Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lavender Orange Powdered Laundry Soap

I've been making my own laundry soap for quite a while now, and while I've been content with it, I have missed the lingering scent of store-bought soap.

What I don't miss is the chemicals.

My go-to recipe for laundry soap is this liquid soap. Many people use this recipe. My only problem with it is the mess. I have a space between my counter and washing machine that is too small to place a shelf unit, but too big to miss with the soap dripping from my scoop. In fact, that space is the perfect size for a folded step stool, which is usually gummed up with gunk.

I'm not a fan of gunk.

When researching alternative powdered soap recipes, the formula seemed to be the same in all. Borax, Washing Soda, a low-suds bar soap, and Baking Soda. Most used Zote, Fels Naptha, or Ivory. But I was after a specific smell.


Here's what I came up with~

For the lavender scent, I didn't use the unscented bars in this picture~they were for another batch.
~The Players~

3 bars lavender Dr. Bonner's castile soap
1 4lb. box pure baking soda
1 box borax
1 box washing soda (not the same as baking soda)

Using a large hole cheese grater, grate all 3 bars of castile soap.

Put half the grated soap into a large food processor. Add 1 cup baking soda or washing soda and pulse until fine. It is important that you add one of the soda's or the castile soap will not grate fine enough. (Ask me how I know...☺)

Repeat with the remaining grated castile soap.

Using a large bucket or stockpot, mix together the powdered castile/soda, the remaining box of washing soda, baking soda, and borax. This is best done outside or in a well ventilated area. Try not to inhale any dust.

The soap is ready to use as is, or you can add 40-50 drops of sweet orange essential oil and mix well. Store in a dry container. For a large load of laundry, use 2 Tb.; smaller loads, 1 Tb.

I stored my first batch in 7-quart jars. Each jar will last 40-60 loads, depending on size. By my calculations, that's at least 280 loads of laundry (or as much as 420!) for less than $20.

Take that, Tide.

*I also like to use the unscented castile soap with 30 drops of lemongrass and 20 drops of cedar essential oils.

**For chemical-free dryer sheets, use a matching essential oil.

Time-Saving Potato Brunch Bake

Please excuse the flourescent photo~someone forgot to turn off the flash.

Sometimes life can be complicated. Cows don't calve when they're supposed to (still waiting), children refuse to clean their rooms when asked (and instead draw you a very nice picture~as a  gift), appointments get scheduled at the most inopportune times (who PURPOSEFULLY makes a well-child checkup at 8:30a.m. when it takes 30 minutes to get to town?), etc...Sometimes, a gal just needs a break.

Cooking everything from scratch takes dedication. It takes effort. And it takes time. And sometimes, there just isn't enough time to go around. Those are the moments where something has to give.

Because Mom is just about to break.

This recipe cheats a little on the whole food concept. You could use cooked, diced or shredded potatoes from your own garden (which would be fabulous), but since we're talking about saving time, I used tater tots. Why tater tots?

Because they are gluten-free.

And sometimes, that's good enough for me.☺

~The Players~
2 t. olive oil
2 c. Colby cheese, shredded
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (mix the 2 cheeses together)
1-1/2 pkg. (32 oz.) Ore-Ida Tater Tots (these are GF, I don't know about other brands)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 eggs, whisked
1/2 t. black pepper
8 oz. thinly sliced deli ham, chopped (or 1 lb. bulk sausage, cooked and drained)
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 c. diced tomatoes
2 Tb. chopped chives
Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly brush an 9" x 13" casserole pan with 1 t. olive oil. (I used a Pampered Chef medium bar pan.) Lay tater tots in a single layer in pan.

Take pictures of your goofy adult daughters "helping" in the kitchen.

Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese over tots and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until they start to brown.
Using a mixer, beat cream cheese and eggs together. (They may be a little lumpy.) Add black pepper.
In a small pan, saute onions and ham in remaining olive oil until onions are soft. Stir into egg mixture.
Pour egg/ham mix over tater tots.

