Monday, May 31, 2010

Budget Challenge! Eating Cheap in the Month of June

The Monthly Budget Committee Meeting has ended only moments before I sat down to type this entry. This was the first BCM we've had in several months and a review of our spending habits has shown a dire need for belt-tightening and penny-pinching (even more than our usual!). I'm a tightwad, but will happily spend money if given the chance...seems like a contradiction, but I love spending money! And I love spending money on killer deals the most. So, when I find a good deal on something, it often takes restraint on the order of Biblical Proportions for me to not spend money I really shouldn't.

Today's BCM projections have given me a HUGE challenge. The month of June will include a $30 a week budget for all household consumables...groceries, toilet paper, diapers...YIKES! Now, there is the very real possibility that we'll be able to up that each husband's pay varies weekly and it's so hard to budget...but if his take home pay is not more than what we've projected, that's it. Some people may panic seeing numbers like that, but me...well, it makes me roll up my sleeves and start figuring out how I'm going to make that work. I love a good challenge!

Fortunately, I have stocked up on a lot of things, I make my own soaps and detergents, and have friends that are into swapping needed stuff or services so that helps stretch the budget. Tomorrow, I am going through the pantry, the refrigerator, and all my little squirrely storage places to see what I have and don't need to buy this month. A time-consuming endeavor, for sure, but I don't know how many times I have purchased something and forgot about it later so I'm bound to find a lot of what I'd normally buy.

I recently requested and received Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy by Jonni McCoy through You can check out her website at I love her ideas for saving money and the menu plans and recipes. Since I've made some changes in what we eat, I think it may be a bit more challenging to eat cheap and healthy...but, as in all things, there must be balance and moderation. I know that not eating pre-packaged foods laden with chemicals and devoid of nutrients is good for us...but I do have to be realistic - if I don't have the money to spend on organic, first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil I can't justify buying it no matter how much better it is for us. And eating some of those foods occasionally won't kill us. It's not ideal, but you do the best you can with what you have.

And so, I am starting June off with the daunting task of making a dirt-cheap budget actually work...I can't wait to see how this turns out!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How I Made a 150 oz Bottle of Fabric Softner Last Almost a Year

I've been making my own laundry detergent now for over a year. I love that I don't have to spend all that money every month on laundry detergent. Some people get really frugal and give up fabric softner, but I figure if I'm saving that much money on the suds I can 'splurge' a little on the softy scenty stuff. I love clothes and sheets that smell delicious...I don't think I could voluntarily give up fabric softener that makes my clothes smell terrific!

There's a recipe I tried once for homemade fabric softener that uses hair conditioner, water, and vinegar. It was ok, but I wasn't that thrilled about it. One day at the store, for some reason, I decided to figure out the cost per ounce for the hair conditioner vs. some Snuggle. I was shocked to discover it was actually cheaper per ounce for the Snuggle than for the bottle of cheap hair conditioner I bought at a discount dented can place! Then I had the bright idea of using regular fabric softener instead of hair conditioner in the homemade fabric softener recipe. The result was surprisingly pleasing.

My favorite fabric softener in the world is Suavitel in the yellow bottle. I bought a 150 oz (1.17 gallon) bottle for $7.47 at WalMart on July 16, 2009. As of this posting, I have used the last of the straight fabric softener to make another batch of the homemade. I probably have half a batch left. So, that $8 bottle of fabric softener has lasted over 10 months!

How well does it work, you ask? I think it's terrific! It still softens the clothes and leaves enough of that delicious, sunshiney yellowy scent behind that I can smell it on the clothes, even several days after washing. And a plus is that it's diluted enough that it doesn't gunk up the fabric softener dispenser in my washer. I love it!

Here's the recipe:

3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups fabric softener (or hair conditioner - one regular size bottle is almost 16 oz)
6 cups water

Mix together, but don't shake or it gets all foamy. Store in an airtight container or old fabric softener bottle(s). I took an old vinegar bottle and marked the sides for how much of each ingredient so I wouldn't have to measure it each time. Now, since the Big Bottle of Fabric Softener was finally emptied, I keep it in there after I mix it. We got a new washer with a dispenser so it's easier to measure that way. I just use a capful per load, more or less depending on my mood or the load size.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blogging Etiquette

This is a great post about blogging do's and don't's...cleverly portrayed in that classic tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears...only this one is Goldilocks and the Three Bloggers over at Life with a Little One...and More

Goldilocks and the Three Bloggers

...Once upon a time, a lovely young girl named Goldilocks was playing happily on the Internet while her little baby slept peacefully nearby. (Yes, she had a baby. She had struggled to put the baby to bed last night but now the wee babe was sleeping peacefully. This is a literary device called foreshadowing. The sleeping babe will come into play soon.) She was frolicking around on the nice safe haven that is Facebook -- completing quizzes, sending Easter Peeps to her peeps and struggling to understand what to put in the new empty box. After all, the prompt "Goldilocks Is..." had recently disappeared -- leaving her unsure of what to write. (Goldilocks wasn't a very bright or creative girl; she needed that prompt.)...(read more)

Dreams, Divine Appointments, and Letting Go (Again)

Ever have one of those know, where it seems like every time you turn around you're running smack dab into something that God is putting His finger on? That thing that has been bugging you forever, that you long to be free from...and yet, you just can't seem to let go of it no matter how hard you try? And truth be told...often don't want to because it just feels good to keep a death grip on it?

