Pinterest Project Complete – Homemade Laundry Detergent

This past Fall, I decided to try a Pinterest project to use as homemade Christmas gifts. I started the project in October with a goal of being completed by Thanksgiving. I chose to make homemade laundry soap because I have heard its a great way to make fresh natural laundry soap for a fraction of the costs at the store.

I loosely followed a recipe from HowDoesShe.com. I loved this recipe because it listed amounts per the box sizes found in stores! So helpful!

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax

1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

6 (5.5 oz) bars of Fels-Naptha soap

1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (I measured my own from a big bag we had from Costco)

1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener

I also added a bit of Oxi Clean but not as much as the original called for.

Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent

I think my rough estimation for cost of these supplies was around $20. The Oxi Clean is the most expensive which is why I only used a small amount.

The first and only major step in this process is the grate the blocks of soap. Many suggested doing it manually with a cheese grater but there is no way I could do that while chasing DJ around. So I got out the food processor!

IMG_7369A few posts I read mentioned to put a bit of the baking soda by the blade so the soap wouldn’t get mushy. I had the grater blade at the top and turned it on and slowly pushed the bar of soap down. I found that the slower I pushed was actually the better because it made for finer shavings.

The next tip I read which was great was to “layer” your ingredients in a large 5 gallon bucket. I have some large mixing bowls and there was no way they would be big enough to hold all this.

IMG_7370It looked all pretty in the bucket with the purple crystals and the light yellow soap shreds! I used it for a month and made sure it worked well. I found that I had to use about 1/3-1/2 cup per load in my HE front loader machine (more than I typically would have thought to use) but it worked really well! Once I knew it was safe to use, I packaged it up and handed it out for Christmas gifts! I found the little buckets and scoops at the dollar tree.

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My current cloth diaper roation

After a year of cloth diapering I thought I would write about what we currently have working for us since we have a 28lb toddler and our needs have changed a bit.

My first set of cloth diapers were the grovia hybrids (three shown at top right). I loved them when she was smaller. They still fit (at the largest rise and barely around her big belly). The problem is now she pees a lot more and they aren’t the best for lots of wetness. They are more of a backup diaper but I can’t get rid of them.

Next I used a lot of BG 4.0 (5 shown at the top left). I still love the fit of these at the medium or largest height setting. They still fit great around her legs especially the ones that have tighter elastic. However I tossed all my BG inserts because they just wouldn’t clean right. Since I had to “retire” my beloved medium Charlie bananas I use those inserts in the BG pockets.

I do have one large Charlie banana (green center) that u still use a lot. I just love the fleece in these. I also have an old FuzziBuz large (pink right center) that fits but I don’t love the open unfinished pocket opening. It is nice though the size of these pockets for stuffing in a prefold.

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Sometime throughout all this, I added two BumGenius Elementals (Blue and B/W print center left).  They are all in ones and I wanted to try them.  I am having trouble keeping microfiber clean, so I went with the Elementals over the Freetimes because I wanted the organic cotton.  I am glad I did because these really do stay pretty clean for us.

 

Along the same line, I invested in a pink Flip (bottom center) and a set of three organic prefolds.  I LOVE this and wish daycare would take these.  They never leak and they hold SO much.  They come so clean since it all comes apart.   I am going to look into the Flip trainers for potty training.

Last but not least I got into the Thirsties Duo Diapers and I currently have 7 (I had 8 but one went missing).  I love the hemp/MF combo on the inserts to these.  I also love that after a day or two of sitting in a wet bag, I do not have to unstuff before I dump them in the washer!  I literally dump them in the washer!

I am starting to sell off a few diapers that we don’t use and just don’t need.  I want to get some cash to start looking into trainers since hopefully potty training isn’t too far out of our future!

Cloth Diapers – We made it a year!

Wow! I just realized that we have been using cloth diapers for almost a year. I remember starting out at the suggestion of a friend (I didn’t have a good reason not to try). I was so confused at all the options and brands.

Just to update where we are after a year from where we started with just a Grovia starter set (2 shells and 4 inserts).

