Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stuff Your Freezer!

Another food prepping day has come to pass.  I repeated 2 of the recipes I tried the first time, Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken and Chicken Curry and added two new ones, Chicken n' Cherries and Orange Chicken (the recipe is actually for beef but Mark just LOVES Chicken).  Unlike last time where I followed the recipe's very closely this time I made a lot more adjustments to suit our tastes - mostly, I made everything spicier and I added extra onions to just about everything - I LOVE onions. I also added a few more veggies to the two new recipes that were heavily meat based - sweet potato's with Chicken n' Cherries and zucchini with the Orange Chicken.  So for $42 dollars and 2.5 hours I have 8 freezer bags full of food (each recipe makes two bags) and each bag can usually (with the addition of rice or mashed potatoes) can get us about 5 meals, or 2 dinners and a lunch for one of us.  So 8 bags at 5 meals a piece for $42? - YEAH, only $1.05 + cost of rice or potatoes per serving. That is on par with what used to be the cheapest meal in my repertoire - spaghetti and sauce, except this is loaded with meat and veggies!

You can see we've eaten a few already and they are delicious!  Notice the bag of "leftover veggies" on the side.  That is leftover sweet potatoes and onions from the cooking day - I've made good use of them and you'll read about that soon!

 Have I inspired you to start cooking yet?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wash it! Wash it real good!

So last weekend I FINALLY got around to making something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.  You guys already know about my homemade/less chemical deodorant and shampoo and it was finally time I made the leap, to yes, laundry soap.  I have been reading homemade laundry soap recipes for years now but just never got around to it.  I was brought to my attention again when Becca mentioned that she was going to make DIY laundry detergent and that mentioning happened to coincide with my running out of the Seventh Generation Free and Clear liquid that I always use.  I decided on a recipe that I found here – thought really pretty much all of the recipes are the same – washing soda, borax and soap.  Generally the only difference is the type of soap people use.  Many recipes use Fels- Naptha or Zote which are actually “laundry” soaps but the ingredients didn’t meet my standards as a lot of laundry soaps are petroleum based, contain artificial surfactants and contain the dreaded “fragrance” (fragrance is “dreaded” because fragrance is considered proprietary so manufactures don’t have to disclose the ingredients and those ingredients are generally loads of chemicals.  The fragrance issue really started for me the first time I picked up lavender essential oil and thought “This smells nothing like lavender!”,  then I realized it was the other way around and the commercial chemical “lavender” scent smells very little like actual lavender – similar to the way a grape snow cone tastes nothing like an actual grape).  SO, I had planned on using one of my favorite olive oil/essential oil made soaps from the Nature’s Gift soap people down at Findlay Market but as my weekends have been so busy I haven’t been able to get there so I picked up this bar of Kirk’s Castile soap from Clifton Natural Foods and the ingredient list satisfied me.

My third option would have been Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap which contains essential oils for scent but with double the price and a few extra ingredients I figured I could add my own scent.

So my recipe went as follows:

1 Bar grated Kirk’s Castile
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Borax
6-10 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil (this smells really strong in the container but not on the clothes)

Now the recipe I looked at said only to use one tablespoon per load so it appears that this recipe made seriously like at least a years worth of laundry soap.  I couldn’t wait to do my first load and I was soooo happy when I pulled them out of the washer.  I can’t explain how clean they smell.  The don’t really have the eucalyptus scent but just the freshest cleanest scent.

 I'm sure the receipt is stuffed in the bottom of one of my reusable bags and I just don't feel like looking for it at the moment but I'd say this is pretty cheap. The bar of soap was $1.99 and the boxes of borax and washing soda were, let's say, about $3 each and while the essential oil costs about $8 a bottle - you can see I literally only used a few drops. So even if you add the $5.99 cost of the greater from Home Goods (a happy place) and the full bottle of essential oil and all of the borax and washing soda the whole project would cost about $22. $22 for a year's worth of laundry detergent is awesome!  AND, when it is time to make it again I will only have to shell out $2 for another bar of soap.  Sounds (and smells) good to me!

NOTE: Tragically the cute bowl in the ingredients pic was lost a few days later during a mac-and-cheese-with-tuna microwaving incident.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Don't Need Gold, I'm Just Happy to Be Here

Unlike the Diamond Jubilee, I have actually completed the Olympic Bunting before the event was even over (only 5 days before – but hey, I’m trying)!  While this doesn’t include ALL of the necessary flags (hey, my mantle is only so long), it includes a bunch of them.  I also decided to hang the London 2012 logo separately so that the bunting can be reused every two years! (Don’t worry – I haven’t been throwing all of my buntings away after use –they are all in my filing cabinet just waiting for their next day in the sun!)  (Ok – so that was a lie – they are all in a big pile on my sideboard waiting to be put in my file cabinet someday.)

Anyway, enjoy!