Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vision Forum Sale Ends April 2

      Have you heard?  Vision Forum is having a great sale  Click on the link to find some great deals on resources that we use here at Busy Hands Busy Minds.  Large Family Logistics, Joyfully at Home, Ballantyne books, the Kathleen books, a three man slingshot, great DVD and CD resources as well.  Take a look!  Now might be just the time to do a little Christmas shopping while prices are low.


Simple Things

Last night I had the two little boys at home with me while everyone else went to church.  They watched a little movie while I did some cleaning and talked to my mom on the phone.  After we took our nightly meds and brushed teeth we climbed into my bed to snuggle and read books.  Jackson was so excited!  Now, reading books together is really nothing new, but to be the only ones at home and to be allowed to get in my bed and snuggle together WHILE we are reading is not an everyday occurrence.  This was special.

After I got the boys to stop jumping on the bed we read Good Night, Everyone Good Night by Harriet Ziefert and The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.  Jackson picked out both books for our evening reading time.  After we finished reading and discussing each book (Ferdinand is a bull in Spain and is picked to go to the bull fights in Madrid--I have actually been to a bull fight in Madrid, so could add lots of information to the background) we set the books aside and tried to go to sleep.  As he has done before, sweet six year old Jackson reached for my hand and laced his fingers through mine.  What a sweet and precious moment!  One I know most likely won't be repeated by him in a few more years.

Today, I am going to slow down a little bit (no big milk production going on today, Michelle) and spend some more time with these little guys.  It won't be long until they are just a big as the older boys and  won't be wanting to snuggle with their old mom in the bed reading picture books.  Today we will make tomorrow's memories.....and I hope they are all good!

My precious little guys!

Caedmon Alexander-2

Thomas Jonathan Jackson-6

For a Child
Fannie Stearns Davis

Your friends shall be the Tall Wind,
The River and the Tree;
The Sun that laughs and marches,
The Swallows and the Sea.

Your prayers shall be the murmur
Of grasses in the rain;
The song of wildwood thrushes
That makes God glad again.

And you shall run and wander,
And you shall dream and sing
Of brave things and bright things
Beyond the swallow's wings.

And you shall envy no man,
Nor hurt your heart with sighs,
For I will keep you simple
That God may make you wise.

Raising Arrows

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


There is still time to add your recipes for milk products here!

While we've been busy staying on top of all the milk coming in we haven't let school or extra activities slide too badly.  The bedrooms could use a good hour or two of work and reorganization and some floors need to be mopped, but sure and steady wins the race.  In spite of the extra work I am enjoying filling the freezer with fresh homemade butter, making yogurt and yogurt cheese and making all kinds of breads and treats with buttermilk and milk.

I found a recipe for making cream cheese in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, but I am not sure it turned out right.  I need some help to determine whether this is indeed cream cheese and just needs to be whipped up some or needs to be dumped.  This is what I got after draining in a bag overnight.  The lighting is kind of dark, but the cheese is white.

The children have been busy creating as well.  Jordan has been faithfully tending the seeds that have sprouted in our dining room.  I will be glad when they can go in the ground and my dining room can be cleared of the extra table and plants. ; )  He is as always busily editing photos and writing.

And outside we have seven raised beds full of little sprouts.

Aaron and Kaelan have been spending lots of time practicing for piano and violin recitals.  Kaelan has been helping me in the kitchen a good bit and has also created a large hanging collage of the solar system that is suspended from above her bed.   She wouldn't let me post a picture, though.  She has been working on this project with Jackson.....and used up all our styrofoam plates. ; )  She also created a beautiful table arrangement of blooming dogwood.

Aaron has been experimenting with oil painting.   He is combining his love of music with his love of art. Above is an incomplete painting of Tchaikovsky.



And this is a drawing of Gulliver from  Gulliver's Travels.

Jackson has been doing lots of drawings and composing his magnum opus.  It's not important that his staff has more than five lines....he is having fun and always has one of us sing his latest composition.  The drawing in the lower right is Bill the Sheriff  with a "cactapus" in the background.  ; )

Creating does tend to mean that messes are being made, but it is very important to let the children discover the gifts and talents that the Lord has given them.  It is my prayer that my children will use their many gifts and talents in building up the Kingdom of God.  