Return to oven and bake 8 minutes, or until eggs are set in the middle. Remove from oven and add remaining cheese, tomatoes, and chives. Sprinkle with more ground pepper, if desired.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meal Plan 8/26/12 and a Bovine Update

Please excuse the "poo" in the above picture, but these days, poo is the last thing on our minds. We're still on calf watch, and to be honest, it's getting quite old. Seriously, our days are spent looking at cow butt. Hours and hours of cow butt. Not because we have nothing better to do, but because every single person in this house makes at least 1 trip up to the barn a day and comes running back down to the house to announce, "It's time!"

I've come to realize that my family thrives in the melodrama of farm life. The reality of the cow situation is this~there is still no calf. And yes, Tilly is fully bagged. Yes, she is sagging and drooping in all the right places. And yes, eventually the calf has to come out. But I'm not going to worry until it happens. For real this time. No more cow butt updates from me. Promise....

In the meantime, I've been working on meal plans again. This week, daughter #3 and her hubby will be moving in with us while they save for a down payment on their first house. That will put our grand total at 13. That's 13 mouths to feed. 12 people using the toilets. 11 people who eat full-sized meals. 10 people who are not gluten-intolerant. 9 ladies dancing, 8 maids-a-milking...oops. Got a little carried away there for a minute. I'm not too worried about the size of our family (while doing foster care a few years ago we were up to 15 kids), but in order to avoid spending thousands of dollars at the grocery store, I need to be diligent about planning meals. I also need to be diligent about not straying too far from the plan.

Which would pretty much sum up my entire summer of meal planning.☺

Here's what's cooking this week...

almond butter/jam sandwiches
Cube steak, mashed potatoes/gravy, fresh green beans, deviled eggs, gf Peach Streusel Cake & ice cream
Scrambled eggs with bacon, toast
Roasted hot dogs, sauerkraut, apple slices
Crockpot Salsa Chicken, brown rice, corn, salad
Egg salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, apple slices
Salmon Patties with Tarter Sauce, Coconut Rice, green peas, Biscuits with homemade Apple Butter
Quiche Lorraine, gf Blueberry Muffins
Baked Bean Dip, tortilla chips, lacto-fermented salsa, Kefir Fruit Smoothies
gf Brunch Bake (new), Broccoli Salad
Cinnamon Spiced Granola
Corndog Muffins, Apple Slices
Macaroni & Cheese, fresh green beans, baked chicken
Ham & Swiss Omelet
Tuna sandwiches, apple slices
Cincinnati Chili, green salad
Buckwheat Pancakes with Spiced Plum Syrup
Grilled Hamburgers, Crockpot Baked Beans
Now, I'm off to check...ummm...the floor of the barn. Yep. That's it.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to...oh never mind. I'm sure you understand.☺

This post is linked to Menu Monday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

have snout, will root

Some trips to the feed store end with us hauling home several hundred pounds of various feeds. But sometimes, through no fault of mine, they end differently.

It seems that through a series of miscommunication, we are now pig owners. Of course, we knew they were coming. Eventually. But not today. In fact, we thought we had an entire week to prepare for their arrival.

I mentioned that this was not my fault, right?


So today, we did what every non-communicating farm family does.

We improvised.

The area we designated for pigs.

See, pigs don't care if you got a deal on corral panels. And they don't care if all the panels match. A pigs only purpose in life is to find a way to escape from the confines of their pen. Kind of like teenagers. But cuter.

I told you.
Our future mama, Beans, and Porky, our future platter of bacon.

Because 4 week old piglets don't know that the world is a big, scary place, we had to create a safe haven for them. And since there was that whole miscommunication issue, we had to do it with supplies we already had on hand. Because contrary to popular belief, piglets do not like road trips. Or riding on the inside of a just-vacuumed Expedition. It gives them tummy problems. Smelly ones.