The 2 GroVia shells are holding up ok. The H&L is rolling over a bit even though they are line dried. The fit is still wonderful on my LO now that she is 15 months and 26lbs. We did end up buying a few more snap in soakers but don’t use them that often. Even though these offer the flexibility to pull out the soaker and re-use the shell, we often just wash both pieces at each change.

We also invested in several Bum Genius 4.0 Pocket Diapers. They are just ok. I hate the inserts and some of my pockets have relaxed elastic in the legs even with line drying. It causes leaks some times either out the leg hole or from pressure. We also have 2 BG Elementals and they have held up great! I don’t always like the fit of these and how the inner cotton bunches up.

We also have several Charlie Bananas (size M) that I got on sale from zulily. We really love how soft these are and the pocket opening in front. It is a microfiber insert but each diaper comes with two and they seem to be holding up better than the BG4.0 microfiber inserts.

Lastly, we did go back and try a Thristies Duo Diaper (their pocket diaper). I really like the fit of these and I LOVE the insert. The velcro on these does not hold up at all. Again, no trouble with leaks.

To try to save our pockets even though our inserts were shot, I bought a pack of 3 organic Flip prefolds. I love these. They hold SO much and never stink. The flip cover is nice too (wipes out unlike Grovia) if you want to do the prefold plus a cover route.

We have had good luck with our wash routine and our front loader. I have the Heavy Duty setting saved with a pre-rinse, extra wash, and extra rinse. I wash every two days and because of the liners it’s really just a matter of dumping them in the washer and letting it do its thing for two hours!

Cloth Diaper Review – Charlie Bananas

A while ago, Zulily had some cloth diapers for sale and I thought I would try them out.

Type – Pocket Diaper but marketed as a hybrid or AI2 because they sell disposable inserts for these.

Features

  • Pocket opening in the front of the diaper
  • Flap covering the opening (unlike fuzzibunz which seemed unfinished to me)
  • Comes with two full size inserts
  • Microfleece inside instead of the BG microsuede
  • We chose to purchase the sized diapers, but Charlie Bananas do come in OS.

Price –

I got these off zulily for about $14 each but I think they are normally more like $18 each.

Although it took forever for these diapers to arrive, we have been really happy with them!  The PUL is super soft and the inserts are really nice.  It seems like the microfleece inside is holding up from piling better than the Fuzzibuns.

I really love the print of this diaper that we purchased, but the other colors are REALLY pretty as well.

Charlie Banana Print Cloth Diaper Butterflies

As soon as I get a good picture of DJ wearing this I will update!

 

Trying out cloth diapers – BumGenius 4.0

The cloth diaper experiement is going extremely well.  After trying out our GroVia shells and snap in soakers over the weekends, I decided to try out another popular brand since there was an amazing sale being run on some discontinued colors.  I was able to purchase three BumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers from CottonBabies.com during their Buy 2 Get 1 Free sales event.  The total purchase came out to $32 since they have free shipping too! I really wanted to try some snaps since the GroVia’s were velcro.  The best color they had available was the color “Sweet” which is a nice soft blue/green color.

Bum Genius 4.0 sweet snap

These are pocket diapers which is a little bit different style than the Hybrid AI2 GroVia’s we had.  Each diaper has a PUL outer shell and a suede cloth pocket on the inside.  The diaper also comes with two microfiber inserts (one small newborn and one larger).  These inserts get stuffed into the pocket of the diaper between the PUL outer layer and the suede cloth that touches the babies skin.

I had read a few advantages to a pocket diaper which appealed to me.

  • Ability to add additional “stuffing” for heavy wetters or overnight
  • Faster drying because the insert separates from the diaper
  • Longer lasting because you can replace just the diaper or the inserts
  • Also, I wanted to try snaps because I heard they last longer than velcro and is harder for toddlers to get off!

So at such an amazing deal (rare to find these diapers for under $15 new) I jumped and made the purchase.  We immediately put them into rotation and love them.  The snaps are really easy to use and I love the layout of the snaps.  The pockets aren’t hard to unstuff and easy to restuff once they are clean!   Sadly, this is the only picture of DJ I have wearing one! She’s 6 months old and about 17 pounds here.