Raising Homemakers

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simply Clean

In the last few years I have been trying to simplify things around my home.  I have greatly decreased the amount of time that I am away from home and am doing more and more food preparation from scratch, buying in bulk and learning how to simplify in all areas.  One area that I have been learning more about how to simplify is cleaning products.  Not only can today's cleaning products be unhealthy for our bodies, but they can also be costly.

Today I thought I would share how I clean the bathroom with two simple ingredients:  baking soda and vinegar.  I keep a spray bottle of vinegar in the bathrooms along with a jar of baking soda.

- I spray the tub with vinegar and then sprinkle baking soda around the sides.  The vinegar breaks down the oils around the tub and the baking soda is abrasive, so it works to scrub off the scum.  I also use the same method for the sink.

-I spray the mirrors with vinegar and wipe down with a clean, dry cloth.  I use the same cloth to wipe down the vanity lights and dust the mirror frame.

-Using the same cloth that I cleaned the mirrors with I now wipe down the light switches, shelves and picture frames.  I also wipe off the window and window sill.

-I spray all around and in the toilet with the vinegar and slosh it around in the bowl.   Then I sprinkle a handful of baking soda around the edges of the bowl and let it sit while I clean something else.  I come back in a few minutes to swish the toilet bowl brush around and that's done.  I wipe down the outside of the toilet with a damp cloth starting at the top and working my way down.

-After vacuuming, I spray the floor and baseboards with the vinegar then come back in with a bucket of hot water that has a little washing soda in it.  I scrub the baseboards and the floor with a cleaning rag.

Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda leaves my bathroom fresh and clean....and naturally so.

Raising Homemakers

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan for March 28-April 3

My menu plan this week is mainly pulled from the freezer or baked goods that I have already made.  Highlighted items are already prepared.

Breakfast-oven pancake with yogurt cheese and strawberry sauce
Lunch-pasta salad, broccoli salad, turkey sandwiches
Dinner-Lasagne, spinach salad, bread and buttermilk pie

Breakfast-biscuits, bacon, eggs, grits
Lunch-salads, raw veggies with buttermilk dip, olives, popcorn, fruit
Dinner-bbq sandwiches, baked beans, cole slaw and roasted potatoes

Breakfast-baked oatmeal with apples, oatmeal muffins
Lunch-leftovers or tuna sandwiches with veggie soup, stuffed eggs
Dinner-white bean chili, tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese

Breakfast-toast, sausage, eggs, grits
Lunch-leftovers, popcorn, fruit
Dinner-spicy turkey mac casserole, green beans, corn, bread

Breakfast-buttermilk pancakes
Lunch-chicken pilaf
Dinner-homemade pizza, salad and cookies

Breakfast-biscuits, sausage, eggs, grits
Dinner-chicken and dumplings, green beans, glazed carrots and bread

Breakfast-cinnamon rolls
Lunch-baked chicken with roasted potatoes, carrots, onions, purple hull peas, bread, pound cake

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Got Milk? Recipes Needed!


I told you last week that we've got milk...lots of it.  I am making butter and buttermilk, yogurt and yogurt cheese and hope to try my hand at cream cheese and mozzarella later this week.  I am using the milk to soak our fresh ground wheat the night before mixing and baking it into fresh bread.  The texture is very much improved from either the soaking or the milk.  Normally we use water, but this is much better.
The buttermilk is going into large quantities of biscuits and pancakes.  This week we'll be making lots of buttermilk pies and pound cakes to share and for the freezer.

Even with all that we are doing, we still have lots of milk....and we rarely drink it!  Maybe if I get some Ovaltine the kids would drink it. ; )  Anyway, here is where you come in!  I need recipes for buttermilk and milk and maybe even some tips in making butter, cheese or yogurt.   Oh!  How about some ice cream recipes!  That would be great as we approach warmer weather.

I can't wait to see the recipes you all share here.   Just look below and you will find Mr. Linky.  Just click and follow the directions to link up from your own blog or leave me a  note in the comment section.  And if you are in the neighborhood stop by for a glass of milk and a slice of home baked bread with fresh butter and jam.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dehydrating Carrots

Jeff got me a dehydrator for Christmas this year.  I know, we are so romantic, but really, I don't do frou-frou!  I am mostly all about practicality, and I actually asked for the dehydrator.

I have been making granola, but that's about it so far.  Until last night.  I usually buy a five pound bag of carrots from Sam's every other week, but I decided to start buying two bags and dehydrating one for our long-term storage.

I diced up all five pounds and put them on waxed paper on all five racks of the dehydrator.  After about 7-8 hours THIS is what I had.

