Archive | February, 2012

DIY: laundry soap

9 Feb

I wanted to try a WordPress “reblog” to see how it worked out. I thought, what type of blog (written by someone else) would fit on my blog and lead it in the direction in which I am taking it? How about a do it yourself laundry soap recipe! My friend gave me a slightly different version of this same recipe in liquid form, and I am planning on making my own soap when we run out of the store bought stuff. Anyone else already do this? Let me know what you think, and if you use powder or liquid!


When Drew and I moved to Tulsa, we came without a washer and dryer.  We had become accustomed to taking a trip to the laundry mat once a week.  Oh the quarters we went through!

So, once we moved we discovered my cousin was getting a new washer and dryer.  Yay! They needed to get rid of their old ones…and for free.  They are not the most beautiful looking pieces of machinery; I will spare you a photo.  But boy do they get our clothes clean and dry.

I wanted to make my own laundry soap once we got settled.  Lo and behold my cousin not only did the same but gave me her recipe and ingredients to make it!

Making your own soap at home can be super cost effective.  (Even when you buy the ingredients yourself.)

All you need is Borax, Washing Soda (this is different than baking…

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A Healthy School Lunch

9 Feb

I am always trying to find different school lunch ingredients. I’ve looked in magazines and on the Internet, but my kids are far too finicky for many of the creative ideas I find there. Through trial and error, we finally discovered a lunch they can really get into and enjoy. They request this lunch often. I add a small container of Jell-o and an apple to the following lunch and they don’t come home hungry.

First, I lay out a piece of aluminum foil and place a whole wheat wrap on top:

Next, I prepare a tuna salad with the following ingredients:

Mayonnaise, Tuna and Relish

I drain the tuna and add three tablesp0ons of mayonnaise with one tablespoon of relish. I mix it all together and place it in the center of the wrap:

I fold the wrap around the tuna:

I wrap the foil around the tuna wrap. One of the things I do is tuck the ends of the foil under the wrap and gently press the foiled wrap against the counter. The foil adheres to itself and the wrap stays intact until lunchtime, even for my daughter who tends to be quite careless with her lunch bag.

Next, I started making ants on a log. The kids love this; they consider it a treat. Again, I laid out a piece of aluminum foil and placed six pieces of washed celery on the foil:

I filled the celery with peanut butter, dotted the peanut butter with raisins, then wrapped the whole package as follows:

Left over right

Right over left

Bottom up

Top down

This is what it looked like in the lunch bag:

After I added the apple and Jell-o, the items held each other in place. Even if the items shift, the foil helps hold them in place. Nothing shifts around within the foil. When the kids eat the food, they unwrap the foil from the top and the food is laid out neatly.

**For those who are environmentally conscious, napkins work well but tend to shift. If anyone can provide a solution which reduces waste, please leave it in the comments section. Honestly, I’d appreciate an Earth-friendly version of the same idea! I’ve tried snap-top containers but the peanut butter gets everywhere and the tuna unwraps itself.**

Homemade Taco Seasoning

9 Feb

After I lost my freelance writing business, my husband and I were forced to cut every corner we could find. One of those corners was cashing in on the vast spice supply I had been building since college. I found a taco seasoning recipe on the Internet, and we happily pulled out all those spices, thinking we were doing a good thing!

The kids hated it.

I had to adjust the recipe.

I found a few suggestions, and I tried a few different versions. Finally, I arrived at a kid-friendly version that didn’t make the taco too bland.

I used:

1 tbsp chili powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

I mixed all the spices together then browned one pound of meat. We always use ground beef, so if someone tries this with chicken, please leave the results in the comments section. I chopped a green bell pepper and a small sweet onion and added a half cup of each to the meat.

When the meat and vegetables were ready, I removed the pan from the heat source, drained the fat away and added 2/3 c water. I measured 2 1/2 tbsp of the spice mixture and added that to the meat. I then added 1/2 tbsp flour and mixed everything together. I simmered this mixture on medium high heat until all the water had cooked away. I had to keep mixing it so the meat didn’t stick to the pan.

