So I’ve been trying to be more eco-friendly lately, and my bank account has recently been begging me to also look for a smaller-budget way of doing things. With my oldest son’s severe allergy to dust cats pollen everything, we have to be picky about the way we do laundry, anyway. Buying dye- and fragrance-free everything can get pretty pricey.

I’ve had several laundry and house-cleaning pins on Pinterest for quite some time, but I’ve only recently begun trying them. I’ve since completely overhauled the way I do laundry.

Here’s the original pin, from CraftingAGreenWorld.com:

Laundry Pin

The instructions call for a mix of half a cup washing soda, half a cup borax, and half a cup of soap (grated). The website also mentions that you can additionally include half a cup baking soda, half a cup Oxyclean, and/or a few drops of tea tree oil. Simply combine with a whisk, pour into a lovely jar, and use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.

As usual, I cannot follow simple instructions. After reading several other websites with eco-friendly laundry recipes, I decided that baking soda was just as good as washing soda. Therefore, my recipe is simply as follows:

Take a container (re-use a container you can’t recycle in your area), fill it half full with borax and half full with baking soda, leaving room at the top for shaking. Put on the cap, and shake, shake, shake to combine. I sprinkle a bit in the bottom of the washer — I don’t really measure, but I’m sure it’s around two tablespoons, as in the original recipe.

Laundry soap

Crafting a Green World also suggests using vinegar as a rinsing agent. For quite some time, I’ve used vinegar instead of fabric softener in my rinse compartment. I keep a small jar with orange peels and vinegar. Every couple of weeks, I refresh the orange peels and just re-fill the vinegar in the jar when it runs out. A quarter of a cup per load is enough to provide a nice rinse and deodorization.

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Have you ever made your own laundry soap? Is your recipe better than mine? I’m always willing to try new things, so let me know!

Happy Pinning!

So I knit. A lot. I started knitting on a loom about a year ago, and now it seems like I’ve always got something going on at least one loom all the time. Because yarn can be expensive, when I’m just knitting something for the fun of it, I’ll use a cheaper yarn. Cheap yarn can be scratchy, so when I ran across this pin from A Girl and Her Needle, I was excited to try it.

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The pin is pretty straightforward, and the directions are incredibly easy to follow. So before I set out to knit myself a hat (never too early to start on winter projects!), I decided to give this method a go.

What I Like:

  • The method is incredibly simple
  • My yarn did turn out a bit softer — definitely feels better in my hands as I’m knitting
  • The bag kept the yarn contained in the washer/dryer

What I Don’t Like:

  • The yarn didn’t turn out very much softer, even after washing it twice
  • The inside of the skein was still wet after a round in the dryer; it took three full rounds to get the entire skein dry
  • My yarn unraveled in the bag a bit, so I had some untangling to do after pulling it out

The Verdict:

This seemed like a whole lotta work for such a small reward. Although the yarn did feel a bit softer and was not as rough on my hands while knitting, I could not tell a big enough difference to warrant the multiple rounds through the dryer. I’ll stick with washing my items after they’re done.

Happy pinning!

I had my parents over for dinner tonight, and as I was making a list of everything I needed for our “fancy” (i.e. cheap and easy) spaghetti dinner, I remembered a pin about a huge chocolate chip cookie baked in a cast iron skillet. Thankfully, I had all the ingredients I needed, so we had a yummy dessert to spice sweeten up our meal.

Here’s the original pin from sophistimom.com:

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How good does that look? I mean, come on, who can resist a ginormous cookie in a skillet? Certainly not I. For once, I followed the recipe exactly:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Melt 8 Tablespoon butter (or one stick) on medium-low heat
  • Stir in 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, and one teaspoon vanilla extract, then remove from heat
  • Let rest for five minutes
  • Crack in one egg and whisk together with a fork
  • Put 1 1/2 cups flour (plus one teaspoon baking powder if using AP flour), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt on top. Carefully stir until well-blended
  • Stir in one cup chocolate chunks (okay, so I deviated a tiny bit and dumped in the rest of a bag of chocolate and peanut butter chips without measuring)
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (SEE NOTES BELOW!!)

