Frugal Friday: Laundry Soap

I found this picture on the internet

I made my own laundry soap once or twice before I got married using this recipe. After we got married, Courtney began using this recipe as well, and has been making her own laundry soap ever since. After she taught herself to make her own bar soap using lard, lye, and water, she stopped buying Fels-Naphta and began using her own bar soap. This results in a totally unscented laundry soap, while the Fels-Naphta gives a nice subtle piney scent.

Here’s the recipe:

1 box of Borax
1 box Super Washing Soda
1 box Baking Soda
3 bars of Fels-Napha soap, shredded on a cheese grater, OR 1 lb grated homemade soap

Mix well in a large bowl or tub, then portion into smaller containers (Mason Jars work well). Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. Mason Jars of laundry soap that sit for a long time before use may have the soap shreds settle to the bottom, in this case shake or mix well before use.

Some blogs say that homemade laundry soaps don’t clean well, destroy laundry machines, or leave a soap residue in clothes. None of these are necessarily true, however, there are a few tips that you should use with this recipe.

First, fill the fabric softener compartment with white vinegar. Second, always use the warmest water and longest cycle suitable for the fabric. Third, always use the extra rinse cycle. Here’s why you want to do these things:

Why should you add vinegar to the fabric softener compartment? Because your clothes likely have a lot of bacteria on them. These bacteria create smells, which are masked by the artificial fragrances in your commercial laundry soap. Without the masking of artificial fragrances, you can get a musty smell in your clothes from this bacteria. The vinegar will kill these bacteria and fight the odor at the source, rather than just masking it.

Why should you use the warmest water and longest cycle suitable for the fabric? Because the soap shreds need to be completely dissolved in order to get maximum cleaning. Also the Borax cleans by soaking, so the longer the clothes soak in the Borax, the better. Hotter water dissolves the soap faster, meaning that it is dissolved for more of the cycle.

Finally, why use the extra rinse? This is to ensure that the soap is fully rinsed out. If the soap doesn’t dissolve fully until partway through the cycle, it may not rinse out fully with the normal rinse cycle. The extra rinse makes sure that all soap residue is rinsed out. we haven’t used a commercial laundry soap in over three years, and are still happy with our economical and effective laundry soap.

Learning to be Thankful: Or Why I Missed Church this Morning

All the kids were dressed and buckled in. Courtney was ready. I got in the car and turned the key.


I tried again.

Still nothing.

I turned on the lights.

Plenty bright.

Oh great, the starter’s out. Just what I need.

I told Courtney. She suggested I take Elgin and go to church in my pick-up, which has only 2 normal seats and a tiny jump seat in the back. I thought about it. I wanted to go.

“If I don’t fix this now, you won’t be able to go to Vespers tonight, and we won’t be able to go to church tomorrow morning.”

I got on my moped and headed to O’Reilly’s.

$130? For a re-manufactured one? Ooof. Just what I needed. Guess I’ll have to throw it on the credit card like everything else.

I put it in the basket on the back of my moped and started home.

An hour later, I was done. I turned the key, and the engine started up.

Thank God!

I should have been thanking Him much earlier.

I started thinking of all the reasons I had to thank God in this situation.

Thank God that the flywheel teeth were sharp and intact–I didn’t have to replace it.
Thank God my Dad taught me how to use tools and fix things–a mechanic would have charged me at least $350.
Thank God the starter went out at home, and not last night when Courtney was at church with the kids and I was at work–or yesterday morning when she was picking apples with the kids an hour north of here.
Thank God O’Reilly’s had a re-manufactured starter motor in stock.
Thank God I had the time to fix it before going to work–and even had time left over to spend some time with the kids.

All in all, I was blessed this morning, and I’m learning to be more thankful for my blessings.

Excerpt on the So-Called “Rights of Man”

[W]hen one pauses to think about it even for a moment, it becomes rather uncomfortably clear that the Lord at no time encouraged His followers to go about demanding various and sundry rights to such things as whatever form of government happens to be currently in vogue.

