Friday, March 22, 2013

friday fun finds: simply right diapers

i used to be a diaper snob. with my first couple of kids, i somehow felt that i had to buy the most expensive diapers for their sweet little buns. i remember standing in stores like sam's club and staring at the diaper aisle. there were two options: one box of diapers that held the name brand version of disposable diapers and one box that held the less expensive brand of diapers. there were only two options so the price comparison was easy. still, i somehow always went with the more expensive option. surely, paying more money would mean that i was a smarter mom, right?

then i had a friend that looked at my diapers and said, "do you really think it's worth the extra money? you do realize they hold poop, right?" yeah...that changed things for me. why was i so concerned with buying the more expensive diapers? was it because i really believed those other diapers did a better job or was it merely because i was concerned with what people thought of me personally if i bought the more expensive brands? 

when it came down to it, i was worried about a few things. number 1: i wanted to take care of my sweet babies well. i was worried that the different diapers would not be as soft on their baby skin. number 2: i was tired of cleaning up newborn poopy explosions. who likes to do that, right? number 3: i was honestly concerned that people would judge me by the types of diapers i purchased. this one still makes me cringe as i take a frank look back at my former self. as a younger mother i was so worried that people were critiquing aspects of my parenting that it clouded my judgement. 

then, one day when money was really tight, (let's be usually is when you have as many kids as we do) i purchased a more inexpensive brand of diapers. the earth didn't shatter. people didn't look at me differently. the poop stayed in as well as it had with any other type of diaper. something else happened as well. there was a freedom that came from removing certain expectations on myself. why was i so bound up by appearances? these are the little disposable wonders that hold poop, for crying out loud! why was i thinking that paying more for them made me somehow better? freedom from worrying that you are messing things up is something that seems to plague mothers everywhere. letting go of one little piece of that unrealistic worry started an avalanche. i was saving money. my baby was happy. i was happy. things were good.
i have been using a package of SIMPLY RIGHT diapers and wipes from sam's club. the diapers have all of the elements that i like in a disposable diapers: the quality is excellent. they have elastic around the legs, elastic at the back of the diaper to keep "things" from climbing up the back, and good, extra stretchy side panels that were easily attached and unattached. my baby is one the move and these diapers have worked great as i've been chasing him all over, everywhere, all the time. 
the SIMPLY RIGHT wipes are just as helpful. they were thick and easy to use. i especially liked the packaging on the wipes better on this brand as the latch keeps little hands from leaving a huge pile of baby wipes on the floor when you walk out of the room. my kids don't have sensitive skin so allergies are not a problem but the wipes are hypoallergenic and fragrance free, just in case. they are soft and clean well. what more do i really need? the best part? these wipes are just as good (with a better latch and packaging) than other brands but cost less. why would i throw money away on more expensive products that are for wiping up poop?
i figured it out and when i stopped purchasing name brand diapers and wipes, i saved close to $400 a year. seriously. that's a lot of starbucks. most importantly, i'm a smarter mom than i was when i started. i can be more proud of myself for being frugal and still finding a great product than i ever was of myself for spending money unnecessarily. plus, i can reward my good shopping habits with a chai tea latte. now that is smart parenting! what about you? what products do you love that save you money and allow you to reward yourself in little ways during this parenting adventure?
For a FREE sample of SIMPLY RIGHT™ diapers or wipes, visit today!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SIMPLY RIGHT™ Baby Care Products.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

diy: making your own laundry detergent

i have five kids. it's no big surprise that i do a lot of laundry. just ask the dryer repair man that is consistently called to my house. i'm pretty sure he'll be on next year's christmas card list. 

i had heard people talking about making their own laundry detergent and, i'm not going to lie, i was skeptical. i go to war with stains in my children's clothing because 1) i want them to look somewhat put together when i send them to school each day and 2) i don't have extra money to buy clothes should my kids ruin what they already have. it may seem ridiculous but i take laundry seriously. if i can get those clothes clean, i am saving money on having to buy new ones. 

the "make your own detergent" craze hit and i did not want to give it a try. when another mother of five told me she had made her own and it was working, i finally caved. how much was i going to lose if i had to dump it all? not too much. 

so, i gave it a try. much to my amazement, it did work. i got my original recipe from after looking through all the comments written by people who had tried her original recipe, i altered it to fit my needs. first, i have a high efficiency washer so i went with "ivory" soap as one of the ingredients instead of a soup that did not dissolve as well in those washers. i also like my clothes to smell fresh so i used "purex" crystals to add a fresh scent. these can be eliminated but the crystals do make your clothes smell great.

here's the basic recipe. i bought all of the ingredients at walmart. i purchased a container that created an air seal for my detergent. this cost $15.00. people had repeatedly said that if you do not use an air seal, the detergent dries out (think brown sugar) and can be difficult to scoop. it is worth it to make that one time purchase. except for the ivory soap and the container, i found all of these ingredients in the laundry aisle at walmart.

my storage container

diy laundry detergent

1 (4 pound, 12 oz.) box of borax

1 (4 pound) box of arm & hammer baking soda

1 (55 oz.) box of arm & hammer super washing soda

3 bars of ivory soap

2 small containers of oxy clean (or store brand version) approx. 3.5 pounds

1 large container of purex crystals

to make, get a large garbage bag and at least a 5 gallon bucket. line the bucket with the garbage bag. dump in all of the above ingredients (all but the ivory soap).

open your bars of ivory soap and cut each one into quarters. place one quarter of a bar on a paper plate (i found that using three plates kept things moving).

place one paper plate in the microwave and heat on high for about 30 seconds. it is crazy watching what happens (the kids loved this!)

it's like watching a giant exploding marshmallow.

when it has finished cooking, you'll open your microwave to this. pull the plate out of the microwave (the soap won't stick but will be hot) and place the plate on the counter to cool. you will not be able to continue until the soap has cooled completely. 

fully "cooked" 1/4 bar of soap

1/4 bar...out of the microwave...cooling on the counter

once the ivory soap has cooled, grab a piece of it and start to rub it together between your hands. it will literally pulverize. continue doing this until all of the "cooked" and cooled soap has been separated into a powder in the bucket.

if the soap is not cooled, it will stick when you try to pulverize it.

it should fall apart like this.

the top of this bucket is filled with the pulverized soap. 
this is a large, 5 gallon bucket. it was filled to the top once all the ingredients were added.

this is what the bag will look like after you have finished adding everything. now you are ready to mix.

remove the bag from the bucket and, using one hand to told the bag closed, mix the contents well inside the bag. i just held it up and mixed it around.

pour (or scoop) the ingredients into your storage container. you can see i spilled. i had enough to fill this and an equally large plastic storage container. the scoop from the oxy clean container is exactly 2 tablespoons. that is how much you should use for a large load of laundry. if you have a small load, cut that in half. because you use so little, this lasts for months. i am on month two and haven't gone half way through my first storage container...that's saving us a ton of money!

that's it. it took about 30 minutes to get through the whole process and it cost $25.00 for all the ingredients. from what i've heard, a normal family will take about 6 months to get through all of it. i'm not counting on it lasting that long for us but it is still a savings compared to what i normally spend.

let me know what you think. i'm interested in your variations and all the tips you have for me. as i said, i'm a novice in this department but i am learning as i go. here's to big savings for all those launderers out there!

Monday, March 11, 2013

mmmmm, mondays: creamy tomato basil soup

once upon a time, we posted another recipe for tomato basil soup. while i love that recipe, i wanted something quick and easy. here's the one i ended up making. i served it at a book club meeting that i hosted as well as at a women's bible study. ladies have been asking for the recipe for weeks. so, finally, here you have it! just be forewarned, the only thing healthy about his soup is it's name. everything is better with cream and butter, right? enjoy!

creamy tomato basil soup

1/2 cup butter

12 oz. chopped onions (about 1 1/2 cups) i use frozen onions and i use one 
          bag for this recipe

1 tablespoon minced garlic (again, i buy pre-minced garlic)

3 boxes (33.5 oz each) tomato sauce 

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 4-oz. tube basil paste

1 heaping teaspoon chicken base

1 1/2 quart heavy cream (i warned you!)

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional but I love the little bite!)

in a large pot, saute the onions and the butter together until the onions are translucent (about ten minutes). add the garlic and saute for about 4-5 minutes more. add the tomato sauce, thyme, basil paste, chicken base, cream and red pepper flakes. mix well and simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour. 

blend the soup until it is a creamy consistency. i have a hand blender but if you do not have this, a regular blender works just as well. if you use the regular blender, return the soup to the pot and add the red pepper flakes about 10 minutes before serving.

top with grated parmesan cheese. enjoy!