I forgot to take a picture of how mine turned out before we dug into it, so here’s the best you get from me tonight:

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What I like:

  • Holy cookies, Batman, this is delicious!
  • Can’t get much easier than tossing everything in a skillet
  • My 8″ skillet is the perfect size for everyone to have a slice of cookie and still have some left for tomorrow (such a healthy breakfast we’ll have!)
  • The cookie didn’t stick to my skillet like I thought it was going to

What I don’t like:

  • Although the website provided a warning that baking time is not exact, this took a lot longer than I expected. I started at 15 minutes and then kept adding a bit more at a time until it looked done. Mine took a total of 28 minutes before the edges looked a bit crispy
  • If you are planning on serving it as one large cake and don’t want to serve straight out of the skillet, it might be a bit difficult to get out. I don’t know because I didn’t try it, but it was a bit tricky to get the first piece out when I cut it

The Verdict:

Somebody make me this for my birthday. No wait, I’ll make one for myself. And not share. Really, everybody needs to go and make this right now. No excuses!

Happy pinning!

Okay, so when I first heard about people going without ever shampooing their hair again, ever, I thought those people must be crazy. But then I kept hearing about it, and I gave it and checked it out. Even after reading into it, I was skeptical, but what kind of amateur blogger would I be if I didn’t try things out?

Here’s the original pin from simplemom.net:

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The idea is that you get rid of your nasty, chemical-filled, scalp-drying shampoo and clean your hair with baking soda and vinegar. Could it be true? A cheap, “green” alternative for hair washing? I doubted it. I have an oily scalp and fine hair, so even when I do wash my hair daily, I look dirty by the end of the night. I honestly did not believe that this would work.

But like I said before, I gave it a shot. I went to the dollar store and got those ketchup and mustard bottles to put my new “shampoo” and “conditioner” in and mixed up my first batch. In the red ketchup bottle, I put a tablespoon of baking soda and 8 oz of water. In the yellow mustard bottle, I put a tablespoon of vinegar and then filled it up (10-12 oz, maybe) with water.

In the shower, I shook the baking soda bottle and applied the mixture to my scalp much in the way I do when colouring my hair; except, you know, I actually want this stuff on my scalp. I massaged it in a bit as I went along and then gave myself a nice scalp massage when I felt I had enough on, making sure to finger-comb some through my hair. Following the advice of many of the blogs I read, I left the mixture on my hair for a couple of minutes before shaking my vinegar mixture bottle and splashing on a bit of a vinegar rinse and then rinsing the whole lot out in the water.

I admit, after the first time, I still had my doubts. My hair didn’t feel clean. It felt waxy, and it looked … okay, but not great. It took all my willpower to only repeat this washing every other day and not to turn back to my familiar shampoo. I also read that there would be an adjustment period of a couple of weeks to a couple of months, and I was determined to give it at least a month.

Lo and behold, the day before the two-week mark, my hair washed out and felt clean. And it looked good, too. Now it’s been a month, and as long as I repeat the washing daily, my hair looks and feels the same as it did when I was religiously using shampoo. And as a bonus, I no longer have to use the curling creme I used to apply to my hair to get the effect I like. Granted, I’m nowhere near the ability to wash every four or five days like some of the bloggers, but what I have is good enough for me.

So here’s a picture of the back of my hair today. Literally, all I did was wash/condition with my mixtures, let my hair air-dry, and ran my fingers through it. I might make more of an effort if I was going out somewhere, but today was my day off!

What I like:

  • This is cheap! And I’m talking CHEAP, people. After doing the math, I pay five and a half cents a month to wash and condition my hair.
  • It’s nice to not have to use curling creme and blow dry my hair to get it to look the way I like.
  • With as much damage as I do to my hair when I colour it, I like to feel like I’m doing something nice for my hair.

What I don’t like:

  • The adjustment period sucks. No, really. It’s horrible. At least for me. My hair was horribly greasy-looking and felt dirty for nearly two weeks. I’m glad my hair was long enough to put up in a pony tail at the time, or I would have given up on the whole process.
  • I miss the smell of my shampoo. I’ve read that you can put essential oils in the vinegar rinse, but I haven’t tried it. Also, the essential oils in the rinse can help with the vinegar smell, but honestly, I can’t smell it after I rinse with water.
  • It doesn’t foam up. If you need that foamy, soapy feel, this will feel weird.

The Verdict:

I’m very happy with this method of washing my hair. It took a while to adjust to the feel of the mixtures as opposed to shampoo, and the adjustment period for my scalp was not fun at all, but I won’t go back to shampoo.

