Borax Free Laundry Detergent

I have been making laundry detergent for over two years now. I remember when I was first looking for recipes, I found borax as an ingredient in nearly every one. It was completely foreign to me. What is borax? I didn’t know. And I figured, just because it’s handmade doesn’t make it natural. I immediately went into research mode. Through my research I found that borax is listed as a poison, pesticide, and a fungicide. I found I wasn’t the only one who grew concerned about if it was the best thing to mix with my clothes, what I wear every day. So I excluded it and my detergent works as well as any other I’ve tried in the past.


1 cup soda ash (aka sodium carbonate – aka washing soda)
1/2 cup baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate)
1 bar Kirk’s Castile Soap
Essential oil (optional)

A note about the ingredients
: Sodium Carbonate is a natural ingredient pulled from the ashes of plants and when made in bulk it is made from table salt. It is called washing soda because of its ability to remove stains, oil and grease spots from clothes. Sodium bicorbonate works as a great exfoliating agent, which is why it is so often used in cleaning. All of the ingredients I buy on Amazon but I did stumble on an article saying that you can turn baking soda into washing soda/soda ash simply by baking it.


Grate your soap with a cheese grater. Then mix and store all ingredients. Only one tablespoon (two if really dirty) is needed for a load. Also, I recommend putting the detergent in first, then the clothing. It mixes better that way.

I went with a dry detergent, versus liquid, for two reasons. One, I’m a natural born spiller. Give me a liquid, I will spill it. So I figured I rather spill something dry. Second, dry weighs less and I want to talk a bit more on weight in the future. I did the math a while back and it ended up being cheaper than any other calculation I’d found. I also don’t buy Arm & Hammer because they are well known for testing on animals and I prefer my products to be cruelty free, so I’ve found other brands online and in stores.

I’m currently working on making my own bar soap and can’t wait to share those results! It’s been something I’ve been interested in for a long time coming.


Simple Deodorant


Living a sustainable, and thus self-sufficient, life is incredibly important to me. I’ve found that it goes hand in hand with living simply. And so I wanted to share our deodorant recipe. I’ve shared it on an older blog but since this blog is a keeper, it’s time to revisit. I’m telling ya, it’s as simple as it gets and you know how much I like simple.


One part coconut oil
One part baking soda
A touch of lime essential oil (optional- gives it that key lime pie smell)


Simply melt the coconut oil just enough so that it’s a liquid. Blend it with your baking soda. Pour it in your containers and voila!

At room temperature it is a thick paste. What I do to bypass that and keep it a solid, so it still rolls on like regular deodorant, is keep it in the refrigerator. I pull it out just five minutes before use, apply and put it back in. I’ve been using it successfully for months now. There will be more bath and body recipes coming, as I really enjoy using natural ingredients and reaping the benefits. Plus, it’s just not as much fun if you don’t share. Cheers!


Orange Green Tea Scrub

To be totally honest, I’m not a big bath and body person. In fact, I don’t even like baths. They make me tired. Yesterday I was watching RV tour videos (more details on our RV move soon!) and a lot of people had installed door organizers for their bathrooms. I thought, well, that’s one less thing that I need because I make my own shampoo, deodorant, detergent and some other things. I don’t wear makeup. If I do it’s mascara and chapstick, the only makeup I own. I just like to keep it simple.

However, I had three boxes of tea that I didn’t like. I tried them out and, while I loved the smell, I didn’t love the taste. Plus I want to switch back to loose leaf tea only. So I tried to think of ways to use up the tea and decided on the ever popular scrub. I’ll be using the scrub on my feet because frankly, I don’t take care of my feet all that well. They’re often dirty from walking outside barefoot and a bit rough around the edges. So I concocted a way to use up what I didn’t want to go to waste. Here is my recipe for an orange (because I had an old orange sitting out) green tea scrub.


1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons Epsom salt
10 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 green tea bags
1.5 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp lemon extract (I used my homemade lemon extract)
orange zest (optional)

Just mix everything together. Make sure to open the tea bags and dump them in. And scrub, scrub, scrub.

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Preservation :: A Day of Canning



One of the reasons I was drawn to getting a Master’s in Library Science is a good appreciation for preservation. I love all of those preserved stories and bundled pages of information, just waiting for someone to soak up. So I suppose canning and books have a common bond. I made it a goal to learn to can before we hit the road in our (future) RV. Since we plan on being off-the-grid, we’ll be staying in a few far off places and some good ole canned goods will come in handy. Plus, I’m pretty keen on sustainability. If anyone is to know anything about me, it’s that, and a great love for writing.

