Holiday Joy

For me Thanksgiving is the start of my favorite time of the year.  Black Friday has been a tradition in my household since I moved out of my parent’s house.  It’s the day that I usually start ( and with luck, end) my Christmas shopping and it has traditionally be the day I make myself wait for before putting up Christmas decorations.  Last year I was a new mom so these traditions fell by the wayside and I have missed them.  This year Thanksgiving was late in the month and so my tree has already been placed with care in front of the window in my living room.  As the day grows late on Thanksgiving I am struggling with the idea of Black Friday – do I go shopping or skip it?  Arguably this day filled with frenzied shopping is in line with my families economic goals of reducing spend by allowing us to Christmas shop at a fraction of the price but it goes against my newly forming ideals of reduced consumption.  I don’t believe in depravation but I do think my family can live a happier and healthier life with less stuff.  I have been going though and trying to reduce the amount of stuff we hold onto but foolishly everything I try to sell, donate, or toss seems to pull up some sort of emotional attachment.  It’s unlikely that my shopping bags will make it home without at least a few tempting and cheap goodies that, for whatever reason, the steep discounts have me convinced I HAVE TO HAVE.

With each trip to Target it seems so easy to watch a few extra dollars fall out of the pocketbook.  One thing I have found to cut costs and improve the ‘green’ factor in an everyday essential task is making my own laundry soap.  If your like me you are probably wondering if this can really clean your clothes well and if it will cause any damage.  It’s been almost a year and I have not had a single clothing item ruined and my husband never noticed the change from commercial laundry soap to homemade.  And as of today I have not received any complaints from friends, family, or coworkers that my clothes are dirty or smelly.  I have tried a few recipes and made adaptations – this is what I found to be best.  It does require a little time to complete but I think it takes me about 20 minutes once or twice a year to make the laundry soap.  I know the time can be a huddle but according to the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor the average hourly wage in the United States is $24.10.  I haven’t done the math but I would estimate this soap costs less than $5 per 5 gallon batch.  Based on the time and the cost savings of around $160 for 8 months worth of commercial soap you are saving hours of work in the long run.

1 Bar Dr. Bronner’s Soap – I like the lavender

1 Cup Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Borax

Water

1.) Grate the bar of soap.  Dr. Bronner’s tends to be really soft and grates with a fair amount of ease.

2.) Dissolve the soap in about 2 – 3 cups of water on the stove top.  It also tends to dissolve quickly.

3.) Pour the melted soap and water mixture into a 5 gallon bucket with lid.

4.) Add the washing soda and borax.

5.) Fill the bucket about 3 – 4 inches from the top of the bucket.

6.) Stir well, cover and let sit over night.

7.) In the morning stir well to break up the gel

This will always have ‘chunks’ of gel.  Before transferring into an old laundry soap bottle I recommend mixing well to break it up again and giving the bottle a shake before pouring for a load of laundry.  I use the cup that came with the commercial laundry to measure the soap and measure per load at either the one or two on the cap based on the load.  In the past year I believe this has saved us hundreds of dollars.  Buying just a medium size Tide can cost close to $20 dollars and I am lucky if that lasts me a month, but this recipe is under 5 dollars and has lasted between 8 -12 months for my family of 3.