Exercises in Frugality, Part 4

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’d been meaning to make my own laundry detergent for ages. Now that I’ve done it and seen how easy it is, I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.

Recipes for liquid laundry detergent are floating all over the Internet. Here’s the one I used. I bought a pot at Goodwill to keep just for making detergent; it cost a couple of dollars. I keep the detergent in a plastic wash tub with plastic wrap over it because the dishwasher detergent bucket I’d saved for it turned out to have a big crack in the side. (Don’t ask when I discovered this.)

The detergent was very easy to make. I’d bought a cheap grater at the dollar store to use for grating the bar soap, but we lost it in the move and my brilliant daughter suggested I use a peeler instead. And that worked. After that, it didn’t take long before I had my first batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent.

I was tickled to find that it really does get the clothes get clean. Plus, it’s cheap! Really cheap…..I just saw liquid Tide on sale for $6 for a bottle that cleans 25 loads of wash. That’s 24 cents a load. This homemade laundry detergent I’m using costs 2 cents per load. That is not a misprint! Plus it doesn’t contain all the weird chemicals in a bottle of Tide that we probably shouldn’t be breathing.

I won’t bother to spell out the recipe and ingredient costs as this site has already done so.  I did use essential oil (rosewood because the health food store was out of lavender) and it has a pleasant scent. Also, I doubled the amount of Borax and washing soda to make sure everything gets clean, a luxury that doubled the price from a penny a load to two cents. I know, big spender 🙂

Grandma’s Cooking

Isn’t she just the cutest thing? And this is just one of several short films made by her grandson, a filmmaker who wanted to preserve his memories of her.

Grandma is 93-year-old Clara Cannucciari; her 30-year-old grandson Chris is the filmmaker. When Chris posted his films to YouTube, neither of them had any idea that a turbulent economy would make their series on Depression-era cooking a smash hit on the Internet.

Clara has had an interesting life, as this article describes. Watching her in the kitchen brings back my own “grandma memories”….maybe it will do the same for you  🙂

Here’s the link for the entire series of films, so you don’t miss out on any. Enjoy!

The Joy (and Savings) of Homemade Bread


It’s been probably twenty years since in-store bakeries became the rage in grocery stores. I remember walking into the store and smelling the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. I grabbed a bag of warm rolls and brought them home with anticipation.

But as good as they looked, they really didn’t have much taste. I tried that grocery store’s baked goods a few more times and finally decided that there was something they sprayed around the store that smelled like fresh bread, because the bread and rolls weren’t what was giving off such a great aroma.

Since then I’ve preferred my own baked goods. Several years ago, I got a bread machine as a gift. I hadn’t really wanted one, preferring to make my own bread the old-fashioned way, but once I tried the bread machine, I was hooked.

I especially liked the dough cycle: you could have the fun of shaping and baking the bread without the work of kneading the dough. And as far as I’m concerned, nothing smells as good as freshly baked homemade bread that tastes good, too.

At the grocery the other day, I saw a bag of dinner rolls for $2.49 in the bakery section. They didn’t look fresh, and in fact felt a bit hard. I thought $2.49 was a pretty steep price for day-old rolls. Those sad-looking rolls made me so glad to have my bread machine. I throw in a few ingredients in the morning, set the timer, and have lovely dough or even a baked loaf of bread when I want it at dinnertime.

I’ve had good luck with the recipes that came with my machine. But if you buy one secondhand, or are gifted with a used bread machine, you might want to visit this site for some good recipes.

BTW, I don’t use bread flour because it’s so expensive. I’ve had good luck with plain old (cheap) flour from Aldi’s. But if you’re picky about your bread, give bread flour a try.

Also, buying yeast in those tiny envelopes gets really expensive. Over at Sam’s Club, they sell two very large packages of yeast for less than $4. I freeze one and put the other in a Mason jar in the fridge, and it takes me quite a while to go through both. Definitely a money saver!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope you’re spending today with the ones you love! You’ll find one of our family’s Valentine’s Day traditions (along with my recipe for a Giant Heart Cookie…well, actually two) right here.

BTW, another tradition we started a few years ago is our annual viewing of “Some Like It Hot,” a very funny movie which includes Chicago’s infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in its plot. No, I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, but older teens and adults will find it amusing.

Recipe Alert!

I avidly collect recipes, far more than I’ll ever use. But it’s an addiction, and every time I make something new that my family loves, my addiction is reinforced.

Some of my very best recipes have come from the Internet, specifically from Lucianne.com. Lucianne doesn’t allow recipe sharing very often, because her site is intended for the discussion of politics and culture. But every rare once in a while, she permits a weekend recipe thread, and people share some fantastic recipes.

The thread runs only for today and tomorrow, and I imagine it will probably stay up for just a few days afterward. So don’t wait….pop in there soon and check back, as people will probably add to it all through the weekend  🙂