My mom’s canned for a few years now and I canned with her once (meaning she canned and I watched). Yesterday I spent much of the day doing it myself, remembering what she taught me. Turns out, it’s easy.

There are two different methods of canning, hot bath and pressure cooker canning. Hot bath canning requires fewer steps and is used for high acidic foods: fruits, jams, tomatoes, salsa, etc. And pressure cooker canning involves, well, a pressure cooker. I use a simple 10 lb only pressure cooker. Pressure cooker canning is used for vegetables, vegetable soups, beans, and other low acidic things. I’ve used my pressure cooker for a couple of years now for cooking dried beans. So I was excited to use it for canning too.

Yesterday I canned (all organic): green beans (on sale at $1.99/lb), Yukon gold potatoes, and carrots. I ended up with five one pint jars of each vegetable. I’ll be doing some hot bath pressure cooking of fruits and other acidic foods today and tomorrow.

Once canned, your food lasts a year. How cool is that?

Expect some more photos of future canned eats and treats because boy am I hooked!



Hand Picked Prickly Pear Vinaigrette


I have been wanting to do something with prickly pears. Unfortunately, they aren’t the cheapest thing in the stores. I knew of a cacti growing them on the way to Matt’s work. So I dropped him off today and picked myself some prickly pears.

Prickly pears are the fruit of the cacti. We are never devoid of cacti here in Texas.

When picking prickly pear:

  • Wear gloves
  • Bring something to put them in (I used a paper bag)
  • Use a pair of tongs or layered newspaper to pluck them
  • Pluck from the top (leaving the bottom ones for animals to eat)
  • Try not to pluck more than 20%, so as to keep the pears alive and kicking on the rest of the cacti.
  • Use your tongs to grab the pears and twist them off. Go for ones that don’t have markings, cuts or the like.
  • Be very careful. In addition to those spikes on the cacti, prickly pear have what are called glochids which are incredibly tiny, hard to see little pokers. I know, I’ve had to pull a few out of my hands with tweezers because the glochids will fall off the pears too,  which is why I recommend gloves.

Pickly pear come in green and red, without getting too technical. There are many tips on when to harvest them. I recommend this website and this video for tips.

You can harvest them early, which I did and why the insides of mine are green. When you harvest them early they are more tart. When harvested at their peak they are sweeter.

Here is how I made some homemade prickly pear vinaigrette.

See the steps at the end.






Step 1 Using tongs, rinse them. Then use an old toothbrush, or brush of some kind, and brush all of the little spikes off. │ Step 2 Cut the ends off both sides, just until you see the seeds. │ Step 3 Slice or peel the sides off.│ Step 4 Throw your peeled and cut prickly pears in a blender and blend away. Then put some cheesecloth over a bowl, securing it with a rubberband. Pour your blend over it and then squeeze all of the juice out with your hands, leaving the hard seeds in the cheesecloth.

Now to make it a dressing, use and mix:

  • The juice of 9 pickly pears (that’s what I used) or 1/2 cup of juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

If you want a sweeter dressing, then add some sugar or maple syrup. I wanted it tart. Then pour the dressing over your beautifully made salad.



Cheers to hand picked eating!

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Making Extracts


I love making things from scratch whenever possible. Not only is it incredibly sustainable but also super cheap. I currently make my own detergent, deodorant and candles. And in the past I’ve done things like make pasta from scratch. There is something truly rewarding about doing it all from nothing, per se, and playing a role in every step. So why not add extracts to my elongating list?

Right now I have vanilla, spearmint and lemon extract going. They are already starting to color because I made them up this past Thursday. Next up I’m doing hazelnut and almond extract.

With the vanilla I just used two vanilla beans, one in each jar, cut them in pieces and then sliced them to open them up. Basically, with extracts, the more surface area the better. With the spearmint I broke it in pieces, removing the stems, and then beat it a bit with the back of my scissors. That helps bring out the oils. And lastly, with the lemon, I used a peeler and then broke those pieces into further pieces. You want to get as little of the white as possible.

Then I filled them all up with 80 proof super cheap vodka. Give them 4-6 weeks and I’ll have some extracts.