with Tide or other commercial products), 15-20 cents isn't enough to necessarily justify doing this all the time, even though that could easily add up to $100+/year if you are doing about 10 loads of laundry/week. But when combined with the idea of knowing what's going into your detergent and being make-believe-self-sufficient, it becomes something I think I am game for trying to keep up with.

This doesn't even count the 2-3 loads upstairs that need to be washed. There may be some savings to be had...

Check out the link above and read through the comments - lots of suggestions for things to add (scent, Oxi-Clean, stain pretreatment, etc.) and give it a whirl!


Michael is out for beers with a friend tonight, and they went to a bar Michael and I frequent but don't share with many people. In fact, Russ may be the first friend we've brought there.

Anyway, love that the owner asked Michael "Where's your chick?" and when told I was at home, he said something along the lines of "Aww, I love her! She's the best, tell her I say hey!" which I love.

next on my list...

Oh my gosh, this looks like an interesting place to hit for a meal or two...

Mind Your Own Business in Brookfield opened up in January and, best I can tell, looks like 3 people who are committed to great food, using local growers, and keeping their customers on their toes (and coming back to see what they're cooking up!).

Check out their blog, or their Yelp entry - Mind Your Own Business - to see what they are all about.

I cannot wait to wander in and check it out. As you know, we love small local restaurants and businesses, and this one seems right up our alley.

Will keep you posted once we go - YUM!

Random Musings...

 - I am not calling my kid a liar, but after having a fever and coming home from school Tuesday, having the fever break and her being very high spirited Wednesday morning, didn't expect to get a call from the school that she is sick again, can we come get her. So here's the rub: Not calling her a faker, but when I arrived and she was pissed I was there and greeted me with a "What? What are you doing here? Where's Gramma? Aren't I going to Gramma's?!?" I grew a bit suspicious. Vague stomach pain my ass. Back to school with ya tomorrow, kid! Here's a couple Pepto-Bismol tablets!

 - We have been vacuum-less for a long time. With no carpets, I figured we can just sweep and swiffer and life will be good. Except our animals are disgusting shedding beasts. So I picked up a Dirt Devil cheapy vacuum at Target today and after a quick run through our <900 square foot house, the chamber is half full with animal hair, dust, and God knows what else, I hope barbie shoes and Monster High doll limbs that fell off 3 days after purchase. I immediately felt less scummy. A little less scummy.

 - Busted - we blew off Valentine's Day festivities because Char had guitar lessons, I had a board meeting, everyone was blah, etc. and then yesterday, Char busted me so I had to come up with a fake plan of action. Why's my 6 year old calling me out? So looks like if this weather keeps up, we'll try horseback riding Saturday morning then heading to a cool art exhibit at Elmhurst College.

 - Love when Modern Family speaks to me - like when Claire tells Luke he needs to take a shower, his hair smells like cheese. Just today I told Char all about the "sleepy guy" smell in her hair from her super thick hair smelling like a pillow, a scuzzy pillow.

 - Evite, long my fave way to invite people to our festivities, failed me. Massively. We're doing a 3 kid birthday party for Char's birthday with a couple girls from school. I sent out the Evite to the 20+ parents. No one responds in 20 hours. No one has even viewed it. Am I suddenly stupid? Apparently? So I throw together a pdf invite and send it out by email to all the parents, 30 hours after sending out the original Evite, and suddenly, BOOM, email from Evite thanking me for sending out my Evites. Mother Effer. Nuts to you, Evite. I feel stupid.

So I like Stephen King and all, but...

I don't need to live in Storm of the Century.

Which is, in fact, apparently what we had this week in the Chicago area. So no big snows for the next 88 years, Mother Nature.

Motorists stranded on a closed down Lake Shore Drive as winds whip through at 70 mph. City buses spinning out on the roads. Cars losing control and getting bogged down in the forest preserve on my way to get Charlotte from school Tuesday. Semi-trucks stuck in front of our house. YIKES people, YIKES.

Anyway, everyone's heard all about it. Let's just leave it at I am super excited that Char's school, the college I work at, AND Michael's company all closed for the day today (Wednesday). And as an added bonus, Char, El, and I have all had classes cancelled Thursday so we're going to have another fun snow day. Though it will be like 3 degrees out with brutal wind chills so...more like trapped inside with two kids who are no longer enamored with the toys they played with today. Yikes.

AND, I would like to once again express my appreciation for ComEd for their great work with our power outage. Last week, as you know, we had a partial outage and they resolved it lickety split. We made it through Tuesday night (though I stayed up all night to keep vigil because I thought for sure the strong gales of wind would knock down the low hanging power lines in my backyard, leading to our immediate demise), but today when Michael and Char were off sledding, El and I were faced with the terror of NO ELECTRICITY. No Wii. No TV. No DS chargers. No Angry Birds (gotta save my phone charge!). Reading? Coloring? Playing a game? What the what?????

Anyway, ComEd had us (the whole town from the sound of it) up and running within 2 hours, and our temperature in the house didn't drop too low. My mother's house went out on Tuesday night, and it was a few hours, a little chilly, but they're ok.

So on to the gratuitous Snow Day photo montage, much like everyone else in the area. Yep. I'm annoying.


Those horizontal lines? Those are the low hanging power lines in the backyard. 
Or they are cable wires. 
Either way, I don't like it and it kept me up all night fretting they'd snap and 
either the house would catch fire or our power would be out and we'd all die, by freezing, in our sleep.

I was SO glad when Michael got home...I had been trying to keep up with the shoveling, but I'd get to the end of the driveway, and the porch would be covered by the time I walked back. ARGH.

This is weird. This is Michael's "new" Jeep that our fab mechanic next door is finishing up for him. 
I saw this SANDWICH IN A BAGGIE on the tire the other day, and asked him if he forgot his lunch. 
He knew exactly what I was getting at, and said nope, it's just a random sandwich. It's been there for a week. EW.

Early on in the snow. Thankfully Mother Nature created a walkway for 
Millie to the backyard, since I wasn't shoveling all that.

Yeah, we got some snow. Remember all that Michael shoveled up there? 
Yep. All for naught.

Mini-van was buried in drifts.

But Millie was happy!

See, her walkway was still there after the BLIZZARD THAT ATE CHICAGO!

We had enough to create our own mini-sled hill.
Somewhere under there is the bowl I set out to collect snow to make snow ice cream. 
We'll find it in the spring thaw.

Backyard shot. The wires were still there, up in the air. Thank you, Lord!

Ellie complained about the snow in her eyes. Michael was quick to the rescue with goggles.


Char was proclaiming herself king of every snow bank/drift/mountain. 

Millie was even happier once we started hanging outside and she could bound about for half the day with us.

While Michael shoveled and the kids ran around, this is what I worked on. By myself. Is that wrong?
I went in at one point and came back out to half of it destroyed. 
Michael claimed structural integrity issues, but c'mon, I'm a handywoman wiz! I blame Millie. Or Michael. 
I am hoping to keep going  on it if it isn't frigid on Friday.

After ignoring the kids outside, I decided I'd be a nice mom and make some cookies for a perfect snack.
(Aon people - please note that my beloved,  hard-to-find yellow KitchenAid Mixer holds a prominent display area in my tiny kitchen. I still love it, and think of my Aon gang every time I use it. Or walk past it.)