Friday, April 23, 2010

homemade laundry detergent

I mentioned on twitter yesterday that I'd just finished whipping up a batch of homemade laundry detergent and a bunch of people showed interest in my recipe, so I thought I'd post it here.

Making my own laundry detergent seems so random, but it was a natural progression, in fact! We decided to use cloth diapers before Fry was even born, but you can't use regular laundry detergent with them, because the chemicals eventually break down the absorbing properties of the diapers. You can buy special chemical-free detergent at most health food stores, but they are really expensive, nearly negating the savings we were making with the cloth diapers themselves! Around the same time, I started using soap nuts for cleaning our clothes. While I really appreciated that our clothes no longer smelled like chemicals and they were indeed clean, soap nuts don't have natural bleaching properties and our clothes started to look dingy. Plus, they didn't do anything against the extremely hard water we have here.

In looking around for alternatives, I found loads of recipes for homemade detergents that are suitable for cloth diapers and for clothes. Unfortunately, if you live outside North America, you will have to have a hook-up for the Borax. If anyone knows of a source for Borax in Europe or a good substitute, please let me know! My sister brought me a box when she visited last summer, and I brought back a box as well after our visit, and we've been using it ever since. I haven't even opened the second box yet, though I think I will have to for the next batch. I based my recipe off of this one, and here is my current recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

homemade laundry detergent

You will need:
1 bar laundry soap*
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda**
1/2 cup oxygen cleaning powder

*I use savon de Marseille, which has a lovely subtle scent that I quite like, but you can get unscented and even add a bit of essential oil if you like.
**Washing soda is called cristaux de soude in French

First, I mix together the Borax, washing soda and oxygen powder, since they are all powdered anyway. Then I start to grate the laundry soap and folding it into the powder as I go. I find it mixes together better than grating all the soap at once and trying to mix it together at the end.

You only need a heaping tablespoon for a load of laundry and one batch should last several months! I find this works really well, and even Fry's clothes that has suffered from... accidents (ahem) come out perfectly clean and stain-free. As you can see from the photo, I keep mine in a very large jar with the recipe taped on so it's always handy.

I hope this helps those of you that have asked; please do let me know if you try it!

OH one more thing! This is not the same recipe to use for cloth diapers! There is some concern that the laundry soap can cause build up, which can be bad for the diapers. I used the recipe that I linked above, which is equal parts Borax, washing soda and oxygen cleaning powder, and they still look brand new! We aren't using them right now (kind of a long story), but we are hanging on to them to use with the next little person that comes along.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

in which Vivi forgets to blog

There is SO MUCH going on right now and I've lost the instinct to run to my computer whenever something interesting happens, so I'm playing a bit of catch up.

First, and most important really: our offer on the apartment has been accepted!! There was a tense moment when we weren't sure they would accept it, but they did and it has been such a huge weight off our shoulders! Even better, we've already had the inspection done and we are not required to have any work done to qualify for our interest free loan! Even if everything meets code (though just barely, surely, considering some of the electrical wiring we've seen!), we are going to bring an electrician in to update a few key places, especially the room where the computers will go, and we may even redo the kitchen (YAY!!). But, before we can do all that, we have to sign the contract this week and get the bank stuff going, and then we have to wait about two months for the paperwork to go through. Meanwhile, this apartment needs to be in viewing shape for potential new renters! YIKES!!

This past weekend was the Katia & Kyliemac Episode 333 extravaganza party in Paris. I had been planning for months to go and even bought my train tickets over a month in advance. Of course, the damned SNCF decided that last weekend would be a lovely time to go on strike, so I found out Saturday morning that my train had been canceled. No problem, I wasn't missing this party, so I decided to DRIVE into Paris, much to the chagrin of Stéphane. Making things even trickier, last weekend was also the first weekend of Spring Break for the Paris region, and with the planes grounded from volcanic ash and trains stopped from the strike, the roads were slam-packed with cars! I did manage to make it in just over three hours (normal driving time should be about two and a half or one and a half if taking the toll roads) and I had an amazing time! I met loads of new people, was very happy to catch up with some dear friends I haven't seen in ages, and I drank an obscene amount of cider. Seriously, I haven't partied like that in literally years and am only just now getting over the hangover!