I microwaved frozen sweet corn. I filled hard taco shells with meat, shredded taco cheese, and sweet corn. The cheese melted between the sweet corn and the meat, and the corn helped sweeten the taco so the kids would eat it. The flour and corn together retracted from the spice of the meat, and the peppers and onions blended into the meat so the kids didn’t know they were there.

I got my kids to eat a healthy meal, complete with three different vegetables, meat, grains and dairy. I am one proud bloggin’ momma!!!


“Fast Flowers” by Disney’s FamilyFun

7 Feb

Have you ever seen the neat projects in magazines that look so put together and perfect? The professionals who create them for the professional magazine photographers will build and rebuild it until it is a masterpiece. However, when you try to imitate that perfection in your home, it looks – well – like a non-professional version of the same craft!

This phenomenon occurs often in our home. My daughter will find a fabulous magazine craft which I help her imitate, then talk her into believing that she is not perfect and it is beautiful despite its sad resemblance to the picture. Her latest “must do” project came from Disney’s FamilyFun magazine, and can be found here:

We gathered all the materials from around the house, and while I snapped pictures to capture the final outcome, she cut and pasted the first flower into reality.

Choosing the colors.

First, we placed an empty can in the coffee filter to measure the size of our circles. If the paper circles were too big, the flowers would be ruined.

Measuring the coffee filter

Circle makers!

Next, we chose three containers to make three different circle sizes. We can’t make perfect circles, so we traced the bottoms of these items.


…and cutting!

The directions told us to attach the whole flower with a tack, but she decided she needed reinforcement. We glued the circles in this pattern:

She also glued the circles into the coffee filter.

The final product

We pushed the thumbtack through the middle and added it to her eclectic room.


When we were making these, I had to keep fluffing the coffee filter, because as she worked, she would crush the filter and take the creases out of the sides. I also wish we had used a fresh package of filters, because this one is relaxed and has lost some of its shape. When we pushed the tack through the center, the yellow paper wrinkled.

While there were a few imperfections, the end result does look exactly like the picture.

She is so delighted with this project that she has picked a spot on her wall to imitate the picture from the link above.

Let us all know how your flower project comes out, and share pictures of the final result! Happy creating!

How to Make Your Own Pasta Sauce

1 Feb

Admittedly, the pasta sauce recipe that follows is not from scratch. However, many of us don’t have time to crush tomatoes, so here it is:

2 15 oz cans plain pasta sauce (I use Hunt’s 100% Natural Sauce)

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp onion powder

2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp basil

1 Tbsp parsley

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 c. chopped green peppers

Place all ingredients except chopped green peppers into a medium sauce pan. Let sauce simmer on medium for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Add any precooked meats to the sauce after twenty minutes. Allow the sauce to simmer with the meat for ten minutes. Add the chopped peppers, simmer an additional five minutes. Add to pasta and serve.

We often use precooked meatballs in our pasta; we fry them gently on medium heat in a small frying pan of olive oil. The olive oil coating adds extra flavor to the sauce.

Please add variations and alternative meat ideas below!

How to…

1 Feb

…make your own Febreze!!

(This blog is dedicated to Erin T., who gave me the idea…)

Approximately 27 oz of Febreze, by Proctor and Gamble, costs between 5 to 7 dollars, according to

Approximately 64 oz of Downy costs between 4 and 6 dollars, according to

Put aside the fact that the following recipe stretches that 64 oz into months of product, and it already makes financial sense to make your own fabric freshener.

Fill the Downy cap full of product. Pour the cap into a 32 oz spray bottle. Fill the rest of the bottle with warm water. Gently shake the product before each use. The product is safe for the same types of fabrics as the Febreze brand.

I am allergic to many scents. The Febreze brand has begun to close my throat and set off a serious attack. The Downy does not affect me. My house has never smelled fresher.

Good luck, and let me know how this works for you!

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