Monday, July 30, 2007

Do It Yourself

I've been on a bit of a do-it-yourself kick, lately, and I am not sure what has inspired it. A. being away and the surprising amount of free time I find myself with? The impending budgetary shift that will arrive this fall when A. goes back to grad school full time and the rising necessity to be a tad more frugal? An increasing lack of any discernable attention span as I get older and the need to keep busy with something new, all the time? I suppose, more than anything, it is a combination of these factors.

Over the past couple of years I've been learning enough skills in the kitchen to make more and more food from scratch. Last night I made enchilada sauce from scratch, and I was pleased with it.

A couple of weeks ago I made my own whole-wheat bread, with wonderful results. Woo hoo! I have since made two more loaves for my own enjoyment and even sent a loaf to my parents with my sister, T., when she passed through town last week. By itself, the heavenly aroma that fills the house is addictive. Happily, the delights promised by that lovely smell ring true! The bread is hearty and satisfying, and so far I haven't had any dry, tough loaves. I love that I know exactly what ingredients go into the bread. AWESOME. It makes for great sandwiches at lunch. I've noticed I am not nearly as ravenous by the time I get home from work. Which, by extension, has meant that I don't start shoveling all sorts of immediately-available foods (i.e. CHEESE!) into my mouth the minute I walk in the door.

These are all good things.

Last week I completed a project I'd been mulling over for a while: I made my own laundry soap!!!! (T. looked at my accomplishments last night and lovingly (??) rolled her eyes.)

It seemed impossible to find washing soda, the primary ingredient, anywhere near my hometown. Having the $2.00 box of washing soda shipped by an internet supplier was going to cost $16.00. That seemed a tad absurd, but I was starting to obssess over this project and was starting to consider it. So much for the frugality of doing things myself!

Before I paid a ridiculous amount in shipping, I decided to try local resources one last time. (Plus, I feel more and more guilty to have anything shipped to me - oh, the jet and diesel fuel!) I asked one of the local grocery stores to see if they could order it from their warehouse during their next shipment of goods, and if so, I'd love two boxes of the stuff. After three weeks I hadn't heard anything, so I called to see if any inquiries had been made. They assured me the supply clerk would call me that Monday and let me know if this was going to be possible.

I didn't hear anything until that Wednesday, after I dragged my ass home from work. I had a message on my machine explaining that the store manager forgot to call and say that not only could they indeed order it, the supply clerk when ahead and did so and the "baking soda, oh, I mean the washing soda" was waiting for me to pick it up. So, I giddily hopped into my car and drove the seven miles back into town to retrieve my long-awaited sodium bicarbonate. Yay!! I was finally able to make my own laundry soap! The object of my obsession was moving closer to my sick, twisted grasp!!

Um, the supply clerk could only order the washing soda by the case. That little parcel of information was suspiciously left out of the phone message. I had a rather startled look on my face when I saw a GINORMOUS BOX with my name on it.

After all the trouble that I and the folks at the grocery store went through, I came home with 12 boxes washing soda. By my estimate, two boxes of the stuff would make enough batches of laundry soap to last A. and I a year. Yippee - clean laundry for the next six years!!! So, if any of you, my Five Faithful Readers, are at all inclined to try this yourself, I'd HAPPILY send you a box of washing soda for a couple of bucks postage -- not $13 shipping!

As I was melting soap shavings in hot water on the stove, A. called. He was as thrilled as I was to finally be trying this out. I'd asked him to look for washing soda in whatever town he happened to be in while gallivanting across the state and I think he was sick of explaining to clerks just what was washing soda. ("Washing soda? Do you mean backing soda? Oh, no I don't think we have anything like that." Over and over.)

The batch of laundry soap I whipped up never congealed to a goo-like consistency, but it seems to be working very well.

Over the weekend A. installed a clothesline, so now I can even harness the Western Wind to dry my clothes instead of depending on our electricity-gulping dryer. I love the smell of laundry dried outside. SO GOOD.

WOO HOO!! I am officially the weird lady that lives out of town and acts like a survivalist!!!!


If you are interested and are still reading this far along in this silly post: Because I have hard, mountain well water, I have to add water softener to the laundry soap recipe. All told, this laundry soap costs between $0.05 and $0.06 per load. Frugal indeed, for the next six years.

1 comment:

  1. This is so cool! Paul would probably want to do this--he loves projects of this sort.

    I didn't like how that guy (the one in the link) compared the price to Tide, though. Tide is so expensive, so it makes for an unfair comparison. I buy Arm & Hammer at $3.00 for 30 loads--or 10c per load. It's still cheaper (and more fun! and you can choose interesting soaps!) to make it, but not as much cheaper as that guy was saying.


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