Monday, July 18, 2011

Laundry Detergent...DIY

So, for a while now I've been thinking about making my own laundry detergent. But even though I'd seen tutorials for it, I had it in my head that it would be a time consuming task not worth the savings. Boy, was I ever wrong. I finally decided to give it a go when I was pinning (Pinterest= lurve!) and found 4 DIY soap options.

1) The ever present powdered laundry soap
2) hand liquid soap (I'm totally making this too)
3) liquid laundry soap
4) Dishwashing detergent

All of these required the same basic ingredients as a base (give or take an item). And were totally plausible. Since I knew that I could make 3 things with basically the same ingredients I decided it was time.

I followed the very easy directions found on Why Not Sew? Quilts website. And it was easy. You need all of 30 minutes of your day to do this folks...take the time!

So, to start. Ingredients are as follows:

1)Borax - 3.00 approx(in laundry aisle at Walmart)
2)Washing Soda- 2.00 approx (same area)
3) Bar soap - 1.00/bar (I chose Dove but I believe any will work)
4) Water-free

1) Cheese grater
2) big pot
3) funnel
4) empty milk jug

First, start by grating your soap. I halved the batch she made in her link because I only had 1 gallon jug free and had no where to put another gallon. So, I grated half  a bar of soap.

The problem I had with this was the soap would stick on the grater and wouldn't grate well after that point.
Like this:

All I did was take a knife to scrap it off.
 No biggie but it did slow things down a little as I could have grated the soap in like, 3 minutes but it took more like 10-15 min with the in between scraping. Again, just a small delay and could be due to the type of soap I got (Dove). In the linked tutorial she states that it was very easy to grate her soap and took no time at all.

After grating 1/2 the bar into the pot fill the milk jug half full with tap water and add to the pot. Set on stove to dissolve soap (med/high heat).

After it dissolved I added 1/2 cup of both Borax and Washing Soda each. Stir in and let boil until it starts to thicken.

Note: I did not see my mixture really coagulating like the tutorial stated (boiled for about 15-20min) but no worries.

After you take it off the heat add another 1/2 gallon of water and let it cool (that's where the thickening came for me).When it's cool take a funnel and add the whole mixture into the jug.

Voila! You're done.

This makes a full gallon (duh) of detergent and if you use her link it would make 2 gallons (wow, look at my extraordinary math skills! I tell you, I should be in Mensa).You only need 1/2 a cup per load when washing.

Put it in a pretty container and you're good to go!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Stairs...A Saga only just begun

So, remember when I was all loco and I said I wanted to do this to my stairs?

Courtesy Thrifty Decor Chick
 No. not the cute little shadow mice (but that would be cute for Halloween). I want to to rip out my carpet and paint/stain the stairs.
Here's her before (mine is very similar-but unfortunately I don't have a pic right now):
My stairs aren't nearly as nice (carpet-wise). They weren't in the best of shape when we moved in and we certainly haven't helped,what with having a parade of kids running through these past 6 years (daughter and her friends).
But the layout is the same L shape stairs to the loft and it's all enclosed with drywall. I wish I had a pretty staircase with banister. Like these:

But alas, it's not to be.
Instead I have what I have. Oh, well. But on to a few more pics to show you what I want to do with my stairs, dark stain and white risers!

These pics are all courtesy of a basic image google search.

So, down to the nitty gritty. I decided to cut a piece out of my carpet and pull it back to see what I had to work with:

 Not good. It's like, drywall plaster or something. Okay, but this was the top of the stairs so maybe that's why. I pulled back my padding and another riser of the stairs to see:

What the crap. I was very disappointed. I mean, look at it. Its some sort of plaster.
But this gave me a little hope:
See that peeking out of the white? It looks like wood. So, there's wood there for sure (duh), but it's covered in some sort of plaster similar to the texture of my walls UGH. I wanted semi-smooth (if not a little beat up) basic wood. I tried to sand it a little to see how difficult it would be to come off...It wasn't budging. Then again, I just sanded by hand. It might do better with my electric sander. But it would certainly be a daunting task to undergo and would most definitely cut into my napping time on the weekends (not to mention I already have a dresser I've got to re-stain that I've stalled on because I hate sanding!).

