Cleaning Up

This blog seems to have become a saving money blog of late. Mostly it is because I feel guilty about staying at home with my son who at 14 is technically able to supervise himself. In reality though, I have noticed a few seriously worrying judgement calls on his behalf lately so I’m sticking around for a bit longer. Perhaps the year he starts High School is not the year to disappear back into the world of work. It’s a funny age for teenage boys, 14. Still interested in lego and trading cards, but also interested in girls.

So to make myself feel better I do what I can to save cash. One of the ways I save serious money is by making laundry detergent. I found this recipe on The Simple Dollar blog and have been using it for the last year. The ingredients are simple and cheap, other than a big bucket with a lid, no special tools are needed and best of all, it is really fun! I love messing around with gloopy buckets of stuff, and this is most certainly gloopy buckets of stuff.

All you need is

  • One bar of soap – I use Fels Naptha laundry soap but I have heard of people who use any bar of soap you might have on hand. Not the beauty bar types, the old fashioned bar of soap is what you need.
  • One cup of washing soda – some supermarkets stock this, mine doesn’t so I buy it at Walmart.
  • One half cup of borax – also found at Walmart. This is optional but I always put it in. People seem to be scared of borax but I use it all the time. It is great for cleaning up dog pee, I know this thanks to my insecure Chihuahua.

You will also need a clean 5 gallon bucket with a lid, (Home Depot, Lowes, your garage etc.) A big saucepan, spoon and grater. You can use old utensils if you have them or do what I do, clean them really thoroughly afterwards and them soak them in baking soda to get rid of the smell of laundry detergent afterwards if it lingers.

To make the detergent simply warm water in the saucepan – fill it up no specific quantity is necessary. While the water is warming, grate the laundry soap and add to the warm to hot water incrementally. When it has dissolved add another handful. Keep going until all the soap is dissolved into the water.

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Ingredients, not shown is the bar of soap.

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Soap grated ready for dissolving into water.

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Soap dissolved into water. The whole house smells of laundry soap now.


Add the soapy water to the 5 gal bucket and top it up to almost the top.

Stir in the washing soda and then the borax. You will feel the liquid start to thicken up. Put the lid on and let it all cool down, I leave it overnight. 

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Mix in washing soda and borax.

You will be left with a lovely solid jello like substance. You can use it like this or give it a big stir and break it up a bit. I give it a stir because it is fun. Sometimes I get my hands in there too, Freud would probably have something to say about that.

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One final stir and ready to use.

I use about a cup or so of this stuff per load and it works as well as any shop bought detergent. A major bonus is that it is a lot less fragranced. My husband and son are delicate flowers who have to have the un-perfumed shop bought stuff, this is fine for them. I have been using it for about a year in my machine and my machine seems just fine. I don’t know about HE machines, I don’t have one, but I can’t imagine it would be a problem, it dissolves really quickly into the laundry water. 

Just think how much less plastic there would be in the landfills if even 1% of us did this! And think of the electricity saved if we then line dried those those clothes instead of putting them in the dryer! Being English, where we all line dry our clothes as often as possible I am a fan of line drying. Plus everything smells nicer line dried. The only thing I can’t do is line dry my towels. We live in a severely hard water area and line dried towels can practically stand up on their own in the bathroom. They absorb much better though, and if you ever need to exfoliate your luck is in! A quick rub down with a line dried towel in this area is like an expensive microdermabrasion – another way to save money! OK off my soap box now, haha get it?

The Simple Dollar website estimates the cost per load as around $0.03 I haven’t crunched the numbers myself but that seems a little low for me. I use the more expensive laundry soap because I found it cleaned better than hand soap. I can’t imagine it’s much more than say $0.05 per load though, if that. I don’t actually pay anything for it because I confiscate all cash that comes to the laundry in pockets and put them in a jar. When I need something, say soap, I use the cash in there. My family knows the rules. I find that this bucket will last me several months which also means I don’t have to carry big bulky laundry detergent home from the store. Yet another bonus.

Give it a go and tell me how you get on. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them in the comments. Happy glooping!



Freebie Play Time

After signing up for two freebie sites (or product review sites to give them their proper name) I have had tremendous fun trying all the products that I have been sent. Of course being me, I take the product testing very seriously and am now at the stage where those around me groan when I say, “Do you prefer this flavor or that one?” My teenage son is just waiting for the time I get a video game to review. I hate to tell him that as I’m not the demographic for that I probably won’t get one at all! Even though I have played video games since Asteroids was popular, and I was fantastic.

So, one of the products that I was sent by Influenster to test and review was nail polish called SinfulColors. Now let me start by saying I am not a girly girl. I don’t regularly have the time or inclination to paint my nails, plus as I am constantly cooking or gardening or painting something I find that the nail polish has a tendency to migrate into my bread dough or onto the trim in the dining room. It gets in the way, and then after a day or so it looks so scruffy and the day I spent feeling ladylike and polished is marred by the week of scruffy nails, until I can find the nail polish remover, which has been used to remove sticker residue from something and left in the garage, with the top off, and evaporated meaning a trip to Walgreens, etc. etc. you get the point. But in the interests of being a good Influenster I did actually paint my nails, and then I made bread, and then I weeded the back yard, and then I cleaned the toilet, and then I unblocked the sink in the bathroom, a typical day really. And at the end of the day, it was all still on! I was amazed. Actually it stayed on and looking really good for four days or so, which considering the punishment I give my hands was incredible!