The whole process was rather easy.  I cut the ends, scrapped and diced the carrots.  They were then blanched for about 3 minutes, before I spread them out on the dehydrator trays.  I slept while they were in the dehydrator!  Then this morning I took them out and weighed them.  Five pounds of carrots became.......6 ounces of dehydrated carrots.  Amazing!  I hope to keep on with the carrots, but also do potatoes and onions and maybe even a few more veggies.  I can toss a hand full of the dehydrated food into the soup pot for a very simple meal.

Have you tried dehydrating?  I will be doing yogurt in the dehydrator this afternoon.  I found the recipe in Nourishing Traditions.  I hope to do 4 quarts.  I'll let you know how that turns out next week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Who's Really Green?

If you were born in the 60s or earlier, you may remember life like this.  There was one young boy who was a family friend whom I will always picture pulling a wagon full of soft drink bottles he found along the streets in our neighborhood.  I think he grew up to be very industrious and had a Coke memorabilia collection. (some of you will know of whom I speak!)  Some of us still hold on to a good many of these ideals, not in a quest to be "green" for the love of nature, but to be good stewards of this earth that God has given us....and to teach our children how to work and to love work.  It's a good read!  Thanks for sharing DHM at The Common Room!

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, We didn't have the green thing back in my day.

That's right, they didn't have the green thing in her day. Back then,
They returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and
Refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But
They didn't have the green thing back her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator
In every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and
didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two
Blocks. But she's right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the
Throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling
Machine burning up 220 volts wind and solar power really did dry the
Clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters,
Not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right, they didn't have
The green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house not a TV in every
Room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish, not a
The size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and
Stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for
You. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded
Up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut
The lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by
Working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills
That operate on electricity. But she's right, they didn't have the green thing
Back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup
Or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled
Pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades
In a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade
Got dull. But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school
Or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi
Service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of
Sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized
Gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in
Space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But that old lady is right. They didn't have the green thing back in her

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Jeff is trying to talk me into doing some vlogging.  That's video blogging for those of you who don't know.   I am a little hesitant as I don't really know what I would vlog about and I don't know that I want everyone to see and hear me!  I don't like to be in front of the camera!

But, supposing I did go ahead with it just what would I vlog about?  I thought I would make a list of potential vlog topics and let you all help me decide.

-freezer cooking
-frugal shopping (but would that mean taking a camera into Sam's and Kroger?)
-soap making
-something homeschool related
-I am really at a loss here!
-making cinnamon rolls, stuffed sandwiches and pizza?

If you have any ideas or opinions please leave me a comment, even if you don't think I should do it, let me know!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's in Your Pantry? Part Two: Food Storage

Check out part 1 here.

I have had some questions regarding how I store all that food, so I thought I would devote this post to giving some answers.  I don't have a food pantry in my home.  We just have regular old kitchen cabinets, but they can hold a lot if we are creative.

In this lower cabinet I store my oils and baking goods along with canned jellies and my crockpots.  I will be taking the jellies out this week and moving them to a lower cabinet in my dining room that currently holds our cd and cassette collection.   That will free up a good bit of space in this cabinet and I can then fill the buckets below with pasta or dehydrated foods that will keep for a long time.

I got these food grade buckets free at the Kroger bakery.  They tell me they are having lots of people asking for them now!  I hope to get about fifty of them eventually.  In the last two weeks I scored 9 so I need to up my search.  The smaller round buckets I think will fit very well under Jordan's twin bed.  I could probably store 20-30 buckets under there with oats, wheat, corn, pasta, dehydrated foods, sugar, etc.  Again, I have to get creative with storage.  We don't even have a coat or linen closet in this house.  The four boys have a large closet that easily contains all of their hanging clothes and shoes.  There is still a lot of floor space and I store bottled water there.

This other cabinet holds my canned goods.  Tuna, chicken, beans, sauces, olives, evaporated milk and tomato paste are all on the top.  On the bottom are large cans of tomato puree and green beans, LOTS of ketchup, honey, mayonaise, canned corn, tomato sauce, rotel, cream soups, various small bottles of condiments and lemon juice for our "homemade"  lemonade.  It is easy to see what I am almost out of...English peas, corn, lemon juice, etc and I can really stock up on more green beans.  We generally eat one of those large cans in 2-3 meals. 