Has anybody else ever tried this method? Had different results than I did? Any good advice for me? Let me hear from you! And happy pinning!

Okay, so this isn’t really about a pin, but it’s related to a pin. That’s okay, right? Right.

Some of you may have read my post about mini tacos and roasted zucchini where I mentioned marinating the zucchini in Italian dressing. At the time of the post, I poured homemade dressing from a jar in my fridge into a baggie in order to marinate the zucchini, but this is a much easier method that I have been using lately. When my jar ran empty, I thought it would be silly to mix up a big batch just for dinner tonight, so I mixed up a smaller one directly into the bag.

When I make Italian dressing, I usually use roughly a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and oil. It usually comes out to about 1 c vinegar and 1 1/3 c oil. Just for this small batch, I used 4 tablespoons of each, which was perfect for my sandwich bag/one zucchini. Then I added a small squeeze of honey, a generous shake of premixed Italian herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram), a dash of garlic powder and salt, and a couple twists of the pepper grinder. I’m not big on measuring my herbs — I just use whatever looks and feels right in the moment.

Make sure to seal up your baggie and give it a good shake before adding your veggies to make sure that everything is mixed up all nice and yummy-like. Yes, “yummy-like”. It’s officially a word now.

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Happy pinning!

I have a little garden in our backyard, so I frequently pin gardening tips and whatnot. Of course, I’ll probably never get around to using most of them, but when I went to cook dinner last night, my garlic looked like this:

I knew it was time to look through my “Gardening” board for some tips on sprouting garlic. Sure enough, I had something! So here’s the original pin, from soapdelinews.com:

The instructions are easy as can be. Take your sprouted garlic clove (or even an unsprouted one), plant it sprout/pointy-side-up, and watch it grow. The instructions on the site say to “water it occasionally but don’t drown it,” if it’s in a pot, and that seems to be pretty sound advice. Mine is outside, but it’s crazy hot and dry, so I’ve been watering it as well. When the leaves are dead, dig up your garlic bulbs, hang them about a week to dry, and then enjoy!

Here’s me getting ready to plant one of my two cloves. If the extreme heat doesn’t kill it, I’ll post more pictures when it’s ready to harvest.

Happy planting, and happy pinning!

Tonight, I have to talk about two different pins because my dinner consisted of two different Pinterest recipes. Now I know what you’re thinking: mini tacos and roasted zucchini don’t go together. You might be right, but tacos are delicious, and roasted veggies are delicious, and I’m not good at planning meals that go together!

So here’s the first original pin from flickr.com:

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I admit, I made some changes to the recipe. I used 1 lb. ground turkey instead of beef, and I used pastry strips instead of wonton wrappers (hey, you use what you have sometimes!). Just pop your wonton wrappers into the bowls of a greased muffin tin, spoon in some taco-seasoned meat, top with cheese, and bake at 350 for 8 minutes. That’s it!

What I like:

  • These are so amazingly easy! Even with the pastry strip replacements, they are quick to whip up.
  • They’re also tasty. The pastry strips gave a definitely different flavour than taco shells, but very good.

What I don’t like:

  • I used packaged taco seasoning, and I wasn’t pleased.

The Verdict:

I’ll definitely make these again. Loved using the turkey meat, and I might try actually using wonton wrappers next time. I topped them with a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of cherry tomatoes (little tacos call for little tomatoes!), and they were absolutely delicious! I’ll probably make my own taco seasoning next time, as well.

Pin number two! Here’s the original pin from thegraciouspantry.com:

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Again, I altered the recipe a bit. The recipe calls for zucchini, yellow squash, olive oil, garlic powder, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. I just made zucchini, and I marinated it in homemade Italian dressing. (UPDATE: I like to use the Italian dressing in a bag method) Either way, chop these babies up, top/marinate, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

What I like:

  • These are so, so, so, so good! True, I don’t follow the recipe exactly…
  • I baked them on foil, so clean up was a cinch.
  • Doesn’t get much easier than chop, marinate, and bake.

What I don’t like:

  • Um… can’t think of anything I don’t love about this!

The Verdict:

Yes! I will make this all the time! Again, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, but I’m sure it’s good the “original” way as well.

Here’s my plate, before I inhaled everything on it:

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So tacos and zucchini might not be the best partners, but they tasted pretty good tonight!

Happy pinning!

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