Now, as the color I was sent to test was a lovely blue color, I did feel a little mutton dressed as lamb-ish but the funny thing was my husband said he liked seeing me wearing nail polish – he has never said such a thing in almost 30 years of being together! He quickly qualified it by saying, “It means you have taken some time to pamper yourself.” Ah, what a love bug!

As I am unlikely to wear blue nail polish much, I decided to see what else I could do with it.


The traditional way to use nail polish.


I think a whole set of wine glasses in different colors would be a fantastic gift!


No more wondering if it’s the hot or cold tap in the laundry room!



Son on an almost daily basis: “Mum, which key is the front door key?” Me before: “The one by the car key.” Son: “There’s two by the car key!” Me now: “The blue one.” Son: “OK, cool!”

This range of nail polish can be found @Walgreens.

#SinfulColors #contest #Influenster #GotItFree

Freebie Heaven from #Influenster and #BzzAgent

In a previous post I checked out Influenster and BzzAgent as product review sites and I must say I was somewhat skeptical. Do companies really send you stuff for nothing in the hopes that you like it and review it? What if I hate it? Anyway, I signed up, completed all the surveys available and did a few product reviews and then moved on with my life for about three weeks. Well, this week I reaped the rewards and received my first Influenster VoxBox and my first BzzAgent package as well!

As one of the tasks asked of the Influenster people is you create and upload yourself opening the VoxBox I also got to create and upload my first YouTube video. It’s really fun and I can see why people enjoy it so much. Here’s the link if you are interested. Bear in mind it’s the first one I’ve done and I haven’t really had time to set up my channel yet!

I got some fun stuff in my Influenster box:

Freebies from Influenster

Freebies from Influenster 

In this little box of fun – the #SurfsUpVoxBox I got the following:

A coupon for a free Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit and a $1 off coupon, a 2oz bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun, a First Aid Shot Therapy pain relief liquid, a bottle of SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish and finally a tube of Covergirl Bombshell Curvaceous by LashBlast Mascara. This is about $20 worth of products but let’s be honest I wouldn’t probably buy blue nail polish on a regular basis. I do buy mascara though and After Sun.

Also from BuzzAgent I received a 3 lb bag of Purina Beyond Tuna and Egg dog food valued at about $8.99 and two $3 off coupons to share. And on the way from them are three new flavors of Crest Toothpaste to try. Again I wouldn’t usually buy Purina dog food because I am very particular about the food I feed my dogs but this looks better than the typical purina stuff, no corn, soy or grain for a start. I feel a product face off coming!

Buzz Agent Freebie

Buzz Agent Freebie

Once you receive these products the idea is you use them and then start conversations about them online. Yes, I have blue nail polish on as I type this, which seems a little at odds with my personality but hey I’ll try it!

As I’m still in the using everything phase I will post product reviews at a later date. I’m very interested to see if my dogs like the idea of tuna and egg food. I’m not sure how nice that sounds to be honest but who knows?

So far I’m pretty impressed with both BzzAgent and Influenster, honestly I thought it would be more trial sizes and coupons but I think they want you to enjoy using and reviewing these products. And come on, who doesn’t like getting free stuff in the mail?


Time for Creativity!

My last few blog posts (like my life) have been all about saving money but this week I needed a creativity fix. I was vaguely pondering what to do when one of my neighbors put this on the sidewalk. Now putting things on the sidewalk is code in our locale for, “Please someone take this hideous thing that the dog has chewed to pieces because I just can’t stand to look at it for one more day. Plus I have replaced it with something better and/or found the dog a new home.’

So I sent my son and my husband over there and this is what they came back with:


In fact I had to send them back for it because my husband thought it had woodworm (English version of termite damage!) and wouldn’t bring it over. It turned out to be dog tooth indentations and gnawing – poor bored dog!

But I liked the shape and figured the worst of the damage could be covered up. I spent Monday prepping and sanding the cabinet and filling most of the holes with filler. I say most because I ran out of filler. Then headed off to the store for supplies. Tuesday was painting and more painting. Luckily it is really dry and warm here so the paint dried within an hour. I decided to stencil a pattern on the drawer and it took me a while to figure out a pattern. I have a cricket (diecut) machine so I cut out my stencils to the size I wanted and got stippling.

Here is the cabinet half way done:


To make this a useful pretty thing I decided to tile the top – plus I have never laid a tile in my life and wanted to have a go. I chose little white mosaic tiles, they come on a big sheet so it was really easy to use, plus they were the cheapest tile in the place. I added some trim to hide the edge of the tiles and some more dog damage and ended up with this:

You can see Cesar taking a long look at it, no peeing or chewing allowed!

I’m thinking of using this as an outdoor buffet/cocktail cabinet but after the husband has seen it he wants it inside. I’m not so keen though, it is still a little, shall we say ‘rustic’? I don’t mind imperfections outside but I think it is a little rough for the dining room!

Well I got dirty and paint splattered, used a saw and learned how to tile. That’s a good couple of days work!

Cost of all materials: $75 or so.

Now, I really need a potting bench, I wonder if I can make one?