This cabinet used to hold boxed cereals and crackers, but we have gotten away from using those.  The upper shelf contains our stash of nebulizer medications, hot air popcorn popper, seed sprouting tray, and kitchen scales.  Middle shelf holds some small containers of dried dates, mushrooms and sage, Caedmon's gluten free, egg free, dairy free snacks and pastas and boxes of wheat pasta.
The bottom holds our electric tortilla press, a few clearance bottles of maple flavoring, a large assortment of medicinal, herbal and plain tea and five bags of grits.

Our galley kitchen is designed with a small eating area which is way too small for my large family.  We have a large deep freezer against the wall and this medium sized table.  On top of the table I have canisters filled with sugar, flour, white rice, brown rice, oats, pasta, tea and some gluten free flours.  There is generally a basket of fruit or vegetables there as well.  The forty gallon buckets under here contain wheat, white flour, white sugar, oats, popcorn and dried beans.

These items really need to find another home!  Here against the wall I have 45 pound buckets of grains, 50 pound bags of wheat and oats and a 50 pound bag of red potatoes.  If I can get enough of the smaller buckets, these big bags will be repackage there.

Another storage area that I didn't take a picture of uses underbed storage boxes.  I think I can store 6 bags of grits in one small underbed box.  A larger box contains 3 25 pound bags of basmati brown rice and there are several other boxes containing toiletries and more.  I have purchase bed risers from Bed Bath and Beyond to raise one queen sized bed up in order to store underneath it.  

New garbage cans are great for storing paper goods such as toilet paper, paper towels and feminine supplies.  These can be kept in an outdoor storage area. 

The cabinets above the stove and refrigerator spot and another small cabinet need to be cleaned out and reorganized.  The will then be able to hold the empty canning supplies and the spices for cooking.  My upper cabinets have lots of space above them where I keep my large cooking pots and home canned goods.

I would love to have a room devoted to food storage, but for us that is not possible.  Our Mississippi summers are so very hot and humid I don't think it would be wise to store our food in the garage.  We have thought about digging out a gulley near our backyard area and  burying a 'pod' there to use as a cellar and as a storm shelter.  Heavy metal shelves all around the pod would provide lots of storage and it should stay relatively cool if it is buried in dirt.  

Hope that answers some questions and I would love to hear about your food storage ideas.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Got Milk?

I've got lots of it!  One and a half quarts of yogurt, half a quart of whey, a quart of buttermilk, a half gallon of cream, almost 4 gallons of milk and some fresh butter in the fridge!  And we are making all kinds of dairy products!  I skim the milk after it sits in the fridge for a day.  This morning from 2 1/2 gallons of milk I got half a gallon of cream.  I will let the cream sit out for 24 hours to culture and then will make butter and buttermilk with it tomorrow morning.   I make yogurt in the crockpot and then drain the yogurt in a coffee filter lined colander which gives me a bowlful of whey and  a much thicker, creamier yogurt.

So, what are we doing with all these dairy products?  The yogurt pictured here is now being further strained to make yogurt cheese which is similar to cream cheese.  The whey is being saved for my neighbor/friend's chickens.  I used a quart of buttermilk to make pancakes this morning and they were terrific!  The 1/2 gallon of cream will make about a pound of butter and a quart of buttermilk. We also love buttermilk biscuits, pies, pound cake and a chocolate sheet cake with icing also made from buttermilk.

 I am now soaking my fresh ground wheat in milk before using it to make my bread products.  I have dough rising right now that soaked all night.  It looks terrific.  We are also going to try to make mozzarella cheese on Friday and maybe try another cheese or two in the near future.  I am also doing some research into canning milk and butter.  We'll see!  It sure is a blessing!  Do you have fresh milk?  What do you do with it?

Jeff commented that lately my blog has been full of homemaking posts which he said filled the "Busy Hands" part of the title, but where were the "Busy Minds"?  I assure you we are doing school at least 4 days a week, but we are using our minds to learn more about gardening, dairying and food storage methods in our spare (and not so spare) time.

Proverbs 24:30-34

I went by the field of a lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest;
So shall your poverty come like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

Find more simple posts today at GNOWFGLINS.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's in Your Pantry?

At my house we generally cook from scratch.   And we do a lot of cooking!!  Jordan (18 year old son) and I were doing the dishes after a particularly full day of cooking and dining.  He commented that we sure do have lots of dishes to wash every day, but, then we eat well, too!  He then said he knew he was probably spoiled with all the good food that comes to our table!  I guess you are not spoiled if you realize what a blessing the food you have is.

