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Join me on my new adventure - Van Living!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Spring Clean Your House in 10 Minutes per Day

About 20 years ago, when Relief Society met on a separate day,
one of the sisters at my church gave this class,
and I've thanked her 100 times!

This is a way to Spring clean your house
spending no more than 10 minutes each day.

The work can be shared by the entire family.
In fact, part of each of my son's chores when growing up
was to do one job daily from this list.

What you will need:

A box of 3x5 index cards. They can be white or colored:

A card file box to hold your cards:

A pencil or pen:

Step One:
Make a list of rooms in your house.
Include the garage and the yards as "rooms."

Step Two:
Beginning in one room, walk through 
and write down jobs
that would take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. 

Label the top of each card with the room name.
Write one 10-minute job on each card.

Remember, no job can take more than TEN MINUTES.  
Here are some examples. 
Remember, these are just examples. 
Everyone's house is different:


Wipe down 2 windowsills
Wipe down 2 baseboards
Clean 1 window inside and out - 1 daily until all are done
Clean the top of the range hood
Clean the range vent screen
Clean oven window
Scrub 1 sink REALLY good, cleaning around the faucets and handles too
Clean out the cupboard beneath the sink
Wash the garbage pail with hot soapy water (use the shower or bathtub)
Wipe off the top of the refrigerator
Clean 1 shelf of refrigerator by taking everything off - do 1 daily until all are done
Vacuum the refrigerator vents
Clean and Polish 2 kitchen chairs each day until all are done
Clean and Polish kitchen table
Clean all socket covers
Clean all light switches
Polish faucets
Take everything out of 1 drawer, wipe it out, return items - do 1 daily until all are done
Take everything out of 1 cabinet shelf, wipe it out, return items - do 1 daily until all are done
Clean spice rack
Wash cupboards outside - do 2 or 3 each day
Wash cupboard shelves inside - do 1 or 2 each day
Unplug and clean the toaster
Clean light fixture. Turn it off, wipe down fixture and bulb.
etc. etc.


Scrub inside of toilet
Clean toilet base
Clean toilet seat
Wash shower curtain (can usually be put in washing machine safely then hung to dry)
Polish mirrors
Clean light fixture
Clean light switch and socket covers
Clean baseboards
Wipe walls
Wipe top of doors
Clean cupboards - 1 shelf each day until done
Clean drawers - 1 each day until done
Scrub bathtub tile, grout, or surround
Clean medicine chest - 1 shelf each day (take everything off, wipe down, & replace items)
Organize towels and washcloths
etc., etc.


Clean ceiling fan blades
Wipe down windowsills
Wash windows inside (do 1 or 2 each day)
Wash windows outside (do 1 or 2 each day)
Vacuum couch (take cushions off and vacuum, then replace)
Vacuum chair(s) as above
Vacuum baseboards and corners
Clean light fixture(s) or lamp(s)
Clean light switches and socket covers
Clean television set
Wash baseboards
Dust very high shelves or places (list what they are)
Clean the telephone
etc., etc.

Do the same thing here, making 1 card for each 10 minute job

Wipe windowsills
Clean blinds
Wash 1 window inside
Wash 1 window outside
Wash baseboards
Wipe down headboard
Clean out 1 drawer (do 1 each day until all are clean)
Organize your hanging clothes
Organize your shoes - toss out or donate those things you do not wear
Clean the toy box out - toss or donate old toys

Do the same thing, including things like:
Wipe out dryer 
Wipe out washer
Clean lint filters REALLY good
Be sure dryer vent hose is clear
Light Switches
Socket Covers
Wipe down top of washer
Wipe down top of dryer
etc. etc.

These are just a few examples.
Go through your own house with your stack of cards
and make your own.

* * * * * * * *
Once you have ALL of the cards made, 
put the stack into your card file

NOTE:  On each card, specify exactly how you want the job done.
This is especially important when you have younger children or teens
who need direction.

For example:


                       Clean Silverware Drawer. 
                       Take out EVERYTHING.     
                       Wipe out with damp cloth.
                       Be sure it's clean.
                       Dry it out.
                       Replace all the silverware

                      Great job!


Each day, every person in the house will take ONE or TWO CARDs.
(parents can decide)
Adults and older teens, this will be the front card for you.
Children can do age-appropriate jobs
(adults can help them choose a card if necessary)

Each person does that job,
then puts the card in the BACK of the pile.