Free pallets (we were hoarding for some Pinterest project) and some zip-ties (a farmer's best friend), and the panel is now piggie proof. 

An old gate and a few boards between the lower rails finishes the end.

Since this area has a dirt floor, we covered the pen with pine shavings, then straw for a nice thick bedding. (Also known as urine absorbers.)

Releasing the piglets

Trust does NOT come easy to a pig!

Pigs have some mad skills when it comes to basketball.

Meet Porky, Frank & Beans, the newest additions of Jabez Farm.

Frank needed a kiss goodnight.

I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Lately, it seems as if my whole life is all about the waiting.

Waiting for the perfect shot.

"Open your eyes, Maddie!"

"I'm twying! The sun's too bwight, Nana!"

Close enough.

Waiting for mean chickens to get off of other hens' eggs.

The egg-eater~I need to introduce her to my meat-eaters.

Waiting for my turn in the boat on a 100 degree day.

Since it was Heather's 16th birthday, I didn't mind. Too much.

And waiting for cows to deliver.

Something tells me, the waiting is almost over.

Stay tuned...☺

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lemon Mint Sun Tea

One of my favorite summertime beverages is sun tea. Not the tea of the south, but the good stuff. You know, tea that's been kissed by the sun.

 Oh ya.

Sun tea requires 4 things: tea bags, water, a gallon jar, and a little sunshine. (If you live near me, that last one also requires a little luck.☺)  Once the basic recipe has been mastered, (and by mastered, I really mean, made once. Without spilling it.), it can be taken to another level by adding fresh or dried herbs.

Since I have an abundance of lemon balm, chamomile, and mint, I decided to use those. Lemon balm is known for it's calming effects. It is commonly used in tea to relieve stress and can help you sleep better. Mint is a natural breath freshener (and can't we all benefit from a little extra freshness?), and promotes mental focus. It is also a good choice for soothing a tummy ache, or relieving nasal congestion from a cold. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also used to boost the immune system and promotes sleep.

Chamomile flowers can be found in any store that sells bulk spices & teas. I think there's some kind of unwritten rule that says chamomile must be included in the bulk teas. Very easy to find. But, if you live in an area that only has a Shell station with a Subway attached, you can find dried chamomile flowers here.

~The Players~

1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh lemon balm
3-4 black tea bags

Place chamomile, mint, and lemon balm in a 1 gallon glass jar. Cover with water. Add tea bags and place lid on top.

Place in sunshine and allow to steep for 4-6 hours. Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the tea. Serve the tea over ice. Sweeten, if desired.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Barn Progress

As of this post, Miss Waltzing Matilda Mook has still not calved. And let me tell you, it's through no fault of ours either.

5 days late and still no calf.

It's not that Tilly is a private person cow, she just requires a little finesse.

Tilly knows when she's got a good thing going.

And she's milkin' it for all it's worth.

Meanwhile, we've been busy working on the barn. Remember what it used to look like? And then we did some stuff to it? Well, we've done some more. Stuff, I mean.

The Mister planning the layout of the corral panels.
Yes, this looks about right.
Our eldest son making sure the posts are secure while the Mister looks on in awe.
The "boys" are standing in the calf pen.
The stanchions are finished. Complete with a pulley system to lock the cows in.

 Then we went to the fair, and suddenly, building a barn area just for cows seemed amateurish. So we added a spot for pigs.

Hog panels & zip ties will make this spot perfect for keeping piggies safe and warm.

The Mister said the pen is "for the future." Personally, I think he left that wide open for interpretation. The future is anything after the moment he said "for the future." Guess he doesn't know me at all...☺

And just in case you were wondering how secure our posts are...

They held up to Young-Dumb-Son's technique. Hopefully we won't have to change his name to, Walks-With-Limp...☺

This post is linked to The Morristribe's Homesteader Blog Carnival.