Cooking from scratch means I must have ingredients on hand to make whatever we have planned.  If we are having pancakes, instead of a mix, I need flour, oil, eggs,  baking powder, salt and milk.  So I make sure I keep a good stock up of our necessary ingredients for our day to day meals.  What a blessing it is to be able to prepare healthy meals without having to wonder if I have a certain ingredient on hand.  If I don't have a needed ingredient I simply make do with what I have, but my choices are not limited with a fully stocked pantry.

I purchase much of our food in bulk, ordering through my local health food store or through grain companies.  And when I say "bulk", I mean BULK!  Fifty pounds of oats, 45 pounds of wheat, 50 pounds of sugar, 25 or 50 pounds of rice, honey by the gallon, 50 pound bags of beans, etc.  You see, I mean BULK!  A lot of what I purchase is already packaged in food grade buckets, but some are only in bags.  I prefer buckets so I have been gathering food grade buckets from local bakeries and transferring the food into them.  It is much easier to manage that way.

I do keep food stored for "just in case" situations and we are actively maintaining a food storage plan.  I also have a freezer full of beef from a cow purchased in the fall, other meat that I buy reduced from Kroger and vegetables that I put up last summer.  We have many, many jars of jams and jellies that we preserved last summer as well.  We are now working on dehydrating and were able to successfully dehydrate sliced mushrooms this weekend. I am excited about using the dehydrator for more than our wonderful granola.  I thought I would share with you my shopping list from Sam's.  I do most of my local shopping at Sam's as I can get large quantities whose prices  seem to be lower than other places.  Buying in bulk keeps me from having to stop by the store every day or so and keeps my pantry stocked with foods that I can quickly prepare for my family.   I do not buy all of these items each time I go.  I generally rotate the items  and purchase about half of this list every two to three weeks.  I do pick up sale items at Kroger as well when their prices are lower than what I can get at Sam's.  Even if I pay a slightly higher price at Sam's it is worth it to me to have the shopping done quickly and get back home where I belong! ; )

-powdered sugar
-brown sugar
-baking powder
-epson salts
-lemon juice
-large cans of green beans
-large cans of baked beans
-English peas
-black olives
-green olives
-tomato sauce
-tomato paste
-crushed tomatoes
-canned tuna
-canned chicken
-dried beans
-olive oil
-canola oil
-peanut butter
-powdered chocolate
-herbs and spices
-chocolate chips
-dried blueberries
-aluminum foil
-plastic wrap
-freezer bags
-toilet paper
-baby wipes
-fresh peppers
-block of cheddar cheese
-block of mozzarella cheese
-frozen okra

Do you keep up a good stock in your pantry?  What ingredients are essential to have on hand for your family?  I would love it if you would share some ideas about your own food storage system or any plans you have for starting one.  The Proverbs 31 Woman looks well to the ways of her household.  She brings her food from afar, feeding her family well and within the family's budget.  She doesn't worry about the days to come because she has enough food to last for a while.  She has prepared for the future. She steadfastly tends to her household duties and is not lazy.  She is industrious and helps those in need with the fruits of her hands.   She is a busy woman, but she is content within her calling and she is very blessed.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Menu Plan for March 21-27

     Breakfast-baked oatmeal or granola with yogurt
     Lunch-chicken salad sandwiches, popcorn, apples and grapes
     Dinner-meatball kabobs, veggie rice pilaf, spinach salad, hummus and flat bread

     Breakfast-biscuits, bacon and eggs
     Dinner-mini meatloaves, green beans, garlic roasted potatoes and carrots

     Breakfast-granola and strawberry smoothies
     Dinner-stuffed sandwiches, popcorn and fruit

     Breakfast-applesauce muffins, sausage and eggs
     Lunch-hamburger stew, homemade bread
     Dinner-baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob

     Dinner-homemade pizzas and dessert

     Breakfast-biscuits, bacon, eggs, grits
     Lunch-leftovers, fruit and popcorn
     Dinner-grilled steaks, baked potatoes, salad

     Breakfast-cinnamon rolls
     Lunch-crockpot chicken with potatoes, carrots and onions, butter beans, homemade and dessert

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ahh! The Simple Life of a Stay at Home Homeschooling Mom

Last year I posted on Facebook about the joys of hanging laundry on the clothesline.  It wasn't too hot yet and the birds were chirping, blue skies were cloudless.  It was a beautiful day to be outside.  Someone commented about how they wished they could live a simple life like me.