You don’t have to be an “Extreme Couponer” to get “Extreme Savings”

As you guys know, I have been using coupons at grocery stores for a while now.  In fact, I started before I started blogging about it (you know, to get the hang of it). Now that the new extreme coupon show has started, tons of people are out there with all kinds of opinions on grocery store coupons.

My frustrations come though when people think that they need to spend hours clipping coupons or end up with a basement full of stockpiled toilet paper and toothpaste in order to really use coupons.

I am guessing that 99% of people reading here, and people I know, don’t have hours to clip coupons or need basements full of pasta and sauce.  What we do need though is some EXTREME SAVINGS on groceries.

Here is what I have found:

  1. I limit my couponing to grocery stores, primarily one grocery store (Publix).  I have found that the pharmacy couponing is a bit more complicated and is typically stuff I don’t need right now.  Trying to compare prices and sales across multiple grocery stores is also time consuming and I really like just going to one store.
  2. I limit my coupons to ones I can print online or find in store.  I tried buying newspapers and saving magazines for a while, but it was a lot more time consuming and I didn’t feel I was getting the savings back out of it.  We live in a small area, so our Sunday newspaper doesn’t always get a lot of the good coupons that bigger areas like Atlanta or Orlando get.  In order to get the B1G1 savings out of the newspaper you have to buy two which costs me $3 and I didn’t think I was consistently getting $3 of savings back out.
  3. I try to always shop with a $5 off your total purchase coupon.  This is one of the easiest largest savings you can do.  I typically use the Save-A-Lot coupon which my Publix accepts but often there are Publix coupons that are mailed to us or in the newspaper (I will pick up a paper if I know this is in there).  I either calculate my total to be about $25 or I ask the cashier to stop the register at $25 and use my coupon.  Even if I use no other coupons and buy full priced items, this is a 20% savings on groceries.
  4. I do stockpile, but only the things I know we will use.  I think the buying for 4-6 weeks is a great rule of thumb to get you some great savings.  Again, even if there aren’t any coupons but you know its an item you use a lot and its on sale, buy enough to get your family through a few weeks.  It now KILLS me to have to pay $3 for a bottle of ketchup, $2 for salad dressing, or even $1 for a box of pasta.   The only other items that I occasionally will buy more of is the “money makers”.  These items actually have the coupon value higher than the price of the item so it saves you money off your total.  You may remember I bought a lot of the vitamins that ran about $4 each but I had $6 worth of coupons.  That is an extra $2 off something else in my basket like milk or meat that hardly ever has coupons.

This week I did two Publix trips.  We didn’t really need groceries but there were some good sales I didn’t want to miss out on.

Trip #1

Boneless Skinless Chicken $2.99/lb x 1.8lbs = $5.38

Ground Chuck $2.99/lb x 1.2lbs = $3.58

I used a $3 off any $8 meat department coupon from Harveys.  This brought the price of the meat down to about $1.85/lb. 

Reynolds Heavy Duty Foil $4.35 B1G1 w/ two $0.75 coupons = $1.40 each

LouAna Oil (we were out)  $3 w/ $0.50 coupon = $2.50

Tena Pads $5.19 each with a B1G1 (store) coupon and two $2.50 (manufacturers) coupons.

My order total was $26.70 and then I used my coupons including my $5 off Save-A-Lot coupon and my purchase total came out to about $6.70 plus tax.  This is about a 75% savings!

Trip #2

Pork Spare Ribs $1.99/lb x 4.5lbs = $8.95

I used a $3 off any $8 meat department coupon from Harveys.  This brought the price down to $1.32/lb

Tena Pads $5.19 each with a B1G1 (store) coupon and two $2.50 (manufacturers) coupons.

Playtex Spill Proof sippy cups (I bought 2) $1.99 each each with a $2 off coupon

Natures Own Bread $2.69 B1G1

Gallon of Milk $3.89

My order total was just over $30 but after my coupons (again using another $5 off Save-A-Lot coupon), my total out of pocket was $7.89.  Again, this is roughly a 70% savings (the meat alone was more than my total!).

So anyways, just two examples of how you can still buy items without coupons and get extreme savings!