The Declaration of Independence asserted “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, [evincing] a design to reduce [the Colonies] under absolute despotism.” Regardless of the veracity of such a claim (regarding which there exists some cause for doubt), there can be no question that throughout the history recorded in Sacred Scripture, the Israel of God was often to be found in such straits — whether under the Egyptians, the Babylonians, or the Romans. Nevertheless, at no time did God urge His people to sedition and rebellion — and even when Pharaoh betrayed them and sent an army to return them to slavery, Moses said only: “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” When the occupying forces of pagan Rome habitually subjected the people of Israel to “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” the Lord, far from urging His followers to stand up for their rights, famously counseled them rather to meekly accept even violent mistreatment, and to freely give to their enemies twice as much as was being stolen. And in the Sermon on the Mount, He commanded not only to allow all men to mistreat us as much as they like, but even to rejoice in this — since it is actually much better for us than the alternative — and above all else, to love even our enemies and repay them only with good for the evil they have done us.

All of this sounds remarkably dissimilar to Jeffersonian democracy and the Rights of Man.

“But wait!” someone cries. “Yes, it is true that the Lord did not command us to demand rights for ourselves. But surely the Lord desires us to protect the rights of others, and especially those of the downtrodden and the oppressed!”

This is so near to the truth that it is exceptionally easy to be seduced by such an idea — and many are they who have been thus seduced. But read the Gospels carefully: the Lord commanded us to treat all men with love. But He did not command us to take it upon ourselves to ensure that all men are treated with love. The modern proclivity to fight evil primarily on the battlefield of society, rather than on the battleground of our own heart, is one of the most pernicious traps into which it is possible for us to fall: it breeds self-righteousness and alienates us from a spirit of repentance, which is the only method by which authentic goodness, virtue, and love can possibly be brought into the world.

If you doubt me, consider this: when Christ came, even His disciples expected Him to bring about an end to the heavy injustices and profound sufferings of His people. But that is not what He came to bring.

He came to bring us the Cross.


Monastery Visit

The chapel when empty

Today, Elgin and I went on our first trip to a monastery. We went with Elgin’s Godfather and another friend from church to St. John Chrysostomos monastery, which is a women’s monastery in the Greek Archdiocese. Because today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, Metropolitan Nathaniel was there presiding, and the service was in the chapel, where is an Icon of the Theotokos Quick-to-Hear, rather than in the big church. The chapel is about the size of our home church, and was packed so full that there was no room left to stand in the Nave, and the Narthex and an adjacent hallway were also filled. The service was entirely in Greek, so my ability to follow along was limited. The singing and chanting of the nuns was extremely beautiful.

Our book selections

Elgin especially enjoyed watching the nuns light the candles on the chandeliers and the set the chandeliers spinning. He did really well during the service, despite having far less freedom to move around and play than he typically does at our church. After the service, we were served a meal of Greek pasta salad, some type of flaky pastry with a spinach center, cold fried fish, and very garlicky mashed potatoes, which we ate outside. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. If you had told me that I would eat cold fried fish and enjoy it, I probably wouldn’t have believed you, but this was some of the best fish I’ve had in my life. After lunch, we went to the bookstore, where Elgin and I each bought a book.

Three-High Bunk Bed for Crib Mattresses

I built this three-high bunk bed for crib mattresses for my kids at a total cost of $7 for a box of screws. The majority of the wood is old deck boards from when I resurfaced my deck last year, and the bolts were scavenged from another old bed. The 2x4s were given to me by a friend when he moved. It’s rustic and imperfect, but solid. The bolts are in various locations from board to board as I placed them to avoid knots and existing cracks. As you can see, there is currently no mattress on the middle bunk–Edna isn’t sure about climbing up into bed yet, and so is on the bottom. When Helen moves out of the crib, Helen will go on the bottom and Edna will move up to the middle. That gives us a few months to get her used to the idea. Previously, Elgin and Edna each had a toddler bed, so there is significantly more floor space in the room now, even though it can now accommodate another child.