Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Birthday season!

We have 4 out of 6 birthdays within a month in our sweet family; and all around Christmas.  Isn't that convenient?  (cue sarcasm...) Timing and having babies has not really worked out in our favor.   My birthday is 5 days before Christmas and I never liked it much, then we went and had our first baby   seven days before Christmas.   The next two birthdays are Jan. 10 and Jan. 20.  Needless to say, I'm birthday-ed out by Jan 21.   Birthday parties are not my thing, especially with all that's going on already with Christmas, so here is what I do instead to make the day special.  (Please forgive my picture taking skills, I am learning to use my new dslr camera...)

I put streamers up all over the kitchen the night before.  This creates the "wow" factor when they come down the stairs in the morning.  I also decorate our two kitchen shelves with a picture from each past birthday and anything else I can rummage up to make it personalized.  My girls have loved to see these simple surprises. See the cute birthday subway art?  I got it from, they have awesome free subway art for all seasons.
I decorated with a feather boa and sparkly things for Anni

I used some bugs from her plastic bug collection and flowers to fit Ivie's personality.

For Lila, I set up crayons and some of her most recent artwork.

Each year I have them make a crown out of paper and we write their age really big on it.  This way we know which birthday it was:)  Plus they love making their crown!
This year I added this little gem!  Just a paper birthday banner.  I simply bought some heavy duty glitter and textured scrapbook paper, (all on clearance-bonus!) and made a triangle template from a cereal box to trace.  Then I used the Cricut to cut the letters for "Happy Birthday."  I also threw in some cupcake liners that I snipped, flattened and added a button.  I sewed the triangles (yes, with my sewing machine :) onto some ribbon.  I plan to re- and re-use this for every birthday!

This year I also tried taking a Burger King crown and making it re-usable.  I traced and covered it with white construction paper

Then I used contac paper to laminate it.  Have you tried this stuff?  I have used it loads and it's only like 5 bucks for a whole roll.

Now each girl can color and decorate as they please using these dry erase crayons!  It worked out fabulously!

The Birthday plate!  We had a red one when I was little and I always thought it was so fun.  It only gets used by the birthday girl on her birthday.

(not the BK crown, I hadn't thought of it yet)

(BK crown:)

(same BK crown:)
This years crowns!  We do always have a family party with cake and ice cream, or scones, or brownies, whatever the birthday girl chooses.  It all makes for a fun day! And that finishes up our Birthday season!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

We are always looking for ways to save some money, which means we try all sorts of things homemade.  We always laugh when we say someone else is weird, because really; we are most likely the weird ones.  So since today is laundry day, well a laundry day, (it never ends...)  I thought we'd share our HOMEMADE laundry detergent. This is absolutely a money saver and really easy!
Here's all you need:

4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

All of these ingredients are very inexpensive.
Grate Fels-Naptha and add to saucepan with water.  Stir continually on medium low heat until soap is melted and dissolved.

 Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water.   We use a 5 gallon gas container.  We thought it would make pouring easier than a bucket.  After using it for 3-4 batches though, we think a 5 gallon bucket might better so you can stir it. It gets a little lumpy.  We (mostly Jay because it's heavy) just shake the gas container to stir.  Next, add melted soap, washing soda and Borax.  Stir well until all powder is dissolved.  Fill bucket to top with more hot  water.  Stir (or shake) cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
 Stir again, then fill a used laundry dispenser with your new laundry detergent!  You can dilute it more if you choose by adding half water, half detergent to your actual laundry dispenser. I like it more concentrated, but that's just my preference:)  Shake well before each use because it does get lumpy.

You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons once soap has cooled.  We never have though because we like the smell of Fels-Naptha.  It's kind of a citrus, clean smell. (I actually use a ratio of 3/4 homemade and 1/4 Gain in each load because I love how Gain makes our clothes smell; and 1/4 Gain is plenty to scent my laundry how I like:)
USE:   top load machine-1/3 cup per load.  Front load machine-1/4 cup per load
Each batch lasts me about 8 months!

NOTE:  It has to be Arm and Hammer "Super Washing Soda."  Baking soda, or Arm and Hammer Detergent will not work.  It has to be sodium carbonate.
Yeild:  makes 10 gallons
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