In a very short time, 
shorter than you imagine,
your entire house will have been cleaned
top to bottom.

All those "Spring Cleaning Jobs" that take all day
will be painlessly done.

I used this with my three sons when they were growing up 
and it was amazing how well it worked!

Bottling my Laundry Soap

Well, I took the lid off my laundry soap this morning
 and found it the consistency of cold jello.

The directions now say to mix this gel half and half with water 
and put it into your containers.

For a while I used a large wooden spoon 
to cut and break it up and try to stir it.
I was amazed just how thick it was!

After a while, 
I just rolled up my sleeves and plunged my arm into the stuff,
This made it a lot easier to break it up, 
using my fingers and hands.

Then, using a funnel, I tried filling my bottles half full, 
as per the instructions.
But the stuff was still so thick, 
it wouldn't go through the funnel. 

Clumps of gel kept clogging up the funnel, 
refusing to go down.

Another problem was figuring out when the bottles were half full.
You can't see through them,
and looking down into them was "iffy."

So next I tried lifting the "clods" with a fork.
This worked, but it was still slow going.
There has to be a better way, I thought...

 Then I figured it out.
I filled my measuring cup about 1/2 full of gel, 
simply scooping it out of the bucket.

Then, using my hands, 
I reached into the cup
 and squeezed the gel through my fingers,
breaking it up into smaller pieces.

Next, I added an equal amount of cold water to the gel in the cup,
and poured it into my detergent containers.
I didn't bother mixing it, I just poured it in.

 This worked GREAT!
The water made the gel slip easily into the containers.
It also made it possible to get equal amounts 
of gel and water into the container.
That had been difficult because I couldn't see through the bottles.

Soon I ran out of empty bottles.
My mother drinks coffee and I save the plastic containers.
I grabbed a couple of those, 
and filled two with the half gel & half water mixture.

I labeled them clearly 
so we won't wonder later what in the heck this is!

This is how many bottles I filled with one half of the gel.

And here is the other half of the gel, still in the bucket.

I won't add water to this.
I'll just put a tight lid on it and store it like this.
I'll check it in a month or so to be sure it's not evaporating.
So, of course, now I had to try the soap.
The instructions call for using 1/4 cup for a FRONT loading machine.
(Use 5/8 cup for a top loader)

Using a measuring cup, 
I discovered that 1/4 cup is exactly up to the line on the A&H bottles.
So this must be the same measurement used for A&H Laundry Detergent. 

Remember to SHAKE THIS WELL before each use!

I used this on a load of whites.
They came out nice and clean and sweet smelling!
A pair of socks were dirty from walking in them around the house.
Normally I would spray them with Spray & Wash.
I didn't spray and wash them, because I wanted to see if this detergent
would get them clean.

It did just as good a job as any other detergent.

Sooo.. that's it.

Yesterday's mixing took about 30 minutes.
Today's bottling took about another 30 minutes 
and would have been quicker
had I figured out how to deal with the problems sooner.

I'm very pleased with the results.
I'll report back in a month on how my clothes are looking.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question.
And remember,

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Laundry Detergent for 1/4 CENT Per Load

I have decided I want to make my own laundry soap.
I'm tired of being held captive by large corporations

Because of my MCS, 
I have been using Arm & Hammer Unscented Laundry Detergent for a few years. 
I like the way it cleans plus it has no scent. 
However, it's quite expensive.
At the end of this blog, 
I will show you the compared prices of the DIY and the store-bought detergent.
You may be in for a surprise!

I've searched the web far and wide 
and the recipe for DIY Laundry Soap that I keep coming back to
is the Duggar Family recipe.

For those who do not know the Duggars,
they are a family with NINETEEN (19) children!
I figure if this recipe works for them,
it'll work for me!

So here it is, step by step.

Duggar Laundry Soap Recipe
Step by Step

I purchased ALL of my supplies, including the 5 gallon buckets, at WINCO.
At the end of this posting, I will list prices.

It's possible if you shop around, you can find these items for less, 

but I was happy to find them all in one store.

* * *

4 Cups - hot tap water


1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap

1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (see notes)

½ Cup Borax

One 5 gallon bucket.


Grate the bar of soap.
Normally I would have used my Cuisinart, 

but I'm at my mother's house

so I used her small hand grater.

It took about 4 minutes.

Add the soap it to a saucepan with 4 cups of hot tap water. 

Put this on the stove on medium heat.

Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted

Put the washing soda and borax in the 5-gallon bucket.

Fill the bucket half full of hot tap water. 

Stir until the powders are dissolved.

Add the hot fels naptha soap mixture to the bucket.

Stir well until all is dissolved. 

Fill bucket to top with more hot tap water. 

Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

Tomorrow morning, this bucket will be full of soap GEL.
This is only 1/2 of your soap.
It is double-strength and will be cut 1/1 with water.

To break up the gel,
I just stick my arm in and start squeezing
until it's pretty much liquified.
Then I put it into smaller containers,
or sometimes I just leave it in the bucket
and dip out what I need.
But if you put it in containers, 
you do need to shake it before each use.

Storing the detergent

I've gathered used laundry soap containers and washed them.
I'll be storing as much of my soap as possible into these.
I will need enough bottles to hold 5 gallons,
and I'll store the second 5 gallons in a bucket in the garage.

I will fill each used, clean laundry soap container half full with my DIY soap gel,
then fill the rest with water.
Be sure and shake before each use.

Other storage ideas:

You could put HALF of the gel into a second 5 gallon bucket,
and fill BOTH buckets with water,
giving you TWO full 5 gallon containers of laundry soap.


You could put HALF the gel into a second 5 gallon bucket and store it.
Fill it with water when you are ready to use it.
In the meantime, fill your first bucket with water and take out 
what you need each time you do laundry.

It's really up to you.
The point is,
you will have TEN GALLONS of laundry soap.
If it sits, it will gel, and all you have to do is shake it before each use
to be sure it's mixed.

I want my soap unscented,
but if you like, 
you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons
once the soap has cooled.

To use the soap:

Top Loading Machine - - 5/8 cup per load (approximately 250 loads)
Front Loading Machine -- 1/4 cup per load (approximately 640 loads)

Baking soda will NOT work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent. 
 You MUST use sodium carbonate.  
If you can't find it, you can MAKE it from Baking Soda!!  
I will post instructions in a later blog. 
It's simple.

* * * * * * * * *

Works great in traditional or HE machines! 
Is low sudsing. 
Gel is normal. Stir or shake before using. 
If laundry is especially stained, use Zout, Spray 'n' Wash, or Oxyclean. 
Safe to use with bleach in whites. 

* * * * * * * * *


* * * * * * * * * *

WASHING SODA: 55 ounces = $3.09

There is enough washing soda in one box to make 7 (10-gallon) batches of soap.

20 Mule Team BORAX: 76 ounces = $4.23
There is enough Borax in one box to make 21 (10-gallon) batches of soap.

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap: 5.5 ounces = $1.22
You will need one bar per batch

If you buy
1 box borax
3 boxes washing soda
21 bars Fels-naptha
you will have enough product to make
210 gallons of laundry soap 
at a cost of $39.12

This seems like a very inexpensive and useful long-term storage item!

* * *
$39.12 divided by 210 gallons = .19 cents per gallon!

.19 cents divided by 16 cups in each gallon = 1 cent per cup

And it only takes 1/4 cup per load

so you are getting 

4 loads of laundry per PENNY.

Is that hard to believe?

Do the math and see!

Not bad!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Canning Bacon, Weiners, and Sausage Links

Today I spent the day canning breakfast meats.


I canned bacon a few weeks ago by just stuffing the jars with the raw bacon and then processing (blog to follow).  In an emergency situation, the bacon IS fully cooked and could be eaten without further cooking. But the texture is like raw or boiled bacon, not crispy and I wanted bacon I could just open and make sandwiches with. So I thought I would try a different method.

I used quart jars for the bacon.
I won't continue to tell you how to get your jars ready.
You can look at the post on canning butter if you don't know how.

We wanted the bacon flat and just cooked enough that it was lightly brown, but still flexible.
Mom started frying the bacon on a panini maker, but it was too slow.

We decided to put it on racks in the oven.
That worked GREAT!

 Here is the oven with two cookie sheets full of bacon.

Next, I laid out the bacon on a piece of parchment paper.
I put the edge of the bacon up on the top edge of the paper.
I put a little more than a pound of bacon, all lined up.
This photo only shows about 1/2 pound.

See how the left piece of bacon is offset about a bacon's width?
I next folded that edge OVER that piece of bacon 
to hold everything in place when it gets rolled.
Sorry I didn't take better photos.
Next time.

 Next, I cut a sheet of parchment in half lengthwise 
and laid it over the cooked bacon.