Here's how my day went:

  1. Woke up, realized I'd had a dream about someone that has been a thorn in my side for a very long time. This person said to me, in my dream, "We really need to talk"...and I replied "It's not the right time". I then proceeded to be mad (in my dream) that this person was in my dream to begin with.
  2. A few hours later, a book (one of several that I'm expecting any day now) that I had ordered just two days ago arrives. The title? Becoming a Woman Who Loves. It occurs to me that I am actually supposed to love this thorn. And it's no coincidence that I had that dream last night.
  3. I get a message on Facebook regarding a prayer request I had posted for a friend who needs healing. The person wanted me to call them back to pray over the phone, gave a phone number and reminded me that I can use *67 to block my number. I felt comfortable with that and planned to call later on, after my night and weekend minutes kick in.
  4. My morning devotion time once again alluded to something I don't want to do...something along the lines of Jonah. The Thorn may have something to do with that as well.
So, I call the person from Facebook and have a very interesting conversation about Biblical healing. He prays for my friend, who is supposed to have kidney surgery soon...but I'm believing she is healed in Jesus' name. Then we get to MY the unforgiveness and bitterness in my heart that I am still trying to deal did this perfect stranger even know? God speaks...he listened...I was humbled and ashamed.

I suppose an analysis of my dream would reveal that it is indeed (still) time to deal with this issue, yet I am resisting with all I have. And I was really irate in my dream! How dare that person show up in my dream? And have the audacity to talk to me? The nerve...

I know that I simply must forgive and move on...leave whatever may be in God's hands. It's not worth it, really, to harbor all that comes out in ways I am so not proud of. It affects my relationships with the ones I love the most. It consumes me some days. Elohim, please, give me grace! Help me to let this go...again...but for good this time. And please, don't test me too soon. You know what happened the last time...which is part of the reason I've had so much trouble letting go again.

Death grip...what a fitting description for something that, if left unchecked, can kill your mind, your heart, even your body. Unforgiveness, bitterness,'s a cancer, really. It's time to declare myself cancer-free...Here you go,'s all yours!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Secret to Thick Homemade Bodywash

A friend of mine gave me a recipe for Homemade Gel Body Wash, along with a hilarious story of the first time she made it...and ended up with several gallons because it was so thick she had to keep adding water to it.

Apparently, the type of soap you use makes a big difference in how this stuff turns out. I used bars of Dove soap, and it did not thicken up at all. I ended up having to add twice as much soap as the recipe called for, making me wonder if it was really that economical.

Another frugal friend of mine, DimeSavinDiva, had given me some guar gum, which is used as a thickener and stabilizer in the food and cosmetic industry. I noticed today that our body wash was all out and decided to make some more...but in my usual Kitchen Magician style, I modified the recipe and made the thickest, most luxurious homemade body wash of all the batches I've made so far.

Here's the original recipe:

Homemade Gel Soap

2 c soap flakes (grate soap with a grater or in a food processor)
1/2 gallon water
2 Tbs glycerin

Combine all ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until soap is dissolved. Transfer to container and cover tightly.

Just a word of caution, Zest hardens! I think she ended up with four gallons before she finally got it to the right consistency once it cooled off. Dove, not so's my fix:


1 bar Dove soap, grated
1/2 gallon water
1 Tbs Himalayan Sea Salt
1/4 c Dr. Bronner's Lavender soap
1/4 c unpasteurized honey
Approximately 1 1/2 Tbs guar gum

Melt soap and sea salt in water over low to medium-low heat. Add Dr. Bronner's, mix well. Add guar gum slowly, a 1/4 tsp or so at a time, whisking well. Apparently, it takes a bit of time to thicken so stir it well for a few minutes before adding more, at least after you've added half a tablespoon or more. Once it's the consistency you like, let it cool. Once cooled, add the honey and stir well. Store in a container. Add essential oils if you like.

I waited to add the honey so as to not hurt the antibacterial properties of unpasteurized honey. The end result was thick, luxurious liquid soap, much better than the first few times I've made this. Can't wait to take a shower tomorrow!


A very interesting thing has been happening with my homemade soaps, and only in the last two batches. They get fizzy/foamy and ooze out of the container. And if the container is, say, one with a snap-on lid and not a screw-on one or not a pump dispenser, the lid comes open part way and the soap ooooozes out all over. I am not sure what is causing it! The last two batches I used a commercial processed generic brand and another local unpasteurized. I also used a different coated in Teflon with some of the Teflon flaked off. My guess is that it's a reaction to the metal in the pot...I've seen other recipes similar to what I've used for liquid hand soap that include honey, and a friend of mine gave me her recipe and said she never had any problem with it. I think I'll go back to using my ceramic-coated pot, it's just a bit too small so I guess I'll have to make it in two batches or find a bigger, non-reactive pot.

The Big Move...

Today, I was thinking that in spite of my efforts to simplify my blogging activity, I've really made it too complicated. I created a blog for each different facet of what I blog about. Too much. So, I decided to just have one, maybe two at the most...and just find a way to keep it all together.

It makes sense to me, for example, to have a separate blog that discusses coupons, budgets, finding good deals, etc. Makes it easier for readers to find the good deals and coupons. But is it really necessary to separate my desire to seek Jehovah and know Him and His voice from my daily life as His daughter...desperately trying to get it right at conquering clutter, homemaking and homeschooling in His name? There are times I want to post things, but I'm not sure exactly where it fits...or it fits in all three places. So, I will see what blogger has to offer...perhaps it will suit my needs...perhaps not. But for now, this is my new blogging homestead. Hope you enjoy it!

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Integrity is a Lost Virtue, but I Choose to: