Friday, March 26, 2010

A Bit O' the Bubbly

'Twas a blustery day today in northeastern Arizona. Just ask my pal Em, who witnessed the car door slamming shut on me as I shrieked like a little girl. I'm sure she was checking to see which appendage was stunted; all I can say is it's time to cut my hair.

Nothing like having a chunk of hair unceremoniously yanked nearly out of my scalp to send me reeling back to 1974 when all the teeth in my head were still babies, my hair was more than halfway down my back, the summer was hot and muggy, and the back window to the station wagon was down. Then it started to rain.

I closed my eyes and tilted my chin up to catch the refreshing cool offered by the rain drops, so I didn't see the window inching up, taking my hair right along with it. Dad wasn't quite as sympathetic as Em when I shrieked lo those many years ago. Remember the shag haircut? Yep, that was my style of choice after that little fiasco. I won't be going the shag route this time, but there's no question that a haircut is on the horizon.

The gale-force winds put the kibosh on our plans for the day, which included trips to the dump (imagine my sorrow at putting that chore off). So, instead, I enjoyed a nice little visit with Aunt Barbara who brought us our onions for the garden. We talked about our gardening and canning plans, admired the beauty and aroma of the pickling spices Mom and I recently ordered, and then I shared with her the laundry soap recipe that we've been using here on the farm for awhile now.

After errands in town and a few chores around here, I made myself a batch of the bubbly brew while I worked on supper this evening. (For those of you who do not have family hailing from the South, "supper" is the word that most of those living to the right of the Mississippi use for "dinner". "Dinner" in the South usually means the mid-day meal. Just a little down home Kentucky trivia for you.)

So, since I teased you once before about my laundry soap recipe, here it is for any intrepid soul who would like to undertake this quirky little task. All I can say is it's septic safe, it gets rid of all manner of farm grunge, and it lasts about 4 months with our family of 6. And, while I used to spend about $20 a box on my beloved Tide with bleach every couple of months, I spent about $7 on the ingredients for the homemade soap when I made my first batch, and that was 3 batches ago. And, I still have enough ingredients remaining for at least 2 more batches. Just a little thrifty and frugal tidbit for you.

Thanks to my sweet friend Tracy for sharing the recipe. And for being a perfectly normal, bra-wearing, makeup-donning person, so I don't feel as though I've gone too far down the backwoods babe route (or if I have, that at least I'm in good company.)

Laundry Soap
1 Bar of Zote soap
1 C Borax
1 C Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
5 Gallon bucket

Put 4 cups of water in a large pot and place on stove over medium-low heat. Grate Zote soap into pot. Heat until soap melts, stirring frequently. (This takes awhile - grab a book or plan to do some deep thinking.)

When the soap is nearly melted, fill the bucket about half full with piping hot tap water. Add melted soap to water and stir briskly (I use a whisk). Stir in Borax and washing soda. Fill bucket the rest of the way with hot water, give it another stir. Cover and let sit undisturbed overnight.

Resulting detergent will be a lumpy, watery gel. If desired, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

Use 1/4 c per load.


Friend Tracy said her sister fills an empty liquid detergent container (like an old Tide bottle) half full of the finished soap mixture, then fills the bottle the rest of the way with water, giving it a good stir with the whisk when mixing initially, and giving it a vigorous shake before using at laundry time. The sister lives on a horse ranch, so her family sports some impressive dirt, yet she maintains that she gets great results with the diluted mixture.

I haven't wanted to mess with funneling the soap into a smaller container so I just use it full-strength from the bucket and have no complaints.

The only drawback of making the soap is that now I don't have an excuse to avoid laundry any longer. With this wind whipping around, I certainly ought to save the energy on the dryer and hang my clothes outside too, if I wanted to be a super thrifty and earth-conscious human being. But, I'm not gonna this month. I'm going to use my dryer until the nighttime temps are consistently above freezing. Hey, I'm cleaning clothes at about a penny a load, if that. - I think I've earned the right to a little (temporarily) extravagant living with a dryer and a Bounce sheet.

Love from the farm,

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