Great summer savings at Publix

Yesterday I had to stop and get some burgers for dinner. Nobody wanted to cook so I was already frustrated that I was going to spend an arm and a leg for pre made burgers. I was able to print out a few coupons though in about 5 minutes before I went to the store an ended ip hoping for the nest.

Here is what I planned on getting:
Burger patties
Hamburger buns
Chips
Ketchup
Shredded cheese
Avocado (For J even though they are really out of season)

I was figuring this would all cost about $20.

After looking at sales here is a picture of everything I got for $20!

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I was really happy that for under $20 we had a quick and easy dinner!

SunDown Vitamins free again at Publix

Public just released their new in story flyer which includes a coupon for $6 off any 2 SunDown Vitamins. We love these vitamins and really enjoy stocking up on them when they are free.

The Sundown website and the newspaper has additional manufacturer coupons for $1 off each. Combine these its $8 off any two.

Most of the vitamins are around $5 but to make it free we try to buy the ones that are $4 or less. The best option is vitamin D, 400IU which at our Publix runs $2.99. Buying two of these actually creates overage of $2. Awesome!

So last night I ran to the store to get some lunch meat for packed lunches this week. I printed my coupons and off I went. I was SHOCKED when the total was $30 for the small amount of items I was buying. The store was closing so I just paid my money and off I went. I bought a few extra things we needed that weren’t on sale so I knew it wasn’t going to be a fantastic trip but $30 for like 4 bags of groceries???

This morning when I looked at my receipt closer, it turns out one of the bottles of vitamins I bought was actually vitamin D, 5,000IU which cost $16.99! No wonder my bill was so expensive! This has happened to a friend of mine before and Publix gladly exchanged the unopened product and refunding the difference.

If you plan on taking advantage of this great deal, just be careful you grab the right bottles!

Great Week for Savings at Publix

I just ran to Publix for my first shopping trip of this week. The savings just keep getting better and better!

Here is what today’s trip included:

  • Welch’s Juice Cocktail 64 oz. (2)
  • V8 Splash Juice (2)
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Whole Wheat (2)
  • Idahoan Instant Potatoes (2)
  • Olivio Spreadable Butter (1)
  • Rubbermaid Food storage containers (2)
  • Rubbermaid Beverage container (1)
  • Cottonelle Wipes (1)
  • Barilla Pasta (2)
  • Coffee Mate Creamer (2)
  • Phazyme (2)

Guess how much my total bill was??? Leave a comment in the comment section. Tomorrow I will let you know who guessed correctly!

 

UPDATE:  My total was $3 !  Even the cashier couldn’t believe it!

Great Publix Savings Deal!

Sorry its not Monday, but I had to post this deal because it was so great! I know its probably too late for anyone else to take advantage of this deal, but it was my best “couponing” trip thus far!

V8 Juice 3.25 $1 off 2 2.25 1.125 65%
V8 Juice 3.25 B1G1 0 1.125 65%
Purina Beggin Strips 10.99 $2 (M) + $1(S) 7.99 2.495 77%
Purina Beggin Strips 10.99 B1G1 + $2 (M) + $1(S) -3 2.50 77%
Phazyme 3.49 $5 off 2 (S) + $2 off (M) -3.51 -1.01 129%
Phazyme 3.49 $2 (M) 1.49 -1.01 129%
Vivarin 3.19 $5 off 2 (S) + $2 off (M) -3.81 -1.31 141%
Vivarin 3.19 $2 (M) 1.19 -1.31 141%
Campbells Select Soup 2.39 $1 off 2 1.39 0.70 71%
Campbells Select Soup 2.39 B1G1 0 0.695 71%
Ronzoni Tri Colored Rotini 1.79 $1 off 2 0.79 0.395 78%
Ronzoni Tri Colored Rotini 1.79 B1G1 0 0.395 78%
50.20 27 4.78 10% 90%

As you can see here, I got all this stuff for $5. I had two big bags of groceries and felt like I barely spent any money. If I hadn’t bought the two giant bags of dog treats my bill would have been negative!

I can’t imagine anymore spending $3 on a bottle of juice or $2 on a can of soup or even $1 on a box of pasta. This takes such little effort and is SO rewarding. Plus I am a big bargain shopper so its also all about the thrill 🙂