Friday, July 27, 2012

How to make your own Liquid Fabric Softener

You will need a bottle of cheap conditioner (pick your scent carefully, your clothes will smell like it!) 3 cups of vinegar and 6 cups of water. Hang onto some empty bottles to transfer the softener into.

Recruit an adorable helper who enjoys pouring and stirring.

Squirt the entire bottle of conditioner into a pan. You are "supposed" to only use 2 cups, but I used the whole bottle. Lady bug would like me to warn, the bottle makes "toot" sounds when squeezing, apparently.

It causes giggles to ensue.

So once the conditioner is in the pan, add 3 cups of vinegar and turn pan on medium high heat.

Stir the conditioner into the vinegar until its all incorporated. Not everyone does this, but I like to do this because I feel it makes it more "soapy" and less "conditionery" No that isn't a word, but I like to throw the spell checker through a loop every now and again.

Pour the vinegar and conditioner mix into the 6 cups of water and have a little lady bug that likes to stir, gently stir it all together.

Once that is all done, pour it into your empty containers you set aside and wash as usual. Enjoy! (As much as you CAN enjoy doing laundry.)
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

We are Jammin! Cause the jammin is GOOD!

This is my best friend June, for ten years now we have been raising our kids, exchanging stories, encouragement, and laughter and experimenting in the kitchen. Every Tuesday and sometimes on Sundays well get together and make something yummy. Last Tuesday she and her four youngin's came over my house and we made and canned a whole 'lotta jam!

This is her littlest one. Hes a cutie pie, and he approves of the jam! Since he approves, I will share it with you! Here is the step by step guide on how to make and can your very own strawberry jam. It looks like its pretty involved but its not, its super easy. If you haven't canned before, this is the best to start off with. You can find this recipe in the Ball canning book.
You will need 5 cups of mashed strawberries.
4 tables of lemon juice (to add acid)
a pad of butter to reduce the amount of foam needed to be skimmed later
a package of powered fruit pectin
7 cups of sugar.
a big stock pot
and a huge canning pot
8 oz canning jars

rinse the strawberries, then hull them, and cut them in half, or in slices
Mash them up and measure them as you go. Should be five cups of strawberries.

yummy mashed strawberries! Take the mashed berries and put them in your big stock pot. Then add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, a pad of butter, and the packet of pectin. Whisk that all together.

(If you have one of the containers of pectin, use 3 tablespoons)

(This is a pad of butter)

Cook the mixture on medium high heat stirring occasionally until it gets to a rolling boil, then add in the 7 cups of sugar all at once.

Turn the heat up! Once it gets to a raging boil, where if you stir it, it will not stop boiling. let it cook for a minute or so more. Then skim off the foam on top. It looks like whitish stuff.
Now I like to keep my jars in a pot that I have sterilized them in. I sterilize them by putting them in the canning pot and boiling them. Once they have been at a boil for five minutes I will turn it off and let them sit in the hot water. Then I fill my sink with boiling water and transfer them there using wire tongs. BE CAREFUL! The jars are hot! Boil the lids also and set them aside. The jars have to be hot when you pour the hot strawberry jam in them, because of not, the change in temperature will make the jars crack.

Now take each jar out of the boiling water, fill it with the jam leaving a 1/4 of head space. Take a butter knife and run it around the edge of the jam to break any bubbles. Using a clean rag dry any jam that might have dripped off the lip of the jar, then put the lids on the jar, no need to tighten the lids super tight, just tight enough there is a bit of resistance.

Once all of your jars are filled with the jam, its now time to give them a really really super hot water bath. Take your canning pot, and make sure you either line the bottom with jar lid rings, or if you have one, a canning rack, you just want to make it so that the bottom of the jars aren't touching the bottom of the pan.
This is my beauty! Is it possible to LOVE a pot? If it is, I love this pot. My heart sings every time I look at it, and the joy it brings me is blissful. Its definitely a part of this family. OK, Ill stop being gushy now, lets move on!

Now you want to fill the pot with water, I usually use a pitcher and transfer the water rather then try to haul this heavy pot of jam and water from the sink to the stove. I thought of this after the second time I canned. I know, sometimes I can be a bit slow, I call it "mommy brain". Once your pot is filled with water, till the jars are all covered by an inch of water over head, put the lid on and turn your stove on high. And let it get to a boil. The raging boil. You will want it to be raging boiling for 10 to 13 minutes abouts. Then turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes.  

This is what a "raging boil" looks like. when you say "raging boil" make sure you say it with a southern accent, its so much cooler that way.

Once they have sat for 5 minutes, take your handy jar tongs that I picked up at a local Walmart and carefully remove the jars and set on counter, I usually put a cloth down  or my wooden cutting board. This is the really awesome part of the whole process, when you take out the jars, or after they have been sitting for a bit, you'll hear a "pop". That's when you know you did it right. That little "pop" from the jars means that the lid is sealed, and its such a satisfying sound. Say it with me "aaaaaah".

Here is June and mine's latest bounty. She did most of the canning while I refereed the children and she did a mighty fine job! I think our next canning adventure will be fig jam, with the figs picked from a friends tree! So "wink wink" and "nudge nudge"  stay tuned for a post about making figgy jam! Happy Homsteading ya'all!
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

How To Make Your Own Laundry Soap

I know a lot of us are looking for ways to save money. One easy way I found was to make my own soaps. Laundry soap is something I first started off with and found it to be easy to do, and lasted quite some time. When we were a family of four, it lasted an entire year! Now we are a family of five, one of which is a baby, I find I'm making it twice a year. Still, considering the ingredients cost 8.00 dollars I think that is still an incredible deal! Here is my step by step detailed instructions with pictures!

                       1)    This is what you will need.

2) these are the kitchen gadgets you will need

3) having some cute helpers doesn't hurt

4) Let the fun begin! Take a cheese grater or an apple peeler and grate (peel) down the soap bar until its into little bits.

 5) place the shavings into a pot cover with water and then cook on medium heat while stirring occasionally.

6) All the soap will melt down into liquid.

7) I buy one of these large wonderfully orange home depot buckets to keep the condensed laundry soap in. You will store it in here, but save a regular soap dispenser to use while doing laundry.

8) Take a cup of super washing soda and throw in the bucket. (gently of course)

9)1/2 a cup of Borax

10) It will look like this!

11) Put the liquid soap in with the Borax and super washing soda and mix!

12) fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water

13) Put your soap mixture to bed for the nite. nitey nitey!

14) In the morning get your saved soap dispenser, i usually will save a water bottle and cut the top off and use that to pour the soap in.

15) Open up your bucket and stir the soap really good, put half of the mixture into your dispenser then fill the dispenser the rest of the way with hot water and shake!

You now have your very own home made laundry soap! Enjoy!
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