Now, I truly believe that God has called me to this life I lead.  He has given Jeff and I the desire to have children (and quite a few at that!), to homeschool them and to lead a very productive life.  But, really, it is anything but simple!!

Simple is transferring that laundry from washer to dryer (which I do more often than not).  Not taking the time to hang them out!

Simple is buying those boxes of extruder pressed cereal.  Not making your own granola!

Simple is whacking a tube of biscuits on the counter.  Not making homemade biscuits a couple of times a week!

Simple is stopping by the bread store for a few loaves of bread.  Not grinding your own wheat to make up four loaves that will be gone in less than 2 days!

Simple is sending those kids to school for 8 hours a day.  Not being with them 24/7 and teaching and instructing them in the way they should go!

Simple is going out to eat or stopping for take-out a few times a week.  Not cooking 2-3 meals a day from scratch!

No, I don't work outside the home.  In fact, I try to stay at home as much as possible.  I know that if you work outside the home you don't have time to do all that I do.  But please, don't think the life of a stay at home homeschooling mom is simple, 'cause it just isn't so!  I feel so blessed to spend this time working and learning with my children.  Learning, exploring and creating as God leads.  It is a very blessed life, but it's anything but simple.

This is my list of things that I need to accomplish today.

-a few loads of laundry

-dust and vacuum master bedroom

-scrub, vacuum and mop  master bath

-tidy the schoolroom and den

-set out cream to begin the process of making cultured butter

-make applesauce in the slow cooker

-make yogurt in the slow cooker

-dehydrate mushrooms

-make a big pot of vegetable pilaf for lunch--decided not to do this after I cleaned out the fridge.  There is plenty of soup and we made a broccoli salad to go with the bread.

-make four loaves of bread   bread is rising

-make dinner

-do math and phonics with Jackson and go over the other children's school work

And did I mention my mother-in-law will be here in just a few hours?  And my oldest daughter with her three children?

So I will take breaks to rock the baby, walk outside with grandmother and the little guys and hopefully take some pictures.  I'm sure there will be lots of chasing, hugging and loving on little ones in addition to the above list.  Today will be a very busy day.  But it will also be a very blessed day.  Even if it's not so simple!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Making Laundry Detergent

We have been making our own laundry detergent for the last few months.  I love not having to lug home large containers of detergent from Sam's and I love keeping the ingredients on hand to whip up a large batch that will last for a while.  There are MANY recipes for laundry detergent and you can look here to find some.

I have made laundry detergent with several kids of soap.  Most people use the Fels Naptha soap and that is what we used in this batch.  It is designed specifically as a laundry soap, but to me it is heavily scented and I generally stick to unscented things as we have some who are sensitive to smells.  I have used Dr. Bronner's soaps that I can purchase at my local health food store.  They are made from all-natural materials and you can find unscented and those scented with essential oils.  I have also made some with my own homemade soap that was a plain unscented soap.  This is the method that I would normally choose, but I am out of my plain soap (will be making some soon and that will be another post!) so here we are.  The Fels Naptha soap runs about $1. 38 a bar.  Two bars grated will make three cups.

Kaelan grates the soap.

We also use Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax.  If you are local, the Barnes Crossing Kroger stocks all three of these ingredients in the laundry aisle.

Two bars of grated soap=3 cups

It looks like grated cheese!

To mix all the ingredients up thoroughly I add one cup of washing soda

to my VitaMix Blender.

Then I add a cup of grated soap.

Then I add a cup of Borax.


I run this through for a minute or two.

And it then looks like this!  Using the blender breaks up the larger chunks of soap.

I pour that into my large plastic container I use to store the detergent.
And then I repeat two more times using up all the grated soap.  When I use my homemade soaps I add several drops of essential oils at this point and stir thoroughly.  I love using tea tree, but my husband thinks it smells like a nursing home.  I have also used peppermint and lavender essential oils.  I probably use about 25 drops for this triple batch.

As I said there are many different recipes  out there.  You just have to find one that works for you.  I like this because I just use the same amount of all three ingredients.  I don't have to think about it and neither do my helpers.

I use a heaping tablespoon in my front loader.  A top loader would take more.  Because we have horrible water here I also add a scoop of Oxyclean and a scoop of baking soda to most loads.  I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle to keep away static and soften the clothes.

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