I did not take a photo of this, and you could skip this step,
 except where there is no parchment, 
the bacon will stick together when you can it. 
So it's up to you.

Then, I turned up the bottom half of the parchment.
This bended about 2 inches of the bacon up.
I smoothed it out with my hands, lightly pressing it into place.

Next, I folded over the top about 2 inches 
so the entire mess would fit into a quart jar.

Then, with mom's help, I rolled it from one end.

This is a photo of someone with a roll of Yoder's bacon in their hand.
My roll of bacon looks exactly like this one.

Then I just slipped this roll into my jar, 
put on the lid and ring, and placed it in the canner.

I processed it at 12 pounds pressure for 90 minutes.

The bacon grease that we took off the bacon was put into a quart jar
 and will be kept in the refrigerator for seasoning beans, soups, and gravy.
If I can more bacon this month, 
I'll add to the jar and seal it.

Below is what the bacon jars looked like after coming out of the canner.

One of my jars did not seal.
We'll have that bacon in the morning for breakfast and I'll post photos so you can see what it looks like.
But from the looks of it, the bacon stayed nicely in place and browned up.
We should be able to take it right out of the jars and make sandwiches without having to cook it further.

I figured I saved quite a bit of cash doing this myself.
The only comparable canned bacon I know of is Yoders.

Yoder's bacon looks like this out of the can:

Mine doesn't look much different from this out of the jar!

The huge difference is in the price...

Yoders 9 ounces of bacon = $16.50 or $29.33 per pound!!!
DIY bacon 16 ounces = $3.49 per pound
Jar and lid = $.95
Total for DIY bacon per pound = $4.44 per pound

That's a savings of $24.89 per pound!!

* * *

Farmer John Sausages 

Next, I wanted to try canning some breakfast sausages.
I used the same technique, 
rolling them up in parchment so they wouldn't stick together.
They were raw, by the way, not cooked.

Then I put them in a pint jar and pressured them with some hot dogs I was canning.

They REALLY browned up nicely!
And there's a nice layer of grease, 
so these can be used to fry eggs, or make sausage gravy.

What you see in this jar is 1 pound of Farmer John sausage links in a pint jar.
I bought 8 pounds.
I think with the rest of it, 
I will cut them in smaller pieces and can them in 1/2 pints
 to use in making breakfast gravy or scrambles or omelets.
 It will be a better use of my jars and storage area.
But the bottom line is that it canned up fine.

* * *

Hot Dog Weiners

My last project of the day was canning some hot dog weiners.
Again, two of the jars did not seal.
When I opened one to find out why, the lid was covered in grease, 
so I think the dogs expanded so much, they pushed the lid up and greased the rim.
Grease is really a big problem.
I'll have to watch the other jars carefully this year,
to be sure the seals don't break.

The dogs really blew up and look funny in the jars,
but this is because they're under pressure.
They also browned quite nicely on the outside.

Here's what they looked like rolling them out of the jar.

They stuck together lightly but were easy to separate.
The canning definitely changed the texture. 
They're very tender, and weird looking.
But the flavor is excellent!
They'd be find in sandwiches, ground up to make a sandwich spread, or in beans.

Here they are separated.

The pressure sort of "squared them up."

I will do this again, maybe cutting them up into pieces 
and putting them in a smaller jar also
for beans and weenies. 
This isn't something I'd eat every day,
 but it will be good for food storage. 

Beans and rice can get boring, 
and tossing in a few weiners might give things a bit more flavor on occasion. 
When TSHTF, anything more than rice and beans will be a treat!

* * * 
Well that's it.
I had a full day!
We also went shopping and stocked up on evaporated milk and fruit
 and a few other necessities.

Tomorrow, I go to Fresno to Trader Joe's for tuna.
If you haven't tried their tuna, you're in for a treat.
It's the tuna we ate as a child, not the shredded mess they pack in cans today.
I buy it by the case!

I'll be reposting some of my prepping posts in the next few days.

I've removed them from the Camino posts as much as possible 
to make things flow a little better.
So for the people who are interested in Camino posts, 
those are getting revamped and I"m adding a lot of photos. 
You may want to check back every week to see the updates. 
I'm half way through the Spring Camino walk. 
Then I"ll do the Welsh posts. 

Then I"ll be caught up! HOORAY!

Ok.. that's all for now.

Stay warm, get prepared ...
there's hard times ahead.

And remember,