Wanna see another problem? Okay.

Check out the gap. No, no, not the GAP. (though they do have cute clothes). I mean, this huge gap between the staircase and the wall.
 Not so bad from that angle but look at it straight on.

What the crap!?
How do I fix that? I don't even know if it's possible. Wait! I know! Trim...trim fixes everything. So, one problem down. But still, what to do about that crazy texture stuff?

Anyhow... that's where I stand in the stair department. I put everything back together but I may be ripping all the carpet out anyhow. I mean, it's filthy stained carpet (judge not, lest ye be judged!) and needs to be gone sometime anyway. So rip it out now and try for something else. All else fails, I could paint them (forget the stain). Keep the texture, just paint them something wicked like this:

In fact, that doesn't seem so terrible after all. I think I'm gonna try it and just see where it leads me.
All of these painted stairs look perfectly imperfect which is what my house tends to be anyhow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Check list check-in:

Here is the list I started at the beginning of the year:

1.) Clean out my closet. Done.You know it's always easy to get the small things out of the way.

2.) Organize my bills/junk mail. Done. I even organized my bar so that those pesky papers wouldn't land there all the time.  The problem is, while my bar is nice and clean, I now have a basket in my bedroom with  a stack of papers that needs to be filed. Okay, it's definitely neater than the way it was before...but it's still a pile.  :(

 3.) Refinish 2 dressers. I'm half way there. I've 1/2 stripped one, and painted the other but am waiting on hardware. Sooo....sorta done.

4.) Tear out the carpet on the stairs and try to refinish them. -Working on it now!

5.) Sell 5 items I no longer use on Craigslist.(2  [1] desks, 1 coffee table, 1 dresser, 1 tv armoire) Close enough.

6.) Finish losing 15lbs. I've actually gained 15 lbs but lets not talk about that otherwise I'll go home, crawl under my covers, and cry myself into oblivion whilst clutching a yummy box of chocolate macadamia nuts (Thanks for enabling me BFF!!!!).

7.) Paint the loft upstairs and reorganize it for more functionality. Sooo done.

8.) Take down the Christmas tree and decor inside. Would you ever read my blog again if I hadn't done this already?

9.) Replace our shower window.  Done. And much cheaper than I was originally quoted. So, YEA!

That leaves me with only 2 3/4 things left to do (if you count that I've only half way done some things). And I still have 6 months left! I think I'm doing really well considering. Considering how lazy I am.

I would almost say I'm hopeful enough to add a few more things to my list. Dare I? Okay, I dare. Yes, I laugh in the face of ...uhhhhh....list-making...and uhhhh..whatever else I can hubrisly laugh in the face of! I'm totally gonna add stuff.

1.) Repaint my kitchen cabinets.
Right now they look like this:
You're to ignore the mess in the kitchen (it's the only pic I had available at the moment). But can you imagine why I might want to paint them? Of course you can!

 I want to paint them black. Like this:

courtesy of The Lettered Cottage
2.) Repaint my bathroom cabinets as well. I may consider white, who knows? I just know I want the Honey Oak GONE (it's all through the house).The HOFF (Honey Oak Furniture Flip) in action!

3.) File my bills, uh-gain!

4.) Crown molding in the powder room. It's a small room. For that reason I imagine it would be an easy place to start with a crown molding attempt (never tried before). I even have scrap molding in the garage just waiting to be used to try this out. We'll see.

5.) Finish painting base boards. I started a looooooong time ago painting my base boards from smokers yellow (yuck) to crisp white. I only got about half my house done. I really need to finish.

not my baseboards

Trust me that's more than enough to keep me busy when I think about adding them to the list I have every.single.weekend:

1.) Sleep in
2.) Wake up, eat waffles.
3.) Watch any number of my DVR'd shows.
4.) Pet my kitty (this is not a euphemism!)
5.) Pet the other 2 kitties so they don't feel left out.
6.) Take a nap out of sheer exhaustion.
7.) Wake up, repeat.