Home again home again and Stéphane's Spring Break has just ended. We had a nice, calm couple of weeks, slightly stressful with the apartment business but lots of visits to Mémère's house and visits with friends and family. Fry continues to impress and delight us everyday and I'm feeling much calmer and happier, now that I see a real path forming before us. Keeping in mind the famous saying "Man plans, God laughs," I am hopeful that the coming months and years will see us happily moved into our new apartment, hopefully a brother or sister for Fry, and me finally putting my money where my mouth is and starting a business in Tiny Town. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for us!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

in which we can't make up our minds

So, yesterday we visited an apartment for sale. The building itself is about 50 years old and most of the occupants are owners, so that's a good thing. I don't think either one of us are super enthused about moving into an apartment complex, especially Stéphane, who grew up in a huge apartment block and swore he'd never move back. This is hardly apartment block sized, but the idea of having neighbors above us and below us, especially with a little one that likes to do the flamenco, we are a bit hesitant.

I'm hoping if I type this out a little it will make things clearer:

The price is certainly interesting, and we would be able use less of our savings as a down payment (and keeping a little aside for starting a business, perhaps?). However, we'd forgotten about the charges for the upkeep of the apartment complex, all the grass, and the shared gas payments, so we wouldn't save *as much* per month as we hoped.

Even though it's only slightly bigger than our current home, it is much better organized. The bathroom is tiny but has a real bathtub (Fry has been taking his baths in a plastic tub, thanks to our tiny shower stall). The kitchen is small, but we can possibly invest in a better kitchen set up (maybe a built in counter with a stove, etc) and make better use of that space, plus the door can keep little people out when the oven's on. To make up for the tiny bathroom, there's a "cellier" next to the kitchen, where we think we could put the dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer, plus with some shelving we could have a small pantry. There is more closet space than we've got here, without a doubt, plus a private storage space in the basement, where we could easily store stuff we don't need, plus maybe a bike or two, and there's a space to put the stroller, which will open up a lot of space that we can't have here.

The former (current?) owners have closed off part of the salon and made a third tiny bedroom, which suits us fine, as that would be our office/guest room. Obviously, there's no private garden, but there's a huge space behind the apartment complex, but I certainly didn't see anyone hanging out on the grass, so that would be a drag to have all that space and not be able to play on it. There's also the fact that some of the electricity needs to be redone, so for us that means we'd want to ask a smaller price.

So there we are. Right now we are leaning towards making an offer, but setting a strict limit and not going one euro above it. We told the agent that we'd have an answer to him by Tuesday one way or another, so we've got a couple of days to make our decision.

Other than that, we're enjoying Stéphane's spring break. We had a nice evening out with his colleagues while Fry spent the night at Mémère's house (we'll definitely be doing that again soon, ah FREEDOM!!), we've done a little local sightseeing, we're going to visit family this afternoon and we're hoping to hook up with some friends next week. My allergies are starting to bother me and Fry's got some weird bacterial infection but otherwise we're doing really well.

Friday, April 02, 2010

and then nothing happened at all

Oh, this week was hard. Last week, my first week home alone with Fry in three months, was lovely. We played, we walked around Tiny Town, we watched our favorite episodes of Sesame Street Old School, it was fun! I guess the novelty of having Mommy home wore off though, because this week was all about ignoring Mommy and doing all the little things that drive me crazy: playing with the mouse and the keyboard of my computer, bouncing on the couch (when a very hard concrete floor awaits below), pulling the curtains, throwing everything on the floor. Good times, y'all, good times.

So this week has been all about trying to find ways to occupy Fry's awake time with not much success. I started knitting again this week, too. I'm determined to work down some of my stash before I buy more, so that means there will be some blankets in my future. Which is fine, we can always use some more throws around the house. Plus maybe I can finally finish the sweater I started for Stéphane two years ago. Heh.

Speaking of Stéphane, his spring break starts tomorrow. I'm hoping we can get out a little over the next couple of weeks, if the weather warms up a little (Mother Nature is having a mid-life crisis here as well, as we had a couple of days of lovely weather, followed by nearly freezing temps at night this week). And on Monday evening we are going to a party. A *grown up* party. And Fry will be spending the night at his grandmother's house. We are also supposed to try to explore some solutions for our housing situation as well. We shall see how that goes.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter weekend!