How To

3 simple DIYs for clean clothes and better sandwiches: a homesteading weekend 9 months in the making

Last winter, my girlfriend was getting ready to quit her job and go to school. So Santa brought the house a variety of homesteading gifts for Christmas. Our housemate holiday celebration was filled with oohs and aahs and shrieks of excitement over literature on roasting coffee, a cheese making kit, a bonafide sauerkraut press, new sourdough culture to replace the last batch that died over a year ago and … ingredients for making our own laundry detergent.

Sadly, code school was so demanding of Faye’s time that between being on the computer and being on the computer, she had little time for sleep and no time for being crafty in the kitchen. But last year’s gifts have not gone forgotten.

Flash forward 9 months to this past weekend, and in the spirit of GSTD, I finally decided to give the soap a try. (OK, it was prompted by an impromptu doll-cleanup project.) While I wouldn’t count grating a bar of soap as my favorite way to spend 15 minutes, the overall process took less than a half an hour and I wondered why it’d taken so long!^ I’d already had a Nancy’s yogurt container within reach that used to hold detergent from the coop which made for an excellent shaker. The steps were simple:

  1. grate soap into Nancy’s yogurt container
  2. mix in washing soda & borax
  3. put the lid on & shake, preferably to a pop song

Voila! To boot, the soap worked well (though I want to share the proof in a not-related post about the doll).

Ingredients for Laundry Soap Powder:

In fact, it worked so well, I decided it was time to bake some bread. Thanks to my last housemate leaving a bread maker -and- a bread maker recipe book, I found a Peasant’s Bread recipe for which I already had all of the ingredients:

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tsp honey (though I ended up putting in closer to 1.5T in an effort to finish the last of the local honey from across the Bridge of the Gods)
  • salt to taste & yeast

Since bread calls for mayonnaise and we’d just boiled a dozen eggs for our recent hiking & camping trip with some left over crying to be made into egg salad – I had to round out the evening with some homemade mayo from The Silver Spoon. This time I was patient in letting my 2 eggs come to room temperature and lucky to have some delicious white wine vinegar & saffloa oil on hand. It was the best batch I’d made in a while.

Waking up to fresh bread in the morning, I enjoyed making our lunches more than most Mondays.

While I *was* gearing up to make my next 30 day challenge focused on reading more – I’m spontaneously throwing my hat into the ring for 30 days of homesteading. As for what that means, I’m going to start small and say that means continuing this awesome momentum of fixing the shit that keeps breaking and using what’s already here. It could also mean tracking everything I purchase, though I doubt I’ll be drawing it anytime soon. Whatever it manifests as, I’m going to start small and give myself room to grow.


^ When I asked Faye what took us so long to make the laundry soap, she said she’d looked at it several times and didn’t want to wait all that time. What time? Oh, the time between when you boil it and it’s ready. Boil it? What – What instructions were you reading? Oh, I don’t know. The ones on the bag? I immediately went to Google and started looking at DIY fails. Maybe it was tooo simple to be true. Alas, I found recounts of this powder story, got out of bed, went down 2 flights of stairs into the basement to see just what I’d used (Sellwood Soap Co), browsed their website and finally felt confident that I’d done it right. Phew. 

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