See? Clearly, I have a really busy schedule every week so adding more to it will surely overwhelm me til the end of the year.
*crossing fingers I can do it all!*

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baking Fail-4th of July

I wouldn't call myself a baker or a cook. Though I think that I do an okay job at both. But when I try something I really expect it to work. Unfortunately this last attempt really failed. It all started when I saw this cake on the blog, 17 and baking:
How cool is that?

Unfortunately, mine turned out like this:
I make no attempt to hide the damage people. Feast your eyes on this hot mess. Like a train wreck, it's hard to look away.

Now, learn from my mistakes (see how uplifting and educational I can be-even in the wake of my own patheticness?).

I won't go into all the tedious details of how to construct this cake as the original blogger did a great job explaining it (with video even) in the link above. Plus, do you really wanna take advice from me when mine turned out like it did? Of course not.

But I will give you pointers on where I believe the train derailed.

1) Be patient.
2) If possible make this in 2 days rather than 1 evening.
3) Be patient.
4) Let the cakes cool completely, and if you've read my number 2 rule, freeze them over night.
5) Be patient.
6) Cut the cake after its frozen which minimizes crumbs and allows the form to remain intact.
7) If you haven't read rule, 1, 3, and 5, read them again.
8) Buy 4 cans of icing (3 for the cake and 1 more just in case the cake is a bust and you need to drown your sorrows at your failed attempt).
9) Be patient.

That's pretty much it. I used box cake and it tasted great. Even with the chaotic mess it made:
It was yummy. I mean, it was cake. What's not to love? But that wasn't really the point with this specific cake now was it? It was the presentation (it's all about presentation). And I mucked that up real good. Can you guess why? (if not read rules 1,3,5,7,9)

So, instead of my co-workers getting a fantastically presented yummy cake my family got a hideously deformed yummy cake.
(Woo-hoo says my daughter!)
Oh well, there's always next year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

No Sew Pillow...

Okay so, the title of this post is a lie. An out and out lie. I sewed a little (but only a little). My sewing skills don't exceed more than "a little" anyhow. I mean, I was sweating it when I had to thread the darn sewing machine so thank goodness it didn't require more than that (remember: I got a C in Home Ec).Anyway.

I wanted some holiday decor being that it's 4th of July. But I'm cheap and money is tight. The easiest way to get that was to make new pillow covers for my couch. So, I got some basic red fabric:

I started by ironing a crisp hem (after measuring the amount I needed for 2 pillows) and adhereing with iron on hem tape:

Then I took white ribbon and measured the amount needed for 2 stripes (on each pillow) and adhered those with more iron on hem (whomever the hell invented this stuff-I thank thee).

Incidentally, I didn't have enough length for the 4th stripe. I centered it as best I could on the front but it didn't reach the full length on the back of the pillow. I didn't care. I mean, it's the back so who notices really? It's not like I'm having Martha over for the 4th-she's too busy hosting a clambake in the Hamptons or some such activity (sorry Martha- thanks for the invite- but I can't make it). Plus, I wasn't about to get out again for, like, 4 inches of ribbon. Whatevs. This was a cheap, easy, and fast DIY project. It's not perfect (so it pretty much fit right in at my house).

After the ribbon I formed it around my pillow to verify that I was on track:
I wasn't sewing in a zipper but I wanted the option to change them out so I made a back flap. After verifying that it worked I sewed the sides up. I only made 2 sewing lines which finished the pillow off:
Here's my old sewing machine: I'm sure it wishes it had someone else as it's owner. Someone who would properly take care of it, who wouldn't let dust bunnies collect on it, who gives it the proper maintenance to run efficiently, heck, someone who even  knows how to friggin' thread the thing.
After it was sewn I turned it inside out and stuffed the pillow in it. You can see what I mean here by the back flap:
The finished product:

Cost breakdown:
Fabric (1 yard which yielded 2 pillows): 3.99
White ribbon (already had) but cost: 1.00 
Iron on hem tape: 2.00

Total Cost for 2 pillows: 7.00 (3.50  per pillow cover!)